President Duterte to Tillerson: `Your Humble Friend’ — Pushes Regional Economic Partnership

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Aug. 8 (EIRNS)–No slouch at irony, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte greeted U.S. Secretary of State Tillerson to Manila with: “I am your humble friend in Southeast Asia.” No one forgets that Duterte told Obama to “Go to Hell” and his less than humble attacks on the then-U.S. Ambassador and others.

Tillerson said at a joint press conference that the U.S. has been providing the Philippines with surveillance capabilities, training, information and aircraft to help it fight the militants. He said the equipment includes a few Cessna aircraft and a few drones. “We see 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 said to a question about human rights.

In a later meeting with the press, Duterte was asked about human rights, responding: “Human rights, son of a bitch,” and said he shouldn’t be questioned about human rights given the challenges he’s facing, the {Inquirer} reports. “Policemen and soldiers have died on me. The war now in Marawi, what caused it but drugs? So human rights, don’t go there,” Duterte replied.

In his speech as host for the celebration of ASEAN’s 50th Anniversary, Duterte addressed the trade issues facing ASEAN, calling on member-states to push forward with the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP), the fair trade agreement among Asian nations (excluding the Americas) launched by ASEAN and strongly backed by China. “We must take a serious look at the economic integration. ASEAN has a bigger stake than any other part of the world in standing up against protectionism and securing the rules of the game in the international trade,” he said.

On Obama’s dead Trans-Pacific Partnership, he said: “I was reminded that the Trans-Pacific, it was a dream that was no longer there.” He said that “prosperity should not be the right of just a chosen few. It must be a blessing enjoyed by all.”

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