DEFENDING President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs right in the US capital, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. called on the United States to stop lecturing the Philippines on human rights, saying Filipinos “cannot forever be the little brown brothers of America.”
“At one point in time, we have to make sure … we have to grow and become the big brother of our own people, of the next generation of Filipinos,” Yasay said in a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington on Thursday.
The United States has expressed alarm over the rising deaths of suspects in President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs, which has frayed relations between Manila and Washington.
Early this month, Duterte launched an expletive-laden tirade against the US and US President Barack Obama for criticizing the anti-drug campaign, forcing the White House to cancel a bilateral meeting at the sidelines of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) in Laos.
In Laos Duterte brought up atrocities committed by the US army against Moros in Sulu during the pacification campaign by American colonizers a century ago.
Duterte has since proclaimed that the Philippines would adopt an independent foreign policy, and announced plans to get military equipment from China and Russia.
He had also called for the withdrawal of US troops in Mindanao, only to take it back later.
In Washington, Yasay said the US should not tie its aid to certain conditions.
“You do not go to the Philippines and say ‘I am going to give you something, I am going to help you develop. I am going to help you grow, but these are the checklists that you must comply with. We will lecture you on human rights,”” Yasay said.
Yasay said the Philippines respects human rights, and called on the US to understand that each country pursues its national interest.
“We would like to assure you that even before America became [our]colonial power … the Filipinos had already fully understood the sanctity of human life, the dignity of human life, the respect of certain inalienable rights,” he explained.
Yasay reiterated that Manila won’t cut ties with Washington, and invited American companies to set up more businesses in the Philippines
“Our alliance based on mutual trust and respect will continue to contribute to the peaceful and stable regions that both of our countries have committed to our people,” he said.
“We can do more. The Philippines and the US are natural business partners because of shared values and common interests,” he added.