President Trump praised Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte for his handling of drug problems in his country, which has included the extrajudicial killings of an estimated 9,000 people, including many small-time users and dealers.
The Washington Post reports that Trump complimented Duterte during their phone call last month. The Post obtained a transcript of the call from a source who asked not to be identified because the transcript was labeled “confidential” by the Philippines government and is not intended to be publicized.
“You are a good man,” Trump told Duterte, according to a copy of the transcript published by The Intercept. Trump told the Philippine leader that he was doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem.”
“Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that,” Trump said, according to the reports.
Duterte then reportedly replied that drugs are the “scourge of my nation now and I have to do something to preserve the Filipino nation.”
“I understand that and fully understand that and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump said, appearing to hit former President Barack Obama.
Since he took office last year, Duterte has encouraged the extrajudicial killings of thousands of citizens accused of dealing or using drugs. He also compared his campaign to kill criminals to the Holocaust.
“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts [in the Philippines] … I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said in September.
In addition to accusations about relying on death squads in his native country, Duterte has threatened to assassinate Filipino journalists, boasted about personally executing people without so much as a hint of due process, and before taking office, spoke openly about his willingness to commit rape.