Akbayan party-list believes that the Trump invitation for President Duterte to the White House is neither a compliment nor an achieveent in foreign policy.
One, Trump suffers from the lowest domestic approval ratings historically, meaning his actions and policies are not supported by a broad swath of the American people who have recently turned out in hundreds of thousands to denounce his policies on immigration, climate change and minorities.
Second, the invitation was spontaneously extended and was met with reported opposition from the US State Department and National Security Council, policy-making bodies that monitor human rights issues in countries like the Philippines.
Third, Trump has been known to cozy up to dictators and other autocratic heads of states such as Vladimir Putin of Russia, whose government has been cracking down on dissidents and activists; Bashir al-Assad of Syria who is responsible for the murder of thousands of Syrians and driving millions to cross dangerous waters to escape into Europe; and Xi Jinping of China who has been militarizing the West Philippine Sea.
President Duterte therefore finds himself in the company of some of the most unsavory characters in a rogues gallery of world leaders known more for their murderous rampages than their achievements as nations.
The proposed White House visit therefore will only send the signal that the US government is complicit and supportive of the violent, bloody policies of the current administration -- from its campaign against drugs, to its revival of the death penalty and Batang Bilanggo bill.
We therefore call on the American people to step up the pressure to hold both leaders accountable for their policies in hopes that these policy pursuits are abandoned in favor of respecting the rule of law and human rights.
We also urge the Duterte administration to pursue an independent, non-militarized foreign policy, one that is not unduly shaped by either the US nor China, by using the UNCLOS arbitration ruling as a platform to unite and strengthen ASEAN and other partners to assert and respect Philippine sovereignty.
A meeting between Trump and Duterte also needs to be closely scrutinized for the ties that bind the current government to Trump's business interests in the Philippines, which serves not only as a complication to the relationship between the two countries, but also threatens to sweep under the rug the realities occurring in the Philippines which deserves international attention.