Philippines’ Rodrigo Duterte and President Donald Trump to Meet, While Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval Can’t Get Face Time

Posted on: May 1, 2017, 09:30h. 

Last updated on: May 1, 2017, 09:48h.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has been called the “Donald Trump of the East” by certain media outlets, and now the two controversial leaders are set to meet face-to-face in Washington, DC.

Rodrigo Duterte Donald Trump invite
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and US President Donald Trump have a gaming connection, and plan to meet soon to discuss the two countries’ alliance. (Image: Erik de Castro/Reuters)

President Trump and Duterte spoke at length during a phone call on Saturday, with the main topic being the importance of strengthening the alliance between the United States and Philippines.

The leaders described the conversation as “friendly,” a stark contrast from Duterte’s description of the former US president. It was just last year that Duterte said then-President Barack Obama “can go to hell,” and called him a “son of a bi—.”

Duterte likely sees much more of himself in Trump than Obama.

The American billionaire-turned-politician amassed part of his fortune off casinos through the now-defunct Trump Entertainment Resorts. Duterte, meanwhile, has instructed his country’s gaming regulator to make the Philippines the top gaming and entertainment destination in Southeast Asia.

Duterte and Trump are also both outspoken leaders who have taken a guns blazing approach to politics. For Duturte, quite literally.

The Filipino president has received plenty of criticism from the United Nations and human rights organizations for his often ruthless narcotics crackdown. An estimated 2,800 people have been killed by Duterte’s federal police without any sort of judicial process in place.

Strange Bedfellows

It’s unclear when Duterte might travel to the US, but plenty of the president’s critics are already denouncing the White House invite.

“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit,” Human Rights Watch Director John Sifton toldThe New York Times.

Adding fuel to the liberal media fire, Trump also lent some praise to North Korea’s Kim Jong Un.

“At a very young age, he was able to assume power. A lot of people, I’m sure, tried to take that power away … So obviously, he’s a pretty smart cookie,” Trump said on CBS News over the weekend.

Trump and Duterte have few buffers on saying what’s on their minds. But they’re also willing to budge, at least at times, on policy.

Duterte’s presidency began last summer and he immediately ordered, in addition to taking a “shoot-first, ask questions never” approach to the drug trade, that online gaming be restricted. However, he would later change that position by saying, “Pay the appropriate tax, gamble until you die. I do not really care.”

Sandoval Left Waiting

While Duterte received a personal invite to the Oval Office from Trump, Nevada’s Governor Brian Sandoval (R) wasn’t so fortunate. The Silver State governor in his second term was at the White House last week, but didn’t get any face time with the president.

Instead, Sandoval met with cabinet members, including US Attorney General Jeff Sessions, to discuss a variety of issues such as marijuana, mining, and nuclear waste. Nevada voted to legalize recreational marijuana last November, though dispensaries won’t be permitted near the Strip.

Online casino operators are keeping close tabs on Sessions. The new US attorney general said during his US Senate confirmation hearing that he was “shocked” by regulated internet gambling, and has expressed some interest in revisiting the 2011 DOJ reversal of the original 1961 Wire Act interpretation banning online gambling.

It was that reversal that allowed Nevada, Delaware, and New Jersey to set up internet gaming in their respective states, with several others, including Pennsylvania and California, still trying to work out stakeholder issues before potentially legalizing.