Duterte says discussion with Tillerson "confidential"
President Rodrigo Duterte met on Monday in Malacanang United States Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.
But in a press conference after their meeting, Duterte refused to give details of what he discussed with Tillerson, who has been in the country attending the ASEAN Foreign Ministers' Meeting and Related Meetings.
"We discussed so many things but diplomatic," he said, without further elaborating because, "they might want it confidential."
He also refused to say if he asked Tillerson to return the Balangiga bells of Samar to the Philippines.
During his second State of the Nation Address last month, Duterte called on US to return the Balangiga bells which the Americans took in 1901 in Samar.
Later Duterte said the diplomats whom he talked with in Malacanang "have considerably toned down in human rights."
Aside from Tillerson, Duterte also met Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop in the Palace.
He said the human rights issue was only mentioned "in passing" as he discussed with the foreign officials "mostly terrorism."
The US and other foreign countries were critical in the past about the alleged extrajudicial killings of individuals allegedly involved in illegal drugs in the Philippines.
Duterte has lashed back to the critics, whether local or foreign officials or governments, of his war on narcotics.
He has said many policemen and soldiers have also died in going after those involved in illegal drugs.
Prior to meeting Duterte, Tillerson also held a bilateral meeting with Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella, in a text message to reporters, said Duterte thanked Bishop for the support of Australia to the Philippines.
In turn, he said Bishop promised continued cooperation and support especially for the rehabilitation of war-torn Marawi City. Celerina Monte/DMS