WHATEVER words President Rodrigo Duterte chooses to hurl at the United States, the latter continues to see the Philippines as a key ally.

US State Department acting spokesperson Mark Toner said the US alliance with the Philippines is one of their “core relationships.”

“It’s a relationship that’s defined by the many thousands of Filipinos who have made a home in our country but remain culturally tied to the Philippines,” he told visiting Filipino journalists in Washington DC last Wednesday.

The Filipino journalists are on a reporting tour on Philippine-US bilateral relations.

Toner added that the relationship spans several sectors, such as security, economy and politics.

“It’s a relationship we value and what I can say unequivocally is we continue to work productively with the Philippines.”

He admitted they might have some concerns that come up, citing the possibility of human rights violations.

“But we also believe that we have a relationship with the Philippines where we can talk about some of these areas of concerns at the same time we pursue a very productive and forward-looking bilateral relationship. We want to make this relationship even stronger," he said.

Toner also assured that Filipino immigrants should have nothing to fear from President Trump’s order temporarily banning the entry of visitors from seven countries.

Filipino immigrants composed the United States’ third largest foreign-born population from Asia, after immigrants from India and China, the Migration Policy Institute has reported.

“The Philippines was not among those countries that were labeled ‘of concern’, so I would say that Filipinos, both in the United States and the Philippines, should by all means be welcomed into the United States,” Toner.

“He has said very clearly that his first priority is to protect American lives, American citizens, and so he wants to conduct a review on some of the processes by which people are traveling to the United States,” Toner said.

He advised Filipino travelers to consult the US Embassy in Manila to address any concerns.

Last Friday, Trump suspended the arrival of refugees for 120 days and barred visas for travelers from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria and Yemen.

The order sparked protests across American cities and airports, with protesters condemning the order as unfair.

However, some Filipinos see the need for it.

“These are not ordinary times,” said Januario Azarcon, a Filipino-American lawyer and president of the company that publishes a bi-weekly Filipino-American newspaper in Washington DC.

Azarcon told reporters in a separate session that citizens need to realize that there are threats to national security and that the move is temporary, until measures can be put in place to quell these threats.

He added that it should not surprise anyone who voted for Trump, saying he was just delivering on a campaign promise.