Philippines: Duterte calls himself US' 'humble friend' in Southeast Asia

09 August, 2017, 00:06 | Author: Ora Austin
  • T091731Z_691160164_RC1E651D5C70_RTRMADP_3_ASEAN-PHILIPPINES-940x580

"I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia", President Rodrigo Duterte told Secretary of State Rex Tillerson when the two met in Manila on Monday to discuss regional issues, including the ongoing fight against radical Muslim militants with ties to the Islamic State in the southern Philippines.

In Manila on Monday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the USA was providing the Philippines government with "intelligence capabilities" in the fight against ISIS, including "some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and a couple of UAVs (drones) to allow to them to have better information with which to conduct the fight down there". And at a news conference after their meeting, Duterte bristled but didn't answer directly when asked whether human rights had come up.

Last week, Susan Thornton, the acting United States assistant secretary for East Asian and Pacific affairs, said Tillerson would discuss human rights during the Asean Regional Forum (ARF), to be attended by 27 foreign ministers also from China, Russia, North Korea, India, Australia, Canada and Japan.

Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine President described North Korean Fuhrer Kim Jong Un on Wednesday as a "fool" and "bastard" for treatment to hold an global meeting a few days before Manila tests long-time = TRUNC Pyongyang. Addressing the apparent insubordination of his own military, he remarked that "our soldiers are pro-American, that I can not deny".

"The war in Marawi - what caused it, but drugs?" he said.

The president of the Philippines is calling for more troops to combat Islamic militants in Marawi city. He said the equipment includes a few Cessna aircraft and a few drones.

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He added that the issue on human rights was tackled but only in passing.

Human rights groups have questioned President Donald Trump's willingness to engage with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, who has been roundly criticized for a bloody war on illegal drugs that has killed thousands of suspects.

"Mostly they have considerably toned down in human rights", she said of Tillerson and Bishop at a press briefing after the meetings, as quoted by the state Philippine News Agency.

The US department of state referred the Guardian to Tillerson's remarks before the meeting in which he told journalists that the US had "human rights concerns ... with respect to how they carry out their counternarcotics activities".

Duterte and Tillerson reportedly also talked about governance and about how to increase America's economic and other kinds of people-to-people engagement with the Philippines. "But the real challenge is going to come with once they have the fighting brought to an end how to deal with the conditions on the ground to ensure it does not re-emerge".

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