The US-North Korea summit in Singapore took off some of the gloss from the reception as many senior government, military and congressional officials were out of town. An embassy staffer said about 350 people were invited to the reception.
AP/Evan Vucci
US-NoKor summit takes gloss off Independence Day reception
Jose Katigbak (The Philippine Star) - June 14, 2018 - 12:00am

WASHINGTON – The Philippine embassy held its Independence Day celebration on Tuesday at the Trump International Hotel here as opponents of President Duterte protested outside and a US district court looked into the legality of a sitting president profiting from the occasion.

The US-North Korea summit in Singapore took off some of the gloss from the reception as many senior government, military and congressional officials were out of town. An embassy staffer said about 350 people were invited to the reception.

Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez said Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had accepted an invitation to attend but had to beg off because of the summit.

“Sayang,” he said and congratulated President Donald Trump for a successful summit in Singapore.

Instead of Pompeo, the honor of representing the US government at the reception fell on Undersecretary of the Navy Thomas Modly.

Romualdez placed the cost of holding the reception at the famously expensive Trump hotel at “no more than $60,000” because of a deal he struck with hotel management that allowed the embassy to bring in Filipino food like lechon and sisig, prepared by his personal chef Abie Sincioco-Mateo.

Her sisig was the winning dish in last month’s 2018 embassy chef challenge, which included competitors from more than 20 other embassies.

“Not only did we save but we were also able to present our local food and drinks to our American friends,” Romualdez said.

A big hit was a cocktail infused with Tanduay Rhum and chicharon as pulutan. However, a Trump-branded Chardonnay was not to be outdone.

Best of all, his government did not have to pay a cent for the reception because the cost was shouldered by friends in private business like SMIC, ICTSI-Aboitiz Power, Asia Brewery and PAL/Megaworld, Romualdez said.

He said he opted to hold the reception at the Trump hotel because of its historical pedigree as the Old Post Office Pavilion and felt it a fitting place to celebrate 120 years of Philippine history.

Skeptics claimed the fact that Duterte and Trump are good friends must have played a part in the decision process.

About 30 demonstrators from diverse groups like Gabriela, International Coalition for Human Rights in the Philippines and US Pinoys for Good Government chaired by New York-based millionaire Fil-Am Loida Nicolas-Lewis waved flags and shouted anti-Duterte slogans at arriving guests.

They denounced Duterte for his drug war in which thousands of drug pushers and addicts have been killed and his alleged accommodation to Bejing’s militarization of the South China Sea. The hour-long demonstration was peaceful.

District Judge Peter Messitte is expected to decide in a few months a lawsuit filed by the state of Maryland and the District of Columbia accusing Trump of violating an “emoluments clause” in the Constitution banning gifts and payments from foreign governments.

Trump’s lawyers say the President is not breaking the law when foreign officials book rooms at his hotel because he is not trading favors in exchange for a benefit and have asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit.

In his speech, Romualdez referred to the friendship between Duterte and Trump born out of a meeting at an ASEAN summit in Manila last November.

The New York Times has described the pair as “brothers from another mother.”

Duterte said Trump has wished him well in his ongoing war against drugs. Trump has also extended a long-standing invitation to the Filipino leader to visit the White House.

DONALD TRUMP INDEPENDENCE DAY KIM JUNG-UN
Philstar
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with