Philippines-US relations

Duterte sends best wishes to new US President Biden

Pia Ranada
Duterte sends best wishes to new US President Biden

Photo of President Duterte from Malacañang, photo of President Biden from Shutterstock

Malacañang has no information on whether or not the Philippine leader will call President Biden to personally congratulate him, as he did with Donald Trump

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte extended greetings to new United States President Joseph Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris, said Malacañang, hours after the historic oathtaking of the two in Washington D.C.

“Our President, Rodrigo Roa Duterte sends his warmest greetings and the best wishes to the 46th President of the United States Joseph ‘Joe’ Biden and his Vice President Kamala Harris,” said Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque on Thursday, January 21, during his regular press briefing.

Roque said he has no information on whether or not Duterte will be calling Biden to personally congratulate him in the coming days. In contrast, Duterte had called former president Donald Trump to congratulate him even before his inauguration.

In his December 2016 phone call with then president-elect Trump, Duterte said he sensed he established “good rapport” with an “animated” Trump.

“He [Trump] will be a good president for the United States of America,” Duterte had even said after the phone conversation.

The Duterte spokesman said the inauguration of the Biden administration is proof of America’s roots in democracy and called the super power an “exemplar” or representative democracy.

“It has reassured the world that people remain committed to peaceful electoral transitions and the noble principles of representative democracy,” said Roque.

The inauguration’s venue, the US Capitol, was heavily fortified on Thursday after the deadly January 6 riot by supporters of Donald Trump.

‘Longstanding partnership’

Malacañang said it is ready to work with the Biden administration and cited its traditional alliance.

“We in the look forward to continuing our longstanding partnership with the US in working together for a freer and more peaceful world,” said Roque.

The Duterte spokesman expressed confidence that Biden show leadership that gives “due regard for the hopes and aspirations of the rest of the world.”

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The Philippines is the US’ oldest security ally in Southeast Asia. It has received millions of dollars worth of assistance, both in development projects and security initiatives, from the Western power.

But Duterte, seemingly irked by criticisms of US lawmakers on his controversial drug war, has announced he would terminate the Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement, only to eventually hold off on it. The VFA is in effect until at least August 9, 2021.

But only last December, Duterte threatened to scrap the VFA if US-developed vaccines would not be delivered to the Philippines.

“If they fail to deliver at least a minimum of 20 million vaccines, they better get out. No vaccine, no stay here,” he said to applause from Cabinet officials last December 26. –

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at