President Duterte meets US Secretary of State Tillerson
US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has made a courtesy call on Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Tillerson is in Manila for meetings with foreign ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), and other regional powers.
When Duterte met Tillerson on Monday, he was all smiles. This was in sharp contrast to comments he made last year ahead of a scheduled meeting with then US President Barack Obama, after criticism of his war on drugs.
“The Philippines is not a vassal state. We have long ceased to be a colony of the United States,” said Duterte.
From that moment on, a cloud of uncertainty hung over ties between the Philippines and the United States, with Duterte threatening to end the two countries’ military alliance, among other things. But there had in fact been little to no change in US-Philippine relations, especially with Obama now out of the picture.
“Considering I think that there is already a modus vivendi between President Trump and President Duterte, I don’t expect fireworks here,” said Ramon Castle, the political analyst.
Duterte declined to mention details of his discussions with Tillerson. But those present during the first part of the meeting say they heard Duterte reassure Tillerson that he was the Secretary of State's humble friend in Southeast Asia.