US lawmakers slam Trump's invitation to Duterte

In this Nov. 9, 2016 file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, arrives for a meeting with Philippine community at a hotel in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It's been a remarkably turbulent first year for Duterte, whose war on drug has left thousands of suspects dead and prompted critics to call his rule a "human rights calamity." AP Photo/Vincent Thian, File

US lawmakers slam Trump's invitation to Duterte
Patricia Lourdes Viray (Philstar.com) - July 21, 2017 - 3:18am

MANILA, Philippines — US congressmen have expressed opposition against the invitation of US President Donald Trump for President Duterte to the White House.

During the US Congress Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing on the Philippines' so-called war on drugs, Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) said that she was disgusted that Trump invited Duterte to the White House.

"His murderous, extra-judicial campaign has drawn condemnation from around the world - except from President Trump, who had a 'very friendly' conversation with the man who once said, 'I don’t care about human rights' and who called President Obama a 'son of a whore' for speaking out against atrocities Duterte has committed against his own people," Speier said in her opening remarks.

Speier, a member of the US Congress commission, stressed that Duterte's campaign of vigilantism and extrajudicial execution is unacceptable in a modern democracy.

She called on both the US Congress and Trump to condemn Duterte's human rights abuses and take concrete action to ensure that Washington does not enable such practices.

Numbers released by the police and independent counts by human rights groups show that the as high as 8,000 drug-related deaths have been recorded since Duterte assumed office.

"I am heartened by the bipartisan introduction of S. 1055, the Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act, into the Senate. This important bill would restrict the export of certain defense items to the Philippine National Police, support human rights and civil society organizations in the Philippines, and report on sources of narcotics entering that country," Speier said.

Rep. James McGovern (D-MA), co-chair of the commission, said that he would lead the protest if Duterte comes to the White House.

McGovern noted the US Congress should be on the side of advocating human rights, as opposed to Duterte who "by all accounts seems to not have high regards for human rights."

"I think it is important for members of Congress in a bipartisan way to make our concerns known loudly and clearly. And I certainly believe very strongly that a man with the human rights record of Mr. Duterte should not be invited to the White House," McGovern said in his opening remarks.

"And I certainly believe very strongly that a man with the human rights record of Mr. Duterte should not be invited to the White House. If he comes, I will lead the protest. We ought to be on the side of advocating for human rights, not explaining them away," Massachusetts Rep. James McGovern said. Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

Meanwhile, the Embassy of the Philippines in Washington submitted a letter to McGovern echoing Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano's opening statement during the Philippines' Universal Periodic Review before the United Nations Human Rights Council last May.

The Philippine Embassy stressed that the country is an advocate of human rights.

"We firmly maintain that the anti-illegal drug campaign is being implemented within the boundaries of the law. The ultimate objective is to protect the rights of all Filipino citizens, to secure their security and prosperity, and to safeguard the well-being of our present and future generations," the letter read.

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