Pubdate: Mon, 02 Jan 2017
Source: Omaha World-Herald (NE)
Copyright: 2017 Omaha World-Herald Company
Author: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Even in a roomful of tinhorn dictators, President Rodrigo Duterte of the
Philippines would stand out. He has insulted President Barack Obama and
Pope Francis, admitted to killing suspected criminals, called a United
Nations official an "idiot" and threatened to burn down the U.N.
headquarters. He's also signaled his interest in closer ties with China, a
nation with which the United States has conflicts on trade, security and
other matters.

Though it's unclear what kind of relationship he and President-elect
Donald Trump will have, the U.S. may have a difficult balancing act ahead
in holding Duterte to international standards while preserving its
long-important relationship with the Philippines. It will be especially
important to ensure that U.S. aid to the Philippines is not used for
illicit purposes, such as an extrajudicial war on drugs.

Duterte's outbursts are more unsettling than braggadocio. They give the
impression that he's unhinged. In September, Duterte called Obama a
vulgarity because of concern that the latter intended to question him
about summary executions in the Philippines' war on drugs.

In recent days. Duterte's comments have become increasingly outrageous,
leading to more questions about how the United States should handle him.

After publicly admitting to killing suspected criminals when he was the
mayor of Davao City, Duterte threatened to burn down the U.N. headquarters
in New York, denigrated the U.N.'s top human-rights official for
suggesting that his claims of murder be investigated and referred to U.N.
officials as his employees because of the membership dues his nation pays.

Now, three U.S. senators, including Marco Rubio of Florida, a state with a
large Filipino population, have asked the State Department to determine
whether millions of dollars the United States has provided for
law-enforcement training in the Philippines were diverted to extrajudicial
drug fighting.

The State Department should undertake this assessment and share its
findings publicly so that, if the senators' concerns are valid, U.S. and
international policy toward Duterte can be modified accordingly. He is not
likely to appreciate the scrutiny. If he comes to New York, someone should
be assigned to watch him.
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