The apparent positive rapport between President Rodrigo Duterte and U.S. President Donald Trump notwithstanding, who has invited Duterte to visit his country at some point, American legislators have taken a dim view of the kind of welcome that awaits. That is, if Duterte’s prospective visit will come true.
At a hearing of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the U.S. Congress, some congressmen pointedly indicated that Duterte will be met by protests over his administration of track record of human rights breaches.
Rep. James McGovern, who co-chairs the committee, said: “… and if he comes, I will lead the protest, because we must be on the side of those advocating for human rights.”
McGovern elaborated that the Duterte Administration’s ruthless war on drugs is splattered by the blood from associated drug-related killings that the police has been trying to cover.
But, in the hearing, the war on drugs is just one in the string of human rights violations on which the Duterte Administration has been turning a blind eye, aside from harassments, human trafficking and the killings of journalists.
McGovern said: “No other country … and we’ll repeat that … no other country comes to mind where people are assassinated in the streets in the name of fighting drugs and the leaders brag about it as a good thing … President Duterte, by all accounts, seems to not have a high regard for human rights.
“And I certainly believe, very strongly, that a man with the human rights record of President Duterte should not be invited to the White House. And if he comes, I will lead the protest because, again, we ought to be on the side of advocating for human rights, not explaining them away.”
California 14th district Congresswoman Karen Lorraine Jacqueline “Jackie” Speier said Duterte’s abuses should be condemned not just by US Congress but also by Donald Trump.
Speier’s district has the biggest Filipino community in the U.S., and her constituents have expressed concern, appalled by the reports of human rights violations.
Rep. Speier also opposed the decision of President Trump to invite Duterte to the white house: “Mr Duterte’s murderous extrajudicial campaign has drawn condemnation from around the world – except from President Trump, who has had a ‘very friendly’ conversation with the man who once said, ‘I don’t care about human rights,’ and who called President Obama a ‘son of a whore’ for speaking out against atrocities President Duterte has committed against his own people. We need to call this deranged policy out for its state-sanctioned vigilantism that contravenes the rule of law and damages the international standing of the Philippines.”
President Duterte, in turn, hit back Friday at the U.S. lawmakers who opposed the prospect of his visiting the White House, saying he would never go to the United States, which he called a “lousy” country.
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