Wednesday, August 09, 2017


Philippines' Duterte angry response to a reporter’s question about human rights after meeting with Rex Tillerson: 'Son of a bitch...Don't go there!'

By Associated Press and Francesca Chambers
August 7, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday after a meeting in Manila with America's top diplomat that human rights were not up for discussion.

Asked directly if the topic came up, Duterte cursed at a reporter who asked about reported abuses and said not to 'go there.'

'Human rights, son of a bitch,' Duterte said, arguing he shouldn't be questioned about alleged violations given the challenges he's facing. 'Policemen and soldiers have died on me. The war now in Marawi, what caused it but drugs? So human rights, don't go there.'

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson had dodged on the issue, telling reporters before the chat that he saw 'no conflict at all' between the aid America is providing to the Philippines and the crimes against humanity that Duterte has been accused of being part and parcel to.

As they shook hands, the two ignored a shouted question about whether they'd discussed the topic.

Duterte and Tillerson met in Manila at a regional Asia gathering, where the Filipino leader voiced solidarity with the U.S. amid global concerns over North Korea's nuclear program.

It was the highest-level interaction to date between a member of President Donald Trump's administration and Duterte, accused by human rights groups of flagrant abuses in his bloody war against illegal drugs.

Trump is scheduled to be in the Philippines in November. He has also invited Duterte to the visit the White House, irrespective of the complaints from rights groups.

Duterte cast himself Monday as a humble friend of Trump's top diplomat as they met to discuss North Korea and an insurgency in the Philippines of ISIS-linked militants.

'You come at a time when I think the world is not so good, especially in the Korean Peninsula,' Duterte told Tillerson as he introduced him to members of his Cabinet.

Ahead of the meeting, Duterte's presidential spokesman, Ernesto Bella, said human rights would indeed come up, along with other pressing matters such as global terrorism threats, economic cooperation and security in Marawi, the city that has been under siege by pro-Islamic State group militants for more than two months.

'We also welcome the opportunity to address concerns such as human rights if and when raised,' Bella said in a statement. 'We have always included this issue in our discussions and engagements with foreign governments, particularly Western democracies.'

The U.S., too, said ahead of the meeting that human rights would be among the topics on the agenda.

If the two leaders did discuss those or other U.S. concerns about Duterte's government, they didn't do so in public.

Instead, the two focused on the alliance between the two countries and on the North Korea issue as reporters were allowed in briefly for the start of their meeting.

Human rights groups have questioned the Trump administration's willingness to engage with Duterte, who once called the previous U.S. president, Barack Obama, the 'son of a whore.'

But Tillerson argued Monday there's no contradiction presented by the U.S. decision to help his country fight the militants, whose insurgency in the Philippines has stoked global fears about the Islamic State group exporting violence into Southeast Asia and beyond.

Nearly 700 people have died in the intense fighting, including 528 militants and 122 soldiers and policemen, since hundreds of black flag waving gunmen stormed into buildings and homes in the business district and outlying communities of mosque-studded Marawi, a center of Islamic faith in the southern third of the predominantly Roman Catholic nation.

'I see no conflict - no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of the human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter narcotics activities,' Tillerson told reporters before the meeting.

He added that it appeared the Philippines was 'beginning to get that situation under control.'

To that end, Tillerson said the U.S. has been providing the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, training, information and aircraft to help it fight the militants. He said the equipment includes a few Cessna aircraft and a few drones.

'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.'

EDITOR’S NOTE: Rod, a real tough fighter in the war on drugs and one of my favorite world leaders, out trumps Trump in telling it like it is.

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