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Duterte meets Tillerson

By: Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos

President Duterte met drug war critics United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop in Malacañang yesterday afternoon.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, during the Mindanao Hour press briefing yesterday morning, said Duterte is open to discussing the campaign against drugs with the US top diplomat if it is raised.

“We also welcome the opportunity to address concerns such as human rights, if and when raised. We have always included this issue in our discussion and engagements with foreign governments particularly western democracies,” Abella said.

According to the Palace official, Duterte is also expected to discuss other matters of interest with Tillerson.

“We expect the President to discuss with Secretary Tillerson a wide range of relevant issues, including the security situation in Marawi, the global threat of terrorism, increasing Philippine-US economic and people-to-people engagement, and the Balangiga bells, among others,” he said.

Duterte is meeting Bishop for the second time. They first met in the Chief Executive’s hometown Davao City last March.

According to Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Martin Andanar, Bishop’s visit is proof of the Philippines’ improving alliance with Australia.

Andanar recognized Australia’s assistance to the Philippines over the years, especially in times of crisis, and the ongoing war in Marawi. “The Australian government has always been helpful during times of trouble in our country, including the Marawi crisis,” he said.