MANILA, Philippines – The choice of United States President-elect Donald Trump for Secretary of State refuses to consider the Philippines a human rights violator despite reports of 6,200 deaths due to its anti-drug campaign.
During his confirmation hearing in Washington, Rex Tillerson said that he needs more information on the reported human rights violations in the Philippines.
American Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Florida) told Tillerson that President Rodrigo Duterte himself “brags” about the killings of drug suspects in the country.
“If the facts are supportive of those numbers and actions, I don’t think any of us would support that as an appropriate way to deal with offenders no matter how egregious,” Tillerson said.
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Connecticut) also asked Tillerson what countries would he consider violators of human rights if he does not consider the Philippines, Saudi Arabia, Russia and Syria as such.
Murphy cited the Philippines as an example and stressed that human rights violations in the country have been widely reported by the embassy and the president.
“You’re asking me to make a decision based on information I have heard today… I want to see the factual basis based on statistics and factual evidence based on who is committing,” the Secretary of State nominee said.
Tillerson added that he will rely on multiple sources before concluding on the matter.
Rubio has expressed frustration with how Tillerson handled his confirmation hearing. The Florida lawmaker said Tillerson didn’t seize the opportunity to forcefully rebuke countries failing to respect human rights.
The Florida Republican says he is discouraged that Tillerson didn’t declare Russian President Vladimir Putin a war criminal or call Saudi Arabia and the Philippines human rights violators.
Rubio’s opinion could prove pivotal when the Senate Foreign Relations Committee votes on Tillerson’s nomination. The panel is comprised of 11 Republicans and 10 Democrats. -with reports from Associated Press
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