Duterte defends drug war in meeting with U.S. ambassador

Pia Ranada
Duterte defends drug war in meeting with U.S. ambassador

News And Information Bureau

To US Ambassador Sung Kim, President Rodrigo Duterte explains he had nothing to do with lawmakers initially slashing the Commission on Human Rights' 2018 budget

MANILA, Philippines – The bloody drug war and the deaths of teenagers supposedly linked to it were among the major topics in a meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and United States Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim.

The meeting, according to a Malacañang press release, took place on Wednesday, September 20, in the Palace.

Kim “further stressed” the need for investigations of deaths being linked to drugs “to ensure continued people’s confidence in the government,” according to Malacañang.

Duterte responded by giving assurances that police stay within the bounds of the law and proper police procedures when going on anti-drug operations. (READ: After Kian slay, Duterte tempers messaging on drug war)

He emphasized that his administration “never condoned abusive cops,” said the Palace. (READ: Shoot to kill? Duterte’s statements on killing drug users)

The death of 17-year-old Kian delos Santos in Caloocan City was also brought up. Duterte pointed out that policemen involved in the boy’s murder were immediately arrested.

Kim previously expressed grave concern over the deaths of teenagers at the hands of cops. He called their deaths “tragic” and demanded “full accountability” from whoever was responsible for them.

The Philippine President also found himself explaining his stance on the controversial P1,000 budget for the Commission on Human Rights (CHR).

The House of Representatives, which earlier voted for the meager budget, decided to restore the commission’s P678-million budget on Wednesday.

Duterte told Kim that he had nothing to do with lawmakers’ initial decision to significantly reduce the CHR’s 2018 budget.

“The Chief Executive clarified that he never directed Congress to cut the agency’s budget, adding that he cannot control the decisions of the legislative body,” reads the Palace release.

Duterte repeated to Kim his proposal that United Nations Commission on Human Rights investigators tail police during anti-drug operations so they can monitor any possible human rights abuses.

The President thanked Kim for the P730-million assistance for Marawi City donated by the US. (READ: Foreign assistance for Marawi now at P2.1B)

Kim reiterated Washington’s “all-out support” to the Philippines in its fight against terrorism in Mindanao. – Rappler.com

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Pia Ranada

Pia Ranada is a senior reporter for Rappler covering Philippine politics and environmental issues. For tips and story suggestions, email her at pia.ranada@rappler.com.