May 24, 2017

As Newly Released Transcript Details Trump Praise for Philippines President Duterte, Senator Van Hollen Markey Calls on President Trump to Delay Visit of Philippine Leader, Denounce Human Rights Abuses

With release of a transcript of an April telephone call between President Donald Trump and Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte during which President Trump praised his Philippine counterpart for doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem", U.S. Senator Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) joined Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass) and a group of Democratic Senators in calling on President Trump to denounce President Duterte's murderous anti-drug campaign and delay any visit from the Filipino leader until there are demonstrated improvements in his government's human rights record. It is reported that during the phone call President Trump invited President Duterte to visit the White House.

President Duterte's so-called "War on Drugs" appears to be little more than an excuse for a brutal campaign of extrajudicial murders that has resulted in the deaths of at least 8,000 Filipino drug users and low-level drug dealers. In addition to directing police forces to carry out these killings, President Duterte has encouraged vigilantes, many of whom struggle with drug addiction themselves, to execute people found using illegal drugs. According to news reports on the telephone call transcript, when speaking about substance abuse in the United States, President Trump said, "Many countries have the problem, we have the problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that."

"Inviting President Duterte to the White House while this murderous campaign continues could be interpreted as an endorsement of his government's gross human rights abuses," write the senators. "Rather than hosting President Duterte at this time, we encourage you to delay his visit until there are demonstrated improvements in his government's human rights record. In particular, Duterte must stop this campaign of murder and adopt a comprehensive approach to drug addiction that centers on treatment."

A copy of the letter can be found HERE.

Other Senators signing the letter include Benjamin Cardin (D-Md.), Tim Kaine (D-Va.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Ron Wyden (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Al Franken (D-Minn.), and Kirsten Gilibrand (D-N.Y.).