THE United States, one of the Philippines’ closest allies, was the first nation to congratulate Filipinos for the successful conduct of the recently concluded national and local polls.
“I congratulate the Filipinos on their exercise of democracy. It reminds the world that PH is such an open & healthy democratic system,” read US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg’s post Tuesday night on Twitter.
“Looking forward to congratulating the next leaders of the Philippines once the official election results are in,” he tweeted.
Partial and unofficial results from the elections monitor showed Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is poised to be the next President, with 6 – 7 million ballots ahead of his nearest rival, administration bet Manuel “Mar” Roxas II.
A Reuters report on Wednesday quoted US State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau as saying that Washington “respects the choice of the Philippine people.”
She added that the US will work with the leaders elected by the electorate, but did not categorically answered questions on alleged human rights abuses committed by Duterte as mayor of Davao City.
“We look forward to working with the leader that the Philippines has elected,” was all she had to say.
Goldberg had earlier condemned a rape joke carried by the mass media as well as posted on the social media.
The ambassador did not mention Duterte’s name, although it was the latter who had made the rape joke on the Australian woman missionary who was murdered during a jail riot in Davao in 1989.
Duterte had said he would sever ties with the US and Australia, which had also condemned the rape joke, if he succeeded to become President.
He has also been very vocal about his opposition to a military agreement between Washington and Manila that provides increased rotational presence of US troops in the Philippine military bases, and allows them to build facilities to store fuel and equipment there.
He revealed earlier he was “lukewarm” toward the US when its embassy allegedly invited him for a meeting. MICHAEL JOE T. DELIZO