Trump's lovely weekend with Philippines president should alarm you

Trump and the Philippines' strongman had a creepy chummy relationship

By Matthew Rozsa

Staff Writer

Published November 13, 2017 8:54AM (EST)

 (AP Photo/Martin Mejia, File)
(AP Photo/Martin Mejia, File)

President Donald Trump and Philippines strongman Rodrigo Duterte have long had an uncomfortably chummy relationship, but the events of last weekend were excessive even by their standards.

On Monday, Duterte and Trump were at a joint press conference during which Trump laughed at Duterte's intimidating comments toward reporters.

"We will be discussing matters that are of interest to both the Philippines and . . .with you around, guys, you are the spies," Duterte said, according to pool reports. Trump responded by laughing along with Duterte.

The Filipino strongman repeated, "You are."

The bizarre bromance between Trump and Duterte reached a new level on Sunday; however, Duterte took to the stage at a gala in Manila to sing a song for Trump prior to the annual Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit. Duterte was joined by Pilita Corrales, one of the Philippines' biggest pop stars.

"Ladies and gentlemen, I sang uninvited, upon the orders of the commander-in-chief of the United States," Duterte said after the song was over.

One of the verses in the song translated as, "You are the light in my world, a half of this heart of mine."

Not everything was smooth sailing between Trump and Duterte, however. The two parties' various camps disagreed on whether Trump had brought up the issue of Duterte's dismal human rights record during their private meeting.

"The conversation focused on ISIS, illegal drugs and trade. Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs," White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders told reporters.

By contrast, Duterte spokesman Harry Roque told CNN that the human rights issue "was not brought up" and claimed that Trump "appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter but was merely nodding his head."

By Matthew Rozsa

Matthew Rozsa is a staff writer at Salon. He received a Master's Degree in History from Rutgers-Newark in 2012 and was awarded a science journalism fellowship from the Metcalf Institute in 2022.

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Donald Trump Philippines Rodrigo Duterte