Duterte to U.S. Secretary of State: I am your 'humble ally'

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Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, August 7) — President Rodrigo Duterte assured U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that the Philippines is a"friend" of America.

"I am your humble ally in Southeast Asia," Duterte told Tillerson, who paid a courtesy call on the President in Malacanang on Monday.

Tillerson was in Manila to attend several events in the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and Related Meetings, including the 24th ASEAN Regional Forum after his meeting with Duterte on Monday.

The President however, was tight-lipped on what he and the U.S.'s top diplomat discussed in their less than hour-long meeting.

"They might want it confidential," Duterte told reporters on Monday.

No conflict between Marawi assistance and drug war concerns

When asked by media how the U.S. could support Marawi without endorsing the Philippines' war on drugs, Tillerson said there was "no conflict at all" between the assistance they extended in Marawi and their concerns over alleged human rights violations.

"Most of what we're providing them is information, some surveillance capabilities with some recent transfers of a couple of Cessnas and acouple of UAVs to allow them to have better information in which to conduct the fight down there," Tillerson said in a press briefing before his meeting with Duterte on Monday.

The ISIS-linked Maute terror group has been fighting with government forces in Marawi since May 23.

Prior to his press conference, Tillerson had talked of the need to recognize terror group ISIS as a global issue, and said it is "gaining a foothold" in the Philippines.

READ: U.S. official: ISIS 'gaining a foothold' in PH

The President also met with other diplomats, including Australian Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop on Monday who was also in the Philippines to participate in the ASEAN foreign ministers and related meetings.

While Duterte was again mum on the details of the meeting he did say foreign officials have "toned down" on human rights issues.

"They have considerably toned down in human rights," the President said. "Wala ng human rights nagtatanong sa akin (Nobody asked me about human rights)," he added.

The Duterte administration has been criticized over alleged human rights violations. Human rights advocates in countries such as the U.S., Australia, and members of the European Union have called on their governments to shun Duterte and protest the country's drug war, now on its second year.

In its Universal Periodic Review on May 8 at the United Nations Human Rights Council, the Philippines, led by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano, denied the existence of alleged extrajudicial killings of drug traffickers and criminals.

Duterte also said he gave some officials his narcolist and other records that show the magnitude of the country's drug problem. He did specify who the officials were.

"Inopen ko sa kanila. Basahin ninyo. Kasi maski sinong patay diyan ituro nila sa akin kaya binigyan ko sila ng records," the President said.

[Translation: I opened it to them and asked them to read through it. I asked them to point out the people who died, and I'll show them the records.]

Relations between the Philippines and the U.S. hit a rough patch when Duterte took office in July 2016, as he lashed out at then-U.S. President Barack Obama and American legislators who criticized alleged extrajudicial killings in the country's war on drugs.

With the election of U.S. President Donald Trump, ties have warmed somewhat, with the two leaders conversing by phone on two separate occasions. Trump has invited Duterte to visit the U.S. Trump is expected to attend the ASEAN leaders' meeting in Manila in November 2017.

READ: Trump invites Duterte to White House

CNN Philippines Senior Correspondent Ina Andolong contributed to this story.