A close aide of President Rodrigo Duterte believes the long-time Davao chief executive is still “hurt” over how the United States spirited away the American-British suspect of an explosion that rocked his city in 2002.
Michael Meiring was charged with possession of explosives after an explosive tore through his room at the Evergreen Hotel, but managed to flee the Philippines despite the severe injuries he sustained.
The New York Times reported that “Philippine officials later said that men waving F.B.I. badges had taken him in the dark of night and flown him out of the country without their permission.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, in an interview with ANC’s Headstart on Monday said he believes the attitude of now-President Duterte towards the US is still rooted to that bombing incident.
“I think that still rankles him to this day. That was a long time ago—maybe five years ago—but he still mentions it once in a while that he just feels hurt that the United States can come in, unannounced in his city, grab a person that is being under investigation by his police, and bring him out [of the country],” he said.
Lorenzana said, what he has heard was that “there was actually go-signal from the Palace,” under then-President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, for American forces “to go in.”
“[Duterte] said, ‘had they just informed me, there’s nothing wrong.’ He just feels hurt and I think that’s one of the things,” he said.
He added, Duterte also did not like the “interference” of the US in his administration’s war on drugs.
“Some people, Filipino-Americans, saying that wait until President Obama comes. You will meet him and he will lecture you about the extrajudicial killings,” he said.
“He didn’t take that very well—para bang nakikialam kayo masyado sa amin,” he said.
[He didn’t take that very well—it’s like you are interfering too much in our affairs]
Lorenzana, who was the Defense Attaché in Washington DC, and eventual Veterans Attaché before becoming Defense Secretary said the US remains to be a very important in the Philippine set-up.
“It’s still very important. The US is the only country we have a mutual defense agreement [with], that goes all the way back to the 50s,” he said.
Nevertheless, he noted that the Philippines is also strengthening ties with other countries.
“We are friends with, we are allied—not formally, but informally—with Japan, Korea, Australia. These countries all have defense treaties with the US, so we are actually aligning ourselves with people who we think we have been dealing with in the past decades and the relationship is good,” he said.
Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News