WHILE he may have offended some foreign governments over his controversial remarks during the campaign period, the international community has welcomed the presumptive presidential win of Rodrigo Duterte.
The brash and unflinchingly authoritarian Davao City mayor caused disgust in diplomatic circles when he made nasty comments against the United States, Australia, India, Mexico and Singapore over the past months.
Nonetheless, the US said it is ready to work with the new Philippine President despite his opposition against a military agreement between Washington and Manila, and his perceived rift with US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg during the height of the rape joke hullabaloo.
“Washington respects the choice of the Philippines’ people. We will gladly work with the leader they’ve selected,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.
Goldberg praised the Filipinos on the conduct of elections that reminds the world that the “Philippines is such an open and health[y]democratic system.”
Franz Jessen, ambassador of the European Union, said he is looking forward to taking the EU-Philippine agenda forward with Duterte and his administration.
“The EU has been encouraged by the dynamic development of our relations with the Philippines over the recent years in all aspects, from political to economic, trade and development cooperation, and look forward to continue on this path with the next administration under the PCA [Partnership and Cooperation Agreement] agreed in 2012 between the Philippines and the EU,” he said.
The Taiwanese media, meanwhile, quoted Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) spokesman Ruan Jhao-syong as saying that President-elect Tsai Ing-wen will seek to work with the Philippines’ new administration, to promote bilateral exchanges in areas such as investment, industry, culture, tourism and education.
The official said Taiwan’s new government “will push for a ‘southward policy,’ aimed at deepening partnerships between Taiwan and Southeast Asian countries through exchanges at all levels.”
Ruan, however, refused to comment when asked about the new government’s stance on the arbitration case filed by the Philippines against China, saying that concerned government offices will only deal with the issue after the new government takes office.
For its part, China hopes Duterte will be able to strengthen the diplomatic ties between Manila and Beijing, whose relationship went to its lowest point over sea dispute.
“China hopes the Philippines’ new government can work in the same direction with China, properly handle our differences and get bilateral ties back on track with concrete actions,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said.
He is optimistic that the Philippines and China will still be able to adopt practical measures to properly handle the sea row.
Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines Zhao Jianhua expressed willingness to personally meet the new Philippine President, whom he hopes will initiate the resumption of bilateral talks to find a solution that is agreeable to both sides.
“We hope to have a new chapter with the Philippines. Of course, we have differences. We hope that we can handle it properly and we should not let these differences be the focus of our relationship,” he told The Manila Times in an earlier interview. MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO