Manila summons US envoy over threat report

Filipino students, and their supporters, at a protest rally following their walkout from classes in Manila yesterday. The students were calling for an end to what they said was President Rodrigo Duterte's rising dictatorship.
Filipino students, and their supporters, at a protest rally following their walkout from classes in Manila yesterday. The students were calling for an end to what they said was President Rodrigo Duterte's rising dictatorship.

MANILA • The Philippine government has summoned the US Ambassador over an American intelligence report that listed President Rodrigo Duterte and his deadly war on drugs as a "regional threat", officials said yesterday.

US envoy Sung Kim met Mr Duterte's chief aide on Thursday to discuss the US Worldwide Threat Assessment released last week, the two nations said.

Under a section titled "regional threats", the report listed Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Sen's crackdown on dissent, Mr Duterte's campaign against drugs, corruption and crime, as well as the flight of the Rohingya minority from Myanmar to Bangladesh.

Duterte spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea summoned Mr Kim over the report, which has drawn sharp criticism from the President's camp.

"Duterte is no autocrat nor has autocratic tendencies. He adheres to the rule of law and remains loyal to the constitution," Mr Roque said this week in response to the report.

Mr Duterte, who was elected in 2016, had vowed to kill tens of thousands of criminals in a bid to rid the country of narcotics. The International Criminal Court this month launched a preliminary examination into allegations of extrajudicial killings committed during the President's narcotics crackdown.

A United States Embassy statement said its ambassador met Mr Medialdea to explain the nature of the intelligence report, which the statement said was "based on widely available information".

"Their discussion focused on the references to the Philippines in the report, including clarifying that the information about the Philippines had been previously reported by media sources," the embassy said.

It added: "The United States will continue to collaborate with the government of the Philippines."

Ties between Washington and its former colony had suffered under former US president Barack Obama, following his criticism of Manila's drug war. The two governments say relations have improved since the election in 2016 of US President Donald Trump.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 24, 2018, with the headline 'Manila summons US envoy over threat report'. Print Edition | Subscribe