UNITED STATES Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Y. Kim met with President Rodrigo R. Duterte on Wednesday, Sept. 12, to discuss defense and economic cooperation with the Philippines.
In a press briefing on Thursday, Sept. 13, Presidential Spokesperson Harry L. Roque, Jr. confirmed that Messrs. Duterte and Kim met at Malacañang on Wednesday night. “No details were released. It was classified as a private meeting,” Mr. Roque said.
Mr. Kim also confirmed the meeting in a Twitter post, saying: “Excellent meeting with President Duterte to discuss shared goals including defense priorities and economic partnership. Our alliance remains strong and ironclad.”
Sought for comment, Mr. Roque said: “Well, we’ve always had (a) good relationship with the United States. And I’m sure that every meeting between the President and the US Ambassador will result in closer relations.”
Mr. Duterte has been critical of the US for some time, following the latter’s admonition against defense purchases with other countries being considered by the Philippines.
Sought for comment, international studies professor Renato C. de Castro of De La Salle University said in a phone interview: “I bet it was the Philippines, it was Malacañang that asked Ambassador Kim to come to the Palace. It was to assure him probably that: ‘You know, what I said was just basically for public consumption; but honestly, I want to maintain a peaceful and stable relation with the United States.’”
“He is calculating. He likes to play this game of left and right jabs. Probably, he conveyed his position that we are still simply considering buying submarines from Russia. We haven’t made a decision yet. In fact, based on what [Defense Secretary Delfin N.] Lorenzana said after his visit to Moscow [last month], we cannot afford to maintain those submarines,” Mr. de Castro also said. — A. L. Balinbin