Republican presidential candidate Donald J. Trump’s recent assertion that the United States was letting in “animals” from “terrorist nations,” among them the Philippines, has provoked a strong backlash in Manila, making headlines and prompting Albay Rep. Joey Salceda to propose barring Trump from the country.
Salceda last week filed a resolution seeking to “refuse Donald J. Trump entry into the Philippines” for the “wholesale labeling of Filipinos as coming from a ‘terrorist’ state.”
Salceda condemned Trump’s “ugliness of utterances, largely unprompted and undeserved,” even though Trump profited handsomely from licensing his name and brand to a real estate development in the Philippines.
In seeking Trump’s exclusion from the Philippines, Salceda cited Bureau of Immigration rules that bar the entry of foreigners who “clearly generated impressions not conducive to public good and [have] shown disrespect or [made] offensive utterances to the Filipino people.”
Salceda said Trump’s “unrepentantly negative, dysfunctionally nativist, aggressively adversarial attitude” toward Filipinos was dangerous, as he could win the US elections in November and lay down policies that could affect the interests of American citizens of Philippine descent.
Filipinos represent the fourth-largest immigrant group in the United States, about 4.5 percent of the total immigrant population, according to the Migration Policy Institute, a nonprofit think tank based in Washington.
The median income of Filipino households headed by an immigrant was $82,370 as of 2013, far above the $53,000 of US-born households, the institute says.
“With his current stature as candidate of a major political party for president of the most powerful country in the world, his remarks have had widespread dissemination and aggravating the shame it has already put on Filipinos and Filipino Muslims,” Salceda said.
At a campaign rally last week in Portland, Maine, Trump said refugees from “terrorist nations” should be barred from the United States.
“We are letting people come in from terrorist nations that shouldn’t be allowed because you can’t vet them,” he said.
He then named several countries, including the Philippines, whose immigrants, he said, had been arrested in the United States for terrorism-related offenses.
“We’re dealing with animals,” he said.
Trump was probably referring to a Filipino resident of California, Ralph Kenneth de Leon, who was arrested in an FBI sting operation two years ago on suspicion of providing support to terrorists.
De Leon, who had converted to Islam, had agreed to travel to Afghanistan to fight alongside the Taliban and later join al-Qaida, prosecutors said.
He was sentenced to 25 years in prison on three terrorism-related charges.
Trump presents quite a different message about the Philippines on the website for Trump Tower at Century City, a P6-billion, 57-story apartment building nearing completion in Metropolitan Manila.
“I’ve always loved the Philippines,” he says. “I think it’s just a special place and Manila is one of Asia’s most spectacular cities.”
Trump does not own the building, the website says, but he licensed his name to the developers.
Salceda said Trump and his local partner, Century Property Group of the Antonio family, should report if he had paid his taxes in the Philippines.
He said he would ask the House ways and means committee to seek information about the fees Trump had received from Century Property for using his name and his services.
“The company has not filed such material information with the Philippine Stock Exchange, as it could affect public stock investors and condo buyers of Trump Tower, a flagship [project] of the company,” Salceda said.
“In any case, you cannot be a Filipino and at the same time be a proud certificate holder of a Trump-branded [property] right in the center of our country. Why feed the dog that bites you?” he added.
Parliament members in Britain debated barring Trump from the country in January on the ground of engaging in hate speech with his call to prevent Muslims from entering the United States.
The Philippines, which has been fighting both a Maoist insurgency and a Muslim rebellion for more than 50 years, has long had its own problems with domestic terrorism.
Recurring peace talks have proved unsuccessful, though the level of violence has waned in recent years.
Among the Muslim groups fighting the government, Abu Sayyaf, which has professed ties to the Islamic State militant group, has drawn the most attention.
The Abu Sayyaf has been involved in the abduction and killing of several foreigners, among them American citizens, over the past decade. Reports from New York Times News Service and Gil Cabacungan