PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he would not be picking any fights with America anymore as he drew parallels between him and US President-elect Donald Trump, and named the billionaire’s real estate partner in the Philippines as his special envoy to the United States.
After constantly cursing the United States and US President Barack Obama for criticizing his bloody anti-drug campaign, Duterte sounded upbeat about Trump.
“I would like to congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay! (Long live!)” Duterte told members of the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur, while singing praises for the Republican billionaire.
“We are both making curses. Even with trivial matters we curse. I was supposed to stop because Trump is there. I don’t want to quarrel anymore, because Trump has won,” he said.
Duterte won a May election by a huge margin and is often compared with Trump, having himself been the alternative candidate from outside of national politics.
“I’m just four months and there has been a lot of controversy woven around my person, including my quarrel with America,” Duterte said, but added that he no longer wanted to fight.
Duterte has shown outright hostility toward the United States under Obama, with nearly daily tirades in reaction to American criticism of the rising death toll in war on illegal drugs, which has seen 4,000 suspects killed since Duterte came to office.
He also threatened repeatedly to sever the country’s longstanding military relationship with the United States, a key element in Washington’s “pivot to Asia.”
Like Trump, Duterte campaigned on a populist, anti-establishment platform and struck a chord among ordinary Filipinos with his promises to fix what he called a “broken country,” and bragged about sexually harassing women.
Duterte reiterated how angry he had been at Washington for allegedly threatening to cut off aid and treating the country like a dog on a leash.
“They talk as if we are still the colonies,” Duterte said.
“Don’t give us the aid, s***, to hell with you,” he said, recalling comments he had directed at Obama.
Earlier, the Department of Foreign Affairs confirmed that Duterte had named Century Properties Group Inc. head Jose E. B. Antonio as special envoy to Washington.
Antonio had previously partnered with real-estate developer and former TV reality show host turned president for the construction of the 3.4-hectare high-rise condominium Trump Tower in Makati City.
So far, Duterte has yet to appoint a Philippine ambassador to the United States.
Asked if Antonio would fill this role, department spokesman Charles Jose said it was unlikely.
“Nothing of that sort,” Jose said, adding that Antonio’s mission is to enhance business ties and strengthen the economic affairs between the Philippines and the US.
The Philippines is one of the most vulnerable nations in Asia if Trump follows through with imposing trade barriers and tighter immigration controls. The Southeast Asia country has one of the region’s biggest export exposures to the US, while about 35 percent of Filipinos working abroad are in the US, providing a key source of foreign inflows for their home economy.
Antonio graduated cum laude from San Beda College, Manila in 1966 with a bachelor’s degree in Commercial Science major in Marketing and received a master’s degree in Business Management in 1968 from Ateneo de Manila’s Graduate School of Business.
He also graduated from a Management program at Harvard University in 2003.
In 2005, Antonio also served as the Philippine special envoy for trade and economics to the People’s Republic of China.
Antonio is also a founder and chairman of the Philippine-China Business Council and vice chairman of Penta Pacific Realty Corp. and Subic Air Charter Inc.
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said Trump and Duterte had many things in common as they were underdogs and unknown as politicians on a national scale, and while they were sometimes not politically correct, they both “spoke from the heart.”
Andanar said he is hopeful and optimistic that Trump’s leadership will usher in a better and safer world.
“The world cannot afford a Third World War or we are all finished,” he told Channel News Asia.
Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said one would have to take a look at the policies of the president-elect before assessing the impact of the US election on Asia.
Duterte met with Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to discuss the progress of ongoing bilateral cooperation between Malaysia and the Philippines.
This is Duterte’s maiden visit to Malaysia since taking office as the 16th president of the Philippines on June 30.
Lawmakers led by Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez on Thursday expressed optimism that the diplomatic ties between the Philippines and the United States will be strengthened under a Trump presidency.
Reps. Raneo Abu of Batangas City, Karlo Alexei Nograles of Davao City and Rodolfo Albano III of Isabela also offered their wishes for the success to Trump.
“I like him, he walks the talk,” Albano, House majority leader for the House contingent of the Commission on Appointments, said of Trump, a businessman and a TV show host before he became a politician. With Bloomberg
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