Two of the biggest assholes in the world, President Donald Trump and President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte, have expressed mutual admiration for some time. This past weekend, the pair finally got to have the bonding session of their dreams: serenading each other, bitching about Barack Obama and avoiding any talk of the thousands of “drug users” who have been killed by police with Duterte’s blessing.
At a dinner for Asian leaders, Duterte took the stage for an impromptu duet with a Filipina singer. Later, the Philippine president explained that he had performed the love song,“Ikaw” (You), at the request of the dotard in chief.
As The Guardian notes, the English translation of one of the song’s verses goes a little something like this:“You are the light in my world, a half of this heart of mine.”
(As a Filipino, I can tell you that Duterte’s crooning jazzy, overwrought ballads in the middle of the function are probably the most Filipino thing one could ever do. It’s also why I tend to avoid Filipino functions.)
That wasn’t the only moment the kindred spirits shared, though.
The two racist dickheads also bonded over their shared hatred of Obama. From Bloomberg:
“The relationship appears to be very warm and very friendly,” Duterte spokesman Harry Roque told reporters after they met in Manila on Monday. “They’ve been very candid in their dealings, and it’s very apparent that both of them have a person who they consider as not their best friend. They have similar feelings toward former U.S. President Barack Obama.”
Interestingly, both Duterte and Trump present themselves in the public as tough men who drive hard bargains with their opposition, but both are famously thin-skinned. In fact, that sensitivity to criticism—and some very clear racism—is part of what drives Duterte’s hatred of Obama.
In a side speech given during last week’s summit of Asian leaders in Vietnam, Duterte called Obama “so black and arrogant,” the Philippine Star reports.
“[Obama] reprimanded me. Why do you reprimand me? I’m the president of a country,” Duterte continued, as if being criticized wasn’t part of the gotdamn job description of president.
No wonder Trump says that he and Duterte have a “great relationship.”
The pair also avoided talking about something they sincerely do not give a fuck about: human rights. Well, depending on whose side you’re listening to.
As president of the Philippines, Duterte has sanctioned the deaths of thousands of alleged drug users in an effort to curtail drug abuse. The slayings, blanketed under the euphemism “extrajudicial killings” or “EJKs,” have been carried out by police and armed vigilantes.
Government estimates place the number of deaths at 3,000, although human rights organizations claim that the number of Filipinos killed is actually much greater. The vast majority of Filipinos killed are working-class, low-level offenders.
According to The Guardian, Duterte’s spokesperson claims that human rights “did not arise” during Duterte and Trump’s 40-minute conversation:
“It was President Duterte who brought up with President Trump the drug menace in the Philippines, and the U.S. president appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter but was merely nodding his head,” he said, adding he was present.
White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said that human rights came up “briefly,” but she didn’t give any further detail.
Finally, the two shared a tender moment over their mutual distrust of the press, with Duterte referring to the press pool as “spies” as Trump laughed.
Duterte is often referred to as the Trump of Asia, even though Duterte’s election preceded Trump’s. He’s also frequently referred to as a “dictator,” which isn’t true: If Filipinos wanted to impeach Duterte tomorrow, they could. There is no political will to do so in the Philippines’ famously corrupt Congress, and Duterte, unlike Trump, still enjoys high approval ratings from his constituents.
The most disturbing commonality between Duterte and Trump, however, is their ability to manufacture enemies that support their political ends. As Time magazine notes, drug usage was not at crisis levels in the Philippines prior to Duterte’s candidacy—but the populist, tough-on-crime former prosecutor was successful in convincing voters that it was. This has obvious parallels to Trump, who built his presidential campaign off of calling Mexicans rapists and killers and who has used the protests of black athletes to rile up his base.
Recently, Duterte called off his war on drugs after the deaths of three teenage boys sparked a public backlash.
Back in April, Duterte’s biggest fan, Trump, praised him for “doing an unbelievable job on the drug problem.”