Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte spoke with President-elect Donald Trump by telephone on Friday and the rogue leader of the Asian nation says he received praise for his bloody campaign on drugs.
“I could sense a good rapport, an animated President-elect Trump,” Duterte said in comments released on Saturday. “And he was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem.”
Over 3,000 people were killed during Duterte’s drug war between July and September alone, according to Amnesty International. That’s about 38 deaths a day. During that time, “some 1,027 suspects were killed during police operations,” Al Jazeera reported.
Trump’s support is not only morally reprehensible but also reiterates how little Trump cares about human rights. The president-elect’s praise for Duterte comes after the U.S., United Nations, and European Union have all criticized Duterte’s assault on human rights.
Earlier this year, Human Rights Watch called for an independent investigation into allegations that Duterte had direct involvement in death squads committing extrajudicial killings. Amnesty International criticized Duterte’s presidency by saying it has coincided with “a wave of unlawful killings.”
Trump’s approach is a big shift from the way President Obama has approached the leader of the Philippines. Duterte was angered after Obama expressed concern for human rights violations during the drug war. Duterte responded to Obama by telling him to “go to hell” and calling him a “son of a whore.”
Duterte initially seemed to hold Trump in equally low regard. “He is a bigot and I am not,” he is reported to have said. But last month, Duterte congratulated Trump on his campaign victory.
“We don’t have any quarrels,” Duterte said. “I can always be a friend to anybody especially to a president, a chief executive of another country. He has not meddled in the human rights.”
Trump’s phone call also seems to have further improved Duterte’s opinion of the president-elect.
“He understood the way we are handling it… I supposed that what he really wanted to say was that we would be the last to interfere in the affairs of your own country,” Duterte said. “We are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way. And he wishes us well. And I said that, well, we assured him of our ties with America.”
Trump’s break with past American policy is not unique to the Philippines. Trump also spoke to Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen on Friday, prompting a call to the White House from China.