US President-elect Donald Trump expressed support for the Philippine's anti-drug campaign, saying he understands the way the administration is handling it, President Rodrigo Duterte said.
Duterte mentioned this as he described his late Friday evening [Manila time] phone conversation with Trump.
Duterte said he takes the remark to mean that the US under Trump would not interfere with the affairs of the Philippines.
In the transcript of the phone conversation that the Presidential Communications Office sent to media, Duterte said: "President-elect Trump wishes ... 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.
"He understood the way we are handling it [anti-drug drive] and I said that 'there is 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 [US] would be the last to interfere in the affairs of your own country," Duterte said, quoting Trump.
Duterte also said the appreciated the kind of response that he received from the US President-elect, and in response, he also wished Trump success.
"He will be a good president for the United States of America. I am very sure," Duterte added.
Meanwhile, Duterte said Trump invited him to visit the US.
"He has invited me to visit New York and Washington DC, [saying] that if I'm around, he wants to be notified of my presence and maybe..."
According to Duterte, Trump would also try his best to be present at the ASEAN Summit next year.
"He wants to attend the Summit and that would be great for our country," Duterte said.
The expected phone conversation happened amid local and international criticisms against Duterte's bloody campaign against illegal drugs and criminality, with some groups claiming the death toll has been more than 3,000.
TIME Magazine even dedicated an issue to Duterte's anti-drug war with the cover title: "Night falls on the Philippines."
For raising human rights concerns over the bloody campaign, outgoing US President Barack Obama had taken criticisms from Duterte. United Nations officials were also not spared by Duterte's sharp tongue. —Luis B. Gorgonio/VVP, GMA News