PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte clarified Tuesday that his quarrel with the United States involves only those officials who think differently from him.
In a press conference held Tuesday night at the end of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit, the President said he was elated by positive developments and the improving ties between the Philippines and the US, a long-time ally.
"It has been a forward movement. My quarrel with the US is not the government and the people. That would be idiotic," Duterte said.
"My quarrel (only includes) people there in (the US) government with different policies (from me)," he added.
Duterte issued the remark after a bilateral meeting with US President Donald Trump on the sidelines of the Asean summit.
Duterte had repeatedly thrown expletives at the US in his spontaneous speeches in response to criticisms by former US president Barack Obama on the brutal war on illegal drugs.
Obama, in September last year, advised Duterte to wage the war on rampant narcotics trade "the right way."
Since Duterte assumed office in July 2016, his foreign policy has veered towards China and Russia. He has kept a distance from the US, although the latter has continued to provide assistance, including technical assistance during the armed conflict in Marawi.
Duterte, however, has been friendly with Trump, with whom he is often compared to.
During their bilateral meeting Monday, Trump reaffirmed US bilateral relations with the Philippines and gave assurance that he has a "great" alliance with Duterte.
"We've had a great relationship," Trump told Duterte.
There was no mention of human rights nor of the alleged extrajudicial killings associated with Duterte's war on drugs.
Speaking to reporters as he flew over the Pacific Ocean, Trump praised the "important military location" of the country and said ties, which soured when his predecessor Barack Obama spoke out against Duterte's campaign, were back on track.
"Now we have a very good relationship there. We're back with the Philippines," he said. (SunStar Philippines with AFP)