LIMA, PERU: United States President Barack Obama sees a “better and stronger” relations between Washington and Manila with Donald Trump as president, according to Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr.
In an interview on the sidelines of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) summit here, Yasay said Obama, during a conversation in one of the side meetings, told him that he was optimistic about the future of the US-Philippines ties under the administration of Trump, whose personality is similar to President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Sinabi nya sa akin na [he told me that]he is expecting a better and stronger relationship between the Philippines and the United states under the new administration of President-elect Trump, as they seem to have the same kind of temperament,” said Yasay, who stood in for Duterte in events concluding the APEC meet here.
“Hindi ko na lang nabanggit sa kanya na ang anumang kahirapan na [I did not mention to him that whatever trouble] afflicting us, as a result of our existing relationship is more fundamental than personalities involved,” Yasay said.
“Gusto naman natin na ma-convey ang mensahe sa Amerika na yung ating [We want to convey the message to America that our] relationship can be stronger if there will be a reevaluation and readjustment of our relationship where this time, dependency will not be allowed. That is more fundamental,” he added.
Yasay said the US president did not have any message for Duterte.
“But he was really saying something that was to my mind forward-looking, na nakikita nya na siguro medyo strained ang relationship ngayon [as he obviously saw the strained relationship between the two countries]with the leaders involved,” he said.
Obama and Duterte never had a chance to talk during the APEC leaders meet because the Filipino leader skipped the gala dinner and the traditional family photo event of world leaders due to a jetlag.
There were speculations that Duterte skipped the events to avoid Obama, who has been vocal about his concerns over the Philippines’ intensified campaign against illegal drugs.
Duterte said he had no opportunity to interact with Obama.
“No. I was not looking around,” the President said, adding that he was poring through one of the APEC reading materials when Obama walked in.