Worldview

Trump De-emphasizes Human Rights During Visit To Philippines

President Donald Trump shakes hand with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte during the gala dinner marking ASEAN's 50th anniversary in Manila, Philippines, Sunday Nov. 12, 2017. Athit Perawongmetha/Pool Photo via AP

Steve Bynum, Jerome McDonnell

“The relationship appears to be very warm and very friendly,” said a spokesman for Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, on Monday, about the bond between his boss and President Donald Trump. 

The stop in Manila wrapped up Trump’s first official visit to Asia. The two leaders discussed a number of issues, including economic investment and terrorism. They also reportedly shared their mutual dislike for former U.S. President Barack Obama and the media. 

Noticeably, there was little discussion of Duterte’s human rights record. Trump and Duterte both ignored shouted questions from reporters on alleged abuses during Duterte’s administration.

According to Human Rights Watch, “[s]ince taking office [in June 2016]...Duterte has carried out a ‘war on drugs’ that has led to the deaths of over 12,000 Filipinos...mostly urban poor. At least 2,555 of the killings are attributed to the Philippine National Police.” 

One expert thinks Trump’s Asia trip reflects a dangerous lapse in U.S. geopolitical strategy. We’ll discuss Trump’s Asia trip and U.S.-Philippines relations with Alfred McCoy, professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He’s written extensively on U.S. policy and history in the Asia region. His latest book is In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of US Global Power.