In a diplomatic move to gain the support of the Philippines, President Trump invites Rodrigo Duterte, the controversial president of the Philippines to the White House. The two presidents had a phone call on Saturday, which was described as light and friendly.

The call happened just after the conclusion of the ASEAN summit retreat held in Manila between South East Asian nations. It can be assumed that trump desires political agreement with the ASEAN block in the midst of the Korean crisis and the growing influence of China in the region.

Duterte holds the Chairmanship of the ASEAN

Despite the notorious personality painted by the media, the polarizing president is held in high regards by fellow South East Asian countries. Having waged a continuing war on drugs that triggered killings due to police clashes and in-fighting between drug gangs, the president also commands the support of the majority of Philippine citizens.

Duterte came into the political limelight during the Obama administration, when he publicly foul-mouthed the former president. It is also during Obama's time that Duterte shifted his diplomatic priorities towards China. However, upon Trump's inauguration, the Philippine president have shown approval of the new and also controversial US president.

What will Trump gain for inviting Duterte to the White House?

The Philippines is historically a staunch ally of the United States. It is of the interest of the United States to continue amicable relationship with the country as it will provide a strategic diplomatic stance in South East Asia. As Asian countries start to pivot to China, especially with the growing distaste of ASEAN countries over Trump trade policies, it is important for the US to find a friend in Asia.

The US and the Philippines also have scheduled joint military exercises, which is one of the major advantage Trump has if he manages to lure in the support of Duterte away from China.

Duterte's controversy of extra-judicial killings

The Philippines is under heat as its President is being considered as a person who casually commits crimes against humanity.

The number of killings attributed to his regime has so painted him in the world stage as an uncontrollable killer. However, the Philippines is more politically divided and more of the issues dumped at Duterte are more of political in nature. The country's government is fragmented with rival politicians who casually malign each other publicly in the expense of driving the country into the bottom of the barrel of shame.