MANILA, Philippines – The United States on Friday, August 12, released a rare list of concerns involving the president of the Philippines, one of America's strongest allies in the Asia Pacific.
In a 4-paragraph statement, the US Embassy in Manila addressed 3 issues surrounding Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and the US:
On Goldberg, the US Embassy described comments about the ambassador as "inappropriate and unacceptable."
On the US' $32-million pledge, the embassy said this "is not new funding, but rather cumulative funding previously appropriated."
The US said this funding is subject to "rigorous vetting" as in the case of other forms of security assistance. The US said all of its security assistance, in turn, "promotes human rights."
On extrajudicial killings, the embassy said the US is "concerned by reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines."
Still on killings, the embassy said, "We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations."
'The test of time'
The embassy ended its statement saying: "Our bilateral relationship with the Philippines is broad-ranging from law enforcement to trade and development cooperation, and counts on vibrant and undeniably strong people-to-people and societal ties. The US-Philippine relationship, one of our most important in the Asia Pacific, has withstood the test of time."
The US embassy did not mention Duterte’s name in this statement, and neither did it place any heading to describe the context. The statement was plainly titled, "US Embassy Statement."
The reference to Duterte was apparent, however, because Duterte recently made headlines for commenting on Goldberg and the US' pledge of $32 million.
Duterte made these remarks on August 5, when he recounted the recent visit of US Secretary of State John Kerry to the Philippines.
"Kausap namin si Kerry. Okay naman siya kasi nag-away kami ng ambassador niya, 'yung ambassador, 'yung bakla. Putang ina, buwisit ako diyan," Duterte told soldiers in an event in Cebu City.
(We were talking to Kerry. He's okay, but I had an argument with their ambassador, that homosexual. Son of bitch, he really annoys me.)
Duterte was apparently complaining about Goldberg’s criticism of rape jokes when the long-time Davao City mayor joked about the 1989 rape of an Australian missionary during the campaign period.
In the same event on August 5, Duterte recalled Kerry promising to give the Philippine government $32 million for law enforcement.
The President joked that insulting Americans seems a good way to get money from the US.
"Okay ito ah. Bastusin natin ulit para mag-areglo itong buwang na ito. Pera pala ito, pera-pera lang," a chuckling Duterte said.
(This is great. Let's insult them again so these fools try to make amends again. They're just about money.)
At the same time, Duterte is also the man behind the Philippines’ bloody war on drugs.
The Philippine National Police on Tuesday, August 9, said 513 drug suspects have been killed for resisting arrest. In a separate tally, ABS-CBN News put the death toll at more than 850 to include reported summary executions.
US summons PH envoy
In another rare move, the US State Department itself earlier criticized Duterte's insult against Goldberg, as well as the recent extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
The US also summoned Patrick Chuasoto, the diplomat in charge of the Philippine embassy in Washington DC, to explain Duterte's remarks against Goldberg.
The US State Department, which is the equivalent of the Philippines’ Department of Foreign Affairs, usually comments only on big-picture issues affecting US ties with other countries.
Read the US Embassy in Manila’s full statement below:
US Embassy Statement
Manila, August 12, 2016 – We have seen reports of inappropriate and unacceptable comments made about Ambassador Goldberg, a multi-time ambassador and one of the US Department of State’s most senior diplomats. As stated by Elizabeth Trudeau, director of the Office of Press Relations at US Department of State, the Philippine Chargé was asked to come to the State Department so we could directly convey our view that the comments were inappropriate and unacceptable. We do not go into details of those diplomatic discussions.
The US funding of $32 million in question is not new funding, but rather cumulative funding previously appropriated that we are currently implementing. Assistance provided by these funds is subject to the same rigorous vetting as our other security assistance. All of our security assistance promotes human rights through training content and by promoting professionalism, due process, and the rule of law. Our partnership with the Philippines is based on a shared respect for rule of law, and we will continue to emphasize the importance of this fundamental democratic principle.
The United States strongly believes in the rule of law, due process, and respect for universal human rights, and that these principles promote long-term security. We are concerned by reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines. We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations.
Our bilateral relationship with the Philippines is broad-ranging from law enforcement to trade and development cooperation, and counts on vibrant and undeniably strong people-to-people and societal ties. The US-Philippine relationship, one of our most important in the Asia Pacific, has withstood the test of time.
– with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.