By Roy Mabasa
U.S. State Secretary Michael Pompeo on Friday admitted that he “broadly” raised the issue of human rights in the country during his separate meetings with President Rodrigo Duterte and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr.
In a press conference, Pompeo said they would never forget the importance of human rights, the rule of law, transparency and justice “wherever it is that we go.”
Opposition Senator Leila De Lima has been in detention on charges of her alleged link in the drug trade at the New Bilibid Prison.
Another oppositionist and known Duterte critic, Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, is facing criminal charges, including the revival of the rebellion case in connection with his role in the 2007 Manila Peninsula siege.
“I did raise the issue of human rights. I did so broadly. I do this in my travels everywhere we go,”
This, he said, goes with all the US embassies anywhere in the world.
“Our expectations for countries to observe the rule of law are fundamental to America so we have this conversation that happens. Our embassies raised these issues here and around the world,” he said.
The Duterte administration has been under attack from various human rights groups for its bloody campaign against illegal drugs that resulted in hundreds of deaths and arrests of thousands of other individuals.
In the same press conference, Pompeo cited the US government’s support for a “free and open press.”
“We have an expectation for free and open press everywhere. We communicate that to adversaries,” while citing its importance to US’ “partners and friends.”
On February 14, agents of the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) arrested Rappler CEO and journalist Maria Ressa for cyber libel.