By Roy Mabasa
A member of the United States Congress on Monday said he is willing to lead a big protest rally if ever President Donald J. Trump invites President Rodrigo Duterte to visit Washington, D.C.
“I think that’s highly inappropriate given this man’s human rights record. I said at the time if he comes, there ought to be a big protest and I will lead that protest,” Massachusetts Rep. James McGovern said in a television interview.
McGovern expressed disappointment on Trump for not raising the issue of human rights and extrajudicial killings (EJKs) with Duterte when the two met at the 31 ASEAN summit and related meetings.
“I think that’s very troubling to me,” he said.
The US solon likewise called Duterte “a bully and a thug and he has murdered thousands of his citizens.”
“The idea that a president of the United States would go there and not say anything, quite frankly in my opinion, is unconscionable. It sends a wrong signal not only to the Philippines but all around the world,” the outspoken Democrat from the 2nd district of Massachusetts pointed out.
The world community, he said, “needs to condemn Duterte’s kind of behavior, as somebody who is engaged in extrajudicial killings of thousands and thousands of people in the Philippines.”
“I’m all for trying to have constructive relationship with countries, even the Philippines. But to say nothing about what’s going on in the Philippines right now just baffles my mind. I can’t believe the president of the United States would not raise the issue of human rights more forcefully,” he continued.
McGovern argued that while the US may want to get along with the world, “that doesn’t mean we should roll over and be silent in the face of terrible human rights atrocities.”
“The United States is viewed as a morale voice on human rights. And if we’re not gonna speak out and point out the fact that these terrible things are going on, and demand that they change, who will?” the American lawmaker asked.
Last week, President Duterte has threatened to ban McGovern and his fellow lawmaker Randy Hultgren (R-IL) from coming to Manila after they criticized Trump for inviting him to visit the US.
“If you do not like me, I do not like you. We’re even,” Duterte said without naming the lawmakers.
Democratic Rep. James McGovern and Republican Rep. Randy Hultgren had called on Trump to highlight the human rights situation in the Philippines in his upcoming visit to Manila.
Also yesterday, McGovern and Hultgren reminded Duterte that “sovereignty” is not a free pass for a government to slaughter people, in an apparent reaction to the Philippine leader’s invoking independence as he again responded with threats to international criticism over his controversial war on drugs.
McGovern and Hultgren co-chairs the powerful Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission of the US Congress.
Tags: extrajudicial killings, human rights atrocities, human rights record, Manila Bulletin, President Duterte, Protest rally, Randy Hultgren, US Congressman to lead big protest rally if Trump invites Duterte
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