Pres'l bet says Duterte comments show 'lack of respect' for US
MANILA - US Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump on Wednesday blamed US President Barack Obama for a downturn in Washington's relations with the Philippines under President Rodrigo Duterte.
In an exclusive interview with Reuters, Trump claimed Duterte belongs to a "big group" that dislikes Obama because the American leader "wants to focus on his golf game" rather than engage with world leaders.
"There’s a big group of people that are in that category because Obama wants to focus on his golf game. He doesn’t want to take the time necessary to get along with people. It’s too bad," Trump said as quoted by Reuters.
Since assuming office, Duterte has launched verbal attacks against the US, threatened to expel its Special Forces from Mindanao, rejected its criticism of his brutal war on drugs and described Obama with expletives.
On Monday, Duterte also said the Western superpower can forget about the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) it signed with the Philippines if he were to be in power longer.
Trump said Duterte's latest remarks showed ''a lack of respect'' for Washington, the Philippines' only security ally.
"That's a lack of respect for our country, we've been with them forever and that is one of the truly most important strategic locations anywhere in the world. People don't realize how important strategically the Philippines are," he said.
The business magnate-turned-presidential bet said he wants to know if Duterte's sentiments are shared by the majority of the public.
"I'd want to see the feel is of the people because he is, well you know I want to find out if he is representing the mass majority of the people. I think it's a horrible thing that the United States is reduced to being thrown out of a country."
Duterte, in face of souring US-PH ties, has recently ramped up efforts to bolster Manila's relations with China, Russia and other Asian countries.
He has also confirmed that China and the Philippines had reached initial agreements in the peaceful resolution of the South China Sea dispute, and that his administration has secured at least $13.5 billion in trade deals with the Asian superpower.
The Obama administration, meanwhile, has expressed optimism that the Philippines will remain its firm ally.
A recent opinion poll also showed that Filipinos still trust the US far more than China.
Americans will choose their new president on November 8 between Trump and Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton.
Trump, who is trailing badly in the polls, has repeatedly said that his supporters were upset with the leadership of the Republican Party and also accused the media of "rigging the polls."