Duterte, Trump ignore human rights violations
The issue of human rights did not come up during the 40-minute bilateral meeting between President Rodrigo Duterte and United States President Donald Trump, Malacañang said on Monday.
The two leaders, however, had a “frank discussion” on several issues, including the Philippines’ brutal crackdown on narcotics that has killed thousands of suspects, said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque.
He said Trump appeared “sympathetic” when Duterte mentioned his relenltess campaign against illegal drugs trade.
“The issue of human rights did not arise. It was not brought up. It was President Duterte who discussed with President Trump the drug menace in the Philippines, and the US President appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter, merely nodding his head, indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we face on drugs,” Roque said.
Shortly after the bilateral meeting between the two leaders, a foreign journalist asked Trump whether he raised the human rights issue with Duterte.
Duterte, responding to the reporter’s query, said they would not entertain any questions concerning the purported human rights violation in the Philippines.
“We are not answering any (question). We are in a bilateral meeting. Maybe the press conference would follow. We would be talking on matters that (are) of interest to both the Philippines and (the United States). With you guys around, you are the spies,” he said, referring to the media.
On November 9, Duterte said he would not tolerate a discussion with Trump about the reported human rights abuses linked to his drug war.
He said deaths associated with the anti-narcotics campaign was a domestic issue that only the Philippines must deal with.
“I feel that we (I and Trump) share so many ideas along the same line of problems of governance. i know that I’d have an interesting time with him,” he said last week.
“(But if he will talk about our war on drugs, I’ll tell him), lay off, sir, that’s my business.”
Roque said Trump merely assured Duterte that US “has always been a friend of the Duterte administration.”
“The US. President specifically said that he has always been a friend of the Duterte administration, and that like previous administrations of the United States, he stressed that he can be counted upon as a friend of the Duterte administration,” he said.
Trump, meanwhile, was all praises for Duterte and said the US still has “great” ties with the Philippines.
The American leader, who congratulated Duterte for “beautifully” handling the regional bloc’s forum, expressed his appreciation for the Philippine government’s “great treatment” to Asean leaders and their dialogue partners who graced the event.
“We’ve had a great relationship,” Trump told Duterte.
“I really enjoyed being here. We very much appreciate the great treatment that you have given,” he added.
Philippine foreign policy, since Duterte assumed the presidency in July 2016, has veered toward China and Russia and away from the US, a long-time ally of the Philippines.
Duterte had several times issued profanity-laden remarks against Trump’s predecessor, former US president Barack Obama.
Duterte and Trump first met during the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation forum in Vietnam.