Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has sought closer ties with Russia in a visit to the country, where he criticized the United States and its Western allies for weaponizing human rights without knowing its damaging consequences.
In a bilateral meeting with his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Black Sea city of Sochi, Duterte said that Manila has a “long-term commitment to elevate” security and defense cooperation with Moscow.
Putin also expressed willingness for greater trade and economic relations with the Philippines.
Addressing an open forum on the same day, Duterte also criticized the West and in particular long-time ally the United States, describing them as “so-called friends” who “act like they know the answers to our problems.”
“They create rules and norms for almost everyone, and some refuse to be bound by the same.” he said.
He said these countries “weaponize human rights oblivious to its damaging consequences to the very people they seek to protect.”
During a session of the Valdai Discussion Club, Duterte slammed US officials, saying they “criticized heavily” a campaign he launched against drug smuggling in his country.
Duterte won the presidency by a wide margin in 2016 on promises of eradicating drugs and crime. He launched the heavy-handed campaign shortly after taking the office.
He often tacitly encouraged police to take a tough stance in dealing with suspects, and allegations soon emerged that police, on his implicit instructions, were exercising a policy of shoot-to-kill.
The controversial campaign, which killed thousands of individuals, was met with much opposition from local and international human rights groups.
The US has long been the Philippines’ main supplier of military equipment. But back in 2016, it halted the planned sale of some 26,000 assault rifles to Duterte government over what it described as human rights violations in the Southeast Asian country.
Duterte later scrapped the arms deal with Washington saying there is no guarantee he could get what he had already paid for.
In the meantime, his government developed closer trade and defense ties with Russia and China, both of which are engaged in disputes with the United States.
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