Tuesday, November 14, 2017
MANILA – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and United States President Donald Trump discussed the illegal drug problems in the Philippines during their bilateral meeting, Duterte’s spokesman said.
“It was President Duterte who discussed with US President Trump the drug menace in the Philippines,” said Harry Roque.
But human rights issues in the country hosting the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit were not brought up, Roque said.
“The US President appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter,” said Duterte’s spokesman. “He (Trump) was merely nodding, indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we face on drugs.”
Moreover, Duterte and Trump talked about the Philippine-American trade relations.
“The Philippines is appreciative of the general system of preference and suggested that a free trade agreement also be concluded between the US and the Philippines,” Roque said.
According to Roque, Trump said the White House will look into the matter.
The United States leader also singled out the issue on tariffs imposed on US automobiles and the apparent exemption of Japanese cars, Roque said.
Lastly, Duterte thanked the Trump administration for its assistance during the five-month war in Marawi City, said Roque.
According to Roque, the tone of the two leaders’ 40-minute meeting was “frank.”
“They affirmed [the] very close ties between the Philippines and the United States,” said Roque.
Duterte and Trump first met at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam on Nov. 11. The United States president then flew to Manila on Sunday to attend the East Asia Summit.
“Mukhang patok naman ang kanilang samahan ngayon, dahil mukha silang parehong masayahin, mukha silang laidback,” Roque said.
Both had the same pet peeve – former US president Barack Obama – the Malacañang official noted.
Last year Obama criticized the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, saying ending the illegal drug problem should be done “the right way.”
“Pareho silang ayaw itong Obama,” said Roque. “Mukha namang naging matalik na magkaibigan itong dalawang presidente sa kaunting panahon na sila ay nagkakilala.”
“Kahapon (Sunday) ay relax na relax naman sila sa Gala Dinner at game na game itong si President Trump na makipag-selfie sa mga miyembro ng Gabinete.”/PN