Palace: Use 'creative imagination' to interpret Duterte remarks

Patricia Lourdes Viray - Philstar.com

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte's statement about cutting ties with the United States should not be taken literally, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said on Wednesday.

"Dapat intindihin natin yung word na 'cut ng ties.' It's a possibility that he could, that he might... Let's try to use our creative imagination. 'Wag tayo masyadong literal," Abella said in a televised press briefing.

Abella added that most of the president's statements are "expressions of frustration" and that the public should wait for him to clarify his comments on the matter. The president has, in the past, made controversial statements that have had to be clarified by his spokespersons.

The Palace official also said that Duterte's recent statement was made in a desire to "express the independence of the Philippines."

"He carefully calibrates his statements so along that line, if we follow his style... Let us not simply just put a period at the end of his statements. Let's wait for his clarifications regarding the matter," Abella said.

Abella reiterated that Duterte wants an independent foreign policy which is not exclusive or bound to one treaty. An online database of treaties maintained by the Department of Foreign Affairs lists 18 defense deals that the Philippines has with other countries.  

The presidential spokesperson added that Duterte's statement of "cutting ties" with the US might not necessarily mean breaking up of alliances.

"It's not a definite yes, it's not a definite no. He said he might," Abella said when asked what the president meant when he mentioned cutting ties with the US.

The White House earlier said that Duterte's latest comments against US President Barack Obama are "at odds" with the relationship between the two countries.

Duterte, speaking at an event in Makati on Tuesday, told Obama to "go to hell" and the European Union (EU) to "go to purgatory." The US, EU and the United Nations have been criticizing Duterte's war against illegal drugs due to the spate of extrajudicial and vigilante killings of drug suspects.

RELATED: Rody: Obama can go to hell, EU to purgatory | White House: Duterte's comments at odds with US-PH ties

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