Trump urged to take up hu­man rights with Duterte

Business World - - THENATION - Zamora Rose­marie A.

LEAD­ERS OF a hu­man rights com­mis­sion in the US Con­gress have writ­ten a let­ter to US Pres­i­dent Don­ald J. Trump urg­ing him to dis­cuss the hu­man rights sit­u­a­tion in the Philip­pines when he meets with its pres­i­dent, Ro­drigo R. Duterte, at the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions (ASEAN) meet­ing in Manila next week.

“Dur­ing your up­com­ing visit to the Philip­pines for meet­ings with re­gional lead­ers at the ASEAN sum­mit in Manila, in­clud­ing Philip­pines Pres­i­dent Ro­drigo Duterte, we urge you to im­press upon Pres­i­dent Duterte the United States’ pro­found con­cern over re­ported ex­tra­ju­di­cial killings as­so­ci­ated with the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment’s ‘war on drugs,’” read the Nov. 2 let­ter to Mr. Trump sent by the bi­par­ti­san- led Tom Lan­tos Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion of the US House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

The com­mis­sion is co-chaired by Ran­dall Mark Hult­gren ( RIlli­nois) and James Pa­trick McGovern (D-Mas­sachusetts).

The let­ter, as sent to the me­dia by Hu­man Rights Watch, cited among other sources a Coun­try Re­port on Hu­man Rights Prac­tices for 2016 by the US State De­part­ment, as well as a hear­ing by the com­mis­sion on July 20 where “we were dis­tressed to learn that po­lice have killed 7,000 al­leged drug deal­ers and users with­out charges or trial since the Philip­pine gov­ern­ment launched its cam­paign against il­licit drugs,” Messrs. Hult­gren and McGovern said.

Tes­ti­monies at the said hear­ing were by wit­nesses El­le­cer Car­los of iDEFEND, Philip­pines; Se­nior Cri­sis Ad­vi­sor Matthew Wells of Amnesty In­ter­na­tional; and Deputy Di­rec­tor Phe­lim Kine of the Asia Divi­sion of Hu­man Rights Watch. Also sub­mit­ted for the record at that hear­ing were cor­re­spon­dence by the Em­bassy of the Philip­pines in Wash­ing­ton, D.C., and the Sec­re­tary of For­eign Af­fairs of the Repub­lic of the Philip­pines, as well as state­ments by var­i­ous groups such as the Ec­u­meni­cal Ad­vo­cacy Net­work on the Philip­pines and Katarun­gan.

The let­ter noted fur­ther that “Hu­man rights are fun­da­men­tal,” that “Ev­ery gov­ern­ment should af­ford their cit­i­zens the pro­tec­tion and due process of the law,” that “The Philip­pines is a valu­able ally of the United States and ma­jor re­cip­i­ent of US aid,” and, “For these rea­sons, it is para­mount that hu­man rights vi­o­la­tions not be the con­se­quences of the Philip­pines’ ‘war on drugs.’”

Apart from the ASEAN sum­mit next week, Mr. Duterte is ex­pected to meet Mr. Trump and other state lead­ers at this week’s Asia-Pa­cific Eco­nomic Co­op­er­a­tion (APEC) sum­mit in Vietnam.

Philip­pine of­fi­cials hinted at a “pos­si­ble pull-aside” be­tween the two lead­ers at APEC. “(B)oth Pres­i­dents are look­ing very much for­ward to per­son­ally meet­ing each other,” For­eign Af­fairs Un­der­sec­re­tary Manuel A.J. Tee­hankee said on Thurs­day af­ter­noon, when Mr. Duterte ad­dressed the APEC CEO Sum­mit in Da Nang.

It was ear­lier re­ported that Mr. Trump will take up hu­man rights with Mr. Duterte, and this pos­si­bil­ity was also raised by US Ambassador to the Philip­pine Sung Y. Kim.

A meet­ing with then US Pres­i­dent Barack H. Obama, Jr. was can­celed at last year’s APEC after Mr. Duterte, in a pro­fan­ity­ac­cented tirade, lashed out at Mr. Obama’s re­ported agenda to dis­cuss hu­man rights with him.

On Wed­nes­day’s de­par­ture re­marks this time, Mr. Duterte said of his ex­pected meet­ing with Mr. Trump, “I will not go there as a sub­servient lackey of any­one in­clud­ing what you would like to hear from me but which you can­not ask maybe or later on about hu­man rights.”

“Lay off. That’s not your busi­ness. That is my busi­ness,” he also said in part. —

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