MALACANANG yesterday asked for “fairness” after the administration of US President Donald Trump aired concern over killings linked to President Rodrigo Duterte’s war against illegal drugs.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a press statement to that the Philippine government shared the US government’s concern, but appealed to the Philippines’ long-standing ally to “not rush to a judgment.”
“Right now, the people appreciate the changes and the way these are carried out. We ask to be understood not just from a single perspective, but from the point of view of Filipino who desire change, stability and fairness,” Abella said.
Earlier, Patrick Murphy, the U.S. deputy assistant secretary of state for Southeast Asia, told reporters that the United States shared Manila’s objective of eliminating the scourge of illicit drugs.
He said the US government wanted to help.
“We, however, do have a very sustained and deep concern when elements of the drug war are operating outside the rule of law,” Murphy told reporters at a briefing in Washington.
“The growing number of extrajudicial killings is troubling.”
Reuters has now pegged the number of killings related to Duterte’s war on drugs at 9,000, but Abella insisted that the figure was “false news”.
“On the number of extrajudicial deaths, the persistent news reports of 7,000 killed, which is now being said to be close to 9,000, is false news,” Abella said.
“For the period 01 July 2016 to 24 March 2017, the police has accounted for 6,011 homicide cases under investigation (formerly called deaths under investigation),” he said.
Duterte has been speaking positively about Trump, a fellow populist who won as US President in November, though his anti-US rhetoric persisted.
Duterte and Trump are expected to meet in November, when Trump is expected to come to the Philippines to attend meetings with Southeast Asian nations.
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Thursday confirmed Trump’s visit to Manila during his visit to the headquarters of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, Indonesia.
“The President of the United States will attend the U.S.-ASEAN summit, the East Asia Summit, and the APEC (Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation) Leaders Meeting in Vietnam and the Philippines this November,” Pence told reporters.
The 31st ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings are scheduled from November 10-14 in Clark Field, Pampanga.
Pence also expressed the Trump administration’s commitment to cooperate with ASEAN on issues of regional security.