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STEVE ELLIOTT

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Donald Trump on Saturday invited authoritarian Philippine President Rodrigo “The Punisher” Duterte to the White House, in a move broadly condemned by human rights groups as legitimizing the extrajudicial killings of thousands of suspected drug users without trial in the Philippines.

The invitation to visit Washington, D.C., was made in what was described by administration officials as a “very friendly” telephone conversation, reports Mark Sandler at The New York Times.

Trump failed to clear the invitation with either the State Department or the National Security Council, leaving administration officials scrambling to react to an avalanche of criticism, reports Brandon Carter at The Hill.

‘Morally complicit’

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John Sifton, Human Rights Watch:
“Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself”
[The Stateless]

The two leaders “discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world,” according to a White House statement.

“By essentially endorsing Duterte’s murderous war on drugs, Trump is now morally complicit in future killings,” said John Sifton, the Asia director of Human Rights Watch. “Although the traits of his personality likely make it impossible, Trump should be ashamed of himself.”

“We are watching in real time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash,” said Senator Christopher S. Murphy (D-Connecticut), a member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

Duterte’s toxic reputation as a bloodthirsty butcher was already a source of worry to some in the White House. It’s not clear, according to human rights advocates, if Duterte could even get a vista to enter the United States… if he weren’t a head of state.

Populist Demagogues

Trump and Duterte, who have displayed an affinity since last December when they first spoke on the phone, are both populist demagogues who often make inflammatory statements. After their initial call, Duterte issued a statement saying that Trump had endorsed his anti-drug campaign, which has resulted in the deaths of thousands of people accused or using or selling illegal substances.

“He wishes me well, too, in my campaign, and he said that, well, we are doing it as a sovereign nation, the right way,” Duterte said in December of his drug war.

Many of those killed without trial or legal recourse reportedly had no involvement with drugs but were rather killed using that pretext as a way of settling other scores.

The Filipino leader earlier this month compared himself to Trump, praising his fellow demagogue as “a realistic and a pragmatic thinker” and saying of Trump’s approach to tackling the drug trade, “He really will kill you.”

‘I’ll Eat His Liver’

Duterte has bragged that no matter what terrible things terrorists do to people, he can do worse, reports Ellie Schechet at Jezebel

“If you want me to be an animal, I’m also used to that,” Duterte said in a Sunday speech. “We’re just the same. I can dish out, go down what you can 50 times over.

“Just give me vinegar and salt,” Duterte said. “I’ll eat his liver.”

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“Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now, there are 3 million drug addicts … I’d be happy to slaughter them”
[The New York Times]

‘I’d Be Happy To Slaughter Them’

Duterte has said he would like to kill as many drug users and dealers as Hitler killed Jews. “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews,” Duterte reportedly said in September. “Now, there are 3 million drug addicts [in the Philippines] … I’d be happy to slaughter them.”

He has claimed to have committed at least three murders, including a claim of having once thrown someone out of a helicopter. He’s also bragged about his own involvement with the notorious Davao Death Squad.

“In Davao, I used to do it personally,” Duterte has said of such acts. “Just to show the guys that if I can do it, why can’t you?”

Duterte drew additional negative attention for saying he wanted to participate in a gang rape, and for calling Pope Francis a “son of a whore,” reports Nick Robins-Early at The Huffington Post

More Than 8,000 Killed

duterte philippines drug war
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Jennilyn Olayres hugs the body of her partner Michael Siaron, who was murdered by a gunman and left with a cardboard sign with a message “I’m a pusher” in a street in Manila, Philippines. The extrajudicial killings are authorized by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
[Noel Celis / AFP]

More than 30 people a day, on average, are slaughtered in the streets in the Philippines, with Duterte’s approval, on the mere suspicion that they are “drug users,” reports Laura King at the Los Angeles Times.

The Philippine demagogue’s campaign to kill drug users and dealers, mostly poor young men, had its genesis in 1988, when Duterte was first elected mayor of Davao City in the southern Philippines. Local media report that the dead often seem to have no ties to drug syndicates other than being users.

The International Criminal Court puts the number of deaths since Duterte was elected president at more than 8,000. According to a complaint filed with the Court, more than 9,400 have been killed since Duterte first came up with the practice when he was elected mayor of Davao.

Many of the killings are carried out extrajudicially by vigilantes whom Duterte has authorized and encouraged to kill drug dealers and users. Stray bullets from vigilantes have killed children as young as four years old.

‘I Don’t Care About Human Rights’

Duterte has viciously defended his bloody “Drug War” as a success. “My order is shoot to kill you. I don’t care about human rights, you better believe me,” he said last August.

Police are reportedly paid a bounty of $200 for each “drug user” they kill. About 3,000 of the killings were committed by police themselves, according to official government figures, reports Alan Pyke at ThinkProgress.

One of Duterte’s chief charms for Trump is undoubtedly because the Philippine strongman didn’t get along with Barack Obama. Duterte’s apparent dislike for Obama began when the U.S. State Department expressed concern over the Philippines’ Drug War, and asked government officials there to take steps to stop extrajudicial killings, reports Fox News.

Duterte called President Obama a “son of a bitch” and an “idiot” after Obama called Duterte out for authorizing and encouraging extrajudicial killings. Duterte told Obama to “go to hell,” reports OdishaTV.

Trump Has Financial Ties To The Philippines

Another reason for the craven kissing of Duterte’s ass by Trump is the fact that Trump has commercial connections to the Philippines. Trump’s name is stamped on a $150 million, 57-floor Trump Tower in the Manila suburb of Makati. That licensing deal has netted Trump’s company millions of dollars.

Duterte, conveniently, appointed Jose E.B. Antonio, the chairman of the company developing the tower, as an envoy to D.C. for trade, investment and economic affairs.

White House spokesman Reince Priebus on Sunday defended Trump’s invitation to Duterte. “The purpose of the call is all about North Korea,” Priebus told ABC’s This Week, reports Mallory Shelbourne at The Hill. “It doesn’t mean that human rights don’t matter.” Priebus then claimed that human rights are “very high at the top of the list.”

Nobody At ASEAN Summit Calls Duterte On His Butchery

Things went just swimmingly for Duterte as the Philippines put on the 30th Summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), which ended Sunday morning in Manila, reports Vincent Bevins of The Washington Post.

None of the other nine members of the regional bloc said anything to their hosts for pursuing a brutal drug war that has led to thousands of deaths, despite Amnesty International’s plea this week which urged them to do so.

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None of the other members at this weekend’s annual ASEAN summit had the balls to call Duterte out for his bloody Drug War
[King Rodriguez / PPD]

Duterte was able to cockily bask in the spotlight, hosting a Saturday night press conference, cracking jokes and posing for selfies as he casually bragged that he expected an after-dinner call from Donald Trump.

White House: Philippines ‘Fighting Very Hard’

Rather than mention the 8,000 killed without trials in the Drug War since Duterte took office, the Trump White House praised the Philippine government for “fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs.”

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Michael Collins,
Drug Policy Alliance:

“It would be shameful to see the red carpet rolled out by Trump for Duterte, a man with so much blood on his hands”
[DPA]

The White House said the relationship between the two countries “is now heading in a very positive direction,” report Kristine Phillips and Jenna Johnson of The Washington Post.

“To host President Duterte at the White House is to endorse his deadly drug war policies,” said Michael Collins, deputy director at Drug Policy Alliance’s Office of National Affairs. “The Trump Administration should immediately withdraw its invitation to Duterte and publicly denounce the mass killings he has advocated for, or risk embarrassing the country with the sight of the U.S. President greeting a remorseless, self-confessed murderer.”

“Trump has signaled his intent to escalate the drug war at home,” said Collins, “but this invitation signals his approval of the bloodiest of tactics at an international level in the name of the war on drugs. It would be shameful to see the red carpet rolled out by Trump for Duterte, a man with so much blood on his hands.”

 

 

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