Obama to meet ‘The Pu­n­isher’

The Myanmar Times - - World -

US Pres­i­dent Barack Obama will meet con­tro­ver­sial Philip­pine leader Ro­drigo Duterte next week, the White House said, amid con­cerns over a war on crime that has claimed more than 2000 lives.

Since tak­ing of­fice, Mr Duterte, nick­named “The Pu­n­isher”, has be­gun mak­ing good on an election pledge to kill tens of thou­sands of sus­pected crim­i­nals, prompt­ing crit­i­cism from rights groups who ac­cuse him of in­cit­ing vig­i­lante mur­ders.

He has also lashed out at the United Na­tions and de­scribed the US am­bas­sador as a “son of a whore”.

How­ever, the White House said Mr Obama would meet the fire­brand leader on the side­lines of a sum­mit in Laos, which be­gins on Septem­ber 6, with the US pres­i­dent likely to voice dis­quiet over the blood­shed and Mr Duterte’s abu­sive re­marks.

“We ab­so­lutely ex­pect that the pres­i­dent will raise con­cerns about some of the re­cent state­ments from the pres­i­dent of the Philip­pines,” Obama aide Ben Rhodes told re­porters in Wash­ing­ton.

“We reg­u­larly meet with the lead­ers of our treaty al­lies where we have dif­fer­ences, whether it re­lates to hu­man rights prac­tices or deroga­tory com­ments. We take the op­por­tu­nity of those meet­ings to raise those is­sues di­rectly.”

Mr Duterte’s war on crime has seen un­known as­sailants kill more than half the vic­tims, ac­cord­ing to police statis­tics, rais­ing fears that se­cu­rity forces and hired as­sas­sins are shoot­ing dead any­one sus­pected of be­ing in­volved in drugs.

Police have reported killing 756 peo­ple they have branded drug sus­pects, although they have in­sisted they are only act­ing in self-de­fence.

The US State Depart­ment last week said it was “deeply con­cerned” about re­ports of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings.

The Philip­pines, a former US colony, was re­garded as one of the United States’ most loyal al­lies in Asia un­til Mr Duterte took of­fice. –

Photo: AFP

Barack Obama will meet Mr Duterte in Laos on Septem­ber 6.

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