Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte met Monday with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, where he voiced his support for the U.S. and angrily dismissed media questions about human rights abuses by his government.
“Human rights, son of a bitch,” Duterte said at a news conference after the meeting, arguing he shouldn’t be questioned about alleged violations given the challenges he’s facing.
“Policemen and soldiers have died on me. The war now in Marawi, what caused it but drugs? So human rights, don’t go there,” he said.
The meeting between Duterte and Tillerson was the highest-level interaction to date between a member of President Donald Trump’s administration and the Philippine head of state.
Filipinos and human rights groups have questioned the United States' willingness to engage with Duterte who is accused of flagrant abuses in his bloody war against illegal drugs.
Tillerson said there’s no contradiction presented by the U.S. decision to help Duterte fight militants in Marawi.
“I see no conflict — no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of the human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter narcotics activities,” Tillerson told reporters before the meeting. He added that it appeared the Philippines was “beginning to get that situation under control.”
Meanwhile, the National Democratic Front of the Philippines — a coalition of revolutionary forces, including the New People's Army and the Communist Party of the Philippines — reported a two-state plot to assassinate Jose Maria Sison, NDFP chief political consultant, and subsequently to overthrow President Duterte.
Military officers who are assets of the CIA and those close to the Armed Forces of the Philippines Chief of Staff Eduardo Año are engaged in the plot, the National Executive Committee of the NDFP said.
The first stage of the military plot is to send a team of hit-men to the Netherlands to assassinate Sison, with the verbal approvals of Duterte and Año, to demoralize the revolutionary forces.
The second stage is a coup to overthrow Duterte for betraying the alliance with the U.S. and failing to solve the problem of illegal drugs despite the crude and flagrant violations of human rights.
“Even while the two-stage military plot, especially the first stage, needs further verification, the plot must be immediately exposed in order to discourage its implementation,” NDFP said.
It also demanded Duterte stop his all-out war policy against the revolutionary movement and comply with the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect for Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law “in order to lay the basis for a just and lasting peace.”