- President Obama is set to raise human rights concerns to President Duterte in their sideline meeting in the ASEAN summit
- Duterte said he is ready to defend his methods in his brutal campaign against drugs
- Both Obama and Duterte will also discuss security concerns over the rising tensions in the South China Sea
In the coming meeting with President Barack Obama in Laos next week, President Rodrigo Duterte said he is prepared to defend his war on drugs and the allegations of human rights violations in the Philippines.
Since taking office, President Duterte has entered into an all out war on drugs, promising to eradicate drug-related crimes in 6 months. Extrajudicial killings have claimed the lives of dozens of drug pushers and users.
The international community, particularly the United States and the United Nations, are concerned that the anti-drug campaign could be violating human rights.
Obama said that he is planning to raise these concerns with Duterte when they meet in the East Asia Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).
President Duterte said he would meet Obama on the condition that he would be allowed to first explain the context of his brutal campaign on illegal drug trade, with more than 2,000 drug suspects killed in the last 3 months.
“They must understand the problem first before we talk about human rights,” Duterte said. “I would insist, ‘Listen to me. This is what the problem is.’ Then we can talk. No problem,”
The United States has criticized Duterte’s methods, stating that human rights must be upheld. The US reiterated that citizens, including alleged drug dealers, must be forced to surrender and detained rather than outright killed.
We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts comply with its human rights obligations,” US State department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau said.
Obama would also bring up Duterte’s statement when he called US Ambassador Philip Goldberg a “gay son of a b*tch,” according to the White House.
However, the White House admitted that Obama and Duterte would discuss important issues regarding the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.