Written by 1:52 pm Fine Living, Health & Fitness, Lifestyle

Philippines’ Duterte invited to White House by Trump


President Donald Trump extended an invitation to his diverging Philippines counterpart to the White House over a phone call between the two leaders, centered on the ever-relevant issue of North Korea and its belligerence.

Trump and Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte engaged in a “friendly discussion” this Saturday that additionally included topics such as regional security in Southeast Asia and the Philippines’ war on drugs, according to a statement released by the White House following the occurrence.

The statement, however, failed to include details relating to the details of Duterte’s proposed visit. Thus, it did not address when and/or if Duterte planned to visit Washington, but it did state that Trump is eagerly looking forward to his trip to the Philippines, projected to happen in November.

This invitation by Trump sparked questions regarding whether or not the White House should extend a visit to a leader who has faced heavy criticism in relation to his accused human rights abuses—which include extrajudicial killings as a result of Duterte’s controversial war on drugs.

The Chief of Staff of the White House, Reince Priebus was interviewed Sunday on ABC’s “This Week” and spoke of the matter. Throughout his appearance on the program, Priebus displayed a favorable opinion of the invitation, declaring that outreach to the Philippines and other Asian nations is crucial to addressing the complicated situation with Pyongyang and the nuclear threat professed by North Korea.

Priebus also conceded that human rights are significant, but he continued on to argue that the problem with North Korea has gained priority; thus valuing national security over morality.

“The issues facing us developing out of North Korea are so serious that we need cooperation at some level with as many partners in the area as we can get to make sure we have our ducks in a row,” he opined. “We have got to be on the same page.”

Tensions between the US and North Korea have recently intensified greatly, especially with the latter conducting yet another ballistic missile test this past Friday—only hours after the US had convened a United Nations meeting to plea that more pressure is placed on the isolated and aggressive nation.

The US military has recently—in a response to the growing tension and risk of the outbreak of fighting—moved the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group into the area. The strike group is reportedly docked a powerful nuclear submarine in South Korea and has performed sizable military drills in collaboration with South Korea and Japan.

Trump stated on Thursday that there was “a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea,” but he was quick to clarify that he had a preference for the resolution of the issue being diplomatic rather than militaristic.

Prior to his phone call with Trump, Duterte had stated that he predicted the world would suffer if the US and North Korea, currently under the command of Kim Jong Un, were unable to neutralize the heated situation at hand.

“Everybody suffers, only because two nations are playing with their dangerous toys. It behooves a certain America, because it is the more responsible country. I’m sure President Trump by now must also be cautioning his military to just maybe hang on and not to start something they cannot control,” Duterte declared.

Duterte advocated that the US exercise patience and practice restraint. He stated that: “We know that we are playing with somebody who relishes in letting go his missiles. I would not want to go into his mind because I really don’t know what is inside. But he is putting Mother Earth, the planet, on the edge.”

In a statement divulged following the phone call between the two polemic heads of state, the White House affirmed that Trump had invited Duterte to the White House with the purpose of conversing about the US-Philippines alliance “which is now heading in a very positive direction.”

“They also discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world,” added the statement.

Duterte’s time in power has been notably stained with frequent charges of violations against human rights. Since he became President last year, he has openly supported and even advocated for the extrajudicial murders of thousands of citizens who were believed to have been dealing or using drugs.

Duterte assumed his position of power in June of 2016 and has since then instigated a full-out “war on drugs” in his country, which had killed roughly 6,000 people in his first six months as leader.

This past December, he even admitted to having ordered that suspected criminals be murder when he was the mayor of Davao City, prior to being president of the nation.

Duterte’s tirades have been under the fire of controversy ever since he took office last year.

While on a trip to China in October, he declared that “America has lost,” and that he has readjusted himself with the “ideological flow” of China. He later explained his statements regarding relations with the US, stating that he was objectively pursuing a “separation of foreign policy” from the US.

He also vulgarly designated Trump’s predecessor, President Barack Obama, to be a “son of a bitch,” which resulted in the White House canceling premeditated bilateral talks.

Obama had previously expressed apprehensions regarding Duterte’s debated war on drugs and his human rights record.

Contrastingly, Duterte spoke in a much more positive light following a phone call with the then President-elect Trump that took place in December, approvingly describing Trump as “animated.” Duterte alleged that he had informed Trump that Filipinos “are tight with America.”

“He was wishing me success in my campaign against the drug problem,” he said at the time. “He understood the way we are handling it and he said there is nothing wrong with protecting your country.”

Featured Image via Wikimedia.

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