STATEMENT OF US PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, September 8, 2016, Lao PDR
I did shake hands with President Duterte last night. It was not a long interaction. And, what I indicated to him is that my team should be meeting with his and determine how we can move forward on whole range of issues.
As I said when I was asked about this in China, I don’t take these comments personally because it seems as if this is a phrase he’s used repeatedly including directed at the Pope and others. And so, I think it seems to be just a habit, a way of speaking for him.
But as I said in China, we want to partner with the Philippines on the particular issue of narco-traffickers, which is a serious problem in the Philippines, a serious problem in the United States and around the world.
On that narrow issue, we do want to make sure that the partnership we have is consistent with the international norms and rule of law.
So, we’re not gonna back off our position that if we are working with a country, whether it’s on anti-terrorism, whether it’s on going after drug traffickers as despicable as these networks maybe, as much damage as they do, it is important from our perspective to make sure that we do it the right way. Because the consequence of when you do it the wrong way is innocent people get hurt and you have a whole bunch of unintended consequences that don’t solve the problem.
It has no impact on our broader relationship with the Philippine people; on the wide range of programs and security cooperation that we have with this treaty ally. And, it certainly has no impact in terms of how we interpret our obligations to continue to build on the long standing alliance that we have with the Philippines, however that may play itself out.
My hope and expectation is that, as President Duterte and his team get acclimated to his new position, they are able to define and clarify what exactly they want to get done – how that fits in with the work that we are already doing with the Philippine government. And, hopefully it would be on the strong footing by the time the next administration comes in.