Let’s be friends: Duterte to Trump, ‘idol’ Putin


By Ian Nicolas P. Cigaral

Posted on November 17, 2016

PRESIDENT Rodrigo R. Duterte on Tuesday night, Nov. 15, said he is looking forward to fostering relations with his idol, Russian President Vladimir Putin, and US President-elect Donald J. Trump.

Matuloy ho (The meeting will push through). Ako ang nanghingi niyan (I asked for it),” Mr. Duterte said about the possibility of bilateral talks with Mr. Putin on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Economic Leaders’ Summit in Lima, Peru this week.

Mr. Duterte recently described, in an interview with Al Jazeerra, the Russian leader as his “idol” and “favorite hero.”

“He has no illusions about himself. He knows that he was not trained for politics nor to be a statesman. He acts just like a president. My characterization of Putin is what I would describe myself,” Mr. Duterte said.

During Tuesday night’s dinner with selected journalists, Mr. Duterte said he “reiterated” his “desire” to meet Mr. Putin to Russian Ambassador to the Philippines Igor Anatolyevich Khovaev who was in Malacañang earlier that evening.

“Tonight I had a long talk with the ambassador of Russia [and] I reiterated my desire to meet Putin,” Mr. Duterte said, adding:

Wala man akong hingiin (I will not ask for anything), I want to be friends with him. I just want the two countries to be best of friends, and this is an economic world.”

“If there are things that we can sell them or export [to] them, eh di mas maganda (that’s better) and if there are things that they own or they can sell to us, and it is obvious… it can be put into good use, then we can buy those things. Things that are needed.”

On Oct. 5, Mr. Duterte said he was considering buying firearms from Russia after Washington’s reported refusal to sell him weapons following a US senator’s objection in the light of human rights concerns regarding the Philippines. But the National Police chief, Ronald M. dela Rosa, had recently clarified the weapons sale is still a go.

Mr. Duterte had become increasingly critical of the US and its outgoing president, Barack H. Obama, Jr., who had also expressed the same human rights concerns in the Philippine government’s war on illegal drugs.

But since Republican Donald J. Trump’s victory in the US presidential election, Mr. Duterte has changed his stance with remarks aimed at reaching out to Mr. Trump.

Mr. Duterte on Tuesday said he “trusts” Mr. Trump with his stand on illegal immigration.

Wala man kaming away (We don’t have any conflict). I can always be a friend to anybody especially to a president, chief executive of another country,” Mr. Duterte said.

“I trust in his judgement and he would be fair in the matter of the treatment of illegal immigrants,” he added.

“I cannot talk for the illegals because whether the President is Trump or not, or somebody else, it won’t matter. Because an illegal is always an illegal. So he is subject at any time [for] deportation,” Mr. Duterte also said.

In a divisive election campaign, Mr. Trump drew sharp criticism for his protectionist as well as racist and sexist remarks, seen to be in response to the rising multiculturalism in the US.

In a press briefing at Malacañang on Wednesday, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto C. Abella said “the Trump policy will have minimal effect on US-based OFWs (overseas Filipino workers), according to [Labor] Secretary [Silvestre H.] Bello [III].”

Mr. Abella also said Mr. Bello “urged undocumented OFWs in the United States to return to the country amid the threat of massive deportation of illegal immigrants once US president-elect Donald Trump assumes office in January,” noting that the Labor chief, “without providing numbers,” said “Trump’s policy will only have a minimal effect because, since most OFWs in the US are legally employed.”

“The interesting point here is that should the undocumented OFWs decide to come home, Bello noted that the government is ready to provide them assistance,” the spokesman added.

“In the same vein, the BPO sector was also referred to and the business process outsourcing, BPO sector, needs to level up by expanding the non-voice component of the industry should US President-elect Donald Trump stick to his campaign promise of bringing back jobs… to America,” Mr. Abella also said, citing National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) Deputy Director-General Rosemarie Edillon.

Mr. Abella added, also citing Ms. Edillon: “[O]nce we lose the US market, the availability of job[s] that require English speakers would be few. But, with non-voice like the creative, this is less sensitive to the language so pwede tayo doon (so we can go there).”