MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte “sends his warmest greetings” to US President Joe Biden on his inauguration, Malacañang said on Thursday.
Biden, 77, was formally installed as the 46th US president and has signed several executive orders that reverse policies by his predecessor Donald Trump. The latter once said he had a “very good relationship” with Duterte.
“Our President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte, sends his warmest greetings and best wishes to the 46th President of the United States, Joseph “Joe” Biden, and to his Vice President, Kamala Harris,” said Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque in an online press briefing.
“America has once again shown us how deep are its roots in democracy. It has always been an exemplar to the world. And today, it has reassured the world that its people remain committed to peaceful electoral transitions and the noble principles of representative democracy,” he added.
The Philippines “looks forward to continuing our long-standing partnership with the United States in working together for a freer, more peaceful world,” said Roque.
“We’re confident that President Biden will wear his new mantle of leadership with pride, and with due regard for the hopes and aspirations of the rest of the world.”
Democrat Biden is an ally of former US President Barack Obama who Duterte once cursed at for raising concern on his anti-narcotics drive.
Roque previously said there was no basis for assuming that Biden would be tough on Duterte's deadly drug war.
"Ang meron po tayo ay mainit at malapit na relasyon sa bansang Estado Unidos," Roque had said.
(What we have is a warm and close relationship with the United States.)
Manila’s ties with Washington, its former colonizer, have been tested since Duterte took office in 2016 and embarked on months of expletive-laden tirades against the US and threatened repeatedly to scrap their bilateral military agreements.
Duterte once said he would not visit the United States, calling it a "lousy" country.
Though Duterte has spoken positively about Trump, he has remained critical of American foreign policy, announcing once his "separation" from its only treaty ally and forging a bloc with China and Russia.
Philippine political analysts expect the Biden administration to be more vocal than its predecessor about human rights issues in the Southeast Asian nation, including Duterte's signature war on drugs, during which thousands of people have been killed.
- With a report form Reuters