Philippine's leader on human rights: 'Don't go there'

Posted August 09, 2017

Russian Federation has offered to assist the Philippines in boosting the anti-terrorism capabilities of its security forces and support the Duterte administration's intensive drive against illegal drugs, Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said on Tuesday.

The Pentagon is considering a plan that allows the USA military to conduct airstrikes on ISIS in the Philippines, two defense officials told NBC News. Despite Obama denying that he would meet with Duterte during a regional conference in 2016, the two exchanged greetings.

Last week, before Mr Tillerson travelled to Manila to attend meetings with fellow foreign ministers at a regional diplomatic and security forum, United States officials said he would raise the issue of the drug war.

WHILE known for his anti-United States tirades and overseeing a foreign policy pivot away from U.S. towards China, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has described himself as the "humble friend" of the USA in Southeast Asia.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) shakes hands with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson prior to their meeting at Malacanang Palace in Manila, August 7, 2017. Addressing the apparent insubordination of his own military, he remarked that "our soldiers are pro-American, that I can not deny".

The state secretary said there was "no conflict" between helping Manila with the fight and the "human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter-narcotics activities".

"Bringing our knowledge in how to deal with this enemy in other parts of the world is useful to them, and I think that is also in our security interests as well", he told USA journalists at his hotel.

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. "Wala ng human rights nagtatanong sa akin (Nobody asked me about human rights)", he added.

Over the weekend, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte promised troops on the frontline of the Marawi war zone that they would be rewarded with "many surprises" if they survived, including an all-expenses-paid vacation to Hong Kong.

"I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia", Duterte said in a marked change from the crass criticism the strongman leader offered former President Barack Obama, and the general.

"Most of what we're providing them is information, some surveillance capabilities with some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and acouple of UAVs to allow them to have better information in which to conduct the fight down there", Tillerson said in a press briefing before his meeting with Duterte on Monday.

"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".