President Rodrigo Duterte will officially turn down President Donald Trump’s invitation to visit the United States, Malacañang said on Friday, December 27.
In a press briefing on Friday, Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo said Duterte would reply to the letter invitation and decline it.
He also clarified that Duterte’s decision reportedly is not related to Trump’s signing of the U.S. 2020 budget bill that included a provision barring the entry of local government officials associated with the detention of Senator Leila De Lima.
Duterte, for his part, ordered the entry ban on the U.S. senators who included the provisions in the U.S. budget, adding that Americans planning to visit the Philippines would be required to secure a visa should the U.S. push through with the ban on local government officials.
Nevertheless, Panelo assured that Duterte bears no ill feelings towards the American president.
“He said he never intended to visit the U.S. ever since,” Panelo said.
In March, Foreign Affairs Secretary Teddy Locsin said Duterte has a strong affection for the U.S. president.
“He (Duterte) has a very strong affection for President Trump and the exact details, the arrangements will be made. Specific details will have to wait for the end of the elections because that’s important,” Locsin said, referring to the 2019 midterm elections.
The U.S. president first extended Duterte an invitation to visit the White House in 2016 during a phone call following Trump’s election.