PM raised rights, but Philip­pine leader lashes out

National Post (National Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - ANDREO CALONZO

Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte lashed out at Justin Trudeau af­ter the prime min­is­ter raised con­cerns about hu­man rights abuses un­der the coun­try’s drug war.

Duterte said he was per­son­ally in­sulted and would not ex­plain his poli­cies to for­eign­ers.

“I will an­swer the fish­er­man and the farmer and I will ex­plain to them pa­tiently why it is so, but I will never, never al­low a for­eigner to ques­tion why it is so,” he told re­porters in an ex­ple­tive-laden an­swer at a press con­fer­ence.

“I said I will not ex­plain. It is a per­sonal and of­fi­cial in­sult. It angers me when you are a for­eigner, you do not know what ex­actly is hap­pen­ing in this coun­try. You don’t even in­ves­ti­gate.”

Trudeau said he raised con­cerns about hu­man rights abuses and ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in Duterte’s anti-drug cam­paign when he met Tues­day with the pres­i­dent ahead of Canada’s sum­mit in the Philip­pines with the 10-mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN).

Trudeau was the first leader of the 20 at­tend­ing this week’s ASEAN sum­mit and re­lated meet­ings who has pub­licly said he brought up the touchy is­sue with the vo­latile Fil­ipino leader.

“I also men­tioned hu­man rights, the rule of law and specif­i­cally ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings as be­ing an is­sue that Canada is con­cerned with,” Trudeau said at a news con­fer­ence. “I im­pressed on him the need for re­spect for the rule of law, and as al­ways of­fered Canada’s sup­port and help as a friend to move for­ward on what is a real chal­lenge.

“The pres­i­dent was re­cep­tive to my comments and it was through­out a very cor­dial and pos­i­tive ex­change.”

But Duterte later told re­porters that he had re­fused to pro­vide an ex­pla­na­tion for the killings.

While Canada does lit­tle trade with the Philip­pines — the two na­tions ex­changed US$1.5 bil­lion in goods last year — Trudeau is seek­ing ex­panded ties with ASEAN.

Even though Duterte helped Canada get a seat at a lun­cheon at an ASEAN-af­fil­i­ated meet­ing known as the East Asia Sum­mit, Trudeau said he still brought up con­cerns with the Philip­pine pres­i­dent.

“Coun­tries around the world know that when you en­gage with Canada you will hear about hu­man­rights con­cerns and we are the first to men­tion that we are not per­fect, ei­ther,” said Trudeau.

Duterte is highly sen­si­tive to such crit­i­cism, and in the past called Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” and said he could “go to hell” af­ter the U.S. pres­i­dent called for the drug war to be fought “in a way that’s con­sis­tent with ba­sic in­ter­na­tional norms.”

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump, who also at­tended this week’s ASEAN sum­mit, did not pub­licly take Duterte to task for the drug crack­down.

In­stead, Trump said he and Duterte “had a great re­la­tion­ship,” and avoided ques­tions about whether he raised hu­man rights con­cerns.

White House press sec­re­tary Sarah Huck­abee San­ders said hu­man rights came up “briefly” in the con­text of the Philip­pines’ fight against il­le­gal drugs.

She did not say if Trump was crit­i­cal of Duterte’s pro­gram.

Harry Roque, Duterte’s spokesman, said there was no men­tion of hu­man rights or ex­trale­gal killings dur­ing the meet­ing with Trump but there was a lengthy dis­cus­sion of the Philip­pines’ war on drugs.

The two sides later is­sued a state­ment say­ing they “un­der­scored that hu­man rights and the dig­nity of hu­man life are es­sen­tial, and agreed to con­tinue main­stream­ing the hu­man rights agenda in their na­tional pro­grams.”


Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte at an event at the ASEAN sum­mit in Manila on Tues­day. Trudeau said he raised con­cerns about hu­man rights abuses and ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in Duterte’s anti-drug...

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