From Toledo to the Far East: Filipino President Responds to Manchester Attack

Manila, Philippines (WTOL) - While Manchester, England roils in the aftermath of an ISIS-connected bombing, right now there's fighting in the Philippines between security forces and extremists with links to the Islamic State.

Within minutes of landing in Manila minutes, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte declared martial law in the southern province of Mindanao where nearly two dozen have been killed in the last few days of clashes.

At the time, Duterte was in Russia meeting with Vladimir Putin, cutting short a visit that raised international eyebrows. Under Duterte, this key U.S. Asia Pacific ally has been cultivating closer ties with Russia and China.

The Filipino President is known in the region as the Donald Trump of Asia.

At a briefing I attended with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, officials admit that while Duterte's statements are contradictory, he is strategic--tailoring his message to different audiences.

Like Trump, President Duterte is an outsider who has an unconventional approach to international and domestic issues such as the so-called drug war.

Since he assumed office last year, he has rounded up drug dealers. With drug addicts, he's taken the opposite approach of Lucas County Sheriff John Tharp and his D.A.R.T program, warning addicts they have one year to get clean or deserve to die. Despite his controversial rhetoric and actions, Duterte's supporters, many who are poor and traditionally outside the political system, remain steadfast with their support.

In the Philippines, people are closely watching the Trump Administration's hard line approach on immigration and trade. This island nation houses call centers with workers servicing U.S. companies.

It also exports service-oriented workers to the U.S., including tech workers, as well as nurses and caregivers who work in nursing homes and hospitals, including in Northwest Ohio and Southeastern Michigan.

Their remittances, or money they send back to family in the Philippines total $9.6 billion in 2015, according to the Pew Research Center. A change in U.S. trade and immigration policy could be devastating to a country struggling to overcome hundreds of years of poverty.