President Duterte yesterday said the United States President-elect Donald Trump wished him success in his controversial anti-crime crackdown, saying that Manila was conducting its deadly drug war “the right way.”
“He wishes me well in my campaign and he said that… well we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way. And he wishes us well. And I said that, well, we assured him of our ties with America,” said Duterte.
Duterte said he was encouraged with Trump’s assurance that the US would be the last to interfere in the Philippines’ internal affairs.
“He understood the way we are handling it (drug problem) and I said that there’s nothing wrong in protecting a country,” he said.
Trump’s expression of support was in stark contrast to the criticism he received from President Barack Obama.
The President called Trump late Friday evening to congratulate him on his election victory. Their conversation lasted over seven minutes.
“I appreciate the response that I got from President-elect Trump and I would like to wish him success. He will be a good president for the United States of America. I am very sure,” said Duterte.
In a short video clip released by Malacañang, the president is heard telling Trump: “We will maintain and enhance the bilateral ties between our two countries.”
The president’s statement was a complete turnaround from his previous anti-American rhetoric, wherein at one point, during a state visit to China, he even announced “it’s time to say goodbye” to the US.
Duterte’s relationship with the US has soured due to criticisms against his bloody war against illegal drugs.
But, with Trump, Duterte said he could sense “good rapport”, according to a transcript released by the Presidential Communications Office (PCO).
Both leaders extended invitations to visit their respective countries.
“He has invited me to visit New York and Washington DC. He said that if I’m around, he wants to be notified of my presence. And I mentioned to him about the ASEAN Summit next year and he said that he will try his best to be here.
He wants to attend the Summit and that would be great for our country,” said Duterte.
Special Assistant to the President Bong Go earlier described Duterte’s call to Trump as “very engaging and animated conversation.” (ELENA ABEN)