Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs David Stilwell on Tuesday, July 16, said the United States is committed to working with the Philippines on “evidence-based” approaches to reducing drug demand, as both countries face the same challenge of illicit drug use.
“We remain committed to working together on evidence-based approaches to reducing drug demand by improving prevention, treatment and rehabilitation services,” he said during the two-day Eighth U.S.-Philippines Bilateral Strategic Dialogue (BSD) in Manila.
“I want to continue sharing information and best practices to jointly combat this common challenge in a manner that will respect human rights and the rule of law,” he added.
Stilwell’s statements came after Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. questioned Western commitment since their allies in Europe are “deadset” on insulting the Philippines in the United Nations.
On Thursday, July 11, the UN Human Rights Council adopted a resolution initiated by Iceland to investigate the “drug war” killings in the Philippines. It was rejected by the Philippines, describing it as “tiny majority-approved and one-sided” resolution.
The BSD is the principal forum for discussing the full range of political, security and economic cooperation between the Philippines and the U.S. This year, Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for policy Enrique Manalo and Defense Undersecretary Cesar Yano co-led the Philippine delegation, while Stilwell and Assistant Secretary of Defense for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs Randy Schriver co-led the U.S. delegation.
On the second and last day of the BSD, Locsin requested Stilwell to “concretize” amity into action by selling M16 rifles to the Philippines.
“I told him that to concretize words of U.S.-PH amity into action is to sell us what Pompeo was told we need and want to buy 74,000 brand new M16s – w/3 clips each. And Duterte will finish all security threats to our democracy. Not a gift; we will pay. We’re waiting,” Locsin said on Twitter.
Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte had a change of heart about procuring weapons from its traditional ally and said he would reconsider purchasing weapons from the U.S., since he likes U.S. President Donald Trump.
Both countries acknowledged the importance of a strong Philippines-U.S. alliance in enhancing security cooperation and promoting regional stability and prosperity. They pledged to enhance their already robust defense cooperation as well as reaffirmed their commitment to uphold freedom of navigation, overflight and other lawful uses of the South China Sea.
“Noting this, senior officials discussed a wide variety of issues of mutual interest and reaffirmed their commitment to deepening the alliance and expanding areas of cooperation,” the Philippines-United States Eighth Bilateral Strategic Review Joint Statement said.
The Philippine and U.S. delegations also stressed the importance of the rule of law, human rights and fundamental freedoms. (Ritchel Mendiola/AJPress)