Duterte invites Donald Trump to ASEAN’s 50th anniversary

By Cristina DC Pastor

President Rodrigo Duterte has invited Donald Trump to attend ASEAN’s 50th year anniversary which Manila is hosting this year.

This was disclosed by Senator Alan Peter Cayetano following a meeting with newly confirmed Secretary of State Rex Tillerson where he “communicated a message from back home.”

“I reiterated the invitation to President Trump to come to the Philippines…sa ASEAN,” he said in a press conference with members of the Filipino American media on February 8 at the Philippine Consulate.

He continued, “I reiterated also my personal gratitude that the call between President Duterte and President Trump was very productive. Maganda naman ang napag-usapan.” No further details were provided.

Cayetano, loudly rumored to be the next Philippine foreign secretary, said the meeting with Tillerson was short but “very friendly.” The meeting was held on the side of the National Prayer Breakfast on February 2. Tillerson was confirmed a day before.

“I congratulated him on his confirmation as Secretary of State,” he said.

At the same time, he said he conveyed to his potential counterpart a “message from the Philippines.” The message, he said, is that the Philippines is open for business, is addressing issues of peace and order and corruption, and putting in place infrastructure to ensure continued growth of the economy.

“The economy is doing well, and we’d like to build, build, build,” he said.

“Everyone will agree that the Duterte government is very strong on (peace and order),” he continued.

He conceded there have been “some ups and down, some roller-coaster rides” when it comes to Philippine-U.S. relationship, but people-to-people ties remain strong. He has no idea, he said, who the Philippine ambassador to Washington D.C. is going to be. He said he has removed himself from the selection process and left it to the leadership of Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay.

Cayetano was Duterte’s running mate in the presidential election, but lost. Reports out of Manila say that he is being seriously considered as foreign secretary, but has to wait a year from the time of the election, before he can take over, assuming the post will be given to him.

It is widely speculated his recent trip to Washington D.C. and New York is in preparation for his new assignment. He denied this, saying he is visiting only for meetings.

“President Duterte is the president of all Filipinos, whatever your status here, whether you’re legal or illegal,” he said. He respects the U.S. immigration laws, said the senator, who said the statement quoting Duterte as saying he will “not lift a finger” to help Filipino immigrants facing deportation may have been another case of misreporting by the media. “What’s coming out in the media is negative or political.”

“Imagine there are 3.4 million immigrants. If everyone gave a dollar, that would be 3.4 million dollars you can use for immigration lawyers,” he said. The bottom line he said, is that the Philippines has to “follow the host country’s laws.”

At the meet-and-greet with FilAm community. Photo by Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media

At the meet-and-greet with FilAm community. Photo by Lambert Parong/Kababayan Media

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