Trump calls up pal Duterte
The phone call came as traditional allies, the Philippines and the US, are wrestling with rising cases of COVID-19.
Trump calls up pal Duterte
Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) - April 21, 2020 - 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — President Duterte and US President Donald Trump talked about working together to fight the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic during a phone conversation on Sunday.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said the US-initiated phone call came at 10:10 p.m. and lasted for 18 minutes.

“It was cordial. It was about collaboration, bilateral coordination (on) COVID-19. But beyond that I have no authority to divulge further details,” Roque said at a press briefing yesterday. 

“The only authority I got from the President is to say that it was about cooperation, that the Philippines and the US may cooperate on the COVID-19,” he added. 

He said he could not make public notes and transcripts of the conversation, noting that diplomatic communication is not covered by freedom of information.

The phone call came as traditional allies, the Philippines and the US, are wrestling with rising cases of COVID-19.

The US has the highest number of COVID-19 cases worldwide, with more than 746,000 infections and about 41,000 deaths. The Philippines, meanwhile, is third in Southeast Asia in terms of the number of infections with more than 6,200 cases and more than 400 fatalities. 

Earlier this month, Duterte chided the US for supposedly recruiting Filipino nurses while the Philippines is in the middle of its fight against COVID-19. 

“America is part of the problem of the Filipinos now. Many of them have been infected. Many have died. They are calling on just about anyone... they ask nurses to go to the embassy, they will process the visa for one day and tomorrow you can leave,” Duterte said in a public address on April 13. 

“The problem with Americans, you could have relied on your own human resource... Now you are reducing the human resources of the Philippines. Soon, we will experience a shortage,” he added.

Duterte was reacting to the outcry over a government ban on the deployment of Filipino health workers while the Philippines is under a national state of emergency because of COVID-19.

Roque said he does not know whether the topic was discussed during the conversation between Duterte and Trump. 

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