Wednesday, 18 May 2016

Obama calls Duterte, highlights shared human rights values

President Obama has personally called his counterpart in the Philippines with a subtle message about the importance of human rights.

Just weeks ago, in his last campaign speech, President-elect Rodrigo Duterte told a crowd to "forget the laws of human rights."
Duterte's tough-on-crime stance proved popular with Filipino voters as he won by a landslide, with his two closest rivals pulling out within 24 hours.
According to a statement issued by the White House, Obama commended the country for its "vibrant democracy." But he also highlighted "enduring values" that underpinned their "longstanding ties," including "shared commitments to democracy, human rights and rule of law."
    Many of Duterte's inflammatory comments have drawn criticism from election opponentsand human rights groups. "If I make it to the presidential palace, I will do just what I did as mayor. You drug pushers, hold-up men and do-nothings, you better go out. Because as the mayor, I'd kill you," Duterte said.

    Davao City, where Duterte held office for decades, he has long been dogged by allegations of ties to death squads and extrajudicial killings.
    Last year the New York-based Human Rights Watch estimated that more than 1,000 people had died in Davao since the 1990s under Duterte's leadership and urged the Philippines government to investigate the killings.
    In April, a YouTube video surfaced appearing to show him joking about the 1989 rape and murder of an Australian missionary in Davao City, saying as mayor he should have been first in line. He later described it as "gutter language" but refused to apologize, motivating Phil Robertson, the deputy Asia director of Human Rights Watch, to say on Twitter that Duterte's comments were "a disgusting endorsement of sexual violence."

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