US Embassy: Comments vs Goldberg unacceptable


MANILA, Philippines — The Embassy of the United States in the Philippines on Friday expressed disapproval of President Rodrigo Duterte's comments against Ambassador Philip Goldberg.

In a statement, the embassy said the Philippine charge d'affaires was recently summoned to the US Department of State so Washington officials could convey that the comments were "inappropriate and unacceptable."

"We have seen reports of inappropriate and unacceptable comments made about Ambassador Goldberg, a multi-time ambassador and one of the U.S. Department of State’s most senior diplomats," the embassy's statement read.

State department spokesperson Elizabeth Trudeau earlier this week said that the Philippine official met with officials of the US government over remarks made by Duterte against the senior diplomat. Last Friday, the president cursed at and called Goldberg "bakla" or gay in his address to troops in Cebu City.

On Wednesday, however, Duterte said his recent remarks against Goldberg should not affect the country's strong ties with the US.

"We shouldn't let the issue with the US ambassador go out of hand. I will reiterate our strong alliance with America," Duterte said during his visit to a military camp in Labangan, Zamboanga del Sur.

The US Embassy's statement came a day after presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said Duterte's criticism of Goldberg was not meant for "public consumption." Duterte's speech was aired live by the media including state-run PTV-4 and dzRB.

Abella said Philippine Charge D'Affaires Patrick Chuasoto "has already made the proper explanation to the State department."

Asked if Duterte would apologize for or retract his statement on Goldberg, Abella replied: "As I said earlier, the charge d'affaires went and made representation for the president and explained the situation."

The US government, meanwhile, also refused to give details on what was discussed during the meeting. It also refrained from giving a comment on whether the $32 million assistance for the Philippines was brought up.

The embassy repeated the State department's statement that the funding was not new, but a cumulative amount previously appropriated and is currently being implemented.

"Assistance provided by these funds is subject to the same rigorous vetting as our other security assistance. All of our security assistance promotes human rights through training content and by promoting professionalism, due process, and the rule of law," the embassy said.

It also stressed that the relationship between the US and the Philippines is based on "shared respect for rule of law" as a fundamental democratic principle. — Camille Diola

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