Trump, Duterte, and the future of US-Philippine relations

America Abroad
Manila slum

Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs has killed over 7,000 people. But the US hasn’t officially condemned Duterte’s tactics; in fact, President Donald Trump has praised them.

To be sure, pressuring the Philippines for its human rights abuses is complicated by the country’s strategic value. The US has access to military bases in the Philippines, using it as a way to exert influence over Southeast Asia, in opposition to China and North Korea. And more recently, the Philippines became a new front in the war against violent extremism when ISIS militants took control of Marawi, and the US supplied aid to help take it back.

This hour, we'll hear stories about the drug war; the history of US-Philippine relations; a Philippine city besieged by ISIS; and Duterte’s overtures to China. We’ll also hear from a former ambassador and a UN human rights rapporteur; from Filipino security forces; and victims of the drug war. Plus, we’ll explore the US relationship with the Philippines, from the era of American colonialism until today. And we’ll talk about how the US can manage this delicate relationship moving forward. 

"The Philippines is an odd combination of a country that has struggled valiantly for democracy and the rule of law — but at the same time has long had a very powerful undercurrent of lawlessness." — Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings in the Philippines 

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