Philippines blames media for US concerns
The Philippines said Aug. 4 it would tell visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson his concerns over its drug war that has claimed thousands of lives were due to “exaggerated media reports.”
Tillerson is due to meet President Rodrigo Duterte on the sidelines of a regional security forum that begins on the weekend, and both sides have flagged that the human rights debate over the drug war would be on the agenda.
“We welcome the opportunity to address their concerns and correct the perceptions they may have gleaned from exaggerated media reports,” a Philippine foreign department statement said on Aug. 4.
The statement was released after acting U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Susan Thornton said in Washington that Tillerson would discuss human rights issues in Manila.
Duterte easily won presidential elections last year after promising an unprecedented war on drugs in which tens of thousands of people would be killed.Since he took office in the middle of last year, police have confirmed killing more than 3,400 people in anti-drug operations. More than 2,000 other people have been killed in drug-related crimes and thousands more murdered in unexplained circumstances, according to police data.
Rights groups say many of those victims have been killed by vigilante death squads linked to the government.