By Roy Mabasa
A ranking US State Department official on Wednesday admitted that the war on drugs campaign in the Philippines has become one of the challenges in the more than 70-year relationship between the two countries.
“One of those areas, one of those challenges we’ve been very honest with our friends in the Philippines, with regard to the effort to counter narcotics,” said Patrick Murphy, US Department of State deputy assistant secretary for Southeast Asia.
Murphy made this statement at the Stimson Center forum where he spoke about the agenda of President Donald J. Trump’s first visit to Asia, specifically to the Philippines, where the US leader will participate in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit.
“We very much hope that the Philippines can continue its efforts with full respect of human rights under the rubric of the rule of law,” Murphy said even as he brought the idea of a US-Philippines collaboration in stemming the international flow of narcotics and rehabilitation.
He continued that the reality is “we have a lot of shared problems,” as he cited the concern the United States is currently facing with the resurgence of narcotics and the resulting impact on communities.
“Same in the Philippines. We want to work together and we have many areas of collaborations,” he said.
As in every friendship, partnership and alliances, Murphy pointed out that there are challenges and differences.
“However, through mutual engagement we believed we have guided the relationship to a very solid ground,” he added.
Murphy lauded the role being played by US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim and his team in putting the relationship on “solid footing.”
The US State department official assured that the visit of President Trump to Manila is a good opportunity to reiterate United States’ support to the Philippines,
“It’s the President’s first visit to Manila and Asia and it’s good opportunity to reiterate the US’ iron-clad commitment to the alliance and he’ll be sharing that with the leadership of the Philippines and the Filipino people,” Murphy said.
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