Duterte be­rates Trudeau at end of ASEAN

Philip­pines pres­i­dent de­scribes rais­ing topic of ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings as an in­sult

The Daily Star (Lebanon) - - WORLD -

MANILA: Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte at­tacked Canada’s Justin Trudeau at the end of a sum­mit of Asian and Western na­tions 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 na­tion at the end of the sum­mit Tues­day, 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 Trudeau by name.

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

Ear­lier in the day, Trudeau told a news con­fer­ence that dur­ing his meet­ing with 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 Trump, would raise the is­sue of the thou­sands of users and small-time push­ers killed in the cam­paign launched by 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 Trump on the drugs war when he met Duterte 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.”

Duterte cursed Trump’s pre­de­ces­sor, Barack Obama, last year for rais­ing con­cerns about the war on drugs and he sub­se­quently de­clared that he was break­ing ties with the U.S., a close ally of the Philip­pines since World War II.

The re­la­tion­ship ap­pears to have got back on track af­ter the bon­homie be­tween him and Trump.

Trudeau also said 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. Over 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. The plight of the Ro­hingya has brought out­rage from around the world and the United Na­tions has called the op­er­a­tions eth­nic cleans­ing. There have been calls for democ­racy cham­pion Suu Kyi to be stripped of the No­bel Peace Prize she won in 1991 be­cause she has not con­demned the mil­i­tary’s ac­tions.

Some coun­tries in the 10-mem­ber As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions, par­tic­u­larly Mus­lim-ma­jor­ity Malaysia, have voiced strong con­cern over the is­sue re­cently.

How­ever, in keep­ing with ASEAN’s prin­ci­ple of non­in­ter­fer­ence in each oth­ers’ in­ter­nal af­fairs, it ap­peared to have been put aside at the sum­mit, which brought South­east Asian na­tions to­gether with the U.S., Rus­sia, Ja­pan, China, In­dia, Aus­tralia, New Zealand and Canada.

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

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

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