Duterte vows to be friendly now with US
President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he would "be friendly" now to the United States.
In a speech in the 116th anniversary of the Balangiga Encounter Day in Eastern Samar, Duterte acknowledged that US is an ally of the Philippines.
He said the US occupation and the massacres and exploitation of natural resources that took place in the Philippines, "these are all water under the bridge.
"I was under advice by the Department of Foreign Affairs that I would just temper my language and avoid bad mouthing, which I'm prone to do if I get emotional," Duterte said.
"I believe also that that water has passed under the bridge and America today...there are so many factors involved, but I'd rather be friendly to them now because aside from these episodes of, I said, sad incidents, overall I think the Americans also redeemed themselves a lot, not during the time of their occupation, for they had the parity rights," Duterte added.
"They have helped us a lot. Whether we like it or not, we were engaged here, challenged by the Japanese occupation and it was America who partly helped us, as an ally. I would not say they were our saviors, but they are our allies and they helped us," he said.
Even now, Duterte said Washington has been helping his government in fighting the Islamic State-inspired terrorists in Marawi City.
"Even today, they provide crucial equipment to our soldiers in Marawi to fight the terrorists," he said, adding that the government forces would review their doctrines in the wake of terrorism going on in the country and abroad.
Previously, Duterte had said he wanted the Philippines to distance from the US, particularly during the Obama administration. He had uttered expletives against America and former President Barack Obama for criticizing his bloody war on drugs.
In his State of the Nation Address last July, the President asked US to return Samar's Balangiga bells which the Americans brought to their country during early 1900's.
Duterte said that negotiations are now ongoing for the return of the Balangiga bells.
"I was under advice that the negotiations are going on that the Government of America is looking for ways how to get out of this problem of the Balangiga bells because it remains to be not only the source of irritation but the source of a painful reaction, what really happened to our countrymen," he said. Celerina Monte/DMS