What remained unmentioned, however, are the extrajudicial killings of suspected drug dealers and users as part of the government’s drug war. Thousands have been killed by police and vigilantes since Duterte took office and vowed to eradicate his country’s massive drug problem. The rising death toll has drawn criticisms from international human rights groups, at least one of which, the Human Rights Watch, has made the case for a criminal investigation of the Duterte administration.
The relationship between the United States and the Philippines soured under President Barack Obama, who criticized Duterte’s bloody war on drugs. Not one to take criticism lightly, Duterte snapped at Obama on a few occasions, telling him to “go to hell” and, at one point, using the Tagalog phrase for “son of a bitch” or “son of a whore” when addressing the then-U.S. president. In September, Obama canceled a meeting with Duterte, whom he called a “colorful guy.”
The White House said that the relationship between the two countries “is now heading in a very positive direction” and that Trump is looking forward to visiting the Philippines in November during the East Asia and U.S.-Association of South East Asian Nations, or ASEAN, summits.
The Philippines hosted the 30th ASEAN Summit on Saturday. The nuclear threat posed by North Korea — and how the Trump administration will deal with the secretive country — was brought up during a discussion with ASEAN leaders, according to a statement.
Duterte implored the United States to show restraint and patience in dealing with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and warned against an aggressive approach.
“I’m sure President Trump by now is cautioning his military to just may be hang on there and not to start something which they cannot control,” Duterte said in a statement. “Everybody’s worried. Nobody’s clapping his hand. And I’m sure that if war breaks out in the Korean Peninsula, the imponderables of life is really, you cannot foresee, even project what will happen.”