PRESIDENT Rody Duterte showed his astute diplomat skills as chairman of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) Summit in Manila from Nov. 12 to 14.
The summit brought together 19 world leaders, including those from the 10-member Asean regional bloc.
Everything in the summit was, of course, choreographed by experienced diplomats. But the president played his role so well.
He pulled a coup of sorts when he sang the love song “Ikaw” with pop diva Pilita Corrales at the gala dinner for the leaders on Sunday night ahead of the summit’s formal opening.
He said he sang “upon the orders of the commander in chief of the United States.”
That must have disarmed U.S. President Donald Trump, who didn’t raise the issue of human rights publicly during his visit.
Trump even praised President Duterte’s hosting of the Asean summit, which he said has been “handled beautifully.”
“We very much appreciate the great treatment that you have given. I thought last night’s event was fantastic, tremendous talent,” he said.
Trump said he and other leaders had a “tremendous time” during the gala dinner. “So I think in behalf of the leaders, and everybody, I want to thank you and I want to thank the Philippines.”
President Duterte once called former U.S. President Barrack Obama a “son of a whore.” There were no expletives this time.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said Duterte and Trump had a “frank discussion” during their 40-minute bilateral meeting on Monday.
“President Trump specifically said that he has always been a friend of the Duterte administration unlike the previous administrations of the United States,” Roque said.
Roque said there was no mention of human rights violations and extrajudicial killings during the Duerte-Trump meeting.
They probably speak the same language and quickly understood each other.
But who can befriend both U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin?