By Genalyn Kabiling and Argyll Cyrus Geducos
United States President Donald Trump reached out to President Duterte Sunday night on reported efforts to enhance cooperation in addressing the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
Trump called up President Duterte at his official residence, according to his former assistant and now Senator Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.
Malacañang, however, won’t divulge the details of President Duterte’s late-night phone conversation with the US leader on the bilateral cooperation between the two countries to address the COVID-19 pandemic.
In his Monday press briefing, Pres – idential spokesman Harry Roque con – firmed that Trump called up Duterte at 10:10 p.m. on Sunday to talk about the COVID-19 pandemic. However, he did not disclose further details.
“It was initiated by the US government. It lasted for about 18 minutes, it was cordial. It was about bilateral co – ordination for COVID-19. But beyond that, I have no authority to divulge further details,” he said.
He said both governments have notes and transcripts of the conversation between Duterte and Trump but said these cannot be announced to the public.
Earlier, Go told reporters that the two leaders were expected to tackle “bilateral cooperation against COVID19.” He shared photos of the President while conversing with Trump on the phone.
This was not the first time Duterte and Trump had a phone conversation. In April 2017, the two leaders shared a phone call to talk about the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons when Duterte was the chair of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
President Duterte told President Trump in 2017 that it did not want a war to break out in Asia. Trump, on the other hand, praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job” on the country’s drug problem. According to Malacañang, the phone call meant that Duterte is appreciated by other leaders.
“Definitely, it goes to show that the President is being recognized for his leadership in the area and I think the locals should also show better appreciation of their own President,” the Palace said, referring to Duterte’s role as then ASEAN chairman. “It indicates states – manship, that he is actually a key player in maintaining peace in the region. As the PO – TUS has said, the Phil – ippines is a key right now in the region,” it added.