The loudmouth Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said he would tell his American counterpart, Donald Trump, to "lay off" from discussing alleged human rights abuses taking place in the Philippines under the bloody drug war.
Duterte will host Trump in Manila during the final leg of the latter's Asia tour, which has taken him to South Korea, Japan and China. They both will also be present in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Development (Apec) summit but it is still unclear whether a bilateral has been planned on the sidelines.
Duterte, who is under fire for the alleged extrajudicial killings in the Philippines, insisted he would not be discussing domestic matters with any foreign leader.
Asked to comment on how he would respond if the topic of human rights violations surfaces during his talks with Trump, Duterte said: "You want to ask a question, I'll give you an answer. Lay off. That is not your business. That is my business. I take care of my country and I will nurture my country to health."
Duterte bristles whenever there is a criticism against the poor track of human rights under his presidency. So far, thousands have been killed in the president's brutal crackdown known as "drug war".
"As we meet there, we meet as sovereigns. I will not go there as a subservient lackey of anyone" said Duterte.
However, the Manila administration is hopeful that Trump would not raise the contentious issue of human rights while meeting the Filipino president despite a domestic push in Washington. "I don't think it will be a contentious point between the 2 presidents. To begin with, Trump has said that President Duterte has done the right thing in embarking on this war on drugs," Duterte's presidential spokesperson Harry Roque told the CNN.
"There was a similar declaration [from Trump] that... opioid constitutes a serious threat, that it warrants a special attention on the part of American authorities. There are parallels with the policies adopted by the two presidents as far as drugs is concerned," said Roque.