Trump’s secretary of state nominee refuses to call PH’s ‘war on drugs’ a violation of human rights

MANILA, Philippines – A nominee for Secretary of State by President-elect Donald Trump has refused to acknowledged that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has resulted in human rights violation based on the alleged record of deaths within the first six months of the new administration. Rex Tillerson, a former ExxonMobil executive picked by the incoming US president to replace John Kerry in the State Department, said he needs to see more facts and not just based his judgements on ‘media reports’. Grilled by Senator Marco Rubio at the confirmation hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Tillerson noted the long-standing friendship between the Philippines and the United States.

“Since President Rodrigo Duterte took oath last June, The Los Angeles Times reports that roughly over 6,200 people have been killed in the Philippines by police and vigilantes in alleged drug raids, in your view is it the right way to conduct an anti-drug campaign?” Rubio asked Tillerson. Rubio persisted by asking Tillerson if Duterte’s drug campaign is “conducive to human rights violations that we should be concerned about and condemning.” To this, Tillerson replied: “Well, again, I’m not going to rely solely on what I read in the newspapers. I will go with the facts on the ground, I’m sure there’s good and credible information available through our various government agency.” But Tillerson’s refusal to label the Philippines as a human rights violator “because it would somehow hurt the US’ chances to influence them or its relationship with the Asian country” did not sit well with Rubio. The Republican senator from Florida warned Tillerson that once confirmed, the latter would have no choice but “to label countries and individuals all the time”. “It is extremely concerning that a nominee for Secretary of State would claim that governments in countries like Syria and the Philippines with clear patterns of documented violations are not considered human rights abusers,” Rubio added.
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