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What’s real score on human rights? PH, US give conflicting statements on Duterte’s meeting with Trump

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The Philippines and the United States gave different statements on whether US President Donald Trump raised the issue of human rights during his meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said the issue of human rights “briefly came up in the context of the Philippines’ fight against illegal drugs.

But Duterte’s spokesperson, Harry Roque, had a different take on the matter.

“The issue of human rights did not arise. It was not brought up,” he said in a statement Monday (November 13).

Roque said it was Duterte who mentioned the Philippines’ drug problem to Trump.

He added that Trump “appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter but was merely nodding his head.

A few days before the ASEAN Summit, Duterte warned he would tell Trump to “lay off” if ever the US President raise the issue of human rights.

Duterte has been sensitive about international criticism of the government’s war on drugs, often saying it is a domestic matter.

Reacting to the seeming disparity between his statement and the White House’s, Roque said the Sanders’ comment was “fair” in so far as Duterte “described the war versus drugs as promoting” human rights.

He said it was mentioned during the bilateral meeting that “that no one was killed in a kneeling position.”

Trump, Roque said, told Duterte that the Philippines follows the rule of law in the war on drugs.

“But no express mention of HR (human rights) or EJKs (extrajudicial killings),” he added.