By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos
Malacañang said yesterday that President Duterte has earned the trust of United States President Donald Trump after the White House announced that it will pour in $101.3 million or around P5.1 billion to support the initiatives of the Duterte administration.
The White House announced in a statement Wednesday upon Trump’s return to the United States from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit that the US government has pledged $101.3 million to support the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City, the country’s counter-terrorism efforts, and the administration’s drug war.
According to the White House, $14.3 million or P750 million will be poured in for the rehabilitation of Marawi; $85 million for the counter terrorism-related equipment of the Philippines and training and support for its Armed Forces; and $2 million or P101 million in support of the administration’s drug war.
Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said it would have been better if Trump made the announcement during his three-day stay in the Philippines to enable President Duterte to show the country’s appreciation for the gesture.
“Sana sinabi na ‘yan ni President Trump doon sa bilateral nila, eh ‘di tuwang-tuwa talaga lalo si President Duterte,” he said.
Duterte held a bilateral meeting with Trump last Monday during the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Nations Summit in Pasay City.
Malacañang said that Trump did not bring up the issue of alleged human rights violations related to the country’s war against drugs but revealed that Duterte discussed the campaign with Trump in length.
“But I’m sure, although it was announced belatedly, that the Philippine President or President Duterte will appreciate this commitment to the war against drug,” Roque said.
“That proves without doubt that the US President supports the war on drugs. Why would he otherwise give $2 million to this cause if he thinks it’s not being implemented correctly?” he added.
Duterte and Trump were able to form a bond during the ASEAN Summit, even making Trump call Duterte by his first name during the ASEAN-US Commemorative Summit Monday.
Before Trump left the country, he asked Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea to tell Duterte that he enjoyed his stay in the Philippines and that he liked his Filipino counterpart.
“Thank you very much, I had a great time and tell Rodrigo I like him very much,” Trump reportedly told Medialdea as the US President boarded the presidential plane Air Force One Tuesday.