The United States has expressed clear intentions of their desire to work with controversial figure Rodrigo Duterte, the newly-elected president of the Republic of the Philippines.
Presumtive Philippine President Duterte, a former mayor of over 20 years in Davao City, has emerged victorious from the presidential 5-way race against rivals who held national offices such as Vice President Jejomar Binay, former Interior Secretary Mar Roxas, along with Senators Grace Poe and Miriam-Defensor Santiago. This is despite allegations of human rights violations involving extra-judicial killings of criminals in his city.
Elizabeth Trudeau, spokeswoman of the State Department, said:
“Washington respects the choice of the Philippine people. We gladly work with the leaders they’ve selected.”
When asked whether Washington had any concerns about the human rights allegations, Trudeau simply reiterated:
“We look forward to working with the leader that the Philippines has elected.”
On the other hand, Murray Hiebert, an Asia analyst at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, remarked:
“His human rights record does give them pause, but he was elected by the Philippine people. They have to deal with him.”
In 1992, the United States military bases were closed in the Philippines. Still, the two countries remain bound by the 1951 mutual defense treaty to this day.
Last April, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter mentioned that U.S. troops and military equipment will be sent to the Philippines and that the two countries have began joint patrols in the disputed South China Sea. Currently, China claims about 90% of the resource-rich South China Sea overlapping boundaries of Brunei, Malaysia, Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.
Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security said:
“The South China Sea has become a litmus test for American staying power and commitment to the Asia-Pacific region. If we falter over the defense of Philippine interests … then we lose credibility and (our) commitment is questioned.”
via : dailymail