Duterte to meet with US embassy officials

Robertzon Ramirez - The Philippine Star

MANILA, Philippines - Presidential candidate Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte is set to meet with officials of the US embassy this month to talk about his plans if he wins the May elections.

Duterte, who paid a courtesy call on local government officials of Rizal together with his runningmate Sen. Alan Cayetano, disclosed that US officials invited him a few days after he filed his certificate of candidacy (COC) last October.

He explained that he was only looking for some free time for his meeting with the American officials due to his hectic campaign schedule.

He said the US embassy wants to know his plans about the disputed Spratly Islands and the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) between the Philippines and the US.

“They really wanted to see me,” he said.

As far as Duterte is concerned, the US embassy also sent invitations to other presidential candidates, saying that the invitation “goes for everybody.”

But he said that he was the only candidate who chose to announce to the public his invitation since he wants to make clear to the public his stand on the Spratlys and EDCA.

Asked if the embassy officials are trying to identify their possible bet for the elections, Duterte said: “I don’t know. I would not want to question their motive.”

In Rizal, Duterte said he only visited local officials but no endorsement or commitment happened.

“I was just given the chance to talk to the people. To me, that is good enough,” Duterte said when asked if he was expecting an endorsement from Gov. Rebecca Ynares.

Duterte and Cayetano paid a courtesy call on 14 mayors of Rizal and some barangay officials.

Duterte has reiterated his plans for a change in the government system, particularly  federalism, if elected president.

He also vowed to solve crimes, illegal drugs and corruption in six months if he wins the elections on May 9.

Former governor Casimiro Ynares said that he was not endorsing the Duterte-Cayetano tandem, saying that all presidential candidates are encouraged to visit Rizal.

“All of them are welcome,” he said. – With Edith Regalado

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