DAVAO CITY (MindaNews /10 November) – How did President Rodrigo Duterte react to the news that Donald Trump had just been elected as the 45th President of the United States?
“Wala” (No reaction), Duterte’s Special Assistant, Secretary Lawrence Christopher “Bong” Go said in reply to MindaNews’ query Wednesday afternoon when the President was about to leave Bangkok en route to Kuala Lumpur. By then, Trump’s opponent, former Senator and Secretary of State Hilary Clinton had phoned the Republican candidate that she was conceding the race to him.
But speaking before the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur Wednesday night, Duterte said, in jest, that he does not want to quarrel with anyone because “andyan na si Trump” (Trump is here).
“Ayaw ko nga, sabi ko, makipag-away kay andyan na si Trump (I do not want to quarrel because Trump is here),” Duterte said, but quickly added: “I would like to congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay ka. Pareho tayo nagmumura. Konting rason lang mura kaagad. Medyo pare-pareho kami” (Long live. We’re the same. We’re fond of swearing even for a minor reason).
Duterte during the campaign had been described by international media as the “Philippines’ Donald Trump” or “Trump of the East” because of similarities in their manner of talking, like mouthing expletives, sexist remarks and profanities, among them. Duterte detested the comparison.
“Donald Trump is a bigot, I am not,” Duterte said in March, referring to Trump’s proposals to ban Muslims entering the U.S and to erect a wall along the Mexican border.
The Democrats’ Clinton, wife of former President William Jefferson “Bill” Clinton won bya slim margin the popular vote (59,882,064 votes or 47.7% over Trump’s 59,662,744 votes or 47.5%) but lost the electoral vote to Trump (279 against her 228). It takes 270 electoral votes to win the US Presidency.
“I say it is time for us to come together as one united people,” Trump said in his victory speech, as he called on the Republicans and the Democrats to work together.
Common friend: Putin
Trump and Duterte have a common friend, though: Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Duterte referred to as “my favorite hero” last month when an American journalist asked upon Duterte’s arrival in Davao City from China, “who would you get along with the best in the White House, Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump?”
Duterte replied he would like to answer the question candidly, honestly and truthfully “but I am a President of a country and we have this splendid relations with America and the fact that there are already millions of Filipinos (in America).”
“I cannot gamble an answer. Because either way, it would affect, you know, they might create a hostility here, antagonism here. So I am better off in saying that my favorite hero is Putin,” Duterte said.
Asked by the same reporter how he feels about being compared to Trump, Duterte said Trump was raising valid issues. “Trump is airing something which .. should also be a concern. One is terrorism. Everybody should be worried about terrorism. And of course, in this modern world, multicultural countries, there should be some, some semblance of, your know, acceptance and maybe, especially in the matter of religion, tolerance….”
He explained that “Americans somehow, not all, somehow provided the reasons for the terrorist, terrorism there right now…. With those images on TV and on the Facebook, you have created so much terrorism in your time. That is what I can say honestly, my observation about America. You have imported terrorism to your land.”
For former Senate President Aquilino Pimentel Jr., “clashing views from two off-the-cuff thinkers (Duterte and Trump) who seem to spit out their views at the call of the moment, is bound to happen.”
But Pimentel, the first Mindanawon Senate President (his son and namesake is the incumbent Senate President) added that with four million Filipinos in the US, “inevitably, their interests and their sentiments will most likely temper Presidente Duterte’s tendencies to fly off the handle in defining the new directions of Philippines-US ties.”
“In the meantime, let us focus on pushing for federalism as a means of speeding up our economic development and providing for the most expedient and doable way for our country to end the fratricidal war among the Muslim and other minorities that has caused the loss of so many lives of fellow Filipinos over a long period.”
Reiterating the need to adopt a foreign policy that promotes our best interests socially, economically and politically, Pimentel explained that “because of unwarranted Chinese incursions into the West Philippine Sea, we should realize that protecting our rights under the UNCLOS (United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea) needs US support.”
“We do not have the capability to repel Chinese creeping imperialism into our domains like the Scarborough Shoal by our lonesome,” he said.
He said Duterete is right in “befriending our erstwhile hostile neighbor,” describing it as a s a “good move but not to the extent that we, in effect, bow to their claims of ownership over the Scarborough and other shoals, islets etc that are w/in our EEZ (exclusive economic zone) as defined by UNCLOS.” (Carolyn O. Arguillas / MindaNews)