The invitation to the White House that never was

Duterte makes a phone call to US President-elect Donald Trump. Malacanang photo by Toto Lozano

PRESIDENT Duterte must be euphoric after the seven-minute phone conversation with U.S. President-elect Donald Trump Friday night, he thought the latter invited him to visit the United States.

The Presidential Communication Office released the following notes by the President of his conversation with Trump:

“The President-elect Trump wishes the, to extend his warmest regards to the Filipino people. And in just a few minutes, we were talking a lot of things.

“He was quite sensitive also to our worry about drugs. And he wishes me well to, in my campaign and he said that… well we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way.

“And he wishes us well.

“And I said that, well, we assured him of our ties with America.

“I appreciate the response that I got from President-elect Trump and I would like to wish him success. He will be a good president for the United States of America. I am very sure. And he has invited me to visit New York and Washington DC, he said that if I’m around, he wants to be notified of my presence and maybe–

“And I mentioned to him about the ASEAN Summit next year and he said that he will try his best to be here.

“He wants to attend the Summit and that would be great for our country.

“I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump. And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.

“He understood the way we are handling it and I said that there’s nothing wrong in protecting a country.

“It was a bit very encouraging in the sense that I supposed that what he really wanted to say was that we would be the last to interfere in the affairs of your own country.”

In Washington D.C., Trump’s transition team also released a “Read out of Calls with World Leaders” by the President-elect.

On that day, the President-elect talked with four heads of government :Afghanistan President Mohammed Ashraf Ghani Admazai, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Long, and Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen.

On his call with Duterte, the Read out said: “President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines offered his congratulatory wishes to President-elect Trump. In their conversation, they noted the long history of friendship and cooperation between the two nations and agreed that the two government would continue to work together closely on matters of shared interest and concern.”

That’s all.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella on Saturday clarified reports attributed to Bong Go, the President’s special assistant, that Trump invited Duterte to the White House.

Abella said, “According to the transcript po, wala pong specific na sinabi na inimbita ang Presidente. Based on the transcript, ang sinabi po actually ni President Donald Trump na kung mangyari man na naandun siya sa New York o sa Washington ay dapat na mapaalam kay Donald Trump. (According to the transcript, there was nothing specific that the President was invited. Based on the transcript, what was actually said by President Donal Trump was if you happen to be in New York or Washington D.C.,.to let Donald Trump know.” )

What are the occasions that a Philippine president maybe in New York or Washington D.C ? One is the National Prayer Breakfast held every first Thursday of February in Washington, D.C. It’s hosted by the members of the U.S. Congress and attended by the President.

In 2009, then President Gloria Arroyo flew to Washington D.C. hoping but failed to shake hands with the new President Barack Obama.

Another is the opening of the United Nations General Assembly which usually happens in September. But then didn’t he say, “Fuck you, U.N.?”

Also last October he told the Filipino Community in Bejing, “I will not go to America anymore. I’ll just be insulted there.”

But Duterte can always say, he was just joking.


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