Palace: Duterte open-minded on new US leader Biden, ally of drug war critic Obama

Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Nov 09 2020 04:08 PM

Democratic 2020 US presidential nominee Joe Biden and his family celebrate onstage at his election rally, after the news media announced that he has won the 2020 US presidential election over President Donald Trump, in Wilmington, Delaware, US, Nov. 7, 2020. Jonathan Ernst, Reuters

MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte's government has "no prejudgement" over US President-elect Joe Biden, a close ally of former American leader Barack Obama who drew curses from the Philippine leader for criticizing his war on drugs. 

Democrat Biden, 77, defeated outgoing US President Donald Trump, whom Duterte earlier this year, according to his spokesman then, described as "a good president" who "deserves to be re-elected."

"I think the President (Duterte) is keeping an open mind, as he should," his current spokesman Harry Roque told reporters. "It will be a new start, but we have no prejudgements as far as President-elect Biden is concerned other than the position that we're able and willing to work with all leaders of the world." 

Biden had served as vice president under the administration of Obama, Trump's predecessor. 

In 2016, Obama had urged Duterte's government to go after drug rings "the right way" because otherwise, "innocent people get hurt and you have a whole bunch of unintended consequences that don't solve the problem."

His supposed meeting with Duterte that year was cancelled after the Philippine leader called him a "son of a w****" and told him not to question him about extrajudicial killings.

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In contrast, Obama's successor Trump had praised Duterte doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem".

Trump is refusing to admit defeat and tried to sow doubt about the election results, even as congratulations for Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris poured in from world leaders and supporters. 

Malacañang hopes that under Biden's leadership, undocumented Filipino immigrants in the US would get the chance to go legal. 

"Pagdating sa larangan ng immigration, inaasahan po natin na sana magkaroon ng policy shift under a Democratic administration dahil napakarami pong Pilipino na naninirahan sa Estados Unidos," said Roque. 

(In the field of immigration, we are expecting a policy shift under a Democratic administration because so many Filipinos live in the US.)

"Bagama’t mayroong ilan sa kanila ay iyong mga tinatawag nating TNT, mga ilegal, napakalaki naman pong papel ang ginagampanan nila... Mabigyan sana sila ng pagkakataon na maging legal sa Estados Unidos," he said. 

(Even though some of them are illegally staying there, they play a very big role. We hope that they could be given a chance to become legal residents of the US.)