Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

There are less than 72 hours left in this Mid-Year Campaign and our independent journalism needs your help today.
If you value our work, please support Common Dreams. This is our hour of need.

Join the small group of generous readers who donate, keeping Common Dreams free for millions of people each year. Without your help, we won’t survive.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte's regime has killed thousands of people since he took office last June. (Photo: Getty)

Trump Praised Duterte's Drug War, Told Him of Nuclear Subs, in Phone Call

Recently-released transcript shows Trump telling Philippines strongman he is doing 'amazing job' with murderous regime

Nadia Prupis

President Donald Trump told Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte that he was "doing an amazing job" with his brutal drug war crackdown and informed him that the U.S. had two submarines off the Korean peninsula, according to a recently-released transcript of the two leaders' phone call last month.

"You are a good man," Trump told Duterte in the April 29 call, which was highly controversial when placed. "Keep up the good work. You are doing an amazing job."

"I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem," Trump said. "Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that."

"Thank you Mr. President," Duterte replied. "This is the scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation."

Trump called the Philippines strongman—whose regime has killed thousands of people since he took office last June, and who previously bragged about killing suspected criminals while serving as mayor of Davao city—to invite him to visit the White House, which Trump's chief of staff Reince Priebus later defended as a sign of international cooperation on addressing issues with North Korea.

That apparently included the U.S. president informing Duterte that there were two American submarines off the Korean peninsula.

"We can't let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that," Trump told Duterte, referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. "We have a lot of firepower, more than he has times 20, but we don't want to use it."

"We have a lot of firepower over there. We have two submarines—the best in the world—we have two nuclear submarines—not that we want to use them at all," he continued.

The transcript was reportedly produced by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and its authenticity confirmed by "well-placed sources" at the department and the Palace, said the Manila-based news outlet Rappler, which collaborated with The Intercept to publish it.

It comes just as Duterte separately declared martial law on the island of Mindanao, in the southern part of the Philippines, where government forces are in conflict with rebels.

He warned that he may expand military control throughout the nation.

"If I had to kill thousands of people just to keep Philippines a thousand times safer, I will not have doubts doing it," he said.

Duterte's relationship with Trump is much warmer than with former President Barack Obama, whom the Philippines leader called a "son of a whore" for criticizing his murderous regime.

During their phone call, Trump appeared to remind Duterte that he supported his position on the drug war.

"I understand that, and fully understand that," he said in the transcript, "and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that, but I understand that and we have spoken about this before."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

Just a few days left in our crucial Mid-Year Campaign and we might not make it without your help.
Who funds our independent journalism? Readers like you who believe in our mission: To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. No corporate advertisers. No billionaire founder. Our non-partisan, nonprofit media model has only one source of revenue: The people who read and value this work and our mission. That's it.
And the model is simple: If everyone just gives whatever amount they can afford and think is reasonable—$3, $9, $29, or more—we can continue. If not enough do, we go dark.

All the small gifts add up to something otherwise impossible. Please join us today. Donate to Common Dreams. This is crunch time. We need you now.

Grave Warnings as Supreme Court Agrees to Hear Case That Threatens 'Future of Voting Rights'

"Buckle up," implores one prominent legal scholar. "An extreme decision here could fundamentally alter the balance of power in setting election rules in the states and provide a path for great threats to elections."

Brett Wilkins ·


Biden Urged to Take Emergency Action After 'Disastrous' Climate Ruling by Supreme Court

"The catastrophic impact of this decision cannot be understated," said Rep. Pramila Jayapal, but "we cannot accept defeat."

Kenny Stancil ·


'Now We're Talking!' Says AOC as Biden Backs Filibuster Carveout for Abortion Rights

"Time for people to see a real, forceful push for it," said the New York Democrat. "Use the bully pulpit. We need more."

Jake Johnson ·


Supreme Court Says Biden Can End 'Shameful' Remain in Mexico Asylum Policy

"Now is the turn for Congress to get rid of Title 42, and provide a solution to the weakened asylum system in place, to provide a humane and fair alternative to vulnerable children, families, and individuals fleeing unsafe conditions and persecution."

Brett Wilkins ·


Democrats Lose Senate Majority as 82-Year-Old Leahy Heads for Hip Surgery

"It could be over for the Senate Dems now," said one policy expert in response. "This could mean they effectively lost their majority."

Jon Queally ·

Common Dreams Logo