MANILA (2nd UPDATE) – President Rodrigo Duterte on Wednesday indicated that he might change his approach towards the United States, now that the world’s most powerful country has elected a new leader in Donald Trump.
Duterte appeared to have changed his outlook of the Philippines’ long-time security ally when he pointed out “similarities” between him and the incoming U.S. president.
“Ayaw kong makipag-away kasi nandyan na si Trump. I would like to congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay ka!” Duterte said in a speech before the Filipino community in Malaysia.
“Pareho tayo nagmumura. Konting rason lang, mura kaagad. Medyo pare-pareho kami."
(I don’t want to fight now that Trump’s there. I would like to congratulate President Trump. May you live, Mr. Trump! We both curse at the slightest of reason. We are alike.)
Duterte also admitted receiving advice to tone down on his anti-U.S. rhetoric following Trump’s victory.
“Ayaw ko po ng kalaban, but I cannot also – sabi kasi nila, ‘tutal tapos na ang election, nanalo na si Trump, why don’t you just shut up?”
(I don’t want a fight, but I cannot also – they said, ‘Trump has won anyway, why don’t you just shut up?’)
Trump, a figure as equally controversial as Duterte because of his inflammatory remarks towards political opponents, shocked the world with his upset victory over the favored Democratic bet, Hillary Clinton.
Before Trump became the winner in the highly polarizing 2016 U.S. polls, Duterte had lashed out at outgoing President Barack Obama over the latter’s criticisms of his war on drugs. Duterte once told Obama to "go to hell."
The Obama administration’s criticisms towards Duterte’s policy prompted the latter to pivot to China and possibly Russia.
The victory of Trump, who is known for his protectionist and isolantionist policies, may be favorable for Duterte, who has strongly criticized U.S. intervention in Philippine affairs.
Despite the seemingly good start of relations between Trump and Duterte, political analyst Richard Heydarian said the Filipino leader should watch what he says against the U.S. from this point on, since Trump is known as someone who does not take insults lightly.
“President Duterte has to be much more careful when dealing with United States under a Trump presidency," Heydarian said.
Heydarian also said that Trump, who promised to "make America great again," will most likely react negatively should Duterte hurl insults at the U.S.
Meanwhile, in an ambush interview, Duterte said he hopes that Trump will govern the U.S. the way he promised during his campaign.
"I would like to congratulate President Trump for his victory, and I wish he will govern the way he promised the American people," he said.
He also hopes the Trump administration will honor its treaties and obligations to the Philippines.
"I never wanted any quarrel with anybody so I wish President Trump that he will honor our obligations and treaties with the U.S.," Duterte said.
According to Duterte, he is not yet sure if the relationship between the Philippines and the U.S. will change, now that Trump is president.
"I really do not know kasi it would depend on the U.S.," he said. - with Rose Carmelle Lacuata, ABS-CBN News