WASHINGTON: The United States on Tuesday said it was keen to work with whoever wins the presidential elections in the Philippines, after foul-mouthed populist Rodrigo Duterte claimed victory.
“We look forward to working with and congratulating the winner,” State Department spokeswoman Elizabeth Trudeau said.
Trudeau added that official results had not yet been confirmed but said the United States will work with whichever candidate emerges on top.
“Washington respects the choice of the Philippines’ people. We will gladly work with the leader they’ve selected,” she said, without being drawn on some of Duterte’s more controversial statements.
Duterte, who has vowed a fierce crackdown on crime and corruption, has made no secret of his involvement in running vigilante death squads as mayor of Davao City in southern Philippines and waged an incendiary campaign.
He dominated campaign media coverage and generated international headlines with his relentless gutter talk, branding Pope Francis a “son of a whore” and boasting repeatedly about his Viagra-fueled affairs.
Duterte caused further disgust in diplomatic circles by joking that he would have wanted to rape an Australian missionary who was killed in a 1989 Philippine prison riot.
“The United States has consistently expressed support for nations to exercise peaceful means to resolve territorial or maritime disputes without the use of force, intimidation or coercion,” Trudeau said.
US Ambassador to Manila Philip Goldberg also congratulated Filipinos for the successful conduct of the 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,” Goldberg said in his Twitter account.
He added that he will congratulate the new leaders once they have been officially declared victors.
“Looking forward to congratulating the next leaders of the Philippines once the official election results are in,” he tweeted.