MANILA, Philippines – US President Barack Obama on Tuesday, May 17, congratulated Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for his win in the presidential elections in the Philippines.
In a brief statement, the White House said Obama and Duterte – whom they referred to as “presumptive President-elect” – spoke on the phone Tuesday.
“President Obama noted that the successful election and record voter participation were emblematic of the Philippines’ vibrant democracy,” the statement read.
“The President highlighted the enduring values that underpin our thriving alliance with the Philippines and the longstanding ties between our two peoples, including our shared commitments to democracy, human rights, rule of law, and inclusive economic growth,” the statement continued.
Obama and Duterte also “affirmed their interest in seeing the relationship continue to grow on the basis of these shared principles,” the White House added.
Duterte has yet to be officially proclaimed by the Philippine Congress, but the partial and unofficial count of votes has shown him having a clear lead over nearest rival, administration bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas III.
The Philippines is one of the United States’ closest allies in Asia, and the relationship between the two countries has been highlighted in recent years as China jostles for more influence and power in the region.
While Obama is the first world leader to directly congratulate Duterte on his win, envoys of several countries have already met up with the tough-talking Davao City mayor who will soon assume the country’s highest post June 30.
Obama, meanwhile, is preparing to step down after 8 years as the world’s most powerful man, with elections coming in November. – with reports from AFP/Rappler.com