Duterte serenades Trump during Asia tour

Protesters burn an effigy of U.S. President Donald Trump who is attending the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and related meetings in Manila Philippines

Philippine Protesters Burn Giant Paper Effigy of Trump in Manila REUTERS Erik De Castro

But, the White House admitted, there was only a brief reference to human rights during the closed-door talks.

The Philippines president surprised his guests at an ASEAN summit gala dinner when he broke out in song, which Rodrigo Duterte joked he sang "upon the orders of the commander in chief of the United States". "The US President's willingness to challenge the appalling record of President Duterte's "war on drugs" is a crucial test of his administration's commitment to upholding and defending human rights".

"Our country would be better off without Trump's visit because aside from pushing and supporting for more military actions in the Philippines, like more airstrikes especially in Mindanao, he is also engaged in rabid saber-rattling in the Korean Peninsula that would have awful effects in the Philippines if war breaks out", Zarate said in a statement. The two leaders did talk about the country's brutal war on drugs, which has left thousands of people dead.

"He (Trump) made the assurance that President Duterte has a friend in the person of President Trump, that he is an ally since he was elected into office", Roque said.

A joint statement says the two leaders "underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential".

"Foreign leaders should recognise that the fist. symbolises a purposeful attack by Duterte on rule of law that has inflicted a human rights calamity on thousands of Filipinos", Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch deputy Asia director, told AFP.

Per police figures, over 3,800 deaths have been recorded in anti-drug operations since July 2016.

"Human rights briefly came up in the context of the Philippines' fight against illegal drugs", Sanders said.

Arriving back in Manila early Sunday, Duterte seemed confident he had Trump's backing for his deadly war on drugs.

"Not extrajudicial killing. Well, he can not afford it. Thank you", Trump said after his bilateral meeting with Duterte.

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