Malacañang asserted that the relations between the Philippines and the Unites States remain “solid” despite the latter’s anxiety over reports of extrajudicial killings in the administration’s war against illegal drugs.
“We are open to the opinions and positions of certain governments,” Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella said in an interview.
Abella made the remarks after the US Department of State expressed its concerns to the Philippine government about the possible violations of due process as well as human rights during the implementation of the anti-drug campaign.
“The US believes that the rule of law supports long-term security,” State Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau said. The US has urged President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure that the country’s law enforcement efforts comply with human rights obligations.
“We think that our relationship, which has spanned 70 years, is a frank and open enough relationship that we can have those conversations,” Trudeau said.
Recently, remarks by the President against US officials, such as Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and American members of the United Nations, have raised speculation as to the state of relations between the two governments.
Extrajudicial killings allegedly done in the course of the government’s campaign against drugs have grabbed the attention not only of other governments but of international media as well, in view of Duterte’s controversial comments regarding human rights and his defense of the country’s aggressive stance on illegal drugs and crime.
In a press conference Friday, Abella maintained that the government does not sanction killings.
“I think the terms that you use imply that a lot of these are state-sanctioned. Let me just give you my understanding of the whole matter. You have to set it in context, you have to set the whole operation, the whole campaign in context from where the president is and where the president stands. What he sees is basically a nation that has really entered into the mess of narco-politics, where people who are in government and people who are in authority have consciously made choices that actually allow the proliferation of drugs,” he said.
“So the president frames the whole matter in terms of a war,” Abella added. “He actually brings out and highlights the fact that the 600,000 surrenderers are simply a tip of a large iceberg, and how deeply, how deep and frightening, drugs has been used, especially in the lower sectors of society. Basically the president’s concern is to stop the supply that’s coming in to the country and to make sure that the demand is stopped.”
The President has accused ranking government officials, including Senator Leila de Lima, of being involved in the illegal drug trade.