- DFA secretary said president is open to discussing human rights issues with US counterpart
- He also thanked Trump for offer to mediate on maritime dispute in West PH Sea
- He however stressed offer has to be consented to by ASEAN, not just PH
MANILA, Philippines – Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said President Rodrigo Duterte —contrary to earlier claims— is open to discussing human rights issues with US President Donald Trump.
“The President has always discussed human rights issues. It’s all-encompassing,” GMA News quoted him as saying.
Cayetano clarified that what Duterte abhors is foreign interference and pressure, especially with the government’s war on drugs.
“What he doesn’t want is how it is being politicized and being taken out of context and the way they dictate on the Philippines,” he said.
Two US lawmakers have urged Trump to discuss the Philippines’ anti-drug drive with Duterte amid fears the killings had been sanctioned by the government.
The president has denied accusations of extrajudicial killings; saying the deaths came as a result of security forces defending themselves from resisting suspects.
The foreign affairs chief also thanked Trump for his offer to mediate the dispute involving China and its Southeast Asian neighbors; describing it as kind and generous.
“It is a very kind, generous offer because he is a good mediator. He is the master of the art of the deal,” he said. “Having said that, you can see that President Trump wants this to be a better world. It’s going far and beyond the American first and just being there for America. He wants it to be a world of peace and stability and we thank him for that.”
However, Cayetano explained the ASEAN has to arrive at a consensus first before Trump’s offer can be accepted.
“Claimant countries would have to answer as a group or individually and not one country can just give an instant reply,” he said.