PM raises rights con­cerns

Duterte calls com­ments ‘per­sonal and of­fi­cial in­sult’

The Telegram (St. John’s) - - CANADA - BY ANDY BLATCHFORD

Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau di­rectly raised hu­man-rights con­cerns with Ro­drigo Duterte — in­clud­ing ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings car­ried out by se­cu­rity forces in his coun­try — in a con­fronta­tion Tues­day that the Philip­pine pres­i­dent later de­rided as a “per­sonal and of­fi­cial in­sult.”

Speak­ing to re­porters in Manila after a sum­mit of South­east Asian coun­tries, Trudeau said he told Duterte about the need for the rule of law in the Philip­pines, and also made a friendly of­fer of sup­port to help the Philip­pines move for­ward.

Trudeau said Duterte — whose vi­o­lent crack­down on drug deal­ers and drug users by his gov­ern­ment’s forces have left thou­sands dead — was re­cep­tive to the com­ments dur­ing what the Cana­dian prime min­is­ter called a very cor­dial and pos­i­tive ex­change.

Duterte, how­ever, seemed to re­mem­ber it dif­fer­ently.

“I said, ‘I will not ex­plain. It is a per­sonal and of­fi­cial in­sult,”’ he told a news con­fer­ence later Tues­day of his dis­cus­sion with Trudeau. ”’It angers me when you are a for­eigner, you do not know what ex­actly is hap­pen­ing in this coun­try. You don’t even in­ves­ti­gate.”’

Duterte is highly sen­si­tive to such crit­i­cism, and in the past called then U.S. Pres­i­dent Barack Obama a “son of a bitch” after the State Depart­ment pub­licly ex­pressed con­cern over the Philip­pine an­tidrug cam­paign.

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 in a meet­ing with the Philip­pine leader.

The prime min­is­ter’s brief meet­ing with Duterte took place be­fore Trudeau de­liv­ered a speech to mem­bers of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions in a bid for Canada to even­tu­ally join its ex­clu­sive, in­flu­en­tial cir­cles that fo­cus on se­cu­rity in the Asia-pa­cific.

For sev­eral years, Canada has been work­ing to forge closer ties with ASEAN, in­clud­ing its East Asia Sum­mit se­cu­rity group­ing that in­cludes lead­ers of the U.S., China and Rus­sia.

The Cana­dian gov­ern­ment asked the Philip­pines for an in­vi­ta­tion to ASEAN and a work­ing lun­cheon be­fore this year’s East Asia Sum­mit. It’s un­clear how long it will take Canada to ob­tain a more-per­ma­nent sta­tus within ASEAN.

Even though Duterte helped Canada get a seat at a ta­ble, Trudeau said he still brought up con­cerns with the Philip­pine pres­i­dent.

“As I men­tioned to Pres­i­dent Duterte, we’re con­cerned with hu­man rights, with the ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings,” Trudeau told the news con­fer­ence that closed his eight-day trip to the Philip­pines and Viet­nam.

CP PHOTO

Cana­dian Prime Min­is­ter Justin Trudeau shakes hands with Philip­pine Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte and Honeylet Avan­cena Sun­day in Manila, Philip­pines. Duterte says hu­man-rights con­cerns raised by Trudeau were a “per­sonal and of­fi­cial in­sult.”

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