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No fist bump for Trump

Photo from the Facebook page of police chief Bato dela Rosa showing his brief encounter with US President Donald Trump. Dela Rosa posed with his usual "fist pump" gesture identified with the Duterte administration. Trump, however, posed with a thumb up.

MANILA, Philippines — US President Donald Trump declined to do the fist bump gesture that is popular among President Duterte and his supporters, avoiding criticisms of being supportive of the Philippine leader’s war on drugs. 

Philippine National Police (PNP) chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa posted his photo with Trump in his Facebook account, which he accompanied with the caption “When Ronald meets Donald.” 

The PNP chief did the fist bump while Trump instead flashed a thumbs-up – which he usually does.

Dela Rosa met Trump on the sidelines of the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings being held in Manila. 

Trump had been warned of doing the gesture, which Duterte critics claim represents the brutalities of his administration’s bloody drug war that has claimed thousands of lives.

Duterte has popularized a clenched fist, often stuck out in front of his chest or sometimes at eye level, as his trademark gesture.

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Australia’s spy chief, Nick Warner, was criticized in his country for doing the fist bump with Duterte during his visit to Manila last August.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also did the gesture during a meeting with Duterte in Tokyo last year.

Abe, whom Duterte has called a “true friend,” has not criticized the drug war.

Duterte an authoritarian leader – Sanders

US Sen. Bernie Sanders has described President Duterte as an authoritarian leader similar to the leaders of Russia, China and Saudi Arabia.

Sanders, who unsuccessfully secured the presidential nomination of the Democratic Party last year, made the statement as he mocked Trump’s visit to various countries in Asia this month.

“Well, at least Trump is consistent. Abroad, he has never met a leader of an authoritarian nation (Russia, China, Saudi Arabia, Philippines) that he hasn’t liked,” he tweeted.

“At home he shows contempt for the US Constitution and democracy,” added the senator.

The other leaders whom Sanders referred to in his tweet are Russia’s Vladimir Putin, China’s Xi Jinping and Saudi Arabia’s King Salman.           

While the three other countries are generally viewed as authoritarian, the Philippines is historically described as a democratic country.

Saudi Arabia strictly follows an absolute monarchy system, while China is a one-party state.

Russia, while technically a multi-party nation that regularly elects its leaders, has been headed by Putin or his current Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev since 2000.

Duterte was elected last year and has since drawn criticisms for his hard-hitting and off-the-cuff remarks, including cursing at Pope Francis, former US president Barrack Obama, the United Nations and the European Union.

Despite losing the presidential nomination against former secretary of state and first lady Hillary Clinton, Sanders remains one of the most popular leaders in the US, according to various surveys conducted among American voters.

Trump appeared to have cozied up to Duterte following their various interactions. – With Janvic Mateo

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