Obama: ‘We want to partner with PHL on issue of narco-traffickers’

MANILA -– US President Barack Obama said Thursday that the United States wants to partner with the Philippines in addressing narco-traffickers, which is a serious problem not only in the Philippines but around the world.

”We want to partner with the Philippines on the particular issue of narco-traffickers, which is a serious problem in the Philippines. It’s a serious problem in the United States and around the world,” Obama said in a press conference in Laos after the 28th and 29th ASEAN Summit.

“On that narrow issue, we do want to make sure the partnership we have is consistent with international norms and rule of law. So, we’re not going to back off from our position that if we’re working with a country, whether it’s on anti-terrorism, whether it’s on going after drug traffickers, as despicable as these networks may be, as much damage as they do, it is important, from our perspective, to make sure that we do it the right way because the consequences of when you do it the wrong way is innocent people get hurt,” the US leader added.

Obama said he shook hands with President Duterte before the gala dinner Wednesday night at the ASEAN Summit.

“I did shake hands with President Duterte last night. It was not a long interaction, and what I indicated to him is that my team should be meeting with his and determine how we can move forward on a whole range of issues,” Obama said.

The US leader also said he did not it take personally when President Duterte called him “son of a whore”.

Duterte made the comment in reaction to Obama’s promise to raise the issue of extrajudicial killing of drugs suspects in the Philippines at their scheduled meeting in Laos. Obama called off the meeting.

“As I said, when I was asked about this in China, I don’t take these comments personally because it seems as if it’s a phrase he’s used repeatedly, including directed to the Pope and others. And so I think it seems to be just a habit, a way of speaking for him,” Obama said.

Last Tuesday, Malacañang spokesperson Ernesto Abella said President Duterte has expressed regret for his remark against the US president. Jelly Musico/PNA/northboundasia.com