MANILA, Philippines — Before boarding Air Force One that would take him back to Washington, US President Donald Trump yesterday made sure his words would reach the ears of President Duterte.
Sent off by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), Trump said, “Tell Rodrigo I like him very much. He’s a good guy. I had a great time here.”
Medialdea, along with US Ambassador Jose Manuel Romualdez and US Ambassador Sung Kim, led the send-off party at NAIA.
“I think it’s a very successful trip and the Philippines and the US relations are back on track,” Romualdez said. He will fly to Washington on Monday to officially start his tour of duty.
“I told (Trump to) have a safe trip. I’ll see you in Washington,” Romualdez said, referring to his presentation of credentials at the White House.
Trump reportedly answered: “We look forward to it.”
From the Sofitel Philippine Plaza in Pasay City where he was billeted during his two-day stay in the country for the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit and Related Meetings, Trump took the Marine One helicopter to NAIA.
Air Force One took off from the NAIA’s Balagbag ramp at 3:26 p.m.
Before he left, Trump delivered his speech at the East Asia Summit (EAS) at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC).
The EAS is chaired by Duterte, who is also this year’s host of the Leaders’ Summit.
Trump, however, did not stay to join the traditional “family photo” with fellow EAS leaders.
Trump attended the just-concluded ASEAN-US Summit and had bilateral talks with Duterte last Monday night on the sidelines of the ASEAN Summit held.
At the gala dinner at the SMX Convention Center last Sunday, Duterte said Trump prompted him to join “Asia’s Queen of Songs” Pilita Corrales in singing “Ikaw.”
“Tremendous talent. Musical talent, dance talent, and we really had a tremendous time, all of the leaders,” Trump said.
“The Filipino performers were great. But the greatest performer was him,” Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, referring to Duterte, quoted Trump as having told him while the latter pointed his finger to where Duterte was seated with partner Honeylet Avanceña.
Dureza said that he took a chance to engage Trump in a brief chat when the US President passed by and shook hands with him after the gala dinner.
“I told him: you should practice singing, too, so you could do a duet together next time,” Dureza said.
To which Trump replied: “Great idea. I’ll do that.”
Dureza later joined the bilateral talks with Trump and his official delegation along with Medialdea and other Cabinet officials, including Romualdez and Kim.
“The whole bilateral meeting showed clear good vibes between the two leaders,” Dureza said.