04 October 2016
by Primrose Riordan
Julie Bishop calls on Philippines' Rodrigo Duterte to maintain US allianceAustralian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop has urged Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to maintain the country's links to the United States and end his government's extrajudicial killings after he compared himself to Hitler and threatened to kill "millions".
In his latest outburst against the US, Mr Duterte vowed to review a bi-lateral agreement which gives American troops access to Philippine military bases. The comments came after he said his navy would not be joining further US patrols through contested areas of the South China Sea.
Ms Bishop, who has previously asked Mr Duterte to explain why the country was backing away from maritime claims it had asked countries like Australia to support, has now urged him to continue to support the nation's ties to the US.
"Like Australia, the Philippines has an enduring interest in a continued American role in underwriting peace and stability in East Asia. It is up to the Philippines to decide how best to secure its long-term interests in the region," she said.
Over the weekend Mr Duterte, whose behaviour has alarmed Washington, has been forced to apologise for comparing himself to Adolf Hitler and saying he would be happy to slaughter three million Filipino drug users.
Mr Duterte's drug policies has seen more than 3000 killed in the three months he has been in office.
Ms Bishop said Australia is calling for an end to the "extrajudicial killings" and for the government to allow those accused of drug crimes to face court.
"The Australian government is concerned about ongoing reports of human rights violations in the Philippines and we are monitoring the situation closely. We urge the government to ensure the cessation of extrajudicial killings and offer all Filipino citizens their rights according to the country's criminal justice system," she said.
Former president Benigno Aquino, Manila called on an international tribunal to strike out China's nine-dash line and curb its aggressive behaviour in the disputed waters in the South China Sea.
However, despite declaring in the election campaign he would ride a jet ski to the disputed Spratly Islands to plant a flag and stake the country's claim Mr Duterte has taken a different tack in office and pursued closer relations with Beijing.
Mr Duterte has even said he's considering buying weapons from Russia and China.