TRUMP and DUTERTE. They like each other a lot. They only have accolades for each other, pretty much like Trump and Putin.
It’s a stark contrast with the tense relationship Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte had with Trump’s predecessor, Barack Obama, whom he cursed because the 44th president of the United States openly said he wished to discuss human rights principles and issue with the then newly elected leader of the Philippines.
Obama canceled the meeting realizing that nothing productive will come out of their face-to-face encounter. This was not an isolated experience by a foreign leader who dared to question or criticize Duterte’s war on drugs.
The leaders of the European Union, who had also been vocal about their concerns regarding human rights violations and alleged extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, had not been spared from the Philippine president’s toxic rhetoric. EU envoys had even been asked by Duterte to leave the country and that he does not need the aid coming from the EU.
The Philippine government’s records show that more than 3,451 “drug personalities” have been killed as they resisted arrest or fought against police during raids and apprehensions. Human rights advocates, however, claim that more than 13,000 people have been killed since Duterte took office in June 2016, and that many of those killed were denied due process of law, with some victimized by the corruption and abuses of the police.
Despite these issues raised by human rights advocates around the world against Duterte’s “vigilante” approach to solving the drug menace in the Philippine, U.S. President Donald Trump not only defended the Philippine president, but even praised him in the way he has been governing the Philippines. Trump even invited his Philippine counterpart to the White House.
BUT WHAT HAPPENS now, with the White House announcement that a discussion about human rights is on Trump’s agenda when the two presidents meet for the first time in Manila this November during Trump’s upcoming first trip to Asia as U.S. president?
Will Duterte cancel the meeting and curse Trump too? Or will he be open and accommodating to Trump who has defended and praised him when most of the leaders of the free world had been critical of him and his war on drugs?
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Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com, https://www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos