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We share passion to serve, says Duterte on Trump

President Rodrigo Duterte, center, inspects honor guard during a welcoming ceremony in Putrajaya, Malaysia, Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Duterte is in Malaysia for an official visit. AP/Vincent Thian

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte played down comparisons with United States President-elect Donald Trump, saying he is just a "small molecule" but shares with him a "common passion to serve" their countries.

Upon arrival from Malaysia on Friday morning, Duterte said whoever would run for public office is expected to have this passion, or at least have discontent over social conditions.

"Comparison, no, I don't think we (can be compared)... What we share in common is the passion to serve," Duterte said, answering a question by a journalist at a news briefing after his arrival speech.

He said Trump is now the president of the world's most powerful country, and there is no point of comparison with him. "I am just a president struggling barely to (swim) just above the water," Duterte said.

Observers noted similarities of Duterte and Trump, both catapulted to the presidency by a wave of populism, with voters perceiving them as anti-establishment.

Trump and Duterte are also both known for uttering hyperboles, and proposing radical foreign policy shifts on the campaign trail.

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Duterte, however, has had decades of experience as mayor of the southern city of Davao after his stint as prosecutor. Trump, meanwhile, is a magnate and reality television holding various business interests.

On Wednesday, Duterte said he and the newly elected American president both like to swear. "One little thing, we curse right away, we're the same," Duterte said in Malaysia.

Duterte was among the first leaders who congratulated Trump, who bested Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton, on his election on Wednesday.

“Ayoko nang makipag-away kasi andyan na si Trump (I no longer want to pick a fight because Trump is now there),” Duterte said before the Filipino community in Kuala Lumpur. — Camille Diola

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