Trump invitation and the Duterte Slaughter
I’ve seen at least two petitions calling on President Trump to rescind his White House invitation to President Duterte. One condemned the “human rights violator and genocidal killer president of the Philippines.”
I am sympathetic to the spirit of these campaigns. But welcoming Duterte to Washington may also turn out to be a gift from Trump to Filipinos.
Here’s why: A high-profile Duterte visit to the U.S. would turn an even bigger spotlight on the Duterte Slaughter and perhaps even help efforts to put a stop to the carnage.
The Duterte Slaughter has already received intense international media attention. Coverage of the mass killing even helped the New York Times win yet another Pulitzer Prize.
But a Trump-Duterte meeting would draw even more attention to the inhumane campaign. That’s probably why Duterte seemed hesitant to accept Trump’s invitation. Why would he want to draw even more attention to the bloodshed under his watch? And would he really want to be associated with an increasingly unpopular American president accused of abusing his power?
The global spotlight has been pretty harsh on the Philippine president and his murderous regime.
Take Duterte’s inclusion in Time Magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People. That should have been a proud moment.
But his portrayal wasn’t exactly flattering. Duterte’s profile in the Time special report began with his infamous pronouncement: “Hitler massacred 3 million Jews. Now there are 3 million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
The profile was written by Cesar Gaviria, the former president of Colombia, who recalled his own country’s disastrous war against illegal drugs.
“The cure was infinitely worse than the disease,” Gaviria said.
That’s precisely what has happened in the Philippines. The Duterte Slaughter, billed as a cure for the country’s problem with illegal drugs, has quickly morphed into a national tragedy, a cynical, brutal, inhumane campaign against poor Filipinos.
In just 10 months, the Duterte Slaughter has killed more than 5,000 people.
“Let the World Condemn Duterte,” the New York Times declared in a scathing editorial, which reacted to the case filed against Duterte with the International Criminal Court.
“The I.C.C. should promptly open a preliminary investigation into the killings,” the New York Times said. On Duterte, the Times declared: “This is a man who must be stopped.”
Amnesty International, the respected human rights organization that has already published an in-depth report on the Duterte Slaughter, weighed in again as leaders from the ASEAN met in Manila.
“While they meet in their comfortable surroundings, ASEAN leaders should spare a thought for the thousands of people who have been killed as part of Duterte’s brutal crackdown,” Champa Patel, Amnesty International’s director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said in a statement. “The vast majority are from marginalized and neglected communities, making it effectively a war on the poor.”
It is a terrifying campaign being waged by people in power, the Amnesty International director stressed. “As the death toll mounts, so does evidence of the Philippines authorities’ role in the bloodshed.”
Then, this searing indictment from one of the world’s most respected human rights organizations: “That the Philippines is chairing the ASEAN Summit against this horrifying backdrop is a scandal, and should prompt the government to make independent and effective investigations into unlawful killings an immediate priority. They must send a clear message that there will be accountability and an end to such shocking violations.”
The shocking violations of human rights are bound to continue as Duterte supporters continue to slaughter poor Filipinos, many of them accused without due process of being drug dealers or addicts.
But the good news is that nearly a year after the Duterte Slaughter began, there’s a growing worldwide clamor to end the mass killings.
If Digong goes to Washington, the global spotlight on the Duterte Slaughter will grow even more intense.
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