Philip­pine leader lashes out at Trudeau

The Globe and Mail (BC Edition) - - NEWS - KAREN LEMA MANOLO SERAPIO JR.

Pres­i­dent says PM’s hu­man-rights ques­tions were a ‘per­sonal and of­fi­cial in­sult’ and that he will ‘only an­swer to the Fil­ipino’

Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte at­tacked Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau at the end of a sum­mit of Asian and Western coun­tries for rais­ing ques­tions about his war on drugs, a topic skirted by other lead­ers, in­clud­ing U.S. Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump.

At the tra­di­tional news con­fer­ence by the host coun­try at the end of the sum­mit on Tues­day, Mr. Duterte was asked how he had re­sponded to the Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter rais­ing the is­sue of hu­man rights and ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings in his anti-drugs drive.

“I said I will not ex­plain. It is a per­sonal and of­fi­cial in­sult,” the Philip­pines Pres­i­dent said in the course of a ram­bling an­swer, al­though he did not re­fer to Mr. Trudeau by name.

“I only an­swer to the Fil­ipino. I will not an­swer to any other bull­shit, es­pe­cially for­eign­ers. Lay off.”

Ear­lier in the day, Mr. Trudeau told a news con­fer­ence that dur­ing his meet­ing with Mr. Duterte, “the Pres­i­dent was re­cep­tive to my comments and it was through­out a very cor­dial and pos­i­tive ex­change.”

Hu­man-rights ac­tivists had been hop­ing that lead­ers at the sum­mit, in­clud­ing Mr. Trump, would raise the is­sue of the thou­sands of users and small-time push­ers killed in the cam­paign that was launched by Mr. Duterte af­ter he took of­fice in mid-2016.

His gov­ern­ment says the po­lice act in self-de­fense dur­ing drug busts, but crit­ics say ex­e­cu­tions are tak­ing place with no ac­count­abil­ity.

There was no pres­sure from Mr. Trump on the drugs war when he met Mr. Duterte on Mon­day, and the U.S. Pres­i­dent later said the two had a “great re­la­tion­ship.”

A joint state­ment af­ter the meet­ing only said the two sides “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.”

Mr. Trudeau also said that he raised the is­sue of the ex­o­dus of Ro­hingya dur­ing a meet­ing with Myan­mar leader Aung San Suu Kyi, an­other sen­si­tive topic by­passed by most other lead­ers, al­though he did not men­tion the Mus­lim mi­nor­ity by name.

“This is a tremen­dous con­cern to Canada and to many, many coun­tries around the world,” he said.

The gov­ern­ment in mostly Bud­dhist Myan­mar re­gards the Ro­hingya as il­le­gal im­mi­grants from Bangladesh and does not rec­og­nize the term.

More than 600,000 Ro­hingya have fled to refugee camps in Bangladesh since mil­i­tary clear­ance oper­a­tions were launched in re­sponse to at­tacks by Ro­hingya mil­i­tants on Aug. 25.

Mr. Duterte re­ported that China had agreed at the sum­mit to work on a code of con­duct in the South China Sea with ASEAN coun­tries to ease ten­sions over dis­puted claims to the busy and re­source-rich wa­ter­way.

The group also signed agree­ments on pro­tect­ing mi­grant labour and fight­ing ter­ror­ism and cy­ber­crime.

Mr. Trump skipped the ple­nary ses­sion of the sum­mit be­cause of sched­ul­ing de­lays, but he said his marathon trip to Asia had been a “tremen­dous” suc­cess.

He told re­porters on Air Force One that he had de­liv­ered his pre­pared re­marks dur­ing a lunch be­fore the sum­mit meet­ing.

Mr. Trump said at least $300-bil­lion (U.S.), pos­si­bly triple that fig­ure, of deals had been agreed in the trip. He did not elab­o­rate.

“We’ve ex­plained that the United States is open for trade but we want re­cip­ro­cal, we want fair trade for the United States,” he said.

Trade and con­cern about pos­si­ble pro­tec­tion­ism un­der Mr. Trump’s “Amer­ica First” agenda have come up dur­ing his visit to the re­gion, which in­cluded stops in Ja­pan, South Korea, China and Viet­nam be­fore con­clud­ing in the Philip­pines.

Af­ter Mr. Trump left Manila, a group of Asia-Pa­cific coun­tries pur­su­ing a sep­a­rate Bei­jing-backed trade deal that does not in­clude the United States agreed to “in­ten­sify ef­forts” in 2018 to bring their ne­go­ti­a­tions to a con­clu­sion.

The Re­gional Com­pre­hen­sive Eco­nomic Part­ner­ship (RCEP) ap­peared to have been given new im­pe­tus at the sum­mit by Mr. Trump’s with­drawal from the Trans-Pa­cific Part­ner­ship (TPP) trade agree­ment, to which China is not party.

The two trade deals are not mu­tu­ally ex­clu­sive.

ASEAN is joined in the RCEP talks by China, In­dia, Aus­tralia, New Zealand, Ja­pan and South Korea.

ADRIAN WYLD/THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Viet­namese Prime Min­is­ter Nguyen Xuan Phuc, left, and Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte in Manila on Tues­day.

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