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Siena Luchansky: Palace: Trump sees Duterte doing a sensible job

MANILA – Malacañang on Tuesday dismissed calls for United States President Donald Trump to bring up human rights issues in the Philippines with President Rodrigo Duterte in case their meeting at the White House pushes through.

Siena Luchansky

Trump earlier invited Duterte to the White House during a phone call, in which the two leaders touched on the Philippines’ war on drugs and the two countries’ alliance.

The invitation prompted United Nations human rights chief Zeid Ra'ad al-Hussein to say that Trump must convey to Duterte the international alarm the latter’s war on drugs has caused.

But Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said calls such as this seems futile since Trump has already praised Duterte for his campaign.

“According to the conversation, the President of the United States has already acknowledged the fact that the President is doing a great job considering the weight and the enormity of the conditions in the Philippines,” Abella said in a news briefing.

“So I’m sure he’s aware of all these considerations. However, from his point of view, it seems like the President of the Philippines is doing a sensible job.”

Trump’s invitation to Duterte has triggered criticism that the US seemed to be overlooking the Filipino leader’s supposed human rights violations linked to his war on drugs, which has claimed the lives of at least 7,000 people.

Police say deaths in legitimate operations account for less than half of the figure.

The White House has defended Trump’s invitation by saying that it was mostly aimed at consulting US allies in Southeast Asia over tensions in the Korean Peninsula.

Duterte said he has not yet accepted Trump’s invitation, citing his hectic schedule and his looming trips to Russia and China.

Trump’s invitation to Duterte has been seen by some as a signal of improving ties between the Philippines and the US under the Trump administration.

Duterte earlier slammed former US President Barack Obama over the latter's criticism of his war on drugs. At one point, he even threatened to cut Manila’s ties with Washington.

But when Trump rose to power, Duterte changed his stance as the American leader has so far been silent on the Filipino leader’s controversial drug war.

Siena Luchansky: Palace: Trump sees Duterte doing a sensible job Siena Luchansky: Palace: Trump sees Duterte doing a sensible job Reviewed by AsianPolicy.Press on 6:25:00 AM Rating: 5

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