MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte’s arch critic is in the U.S. and Malacañang and the chief of the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) are earnestly hoping that Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV will behave while spending his time at the world’s only superpower.
During a news conference on Thursday, Undersecretary Ernesto Abella said the Office of the President was hoping that Trillanes had “given” the “correct information” and “not biased information designed to adversely affect Philippines-US relations.”
Also, DFA Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano said he was expecting that Trillanes’ U.S. visit was done “in good faith” and a “normal engagement.” Cayetano recalled that when he was still a senator like Trillanes, he never went to another country and talked to foreign officials to try to overthrow the government.
“Although it’s a free world, it doesn’t help the country if there is misinformation, disinformation and especially falsehood,” the DFA chief added.
Abella and Cayetano issued the statements after news reports came out quoting unnamed diplomatic sources that Trillanes went to the U.S. supposedly to convince American senators to discourage President Donald Trump from visiting the Philippines next month for the ASEAN summit.
Republican Sen. Marco Rubio announced via social media that he and Trillanes met and discussed about “US-Philippines alliance, combating corruption and protecting human rights” amid the “narcotics crisis” in the Philippines.
— Senator Rubio Press (@SenRubioPress) October 17, 2017
It was Rubio, with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin, who introduced last May 4 S. 1055 or “The Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counter Narcotics Act of 2017.”
The bill seeks to restrict the exportation of certain defense articles by the U.S. to the Philippine National Police, support human rights and civil society organizations in the Philippines, and report on sources of narcotics entering that country.
The proposed measure notes that “since the election of Duterte in June of 2016, there has been a relentless campaign of violence against alleged drug offenders, in which more than 7,000 people have been killed.”
“America and the Philippines have an important and enduring alliance, which is why the growing number of extrajudicial killings as part of the Philippine National Police’s ‘war on drugs’ is deeply alarming,” said Rubio in a statement issued in May.
“This is not the right way to conduct an anti-drug campaign, and our legislation reflects our sincere desire to work with the Philippines to support human rights, expose narcotics networks emanating from mainland China and other countries, and use a public health approach to responsibly counter the dangers that drugs pose to our societies,” he added.
Meanwhile, according to Cardin, “Duterte has unleashed a campaign of extrajudicial killings in his country that has horrified the international community. Mr. Duterte must handle criminal issues through the rule of law and allow drug addicts access to the public health services and treatment they deserve.”
“In the absence of such actions, this legislation is clear in its support for the Filipino people and the importance of our alliance, but also the consequences if Mr. Duterte’s actions continue,” he added.