Presidential press secretary Josh Earnest said President Obama isn't going to "pull any punches" in raising human rights concerns with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte when the two meet next week in Laos for the Asian summit.

While Earnest stressed the importance of the U.S. relationship with the Philippines, he said Obama would speak "quite directly about our shared interests with the Philippines."

But he said, "the president is certainly not going to pull any punches in raising well-documented and relevant concerns when it comes to human rights."

When a reporter described Duterte as "unorthodox" and "unpredictable," Earnest didn't hesitate to concur. "That's putting it mildly," Earnest said.

Duterte earlier Wednesday told reporters he was ready to discuss any issues when the two meet in Laos next week, but said Obama must listen to him first before bringing up the question of human rights.

During a press conference in which reporters asked Duterte if he would be willing to discuss human rights during the meeting on the sidelines of the Asia summit, he responded: "Depends on what degree."

"They must understand the problem first before we talk about human rights," he said. "I would insist, listen to me: This is what the problem is, then we can talk."

Police data show that drug-related killings have spiked since Duterte took office, with nearly half of them in police operations and the rest in shootings by unidentified gunmen, according to a report in the Indian Express.

Often referred to inside the Philippines as the "the Punisher," Duterte has waged an aggressive police campaign effort against drugs and drug deals in direct contrast with Obama's efforts to reduce prison time and commute a record number of sentences for non-violent, drug-related felonies.

Duterte also made headlines recently for calling Washington's ambassador to the Philippines a "gay son of a whore."

It's a difficult balancing act for Obama, who the White House said would raise concerns about some of his "recent statements" during the upcoming meeting. But the U.S. must tread carefully when dealing with its long-time ally who shares its concerns about China's control of the South China Sea.

An international court recent ruled against China in its claims to the South China Sea, and Manila initiated that case.

"As the Philippines deals with some of the maritime security situations in the South China Sea, they benefit from a close relationship with the United States," Earnest added Wednesday.