MANILA – US President Donald Trump told President Rodrigo Duterte that former US leader Barack Obama did not understand the drug menace in the Philippines, according to what appears to be a leaked transcript of their phone conversation last month.
The confidential transcript of the phone call, which came from the Department of Foreign Affairs and was posted by the Washington Post, confirms Duterte’s claim that Trump appreciates his war on drugs.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem. Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump told Duterte in their April 29 phone call.
"Thank you Mr. President. This is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation,” Duterte responded.
The election victory of Trump, a Republican, has improved the ties between the Philippines and its longtime ally the US, which was strained by the Democrat Obama administration’s criticism to the Filipino leader’s campaign against drugs.
In the phone call, Trump also told Duterte that Obama “did not understand” the crusade of the Filipino leader.
"I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous President who did not understand that, but I understand that we have spoke about this before,” Trump said.
Trump’s overtures to Duterte, as demonstrated by his White House invitation, however failed to convince the Filipino leader from drawing closer to Russia and China, the US’ main rivals.
In his latest tirade to the US, Duterte accused the US and the West of “double talk”, citing the sudden change of the US tone towards his war on drugs.