Duterte fighting drugs ‘the right way’, says Trump
US president-elect Donald Trump told Philippine leader Rodrigo Duterte that Manila was conducting its deadly drug war “the right way”, Duterte said on Saturday, in stark contrast to the criticism he received from President Barack Obama.
The Philippine president called Trump late on Friday evening to congratulate him on his election victory with Trump wishing him “success” in his controversial anti-crime crackdown, in which some 4,800 people have been killed since June, according to Duterte.
“He was quite sensitive also to our worry about drugs. And he wishes me well... in my campaign and he said that... we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” Duterte said in a video released by his office on Saturday.
“He was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.”
Duterte, 71, launched an unprecedented war on drugs that drew a wave of global criticism with Obama urging the leader in September to conduct his campaign “the right way” following concerns over alleged extrajudicial killings.
Trump’s office released a brief statement following the conversation, saying Duterte had congratulated Trump and the two agreed to work together closely.
Duterte won presidential elections in May after pledging to kill tens of thousands of drug suspects, warning that otherwise the Philippines would turn into a narco-state.
Since assuming office, he has called on police and even civilians to kill drug users.
In October Duterte announced a “separation” from the United States and had called for the withdrawal of US troops from his country, putting into question Manila’s 70-year-old alliance with Washington.
But on Saturday, Duterte said he “could sense a good rapport” with an “animated” Trump.
Duterte’s spokesman said the “understanding” between the two leaders signaled better Philippine-US ties.
“We can say at this stage that our relationship with the US is improving,” Ernesto Abella said.
Video released by Duterte’s office showed the Philippine leader laughing as he chatted on the phone, later saying Trump would be “a good president for the United States of America”.
have been killed in the Philippine anti-crime crackdown since June