U.S. President-elect Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte have some strikingly similar character traits. They have the same bold, scorched-earth approach to controversial issues. Also, they have the same kind of volatile temperament and are super-sensitive to criticisms and easy to be provoked.
For these reasons, it is expected that they are on the same vibe and can get along with each other. Proof of this is Trump’s comment about Duterte’s war on illegal drugs.
Many world leaders, including incumbent U.S. President Barack Obama, are critical of Duterte’s brutal war on illegal drugs, but Trump is singing a totally different tune. He said the Philippine president’s bloody campaign against illegal drug traders is “the right way.”
Duterte got the favorable remark when he called Trump last Dec. 2 to congratulate the latter on his winning the U.S. presidential election.
Reports from Manila stated that Trump had also wished Durterte success in his controversial crime crackdown, in which some 4,800 people have been killed since June.
“He (Trump) was quite sensitive also to our worry about drugs. And he wishes me well… in my campaign (against illegal drugs) and he said that… we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” Duterte told reporters after the call that lasted for seven minutes.
News photos show that Duterte was beaming shortly after his telephone conversation with Trump. It is apparent that a new friendship has begun between him and the next American President.
Video released by Duterte’s office showed the Philippine leader laughing as he chatted on the phone, later saying Trump would be “a good president for the United States of America.”
Duterte, 71, launched an unprecedented war on drugs that drew a wave of global criticism with Obama urging him in September to conduct his campaign “the right way” following concerns over alleged extrajudicial killings.
Trump’s office released a brief statement following the conversation, saying Duterte had congratulated Trump and the two agreed to work together closely.
Special Assistant to the President Christopher “Bong” Go earlier described Duterte’s call to Trump as “very engaging and animated conversation.”
“Nagkakaintindihan ’yun dalawa (The two understand each other),” said Go.
In October, Duterte announced a “separation” from the United States and had called for the withdrawal of American troops from his country, putting into question Manila’s 70-year-old alliance with Washington.
But on Dec. 3, Duterte said he “could sense a good rapport” with an “animated” Trump.
Duterte said the president-elect invited him to visit New York and Washington D.C., and he returned the favor by asking Trump to attend a regional summit that the Philippines is set to host next year.
The President’s statement was far from his previous anti-American rhetoric, in which at one time, during a state visit to China, he even announced “it’s time to say goodbye” to the US.
“I will not go to America anymore. I will just be insulted there,” he said in October.
Due to his encouraging first chat with Trump, however, Duterte may yet change his mind and visit the U.S. soon.
In a way, this development has allayed fears by many Filipino Americans of what is the shape of their future under a Trump presidency. Until now, not a few Fil-Ams cannot accept Trump’s victory.
But if Duterte and Trump could work together in the promotion of the best interests of their countries, Fil-Ams would eventually wake up to the cold reality that Trump is the next president. We hope, though, that the present good rapport between the two presidents is not short-lived.
The friendly relationship could last long, and we base this observation on the fact that they seem to have the same psychological make-up. Both are bold, unorthodox, no-holds-barred, irreverent leaders. These similarities were obvious during the U.S. presidential campaign, with some critics calling Duterte the Donald Trump of the Philippines.
One reason both leaders won the elections in their countries is that Filipinos and Americans have been clamoring for change.
Hillary Clinton did not represent change because it was believed that her presidency would be an extension of the Obama administration. The same is true with Mar Roxas, the principal rival of Duterte in the Philippine presidential election. He was believed to be an alter ego of former President Noynoy Aquino.
Donald Trump and Digong Duterte – two of a kind!