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Trillanes in US to stop Trump visit to Philippines?

Trillanes, a critic of President Duterte, met with US senators on a recent trip to the US to discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the administration’s widely criticized drug war. Senate PRIB, File

MANILA, Philippines — Because of the human rights situation in the Philippines, Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV is reportedly trying to convince US senators to discourage US President Donald Trump from proceeding with his trip to the Philippines, diplomatic sources said yesterday.

Trillanes, a critic of President Duterte, met with US senators on a recent trip to the US to discuss the human rights situation in the Philippines amid the administration’s widely criticized drug war.

US Sen. Marco Rubio confirmed the meeting with Trillanes through his official Twitter account on Oct. 18.

“Senator Trillanes and I discussed US-Philippines alliance, combating corruption and protecting human rights amid their narcotics crisis,” Rubio wrote.

Last night a member of the staff of Trillanes said the senator was on “official business” in the US.

The staff member, who declined to be identified, expressed surprise over the reports that Trillanes was trying to discourage US officials from attending the ASEAN leaders’ summit next month.

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“We don’t know anything about that but the senator is indeed in LA (Los Angeles),” the staff member said.

Trump is set to visit the Philippines in November to attend the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) summit and related meetings, the White House confirmed last month.

The visit will take place during a tour from Nov. 3 to 14 which will also include stops in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam and the US state of Hawaii.

Trillanes also met with other US lawmakers, sources said.

“Trillanes has been discussing the human rights situation in the country and trying to convince the US senators to discourage Trump from coming to the Philippines,” a source said yesterday.

However, the source said that Trump’s visit to the Philippines is for the ASEAN summit.

“The visit is really about ASEAN and not just the Philippines,” the source said.

The same source said the controversial drug war, which has been widely criticized by foreign media and human rights organizations, is now being implemented by the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) and no longer by the police.

In a memorandum dated Oct. 10, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Postal Office and other “ad hoc anti-drug task force” to leave the implementation of the drug war to the PDEA, raising the public’s hopes that the agency would adhere to the rule of law.

Duterte’s memorandum came just days after his latest survey results showed the biggest drop in his ratings.

Duterte’s net satisfaction and trust ratings suffered double-digit drops in the third quarter of the year amid criticisms over his brutal war on drugs.

Six in 10 Filipinos, or 67 percent of adult Filipinos, said they were satisfied with Duterte while 19 percent were dissatisfied, resulting in a net satisfaction score of “good” +48.

If Trump’s visit to the Philippines pushes through, however, it might signal an improvement in US-Philippine relations.

Duterte severely criticized the US government during the time of then president Barack Obama for expressing concern over the bloody anti-drug campaign. – With Paolo Romero

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