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