United States Secretary of State Nominee and businessman Rex Tillerson has opted not to call the Philippines a human rights violator, despite staggering reports of frequent extra judicial killings under President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs.
On January 11, during his confirmation hearing with members of the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson was questioned by Senator Marco Rubio on his stance concerning Duterte’s violent campaign against illegal drugs.
Specifically, he was asked if the campaign was "conducive to human rights violations that we should be concerned about and condemning"
Tillerson said that he would require further facts on the issue before submitting his own opinion.
“I'm not going to rely solely on what I read in the newspapers. I will go to facts on the ground. I’m sure there’s good, credible information available through our various government agencies,” he replied.
Tillerson was also hesitant when asked if President Duterte’s approach was the right way to fight against drugs. He was reminded of the “long standing friendship” between the Philippines and the United States.
“They have been an ally and we need to ensure they stay an ally,” he said.
Rubio, along with Senators Christopher Coons and Edward Markey, wrote a letter in December of last year, asking the US State Department to extend help to the Philippines.
They referred to the Duterte administration’s anti-drug campaign as “mass atrocities thinly disguised as a response to a public health emergency”. This is, of course, in reference to the reported 6,000+ slain alleged drug personalities, including a 6-year-old boy and a 12-year old girl, due to the bloody campaign.
President Duterte has been very vocal about the critics of his war on drugs. Often, his profanity-filled responses have drawn reactions from western detractors such as US President Barack Obama and members of the United Nations.
Duterte has vowed to end the tyranny of illegal drugs by any means – even as the death toll increases.
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