CHINESE President Xi Jinping extended his best wishes to Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who celebrates his 73rd birthday today, March 28.
In a letter released by the Chinese Embassy in Manila, and reported by Rappler, Xi extended “his sincere congratulations and best wishes to President Duterte” and commended the “turnaround” in China-Philippine relations since Duterte took office in 2016.
“Our bilateral relations have enjoyed ongoing betterment and improvement and reaped productive outcomes… and promoted peace and stability of the region,” the letter read.
The president also spoke of deepening ties in the future and Beijing’s willingness to work with the Philippines to the benefit of both countries.
Duterte has assumed a more courted Chinese investments and loans and set aside protests against China’s presence on several islets within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the contested South China Sea.
The well wishes didn’t stop there, with Philippine officials releasing their own messages to the controversial leader.
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, spoke of “how blessed” the country is to have someone with Duterte’s “strong political will, decisive leadership, and compassion” as their leader.
He also said Duterte’s commitment was an inspiration to himself and other government officials.
The president, who is no fan of lavish parties, will be spending the day at home in Davao city with his family.
Last year, he spent the day catching up on sleep before spending time with his grandchildren, Roque said.
While Duterte has faced international criticism for his brutal war on drugs, he remains popular in the Philippines. A December poll found public satisfaction with his performance rose to the highest level on record since one of the country’s top pollsters started conducting opinion surveys in 1980s. According to the Social Weather Stations, his administration obtained an “excellent” net satisfaction rating of +75.
The kindest words expressed came from Communications Secretary Martin Andanar in his birthday message entitled “Blessed be the Man.”
Rappler reported Andanar as saying Duterte “acts both from the realm of power, and from the homes of the powerless.”
“We pray that our President be blessed with more years, strong health, and the wisdom of fine age.”