The Philippine Embassy to the USA has raised eyebrows by booking Washington’s Trump International Hotel to celebrate the country’s independence day.
Critics have suggested that holding the June 12 celebration at the venue amounts to an attempt to curry favour with President Trump.
Previously the embassies of Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Turkey have been slammed for holding official events at the hotel.
Writing in the Philippine Star, Manuel Romualdez, the Philippine ambassador to the US, denied seeking advantage. He said: “The Trump hotel may have some political undertones because it is associated with the US president.
“But since several other embassies have also held their national day celebrations at the Trump hotel which were well attended — I decided — why not do it there, too.”
The Philippine Embassy has sent out 300 invitations for the party to mark the 120th year since the country broke from Spanish rule.
“The Philippines has found a way to pay tribute to our president,” said Kathleen Clark, a government ethics lawyer and law professor at Washington University.
“What’s at risk is our foreign policy, that it will be influenced not by what matters — human rights, civil rights or legitimate economic interests — but by the Philippines’ ability to get in the good graces of our president.”
As we previously reported, shortly before Trump’s election, President Duterte appointed Philippine real estate developer Jose Antonio as his trade envoy to Washington.
Antonio’s company is partnering with the Trump Organisation in an apartment complex in Manila.
The website for Trump Tower at Century City, Makati, makes it clear that the $150 million project is not owned, developed or sold by Mr Trump in any way. Mr Trump had no involvement in the project except to license his brand name, for a reported $5 million.