For the first time, President Duterte floated the idea of visiting the United States of America (USA) to thank the Americans for donating coronavirus (COVID-19) vaccines to the Philippines.
Duterte made the statement following the arrival of 5 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines donated by the US government.
In his pre-recorded public address late Thursday, September 30, the President expressed his desire to thank the US for its kind gesture amid the ongoing health crisis.
“May mga bakuna man tayo, may dumating. Kasasabi lang ni [Vaccine Czar] Secretary [Carlito] Galvez at [Health] Secretary [Francisco] Duque [III] na ang America, nagbigay ng bago, 5 million (We have vaccines. More have arrived. I was just informed by Secretary Galvez and Secretary Duque that America gave 5 million more doses),” he said.
“Ang bait ng America. Baka pupunta ako doon (America is kind. I may go there) just to thank the American government and the people,” he added.
Throughout his presidency, President Duterte has been firm that he will not visit the US during his term, especially after former US President Barrack Obama commented on his bloody drug war.
He likewise slammed US lawmakers for criticizing the anti-illegal drugs campaign.
In his sixth and final State of the Nation Address (SONA), the President said if he will visit the US, it might just be in his “own time.”
“I have not been to America, almost 10 years, 22 years. I have not visited America and I do not have any intention of visiting anymore,” he said.
President Duterte was first invited by former US President Donald Trump to the US in 2017. He was again invited along with his fellow Southeast Asian leaders for a special summit in January 2020 but this did not push through after the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic hit.
Duterte once moved to terminate the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines after US lawmakers inserted a provision in its budget law about barring the entry of supposed drug war players to the US.