WASHINGTON - The Philippines is firmly committed to its alliance with the United States but will not be lectured on human rights and treated like a "little brown brother," the country's Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay said on Thursday.
Speaking in Washington after recent remarks by the Philippines' outspoken new President Rodrigo Duterte that have strained relations with the United States, Manila's main ally, Yasay said some of Duterte's remarks had been misunderstood.
He said Duterte had explained that his call for the withdrawal of US special forces from the southern Philippines was only a temporary measure to keep them out of harm's way while Philippine forces undertook an offensive against Abu Sayyaf militants.
The minister rejected criticism of Duterte's war on drugs, in which thousands have been killed, and said relations with Washington should be based on mutual respect.
"I am asking our American friends, American leaders, to look at our aspirations," he said. "We cannot forever be the little brown brothers of America. ... We have to develop, we have to grow and become the big brother of our own people.
"You (have to) manage it correctly. You do not go to the Philippines and say 'I am going to give you something; I am going to help you grow, but this is the check list you must comply with - we will lecture you on human rights'."