Philippines: Duterte plans to visit pope, apologize
The presumptive Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is planning to visit the Vatican to make a personal apology to the pope for calling him a “son of a whore”, the politician’s spokesman said on Thursday.
“The mayor (Duterte) repeatedly said he wants to visit the Vatican, win or lose, not only to pay homage to the pope but he really needs to explain to the pope and ask for forgiveness,” Lavina told reporters in the southern city of Davao.
Meanwhile, the United States, China and the European Union have expressed optimism in working with Duterte, particularly in addressing maritime disputes in the South China Sea and strengthening political and trade ties.
US State Department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said “Washington respects the choice of the Philippines people. We gladly work with the leader they’ve selected.”
“We look forward to congratulating, welcoming, and working with him,” said Trudeau.
China urged Duterte to agree to bilateral negotiations in addressing territorial disputes in the South China Sea and exclude non-parties, such as the US and Australia, from the issue.
Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang was responding to plans of Duterte to convene a multilateral meeting of Asean claimants and China along with the US, Australia.
He said “China has been following the election in the Philippines.”
“We hope that the new government of the Philippines can work with us towards the same direction, properly deal with relevant disputes, and bring bilateral relations back to the track of sound development with concrete actions,” said Lu in a press briefing in Beijing.
EU ambassador to the Philippines Franz Jessen said the EU and the member states’ representatives in Manila welcomed the orderly elections on May 9.
Communist chief hopes to end exile
Philippine communist rebel leader Jose Maria Sison has expressed hopes of ending nearly three decades in exile under the “new presidency” of Rodrigo Duterte, a potentially explosive homecoming opposed by senior military figures.
Sison, 77, fled to Europe soon after peace talks failed in 1987 and has stayed abroad since, while one of Asia’s longest-running insurgencies continued to claim thousands of lives.
“I will return to the Philippines if Duterte fulfils his promise to visit me,” the Netherlands-based Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder said in comments posted on his Facebook page late Wednesday.
“The prospects (for peace talks) seem to be bright at the moment.”