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Despite gay slur, US says ties with PH remain strong

Despite a fresh diplomatic row sparked by President Duterte’s gay slur against America’s top diplomat in Manila, Philip S. Goldberg, the United States said its alliance with the Philippines remains strong.

It underscored that the partnership “is based on a shared respect for rule of law” and urged the Philippines to ensure that its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations.

In a statement released Friday, the US Embassy referred to Duterte’s “inappropriate and unacceptable comments” about Goldberg, who is a multi-time ambassador and one of the US Department of State’s most senior diplomats.

“As stated by Elizabeth Trudeau, Director of the Office of Press Relations at US Department of State, the Philippine Chargé was asked to come to the State Department so we could directly convey our view that the comments were inappropriate and unacceptable,” the statement said but did not go into details of the diplomatic discussions.

Also, it reiterated US concerns on reports about extrajudicial killings in the country. “The United States strongly believes in the rule of law, due process, and respect for universal human rights, and that these principles promote long-term security. We are concerned by reports regarding extrajudicial killings of individuals suspected to have been involved in drug activity in the Philippines,” the embassy statement said.

“We strongly urge the Philippines to ensure its law enforcement efforts are consistent with its human rights obligations,” it added.

It also clarified that the $32 million which the President said Department of State Secretary John Kerry has committed to provide the Philippines is not new funding, but rather cumulative funding previously appropriated that are currently being implemented.

“All of our security assistance promotes human rights through training content and by promoting professionalism, due process, and the rule of law,” it said.

Still, amid all these issues, the US Embassy stated: “Our partnership with the Philippines is based on a shared respect for rule of law, and we will continue to ‎emphasize the importance of this fundamental democratic principle.” (Elena L. Aben)

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