They both have authoritarian tendencies, salty tongues, questionable histories with women, an affection for dictators, problems with Barack Obama and the Pope, the folks at Amnesty International in a whirl – and Donald Trump and Rodrigo Duterte are about to meet.

Hopefully, they won’t compare notes in Manila next month, lest two of the global economy’s most erratic leaders feed off one another.

My first detailed Trump-Duterte comparison was in a December 2015 column, one aimed at introducing the Philippine presidential candidate to global audiences.

Back then, I assigned the same low odds to the Davao City mayor winning as Trump in the US. Mea culpa has been mine, on both calls.

Trump plans to visit the Philippine capital for next month’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, where he’d be sure to bump into Duterte.

Trump plans to visit the Philippine capital for next month’s Association of Southeast Asian Nations summit, where he’d be sure to bump into Duterte.

But a US president shouldn’t be meeting bilaterally with a leader whose policies have filled more body bags – more than 7,000 and counting – than Ferdinand Marcos did over 20 years of brutal rule.

These extrajudicial killings of alleged drug dealers and users would warrant a boycott from any normal American president and strong rebukes.

US President Donald Trump hosts a House and Senate leadership lunch at the White House on March 1, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque
US President Donald Trump hosts a House and Senate leadership lunch at the White House on March 1, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque

That’s not the Trump White House, of course. It cozies up to Russia’s Vladimir Putin and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Trump has no qualms about welcoming Thai General Prayuth Chan-ocha, who grabbed power in a 2014 coup, to the White House.

Read: White House meet legitimizes Thailand strongman rule 

His September 12 meeting there with Malaysia’s Najib Razak was equally distasteful. Trump skirted around Najib’s multibillion-dollar corruption scandal, one the Justice Department is investigating along with authorities from Singapore to Paris and Zurich.

For all his bombast toward China, Trump has read from the Communist Party’s non-interference playbook. Trump shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to call Duterte on the bloodshed factor.

Relatives and loved ones of Leover Miranda, 39, who was killed in a drug raid, call for an end to President Rodrigo Duterte's ruthless war on drugs, during a funeral march in metro Manila on August 20, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco
Relatives of Leover Miranda, 39, who was killed in a drug raid, call for an end to Duterte’s war on drugs in Manila on August 20, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco

Odds are high he will, reminding the world that Trump’s “America First” ethos is really an America-losing-status-in-the-world policy.

The tragedy here is that Duterte’s priorities could have a similar effect on an economy that recently had become a bona fide investment darling. Duterte’s mandate is taking the reforms of predecessor Benigno Aquino to the next level.

From 2010 to 2016, Aquino won the former “Sick Man of Asia” its first-ever investment-grade ratings by repairing the national balance sheet, raising taxes on tycoons, increasing transparency and taking on the powerful Catholic Church to cap a population growing faster than incomes.

Voters turned to strongman “Duterte Harry” to accelerate the upgrades. His 22 years running Davao City built Duterte a national profile with its rapid growth and lower crime and inequality rates.

Sadly, Duterte pivoted to deputizing bands of gunmen to shoot alleged drug-trade members extrajudicially. Not surprisingly, the peso is East Asia’s worst performing currency so far this year.

Sadly, Duterte pivoted to deputizing bands of gunmen to shoot alleged drug-trade members extrajudicially. Not surprisingly, the peso is East Asia’s worst performing currency so far this year.

This dubious honor is worth considering as the economic halo of the Aquino years wears off. Thanks to the momentum from that period, Manila is now headed for its sixth straight year of 6 percent-plus growth.

The peso’s declines, though, suggest global investors are wary of the Duterte administration. While the body bags don’t help, investors are sensing policy drift. At the very least, Aquinomics has taken a backseat.

Duterte is slow-walking moves to invest in innovation and productivity-enhancing industries to accelerate job growth, root out graft and entice back home the Filipino diaspora forced to work abroad – more than 10% of the population.

Read: Duterte’s golden age of infrastructure hits the peso

Even Duterte’s efforts to build better roads, bridges, ports and power grids raise alarm bells. Whereas Aquino favored private sector-led projects, Duterte is reverting to government-led ones that could be a boon for corruption and blow up the national debt.

Duterte also is bizarrely nostalgic for the bad old Marcos days.

From 1965 to 1986, dictator Marcos wrecked an economy once destined to be the Japan of Southeast Asia and fled with as much as $10 billion of state money.

Duterte seems to be angling to replace his vice president with Ferdinand Marcos Jr. He’s raised the specter of letting the Marcos clan return some of the gold bars it claims not to have to Manila to rehabilitate its image.

Aquino, whose father was assassinated in 1983 taking on Marcos Sr., spent his six-year term dismantling Marcos Inc.

One can hope Duterte has more success raising Manila’s economic game than the chaotic Trump administration has in Washington.

But the real hope is that their tête-à-tête is brief enough to avoid a meeting of two minds that don’t need any encouragement. But oh, to be a fly on that wall.