MANILA, Philippines – The usually combative Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he doesn't want to pick a fight with the next United States president, Donald Trump.
"Ayaw ko nga, sabi ko, makipag-away kasi nandiyan na si Trump," said Duterte on Wednesday night, November 9, at a gathering of Filipinos in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. (I said I don't want to fight because Trump is there.)
"I would like to congratulate President Trump. Mabuhay ka (Long live President Trump)!" he added, to cheers from his audience.
Duterte, who himself was nicknamed the "Trump of the East" during the Philippine presidential campaign last May, acknowledged similarities between him and the incoming US president.
"Pareho tayo nagmumura. Kaonting rason lang, mura kaagad. Medyo pareho kami," said Duterte. (We both curse. For any small reason, we curse. We are kind of similar.)
It seems the Philippine President has been advised to "shut up" about Trump.
"Ayaw ko po ng kalaban, but I cannot also – sabi kasi nila, tapos na ang election, nanalo na si Trump, why don't we just shut up," said Duterte. (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?)
The Palace earlier released a statement in which Duterte congratulated Trump and expressed his hopes for "enhanced Philippines-US relations anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit, and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law."
Trump's victory casts even more uncertainty over US-Philippines relations, which have become tense because of Duterte's open hostility to the US, and specifically to incumbent US President Barack Obama.
The firebrand Philippine President has launched curse-laden tirades against Obama and threatened to scrap key military deals between the US and the Philippines.
He bristled at Obama's criticism of his anti-illegal drugs campaign. He called the US hypocritical for demanding respect for human rights when it led a violent pacification campaign against Moros in Mindanao in the 1900s. – Rappler.com
Photo of Donald Trump by Saul Loeb/AFP
Pia Ranada covers the Office of the President and Bangsamoro regional issues for Rappler. While helping out with desk duties, she also watches the environment sector and the local government of Quezon City. For tips or story suggestions, you can reach her at email@example.com.