No major change in PH-US relations: Duterte seen to establish warm ties with whoever wins presidency

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, November 4)— The Philippine government is not expecting major changes in its bilateral relations with the United States whatever the outcome of America’s presidential elections will be.

Malacañang on Wednesday remained confident that President Rodrigo Duterte will foster warm relations with whoever wins the US’ key post — whether it be incumbent President Donald Trump or Democratic challenger Joe Biden.

“You see the State Department ensures continuity as far as US foreign policy is concerned. So we don’t expect any major changes in the bilateral relations between the Philippines and the United States,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque told CNN Philippines’ The Source.

“Of course, there’s an issue of personal relations. But I think given time the President can establish an equally warm personal relations with whoever wins this elections, even if it’s not President Trump,” he added.

Polls across the US closed on Tuesday night (Wednesday in the Philippines) in a race that will decide whether to retain Trump following his tumultous first term or elect a new leader in the White House for the next four years.

READ: Trump and Biden locked in tight battle for the White House as votes are counted across the nation

Roque expressed optimism that Duterte could also develop a “close personal friendship” with Biden should he get elected to the post — the same way the Philippines' chief executive did with the current Republican leader.

“All the president needed really was a year or two and he was able to foster personal friendship with President Trump. And even if there’s a new President, I’m not saying that there will be, but in case there is a new president in the United States, I’m confident that the President can also develop close personal friendship with Mr. Biden,” Roque said. “May the best man win.”

Status quo?

Some experts earlier noted that a retained Trump presidency would mean “business as usual” for the relations of the two countries.

Political analyst Dindo Manhit, in a separate interview with CNN Philippines, said bilateral ties between the two countries would be on “status quo” should Trump remain in the coveted seat.

Meanwhile, under a Biden administration, “certain relationships” of the two countries could be “affected,” the analyst said.

“With Biden, I would also like to remind everyone that his key to foreign policy is to reinvigorate democracy and renew economic security driven by democratic policy. So that may affect certain relationships between President Duterte and Biden,” Manhit added.

For his part, former U.S. ambassador to Asian Development Bank Curtis Chin said he believes that whoever wins, the western country will continue to support the Philippines.

“The U.S. is a strong partner in the Philippines and that will continue whoever the president is,” he told CNN Philippines’ The Final Word.

Nearly two million Filipino Americans are eligible to vote in the US, based on data from America-based think tank Pew Research Center. Their votes, however, are seen to be split, according to international studies professor Renato De Castro.