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The Front Line of a Deadly Crackdown; Taiwan in the Age of Trump; Imagine a World. Aired 2-2:30a ET

Aired March 3, 2017 - 14:00:00   ET




CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR, CNN HOST (voice-over): Tonight: we pivot to Asia, the relationship between the world's two biggest militaries and economies

and the fallout for the region. The former Taiwanese president Ma on Chinese military buildup in the region, on Trump and trade.

And from a key U.S. ally, the Philippines, a powerful report from the front lines of President Duterte's brutal war on drugs and my interview with the

foreign secretary, who's defending the crackdown.


PERFECTO YASAY JR., FOREIGN SECRETARY, THE PHILIPPINES: We have engaged and declared war against illegal drugs and we know. We have studied and

analyzed and understood the implications of that. There will be casualties.



AMANPOUR: Good evening, everyone, and welcome to the special weekend edition of our program. I'm Christiane Amanpour in London.

The Trump administration's dealings with Russia seem to take up all the oxygen in this crisis-ridden administration. But perhaps the most

relationship in the world right now is the one between the U.S. and China.

With Trump crying foul on China trade, their issues have an impact far and wide, not least in the region where a once-reliable us ally like the

Philippines is casting a wary eye at Washington and inching ever closer to Beijing.

The true aim of strongman President Rodrigo Duterte isn't fully clear but the brutal war on drugs that he's waged ever since his election in June has

seen more than 7,000 people killed.

Now a new and damning report by Human Rights Watch has called it license to kill and it's accused Philippine police of routinely killing drug suspects

and then planting guns and evidence to justify self-defense. In a moment, my interview with the foreign secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr.

But first, Will Ripley has this chilling report from the front lines.


WILL RIPLEY, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Another night on the streets of Manila, another neighborhood echoes with the gut-wrenching sound of

grief. Elaine Soriano's (ph) 16-year-old son and his 15-year-old friend are lying dead in an ambulance. She's begging the drivers to release their


"Our boys are already dead," she says, "please have pity on us."

They don't have the $1,900 this funeral home wants.

RIPLEY: They say once the bodies go in there they won't be able to afford to pay to get them out. So they are trying to stop this ambulance.

RIPLEY (voice-over): The boys were killed here: four gunmen open fire; seven people died, including four teenagers and a pregnant woman.

Neighbors say it was a party. Police say it was a drug den, the victims killed over a personal feud. So far they've made one arrest.

Night after night we see violence and slaughter in the Philippines' poorest slums, the same neighborhoods long plagued by poverty --


RIPLEY (voice-over): -- and drug-fueled crime. Neighborhoods president Rodrigo Duterte has promised to make safe again through his nationwide war

on drugs, the president encouraging police and citizens to shoot to kill when they feel threatened.

Most Filipinos support the plan, despite the rising body count. Less than eight months into the war on drugs, more than 7,000 people dead. Police

say more than half unexplained or vigilante killings, like this man suspected of being a small-time drug dealer, shot outside of his one-room

shack next to a sewage-filled creek. The assailant unknown.

Police shootings make up the rest. The officers who open fire on these young men are quick to point out the guns on the ground and shabu -- meth -

- in their pockets. Nearly all police reports say the accused fired first.

The Philippines Commission on Human Rights says of 20 police shootings they are investigating, there's zero evidence of suspects actually shooting at


The manager of this Manila funeral home says they usually get busy after 2:00 am; sometimes the bodies sit for months. Those never claimed get the

same label.


RIPLEY: Mr. X if they don't have a name.


RIPLEY (voice-over): Eventually they go to a mass grave.

Soriano (ph) wants to bury her son, Angelito (ph); she worries it will take weeks or longer to raise the money.

The ambulance drivers with the two boys' bodies inside eventually yield to the pleas of the families or perhaps the glare of our cameras. They agree

to transfer the body to a cheaper funeral home.

Soriano (ph) didn't think she had any tears left until her son's body appears, uncovered, riddled with bullets. Another night on the front lines

of the Philippines drug war, another mother will never see her child again -- Will Ripley, CNN, Manila.


AMANPOUR: With the number of bodies piling up and Duterte's key critic, Senator Laila de Lima now under arrest, I spoke to the Filipino foreign

secretary, Perfecto Yasay Jr., this week when he was in Geneva defending his country's record before the U.N. Human Rights Council.


AMANPOUR: Mr. Yasay, welcome to the program and thank you for joining us tonight.

YASAY: Thank you also for this opportunity, Christiane.

AMANPOUR: President Duterte today said that he's required the Philippine national police to go out in search of, quote, "people with patriotic

fervor" to get them to join in this war on drugs.

You know, are you not a little bit concerned that patriotic fervor may not be the best qualification for professional law enforcement?

Do you worry that that particular qualification may lead to vigilantism and all sorts of extrajudicial happenings (INAUDIBLE) in your country?

YASAY: I don't think so, Christiane. Our people are very much concerned about the said drug menace (ph) in the Philippines, that that's really

grown to endemic proportions. And they have indicated their support to the president in this fight against illegal drugs.

So the call of the president to help us stem the scourge that has really destroyed our families and wreaked havoc in our communities is a very

important call. And that's not necessarily mean or even -- I am sure the president did not imply that they should get into any vigilante activities.

This is just simply trying to win the support of our people in their civic duty to help us in stamping out criminality and fight against illegal


So it should be since simply as that; whatever support that they can give to the efforts in government, pointing out those who are in the illicit

trade, even corrupt government officials, it's very important.

And this is -- this is the kind of call that the president had asked our people to be part of. And it is not a call for them to engage in killings

or be engaged in vigilante activities.

AMANPOUR: Yes, I was just wondering about the professionalism of people who are called with patriotic fervor because, as you know, the president

has hit the pause button on this crackdown on drugs because of the killing of a South Korean businessman by, allegedly, you know, corrupt police


So doesn't itself that say there's something wrong with this operation?

I mean, doesn't 7,000 bodies in eight months give you pause, Mr. Foreign Secretary?

YASAY: Well, you see, have --


YASAY: -- engaged and declared war against illegal drugs and we know, we have studied and analyzed and understood the implications of that. There

will be casualties. We have confirmed that there are about 2,000 deaths as a result of legitimate police operations.

But the rest is something that we're investigating very closely and thoroughly because we have categorized these as simple murders; they are

not part of what people have described as extrajudicial killings perpetrated by law enforcement agents.

So I think it will be unfair for us to just simply say that because we have 6,000 or 7,000 deaths that all of them have been perpetrated as

extrajudicial killings, which is not so.

The government admits and confirms that there are 2,000 deaths resulting from legitimate police operations, where the rules of engagement have been

strictly followed.

Nevertheless, there has been accusations or even insinuations that the police were not engaged or did not uphold the due process required under

the rules of engagement. We are immediately investigating these things and allegations that, in fact, are being investigated very thoroughly and


AMANPOUR: It's interesting to hear you say that and I'm sure a lot of people will be pleased to hear you say that. But there's a problem and

that is a Senate panel that's been set up to actually investigate and to really sort of examine this has already faced its first skull (ph).

Senator Leila de Lima (ph), just before the weekend, was arrested and escorted out of her office. She's the most high profile of those who have

been targeting and criticizing President Duterte's crackdown.

And she told me a few weeks ago that she felt the president was after her and that actually wanted to, quote, destroy her. Listen to what she told



LEILA DE LIMA, PHILIPPINE SENATOR: I think he has actually undertaken a personal vendetta against me because he has not forgotten what -- when I

was the chairperson of the Commission in Human Rights and I led an investigation in the Davao death squad.

So he has not forgotten that. I've been warned that, if I proceed with a Senate inquiry, they are going to do this.


AMANPOUR: So that was several months ago and she was proved right, Mr. Foreign Secretary; the more she investigated, obviously the worse off she

was. And now she's been arrested and removed from this panel.

So how is the credibility of sort of independent investigations that you talked about?

YASAY: Well, again, as I was saying, that is her story. You know, the -- she has been arrested on the basis of a charge that was filed before the

courts and the courts had ordered the warrant for her arrest on the basis of the evidence presented.

Nevertheless, even as she's been arrested, she still is presumed innocent under our justice system. So she will have to prove before the courts that

she's in fact innocent and the proof that is required to find her guilty will be proof beyond a reasonable doubt.

But there is something one should understand about the arrest of Senator de Lima. Senator de Lima is a very powerful person, she is a senator and you

see that our justice systems work. Nobody is spared. If you violate the law, you'll be arrested.


YASAY: Something I would like to emphasize.

AMANPOUR: Sorry, let me just interrupt you because even your vice president is quite concerned and she has talked about this as part of a

persistent campaign of political harassment.

As you know, the senator says it was a politically trumped-up charge. But more to the point, your justice secretary, over the weekend at a rally,

asked tens and thousands of the president's supporters who else they would like to see locked up.

I mean, that smacks of riling up the crowd. It smacks of Pontius Pilate when he was judging Jesus Christ.

Who do you want us to lock up next?

That's not due process.

YASAY: You see, Christiane, you said that even the vice president had expressed her concerns about what has happened. Well, then you see also

the vice president is a partisan political opposition of the president.

And if something happens to the president or if the president is removed from office, she stands to benefit from it. The congress or the members of

the Senate that had expressed their objections so this happened are also members of the opposition to the president.

So you see, there is a very strong partisan political undertone that goes behind this criticism. I don't think it's fair for everyone to just simply

say that, because you're the vice president, you're a member of Congress or you're a senator during the question least (ph) that they're --


-- saying the truth.

AMANPOUR: All right.

YASAY: I think let's wait and see what will be outcome or the trial of Senator de Lima.

AMANPOUR: Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr., thank you so much for joining us from Geneva tonight.


AMANPOUR: And coming up next, I speak with the former president Ma Ying- jeou about the future of Taiwan, the tensions in the South China Sea and the changing nature of Chinese American relationships in the age of Trump.




AMANPOUR: Welcome back to the program.

China has carried out military drills near Taiwan as the island's defense minister warns of a growing threat from its mighty neighbor.

You'll remember that President Trump stoked tension with China by taking a phone call from Taiwan's leader before his inauguration. He even

questioned the decades-old One China policy before finally agreeing to honor it. Of course, it's the one issue Beijing would go to war over.

So what is the mood in Taiwan right now?

Former president Ma Ying-jeou told me that everyone is relieved now that Trump has had a call with President Xi and signed back onto the status quo.


AMANPOUR: President Ma, welcome to the program.


AMANPOUR: Can I ask you, you're in the United States and you obviously well aware of the tension between the incoming Trump administration and the

Beijing government because of Taiwan.

Was it a mistake for the current president of Taiwan to have engaged in that particular phone call with Donald Trump right after his election?

MA: The phone call on December the 2nd between President-Elect Trump and our president Tsai Ing-wen initially gave rise to euphoria in the media but

very quickly it subside and replaced by the covert sort of concern about what's going to happen in the future, whether Taiwan will be consumed as a

bargaining chip in President Trump's negotiation with Mainland China in the future.

AMANPOUR: There was a lot of tension because all of a sudden President- Elect Trump tweeted that everything is on the table, including the One China policy. It's all negotiable.

And then, you know, you could see for yourself, President Xi, essentially, we understand, refused to take a call from President Trump once he got in

the Oval Office until he confirmed that they would stick to the One China policy. Just what's your analysis of all of these ructions in that very

sensitive situation?

MA: Well, Christiane, you have to understand, that the One China policy is the cornerstone of the United States relationship with Mainland China. And

it has been endorsed by eight presidents in 12 terms of the United States.

So it's been very important; in case the principle was challenged, I think the result will be very serious. And the impact will be enormous to the

United States and Mainland China. Taiwan will not benefit from this hypothetical development.

AMANPOUR: Obviously, a lot of Taiwanese would be cheering this kind of --


AMANPOUR: -- wow, look, perhaps the new President of the United States is going to look to us and recognize us and somehow we're going to be in a

better position.

You're saying, no, that it would have harmed Taiwan?

MA: People like President Reagan also made similar claims when he was campaigning for president. But once elected, well, the reality make is

very simple that he couldn't continue his claim.

So when President-Elect Trump did that and he complained about the fact that he has to follow the One China policy of the United States, he was not

very happy. On the other hand, to continue the policy, it's critically important.

AMANPOUR: Just put it on your analyst hat if you would. The United States and China are the world's biggest powers militarily and economically.

What would protectionism do to that relationship and to the economy of the rest of the world if Donald Trump follows through with his calls for, I

don't know, punishing China, as he says, slapping tariffs on for what he says treating the United States unfairly on trade?

MA: Well, I think the -- an agreement between U.S. and Mainland China on trade, on other matters obviously is in the interest of the world as a

whole, particularly for those of us in East Asia.

TPP was originally the target. Countries like Japan, South Korea, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries of the Southeastern Asian

countries, ASEAN, are hoping that will become a very important regional economic integration. But unfortunately the United States decided to pull

out of it.

AMANPOUR: Do you think China, Mainland China, has treated the United States unfairly?

MA: Well, if depends on in what area. I think, even if there are problems, the two countries should sit down and discuss the items they are

complaining about and trying to work out a solution because the volume of the trade was really tremendous.

It's a established fact that United States actually suffer from large sums of trade deficit with Mainland China. On the other hand, the U.S. got some

of those back by financial services or other areas of economic transaction.

So it really depends on the two countries. They should sit down and carefully review the items which they consider unfair or should be changed.

AMANPOUR: And how about consumers, ordinary people in your region, in Europe, in the United States, how will they be affected if there's a trade

war between Mainland China and the United States?

MA: Well, a trade war is really unthinkable and it's very negative to the region. I'm sure he understands the growth of East Asian economies depend

a lot on foreign trade.

And the United States and Mainland China are very important players in this region. So peace and prosperity between these two countries is in the best

interest of East Asia.

AMANPOUR: President Ma, thank you very much indeed.

MA: Thank you.


AMANPOUR: And later tonight, Sudan is one of those Muslim countries on Trump's travel ban. Why one young American has traveled there to take part

in a special music festival. Next, imagine the sound of music breaking down boundaries.





AMANPOUR: And finally tonight, imagine the oud. it's a guitar-like ancient instrument that's finding itself right now at home in American

hands. Sudan is on the list of Muslim countries which is on President Trump's travel ban.

But it's rolled out the welcome mat for an American musician, Gabriel Lavin, who came to Khartoum to perform in an unusual festival. It's a

global celebration of the oud. And he wants to share his love for Arabic music at the source. Lavin told us that music has the power to transcend

boundaries between people and cultures.



I think definitely given the current times, especially with the Trump administration, it was really important to come here. Not only should I

have a presence in Sudan but also to go back and sort of show people in the United States what's happening here.

Hopefully, it starts to change people's perspective and help them realize it's not just war all the time.

(INAUDIBLE) musicians in Syria, I'll be performing with musicians from Iraq and Egypt and Sudan as well. In music, you have to be open to other ideas

and other cultures in order to develop yourself as a musician. I think one of the oud players yesterday, (INAUDIBLE) oud players, Mujahad (ph), said

that like real artists are able to interact with other cultures, with people from different backgrounds, to collaborate and learn from each


For whatever reason, music is just more like -- it's emotional, it gets people together thinking more and it's able to like bridge those boundaries

better it gets people ready to bridge boundaries.


AMANPOUR: And that is it for our program tonight. Remember, you can always listen to our podcast, see us online at and follow me

on Facebook and Twitter. Thanks for watching and goodbye from London.