Duterte says he’s now friendlier with US
President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday said he was now on friendlier terms with the United States, which he has frequently slammed for interfering in the domestic affairs of the Philippines.
Duterte said the US has “redeemed themselves a lot.” He declared in October 2016 that he was breaking the Philippines’ long-standing military and economic alliance with the US.
“There are so many factors involved but I’d rather be friendly to them now because aside from these episodes of, I said, sad incidents, overall I think the Americans also redeemed themselves a lot,” he said in a speech during the 116th commemoration of the Balangiga Encounter Day in Eastern Samar.
Duterte acknowledged the assistance of the US throughout the years, even citing Washington’s help to quell terrorists in strife-torn Marawi City.
The President, known for his expletive-laced speeches, said he was advised by the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) to “temper” his language not to issue any incendiary statement against the Us government while it was trying to recover the bells.
“I was under advice by the Department of Foreign Affairs that I would just temper my language and avoid [cussing]—which I’m prone to do if I get emotional,” he said.
During his second State of the Nation (Sona) in July, the President demanded the return of the Balangiga bells.
He said efforts were ongoing between the Philippine government and the US on the return of the historical bells.
“I was under advice that the negotiations are going on, that the government of America is looking for ways how to get out of this problem of the Balangiga bells because it remains to be not only the source of irritation but the source of a painful reaction, what really happened to our countrymen,” he said.