THE United States cooperates with efforts by the Philippine government to fight crime and protect its citizens against such threats but the measures have to be carried out within the bounds of law, a US Embassy official in Manila said.
The official made the statement when asked for comments on incoming President Rodrigo Duterte’s anti-crime drive, including his call on the public to make citizen’s arrests when faced particularly with drug traffickers caught in the act and to shoot them if they fight back and resist arrest.
Earlier, the former crime-crushing mayor of Davao City said in a nationally televised speech: “If he fights, and he fights to the death, you can kill him… Do it yourself if you have the gun…you have my support.”
In a text message to The Manila Times on Wednesday, Emma Nagy, press attaché of the US Embassy in Manila, said, “The rule of law is fundamental to the peace and prosperity of any country.”
“The United States cooperates with all Philippine law enforcement agencies to protect Philippine citizens against criminal threats, including drug smuggling, trafficking in persons, financial crimes and trademark violations,” she added.
Other embassies sought for comment gave no response.
The United Nations earlier slammed the tough-talking politician for supposedly instigating deadly violence, especially against journalists, when he justified the killing of
media men who did “anything wrong.”
UN Special Rapporteur on summary executions Christof Heyns said Duterte’s recent remarks are “irresponsible in the extreme, and unbecoming of any leader.”
UN Special Rapporteur on freedom of expression David Kaye said, “Justifying the killing of journalists on the basis of how they conduct their professional activities can be understood as a permissive signal to potential killers that the murder of journalists is acceptable in certain circumstances and would not be punished.”
A report from US-based Committee to Protect Journalists stated that the Philippines, where at least 75 journalists have been killed since 1992, is the second-deadliest country for journalists.
In a separate statement, Kurt Hoyer, spokesman for the US Embassy in Manila, said Washington will defend press freedom.
“The United States values an open and free press and we will continue to speak out regularly to defend the rights of the press. Our position on the protection of journalists and the rule of law is very clear,” he added.
British Ambassador to Manila Asif Ahmad said the United Kingdom is “totally committed to the elimination and condemnation” of the killing of journalists.
“There is a huge responsibility for any office holder to show respect for the office that they hold and respect for the people that they have the privilege to govern for,” he added in an interview.
“As President Duterte, we expect (of him) a different tone because everything he says will be on behalf of the nation. This is not an issue where he is speaking personally,” Ahmad said.