Despite his previous tirades against the United States, President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday said the Philippines and the US are “the best of friends.”
In his speech during the 67th anniversary of the Philippine Marine Corps. in Taguig City, the President reaffirmed the Philippines’ ties with the US.
“We remain to be the best of friends with America. Most of you or some of you went to school in America and I do not blame you if your sentiments really remain with the power that helped us for the longest time,” the President said to an audience that included some American soldiers.
But Duterte said geopolitics is changing relations between countries.
He cited the tension caused by North Korea’s ballistic missile launches.
“I just hope that (North) Korea will have the sense to avoid it because you know whether we like it or not, we remain to be friends, courteous,” Duterte said.
Duterte made the statement a day before meeting US President Donald Trump at the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Vietnam.
In the same speech, the President thanked the US for its assistance in the fight to liberate Marawi City. He also thanked China, Russia, and Israel.
Duterte said he is hoping that China would “honor” its word that it will not reclaim land in the Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal) following reports that it has launched a massive dredging ship nicknamed the “island-maker.”
“I hope you understand that I cannot afford to go to war. You know, I know that it would end up in a massacre. We do not [have]nuclear arms and everything, as a matter of fact, we’re just bystanders,” he said.
CATHERINE S. VALENTE