Human rights concern not discussed in Duterte-Trump bilateral: Roque
United States President Donald Trump did not raise the human rights issue against the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte during their bilateral meeting on Monday, according to the Philippine leader spokesman.
"The issue of human rights did not arise. It was not brought up," said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque, who described the 40-minute bilateral meeting between Duterte and Trump as "frank."
But he said Duterte brought up the drug problem in the country, "and the US president appeared sympathetic and did not have any official position on the matter."
He said Trump was merely nodding his head, "indicating that he understood the domestic problem that we face on drugs."
Before Trump arrived in Manila, US congressmen Randy Hultgren and James McGovern, co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission asked the American leader, in an open letter, to tell Duterte on US “profound concern” over the alleged extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.
The American lawmakers had said Trump should also reaffirm his government's commitments to fundamental human rights, including due process and the rule of law.
The Philippines has been criticized locally and internationally for thousands of drug suspects being killed since Duterte assumed the presidency in June last year.
During the photo opportunity prior to the closed door bilateral meeting, Trump said the Philippines and the US have "a great relationship." He said he enjoys his visit in Manila.
"The weather is always good. Today it's pretty good. But one thing about the Philippines eventually it gets good no matter what. But we very much appreciate the great treatment you have given us. I thought last night's event was fantastic, tremendous talent. Most of them I guess from the Philippines. But tremendous talent. Musical talent, dance talent and we really had a tremendous time, all of the leaders," he said.
Trump was referring to the gala dinner hosted by Duterte and partner Cielito "Honeylet" Avancena for the leaders and members of their delegation in the 31st Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit and Related Summits. Celerina Monte/DMS