MANILA, Nov 14 (Mabuhay) — An American congressman on Tuesday slammed US President Donald Trump for “cozying up” to “dictator” President Rodrigo Duterte.
Massachusetts Second District Representative Jim McGovern was reacting to a tweet by an American journalist saying that Trump allowed Duterte to “shut down US reporters’ questions about human rights.”
Last week, Duterte threatened to ban McGovern and another US lawmaker, Republican Representative Randy, from coming to Manila after they criticized Trump for inviting the Philippine leader to visit the US.
Speaking to members of the media, Duterte evaded a reporter’s question on whether he and his American counterpart would discuss human rights in their one-on-one, only saying “maybe a press conference will follow.”
He also jokingly called the media “spies” as the media pool covering the start of his bilateral meeting with Trump were being ushered out of the room.
Bilateral meetings are usually held behind closed doors.
In his statement, Trump had boasted of a “great relationship” with the Philippine President.
The two leaders first met in the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation Summit in Da Nang, Vietnam.
Malacañang and the White House had contradicting statements on whether the two leaders discussed human rights during the bilateral meeting.
The White House said the human rights was “briefly” taken up during the meeting, while Malacañang said it “did not arise.”
Duterte, though still largely popular among Filipinos, has been criticized by local and international human rights advocates for his controversial war on drugs, which has seen nearly 4,000 deaths of alleged drug suspects in police operations from July 2016 to September 2017, shortly before he transferred its leadership to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency.
Trump, for his part, has seemingly thrown his support for Duterte, praising the Philippine leader in a phone call earlier this year for doing an “unbelievable job” in the war on drugs. (MNS)