PH, US have 'solid' ties amid drug war: Palace

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Aug 26 2016 01:53 PM

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (R) greets U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip S. Goldberg (L) as visiting U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry looks on during his visit at the Malacanang presidential palace in metro Manila, Philippines July 27, 2016. Aaron Favila, Reuters

MANILA – Malacanang reiterated on Friday that the Philippines has a good relationship with the US, despite the latter saying that it is "deeply concerned" about reports of extrajudicial killings in the country.

"We are open to the opinions and positions of certain governments, but we'd like to reiterate that the relationship between the US and the Philippines remains basically solid, and we have a good relationship," Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella told reporters Friday morning.

On Thursday, the US Department of State reiterated its earlier statements that the international superpower has made its concerns known to the Philippine government, and that it believes in the rule of law and due process, as well as human rights.

READ: US: $32-M aid must promote human rights, rule of law

The US believes that these support long-term security, said State Press Office Director Elizabeth Trudeau, so they continue to urge President Rodrigo Duterte to ensure that the country’s law enforcement efforts comply with human rights obligations.

"We think that our relationship, which has spanned 70 years, is a frank and open enough relationship that we can have those conversations," she said.

The Philippines is a longtime ally of the US, and stages annual military training for the two nations' mutual benefit.

Recently, remarks by the president against US officials such as Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg and American members of the United Nations have raised controversy and speculation as to the state of relations between the two governments.

Extrajudicial killings allegedly done in the name of the government's campaign against drugs have grabbed the attention not only of other governments, but of international media as well, in view of Duterte's comments regarding human rights and his defense of the country's aggressive stance on illegal drugs and crime.

LOOK: New York Times interprets Duterte war on drugs

In a speech on Wednesday, Duterte said that human rights groups protesting the deaths of suspected drug users and peddlers must instead consider that the lives of law enforcers are also at risk due to illegal drug use.

"Is there anybody among you, human rights advocates who are counting the dead soldiers and policemen?" he said, and asked if they would choose the lives of alleged criminals over the safety of the public.

READ: Duterte: Drug-related killings not genocide

Duterte allies have claimed Filipinos feel safer because "thousands" of drug users and pushers have surrendered to police, and that human rights advocates are ignoring positive effects.

READ: People now feel safer under Duterte, says Cayetano

Cayetano was Duterte's running mate during the national elections.

READ: Duterte's drug war cut crime rate, PNP claims