Cayetano defends PH antidrug drive in meet with US secretary of state
Foreign Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended President Duterte’s brutal war on drugs in a meeting with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Washington on Wednesday.
Cayetano, who is on an official visit in the US capital after attending the UN General Assembly in New York last week, told Tillerson that the Philippines welcomed further US support to combat the drug menace.
But he deflected calls from the US government and international human rights groups for the Philippine government to allow an impartial investigation of the deaths of thousands of drug suspects at the hands of police and unknown assailants in the crackdown.
Nothing to hide
“We made it clear that we have nothing to hide and that we are ready to work with experts or observers as long as they are independent and fair,” Cayetano said in a statement issued after the meeting with Tillerson.
“We would welcome experts if they can assure us they would not politicize the investigations because we want to make sure the outcome would be credible,” he added.
To stress the seriousness of the Philippines’ narcotics problem, Cayetano claimed the number of drug users and drug dependents was estimated “from as low as 1 million to as high as 7 million.”
He, however, insisted to Tillerson that “contrary to media reports,” the Duterte administration did not have a state policy allowing extrajudicial killings, especially of drug suspects.
According to the statement issued by the Philippine Embassy in Washington, Cayetano and Tillerson discussed “a broad range of bilateral issues, including [the Philippines’] ongoing campaign against crime, terrorism and illegal drugs.”
The embassy quoted Tillerson as saying the alliance between the two countries was “on an upward vector.”
Cayetano was accompanied during the meeting by Foreign Undersecretary Jose Luis Montales, Assistant Secretary Maria Andrelita Austria, Philippine Permanent Representative to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr. and Philippine Embassy Chargé d’Affaires Patrick Chuasoto.
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