FALSE: Trump says he 'can't handle' Americans, asks Duterte for help

Claim: US President Donald Trump called President Rodrigo Duterte to ask for help to "solve coronavirus" because he “can’t handle” his constituents.

Facebook page The 16th President of The Philippines posted a graphic containing this claim on April 19. The graphic had Trump’s photo on the left side and a screenshot of a social media post from GMA News on the right.

Below Trump’s photo, a statement read: “I think I can’t handle my people. I need [the] help [of] the President of the Philippines to solve Coronavirus.”

The page captioned its post: “U.S. Pres. Donald Trump tinawagan si Pres. Duterte para pagusapan ang Coronavirus. mukhang nagustuhan ni Pres. Donald Trump ang panumuno ni Pres. Duterte sa ating Bansa. SUPORTAHAN natin ang ating PANGULO.”

(US President Donald Trump called President Duterte to talk about coronavirus. It looks like Trump liked Duterte’s leadership. Let’s support our president.)

As of writing, the post had over 1,300 reactions, 466 shares, and 519 comments. Claim Check, Facebook’s monitoring tool, flagged the post for fact checkers to verify.

Rating: FALSE

The facts: Both the Malacañang and the White House, through the US embassy in the Philippines, said the late-night phone conversation between Trump and Duterte was about bilateral collaboration vs COVID-19. In an email to Rappler, the embassy also denied that Trump called Duterte because he needed help in handling his constituents.

In a virtual press conference on April 20, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said both parties "agreed to continue working together as long-time allies to defeat the pandemic, save lives, and restore global economic strength." He refused to divulge more information, citing Duterte's orders, but said that the phone call lasted 18 minutes.

On April 21, the embassy released White House's official statement that confirmed what Roque said and added that Trump offered additional assistance to the Philippines. This is on top of the nearly P203.9 million ($4 million) in health assistance it previously donated on April 1.

The embassy also said Trump expressed condolences for the death of 11 Philippine soldiers while fighting Abu Sayyaf terrorists in Sulu.

GMA News’ social media post included in the graphic exists and is still available on its official Facebook account as of writing, but it did not say that Trump sought Duterte’s help because he couldn't handle his people. The news article they published just said that the two presidents talked about collaboration efforts.

Rappler also reached out to the Facebook page that posted the claim to ask for its source but we received no response. – Pauline Macaraeg/Rappler.com

Keep us aware of suspicious Facebook pages, groups, accounts, websites, articles, or photos in your network by contacting us at factcheck@rappler.com. Let us battle disinformation one Fact Check at a time.

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