MANILA - President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to place on Friday evening a congratulatory call to US president-elect Donald Trump, a Palace official confirmed.
Presidential Communications Office Assistant Sec. Ana Marie Banaag said she does not have yet any information on what the talking points would be between the equally controversial personalities.
Banaag also said she is also not yet sure whether Duterte will be invited to Trump’s inauguration in January.
The phone conversation could signal an improvement of ties between the US and the Philippines, two long-time allies in the Pacific.
The US, under outgoing President Barack Obama, has been at the receiving end of Duterte’s many rants over what he believes was Washington’s intervention in Manila’s internal affairs.
Duterte has particularly hit the US for its criticisms to his war on drugs and its supposed threat of cutting aid to the Philippines.
In a speech earlier this month, 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.)
Trump, known for his inflammatory remarks towards political opponents, shocked the world with his upset victory over the favored Democratic bet, Hillary Clinton.
Trump earlier told Reuters that the Philippines was a very important strategic location and that Duterte's comments about removing foreign troops showed "a lack of respect for our country."
Teddy Locsin Jr, Duterte's incoming ambassador to the United Nations, said there were a few parallels between Trump, who stunned the world by defeating rival Hillary Clinton in Tuesday's presidential election, and Duterte.
"I remember Trump in the middle of one of his statements, he said 'I will not talk like this after I become president'," Locsin said on TV. "I remember someone who also said the same thing." – with Reuters