Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte may have anticipated a Donald Trump victory in the U.S. while most of his people expected former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to take the White House.
The U.S. Embassy in Manila polled Filipinos one day prior to the election, and the results showed 82 percent favoring Clinton, with only 13 percent supporting Trump, reports the South China Morning Post.
An earlier survey carried out by the newspaper showed 76 percent supporting Trump. Seventy-four percent of Filipinos believed Clinton would become the next U.S. president, Rappler revealed. Reuters said that Clinton had a 90 percent chance of winning the presidency.
When Trump emerged victorious, many people in the Philippines were shocked, but Duterte, who has been nicknamed “Trump of the East” or “Trump on Steroids,” may not have been among those surprised by the election results.
A few days before U.S. voters went to the polls, Duterte appointed Jose Antonio as the new Philippine trade envoy to the U.S. Antonio is CEO of Century Properties, the developer for Trump Tower Manila.
Duterte appointed Trump’s business partner to “enhance business ties and strengthen the economic affairs” between the Philippines and U.S.
The president of the Philippines also began pivoting towards China and reducing the country’s dependence on the U.S. prior to the American election. Improving relations between the Philippines and China could negate some of the possible undesirable effects of a Trump presidency on the island nation.
“Instead of depending on the US, to a great extent, we are now diversifying our friends. So you don’t crash when the country you depend on is in trouble,” Duterte’s economic planning secretary Ernesto Pernia explained.
“We have a safety net which was foreseen by the president. [Duterte] foresaw, he’s a clairvoyant,” Pernia said of the Filipino president.
The Presidential Palace issued a congratulatory statement to Trump on behalf of Duterte. In contrast with his outrageous criticisms of President Barack Obama, Duterte said that he “looks forward to working with the incoming administration for enhanced Philippine-US relations anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit and shared commitment to democratic ideals and the rule of law.” The management of the U.S.-Philippines relationship will be an important issue for president-elect Trump.
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