Tillerson meets Duterte despite human rights concerns

Mr Duterte's 13-month-old administration has launched a brutal crackdown on drugs that has claimed thousands of lives and led to warnings by rights groups that he may be overseeing a crime against humanity.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte called himself a "humble friend" of the United States on Monday, taking a break from his notorious hostility towards Washington to grant a warm reception to visiting U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

The US has provided Philippine forces with surveillance, training, planes and drones to help it fight the militants, gangs who have long fought the state and raised funds through kidnap for ransom. Despite Obama denying that he would meet with Duterte during a regional conference in 2016, the two exchanged greetings.

WHILE known for his anti-United States tirades and overseeing a foreign policy pivot away from U.S. towards China, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has described himself as the "humble friend" of the USA in Southeast Asia.

The announcement came after Bishop met with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday, August 7 - their second meeting for the year, which covered the Marawi crisis. Addressing the apparent insubordination of his own military, he remarked that "our soldiers are pro-American, that I can not deny".

Bishop made this announcement on the sidelines of the 50th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meetings hosted by the Philippines.

"We see no conflict at all in our helping them with that situation and our views of the human rights concerns we have with respect to how they carry out their counter narcotics activities".

Almost 700 people have been killed in fighting since gunmen affiliated with the Islamic State stormed homes and businesses in the city of Marawi, a heavily Islamic community in the predominantly Catholic nation.

Although Tillerson said he believed the Philippines was beginning to regain control of the violence-hit areas, he added the real challenge would come when the fighting was over and "creating the conditions on the ground to ensure it does not re-emerge".

The meeting was in stark contrast to the relationship between Duterte and former President Barack Obama.

A Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) C-130 transport aircraft airlifted humanitarian supplies worth US$100,000 (S$136,343) to the Philippines yesterday afternoon to provide relief to displaced civilians in the southern Philippines, said a press release by Mindef. "Human rights - you go there and you might have a bomb dropped on your head".

"The war in Marawi - what caused it, but drugs?" he said.

"And, of course, there is the ever nagging problem of South China Sea", Duterte told Tillerson at the presidential palace.

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