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Duterte Sings Different Tune: Urges U.S. to ‘Help’ Philippines Fight Terrorism

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, who said “goodbye” to diplomacy with the United States last year, is now urging his American counterparts to work with Manila in combating terrorism and other mutual threats.

The request for cooperation, which comes soon after the U.S. bombed the Russia– and Iran-backed Syrian regime, marks a departure from the anti-American sentiment Duterte repeatedly expressed in response to former President Barack Obama’s criticism of the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs.

President Duterte repeatedly claimed he had “realigned” himself ideologically with Russia and China after he claimed to end the Philippines’ relationship with the United States.

Citing historical ties between the Philippines and the United States on Sunday, however, President Duterte declared, “As we fought together to stay above the enemy then, so we should help each other to address the threats that confront our societies, our region, and our world,” reports the Southeast Asian country’s ABS-CBN News.

“Now the menace of terrorism, violent extremism and transnational crimes such as the illegal drug trade have called into question, efforts uphold the responsibility to defend the common good,” he added.

Michael Klecheski, the deputy chief of mission at U.S. Embassy in Manila, agreed with the Philippines leader.

“Today the new challenge of terrorism has emerged,” he said, adding, “We must also remember the importance of standing together as what the Philippines and the United States have done for many decades.”

The Islamic State (ISIS/ISIL) has established a presence in the Philippines with the help of its affiliate Abu Sayyaf, a jihadist group based in the Southeast Asian nation.

Under Obama’s watch last year, President Duterte said “goodbye” to the Philippines’ long-time friendship with the United States.

“I announce my separation from the United States both in the military… not social, but economics also. America has lost,” proclaimed Duterte in October 2016.

“You know, if China and Russia would decide to create a new order, I would be the first to join,” he stressed in November.

However, the Philippines president has apparently changed his mind.

Duterte indicated this month that he plans to respect the Philippines’ military agreement with the United States, which prohibits Manila from forging military alliances with any other country.

Moreover, the Philippines leader vowed to “give all” to support President Donald Trump.

“I am okay with President Trump and I can assure him also of our friendship and cooperation,” he said in March.

“But for the previous president, I was an evil man,” added Duterte. “That crazy man was planning to jail me. This other one [Trump], he said, ‘you’re right.’”

Trump has reportedly expressed support for Duterte’s deadly anti-drug campaign, a claim that has not been confirmed by the U.S. administration.

The Philippines’ efforts against the illegal use of drugs has resulted in the extra-judicial killings of thousands.

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