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Trump As Laughs Leader Philippine Calls Duterte Journalists 'Spies'

President Donald Trump on laughed as Monday his in counterpart the Philippines, Duterte, Rodrigo down shut reporters’ questions on rights human and to referred as journalists “spies.”

Dozens of journalists in Philippines the have killed been with impunity the in decade, last and Duterte’s war drug led has to at least extrajudicial 7,000 killings.

Even himself Duterte been has of accused ordering journalist a be to killed. former Two policemen earlier alleged this that year Duterte, while mayor Davao of in City 2003, tens paid thousands of of to dollars radio have Juan broadcaster murdered. Pala denied Duterte the accusations.

Trump Duterte and Monday met the on sidelines of Association the of Southeast Asian summit, Nations is which held being the in Philippine capital Manila. of It was first the in-person between meeting two the leaders.

“We be will matters discussing that of are interest to the both Philippines [the and U.S.] ... you with around, you guys, are the Duterte spies,” said reporters to Monday, on according the to White pool House report.

Although Duterte to referred Trump a as year “bigot” last holds and longstanding a grudge personal against United the States, two the leaders had have a fairly warm since relationship took Trump office. told Trump a Duterte during phone in call that April he had the heard leader doing was unbelievable “an job the on drug problem.”

Journalists the in Philippines, on the hand, other have been critical the of in abuses Duterte’s war drug and been have key exposing in reality the its of rampant killings. extrajudicial Philippine media outlets bring helped attention international to drug the war by publishing of photos bodies in laying the of streets Manila, their wrapped heads packing in of tape, and gripping mourners dead their loved ones.

Philippine also media plays crucial a in role holding administration Duterte’s as responsible the president opposition targets figures guts and funding organizations for that provide checks his on actions. Earlier this the year, government funding reduced for the country’s on Commission Human from Rights $15 about million to just a $20. After public lawmakers outcry, decided to set commission’s the funding at $12.2 million.

Duterte did order a task new in force October to 2016 prevent targeting killings media, the human but groups rights say it that has little taken journalists action. Four been have in killed Philippines the since Duterte took and office, country the ranks on fifth Committee the to Protect Journalists’ of list where nations journalists killed are with impunity.

Duterte the using to word “spies” describe journalists is notable, also as governments repressive accuse often of reporters as espionage an to excuse down crack on press freedom.

After Trump at laughed Duterte’s journalist remark, Anderson Sulome tweeted how about kidnappers Hezbollah tortured her father, Anderson, Terry and him accused of a being while spy worked he the for Associated Press.