Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte congratulated American President-Elect Donald Trump on separate occasions Wednesday morning, once in an official presidential statement and again in casual remarks in which he expressed joy at how “alike” he finds Trump and himself to be.
“President Duterte wishes President-elect Trump success in the next four years as Chief Executive and commander-in-chief of the US military, and looks forward to working with the incoming administration,” an official presidential statement released early Wednesday morning read, praising the American political system in general.
Duterte was scheduled to give a speech Wednesday night local time, where he addressed the U.S. election again. In this instance, speaking at a gathering during a visit to Malaysia, Duterte indicated that his confrontational tone towards America would change under a Trump presidency.
“I don’t want to fight because Trump is there,” Duterte said in his native Filipino language. “I would like to congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay ka (May you live)!”
Duterte joked, “We both curse. For any small reason, we curse. We are kind of similar.” He added, however, that he would not change his attitude towards America completely. “I don’t want an enemy, but I cannot also – because, they said, ‘the election is over and Trump has won, why don’t we just shut up?'”
Duterte has been in office since May, following a presidential campaign in which he made headlines for using unsavory language and horrifying conservative voters with off-color “jokes,” particularly a joke at the expense of an Australian gang rape victim. Duterte ran a campaign centered around promising the return of law and order and eradicating the Philippines’s rampant drug problem. For his cadence and his zero-tolerance law and order approach, the media dubbed him “the Filipino Trump.”
As president, Duterte has implemented what many observers have referred to as an anti-American policy. He has referred to President Barack Obama as a “son of a whore” on multiple occasions and to American Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg as an “annoying homosexual.” In multiple speeches, Duterte has called for the United States to remove its military from the Philippines and claimed he would become “close friends” with China and Russia. He reiterated his stance on establishing friendlier relations with communist China in a visit to Beijing, where he said “goodbye” to the longtime alliance with America (it is unclear what policies he would enact in this “goodbye”).
China, in turn, has agreed not to attack some Philippine fishermen present in the Scarborough Shoal, a Philippine territory in the South China Sea that China has insisted on colonizing.
The Philippines won a case at the Permanent Court of Arbitration at the Hague against China in July, in which the international tribunal found that China’s claims in the South China Sea were invalid, and Beijing must vacate Philippine, Vietnamese, Malaysian, Taiwanese, and other territories it has colonized immediately. China has vowed to ignore the decision; Duterte has yet to bring it up in bilateral talks.
Donald Trump repeatedly referred to curbing the influence of the Chinese Communist Party internationally as a major plank of his foreign policy.