MALACAÑANG said it had summoned United States (US) Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim to seek clarification on the US Intelligence Community's assessment that President Rodrigo Duterte is a "threat to democracy and human rights."
Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr. said in a statement that Executive Salvador Medialdea met with Kim on Thursday, February 22, to discuss the Worldwide Threat Assessment report.
The meeting came a week after the US' Intelligence Community, which consists of 17 organizations including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), named Duterte among the regional leaders in Asia Pacific who weaken democratic values and human rights.
As a result of the meeting between Medialdea and Kim, the Philippine Embassy in the US was instructed to reach out to members of the US Intelligence Community.
Roque said Medialdea also told the embassy officials to provide "accurate" information on Duterte's initiatives to institute reforms in the country, which are meant simply to "promote socioeconomic development for the country and provide a safe and secure environment for all Filipinos, respecting at all times the rule of law."
"Executive Secretary Medialdea likewise instructed the Department of Foreign Affairs, through our Philippine embassy in Washington D.C., to coordinate and engage with the US agencies involved in the writing of the assessment," he said.
"Medialdea further directed our embassy officials and staff in the US to provide the latter accurate information on the realities happening on the ground in the Philippines," Roque added.
The US Embassy in the Philippines, meanwhile, said the meeting between Kim and Medialdea " focused on the references to the Philippines in the report, including clarifying that the information about the Philippines had been previously reported by media sources."
The embassy said Washington will continue to collaborate with Manila.
"The meeting ended with both Executive Secretary Medialdea and Ambassador Kim reaffirming the strength of the broad and deep bilateral relationship," the embassy stated.
Roque earlier dismissed the assessment as "myopic and speculative at best."
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo, for his part, said on Thursday, February 22, that the President is not a threat to democracy but rather to "criminal elements, drug lords, corrupt government officials and to all those who are bent on destroying the democratically instituted government." (SunStar Philippines)