U.S. denies CIA backing destabilization vs Duterte

MANILA, Philippines – The United States denied on Thursday, October 26, that its Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is backing destabilization plots against President Rodrigo Duterte's government.  

"As far as I know, there is absolutely no, no effort by the CIA to undermine the Philippines' leadership," said US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim in a forum with the Foreign Correspondents' Association of the Philippines on Thursday.

Kim added: "President Duterte won a very impressive election. We respect his election, and are in fact working very well together with this administration." 

"I think it's much more important for us to focus on what we're doing with the relationship, than public statements," the US ambassador said. 

Duterte on October 17 said he believes the CIA wants him "out of government." He falsely claimed days earlier, on October 12, that the CIA funds Rappler. 

The US embassy under Kim, however, has worked to boost ties with Duterte. Kim's predecessor, Philip Goldberg, had earned Duterte's ire because Goldberg criticized one of Duterte's rape jokes during the presidential campaign period.

Kim on Thursday cited the "very important role" played by the US in ending the war in Marawi City.

Kim highlighted American intelligence, urban warfare training, and drones as among the factors that helped end the conflict in Marawi City last Monday, October 23, which local authorities said claimed more than 1,100 lives. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com

Paterno R. Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.