White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest was emphatic in condemning extrajudicial killings in the Philippines on Wednesday, following signs that President-elect Donald Trump might be more accepting of the practice.
“The position of this administration, the current U.S. government, is simply that extrajudicial killings are entirely inconsistent with the notion of the rule of law and the commitment to upholding basic, universal human right,” Earnest said. “Signaling a willingness to backtrack from those values is bad for our individual relations, but it also degrades our ability to exert our influence around the world.”
Earnest’s comments come as Trump suggested he had no problem with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s aggressive crackdown on drugs, which human rights groups of said includes the use of death squads acting outside the formal legal system.
In an interview with Time Magazine, which announced Trump as its “Person of the Year” on Wednesday, a Time reporter noted how the president-elect did not object to a comparison between his rhetoric and Duterte’s response to the violence.
Asked about the parallel, Trump — who had just grabbed a Newsday article about a local street gang with Central America ties — pointed to the story and said, “Well, hey, look, this is bad stuff. They slice them up, they carve their initials in the girl’s forehead, O.K. What are we supposed to do? Be nice about it?”