MANILA, Philippines – The Duterte administration on Saturday, August 13, issued a statement against "unlawful" killings after the United States said it is "concerned" about recent extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.
"We do not condone any unlawful killings and Philippine authorities have been instructed to immediately look into these incidents and bring the perpetrators to justice," the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said in a statement relayed by the Office of the President.
The DFA made this statement after the US embassy in Manila on Friday, August 12, released a list of concerns under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
In a 4-paragraph statement, the US embassy in Manila addressed 3 issues surrounding Duterte and the US:
On extrajudicial killings, the US embassy said the US is "concerned by reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines."
Data from the Philippine National Police show more than 500 drug suspects have been killed for resisting arrest as of August 9. In a separate tally, ABS-CBN News put the death toll at more than 850 to include reported summary executions.
No mention of Goldberg
In its response to the US embassy, the DFA on Saturday addressed extrajudicial killings and tackled the issue of US assistance. The department, however, dodged US criticism of Duterte’s remarks against Goldberg.
The DFA said: "The Philippine government is focused on its peace and order efforts, including the eradication of illicit drugs and its manufacture, distribution, and use from our society. Nevertheless, while pursuing this objective, the Philippine government is committed to the rule of law, and the protection of human rights of all."
"Law enforcement officials are expected to abide by legal procedures and strict operational protocols. Alleged violations of these protocols will be investigated by the authorities and those who have broken the law will be prosecuted," it added.
It also said the Philippines looks to "the substantial and meaningful assistance of the United States in pursuit of our own national objectives, especially in addressing the issues of counterterrorism, maritime security, and economic cooperation."
The US earlier said its $32-million pledge is subject to "rigorous vetting" as in the case of other forms of security assistance. The US said all of its security assistance, in turn, "promotes human rights."
The DFA added on Saturday, "We welcome the US Embassy's reaffirmation of the longstanding ties between the Philippines and the United States, and the importance of the strategic alliance vis-à-vis our shared values and shared goals." – with reports from Agence France-Presse/Rappler.com