MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he is not yet keen on sending a new ambassador to the United States.
“Iyung USA, wala tayong ambassador. Walang ambassador na papunta doon. Hanggang wala tayong ambassador sa States, I don’t feel like sending one,” Duterte said in a speech in Davao City.
Duterte's statement comes after new US President Donald Trump issued a travel ban on 7 countries. The president earlier said this week that he respects Trump's decision and "would not lift a finger" if illegal Filipino immigrants in the US would get caught.
Duterte earlier tapped Jose Manuel “Babe” Romualdez as the next Philippine ambassador to the US, replacing Jose Cuisia Jr.
Romualdez, however, had to decline his appointment due to health reasons, according to his column published Thursday in the Philippine Star.
Since Cuisia’s departure as Philippine envoy to the US, it has been 7 months since the Philippines had an ambassador in Washington.
Duterte previously castigated the US administration, then under President Barack Obama, for calling him out over his bloody war on drugs.
However, analysts say Philippines-US relations might improve under Trump.
Both leaders are off to a good start in building personal relations as Trump changes tack and refuses to criticize Duterte's drug war. Duterte has reciprocated by not criticizing Trump's new policies.