He said, she said: Duterte, Australian FM differ on discussing human rights

Dharel Placido, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Mar 20 2017 09:14 PM

President Rodrigo Duterte welcomes Austrlian Minister of Foreign Affairs Julie Bishop, who pays a courtesy call on the president at the Presidential Guest House in Davao City on March 17, 2017. Ace Morandante, Presidential Photo

MANILA – President Rodrigo Duterte and Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have conflicting accounts of their bilateral meeting last Friday.

Bishop and Duterte met in the latter’s stronghold Davao City last Friday, and according to the president’s spokesperson, the two reaffirmed the long-standing ties between the Philippines and Australia and discussed the peace situation in Mindanao.

In his speech before leaving for Myanmar and Thailand on Sunday, Duterte said he did not discuss the Philippines’ human rights situation with Bishop during their meeting.

“We never discussed human rights. They are so courteous. Maybe alam nila. Because if you say that, if you utter those things in my presence, you’ll get an insult. So what we did was to discuss transnational crimes, terrorism,” Duterte said.

“Nobody but nobody, not even the United States, ever, ever opened up the human rights in front of me.”

Bishop, however, said she discussed human rights concerns with Duterte.

"During my conversation with President Duterte we discussed the country's anti-drug campaign at length," she said in a statement to Fairfax Media and published by the Sydney Morning Herald.

"I conveyed Australian and international concerns with respect to extra-judicial killings and spoke of the importance we attach to human rights and the rule-of-law."

According to Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella, Duterte and Bishop discussed violent extremism and terrorism, and both leaders agreed that the two countries can identify areas of collaboration.

Abella said Australia also expressed support for the peace process in Mindanao and pledged $40 million, to be given over the course of 6 years.