MANILA - The United States raises concerns on the Philippines' war on drugs "behind closed doors," as it continues to pay attention to human rights under the leadership of President Donald Trump, an official of the State Department said Monday.
The US also wants to see more transparency in law enforcement from its ally, said Richard Buangan, managing director for international media engagement at the State Department.
"We have a unique opportunity to raise with the Philippine government our concerns about their war on drugs. We'll continue to raise those behind closed doors, in diplomatic setting," he told ANC's Early Edition.
"We want to see the Philippines play a more transparent role in its law enforcement. We continue to encourage the Philippines to be more transparent particularly in issues regarding rule of law," he said.
Buanga said human rights, a universal issue, comes up in the conversations US leaders have with its counterparts.
"Human rights is still something that we consider a universal issue that countries have to pay attention to. President Tump also said in his UN speech that he wants to see the United Nations do more to promote peace and prosperity by recognizing sovereignty of other nations," he said.
Duterte has chosen to turn away from Washington, the Philippines' long-time defense ally, when then-President Barack Obama criticized his anti-narcotics drive.
Under Trump, however, Duterte has tamped down on his tirades against the Western superpower.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella in May said Trump was aware of the criticism Duterte had received over his controversial war on drugs, but praised him for doing a "great job" when they spoke over the phone.
The US leader also invited his Philippine counterpart to visit him at the White House, a move which then unleashed a storm of criticism in Washington.
The White House defended the invitation, acknowledging that though human rights were an important issue, Washington needed allies in Asia to address the global threat of North Korea's development of nuclear weapons.
- with Reuters