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Washington Grills Manila's Envoy About Alleged Insulting of US Ambassador


FILE - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte chats with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Malacañang Palace in Manila, Philippines, before the two held a working lunch, July 27, 2016.

FILE - Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte chats with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry in the Malacañang Palace in Manila, Philippines, before the two held a working lunch, July 27, 2016.

The United States summoned the envoy of its close Asian ally, the Philippines, on Monday to clarify insulting and "inappropriate comments" made by President Rodrigo Duterte about U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, according to the State Department.

"We have asked the Philippine chargé to come into the State Department to clarify those remarks," said Elizabeth Trudeau, the department's spokeswoman. She declined to elaborate on conversation details between senior U.S. officials and Patrick Chuasoto, the charge d'affaires of the Philippine Embassy in Washington.

Duterte, in his meeting with soldiers at a military base last week, was reported to have singled out Goldberg and lashed out with personal attacks. Goldberg has been critical of Duterte's remarks about sexual violence.

Meanwhile, Washington is alarmed by reports of extrajudicial killings as a result of Duterte's anti-drug campaign.

Get-tough image

The new Philippine leader, who developed a get-tough-on-crime image as mayor of Davao City, took office in May. Since then, media reports say, hundreds of people with suspected drug links have been killed, some allegedly at the hands of vigilantes, and half a million have surrendered.

"We are concerned by these detentions, as well as the extrajudicial killing of individuals suspected to be involved in drug activity in the Philippines," said Trudeau.

She added, "We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts comply with its human rights obligations."

A spokesperson from the Philippines' presidential office said the United States has committed $32 million in the form of training and "law enforcement" since U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry met with Philippine President Duterte in late July.

Washington's assistance came after various reports of extrajudicial killings in Duterte's war on illegal drugs. But the Obama administration clarified that the financial aid was cumulative funding previously appropriated, and that all the U.S. security assistance to the Philippines was subject to proper vetting to promote human rights.

"All of our security assistance promotes human rights through training content and by promoting professionalism, due process and rule of law," said Trudeau.

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