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Duterte changes tune, says he'd rather be friendly with US

President Duterte holds a photograph of the First Battle of Bud Dajo massacre showing American soldiers with the bodies of Filipino Muslims killed in Bud Dajo, a volcanic crater on the island of Jolo in 1906. Krizjohn Rosales, File
MANILA, Philippines — After repeatedly cursing at the US for supposedly meddling with the Philippines’ affairs, President Rodrigo Duterte is now adopting a friendlier stance towards Washington as he acknowledged that the superpower has been helpful to the Philippines.
Duterte said the Americans’ atrocities against Filipino Muslims during the colonial period—a topic he used to discredit the US’ criticisms against his bloody war on drugs—are “water under the bridge.”
“It was bad enough there were foreigners and yet this has to happen. (There were) many other massacres especially in Mindanao and the Moros. These are all water under the bridge,” Duterte said during the 116th anniversary of the Balangiga massacre Thursday in Eastern Samar.  
“I believe also that that water has passed under the bridge and America today, well, of course, the liberation came, but would it not also for the fact they were present here and that is why the Japanese came,” he added.
Duterte said the US has redeemed itself in several occasions, noting that it helped the Filipinos fight the Japanese invasion,
“There are so many factors involved but I’d rather be friendly to them now because aside from these episodes…overall I think the Americans also redeemed themselves a lot,” the Philippine leader said.
“Bumawi naman sila (They made up for the things they did), and they have helped us a lot. Whether we like it or not, we were engaged here, challenged by the Japanese occupation and it was America who partly helped us, as an ally,” he added.
“I would not say there were our saviors, but they are our allies and they helped us.”
Duterte also cited the US’ assistance to the Philippines’ war against terrorism.
“Even today, they provide crucial equipment to our soldiers in Marawi to fight the terrorists,” he said.
The president admitted that he was advised by the Foreign Affairs department to tone down on his tirades against the US.
“I was under advice by the Department of Foreign Affairs that I would just temper my language and avoid cursing, which I’m prone to do if I get emotional,” he said.
But Duterte still mentioned some negative aspects of the US occupation including the parity rights, which allowed the Americans to exploit the Philippines’ natural resources.
“They retained that right to exploit the wealth of the nation, side by side with the Filipino people. That was also a thing which most of our generation today would find it …not the right thing. Bumawi naman sila (they made up for it), and they have helped us a lot,” Duterte said.
The Philippines and its traditional ally the US has had a rocky relationship since Duterte became president last year.
Duterte repeatedly assailed the US for allegedly interfering with the Philippines’ internal problems after some American officials called him out over the killings linked to his anti-drug crackdown.
Last year, the president threatened to “separate” himself from the US but officials later on clarified that he was stressing the need for an independent foreign policy.
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