In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has asked Congress to extend martial law on the southern island of Mindanao, where government forces have been battling ISIS-allied militants in the city of Marawi. The conflict has killed more than 500 people and displaced over 200,000 since fighting began in May. Meanwhile, in Washington, D.C., a congressional human rights panel heard testimony Thursday from activists who warn Filipino security forces and vigilantes have killed more than 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers since Duterte launched his so-called war on drugs last June. This is Ellecer Carlos of the iDefend human rights coalition.
Ellecer Carlos: “Our daily documentation and monitoring work at the very affected communities confirm, without a shadow of a doubt, that President Duterte and other high officials of the land, having had to find a particular section of Philippine society worthy of elimination, have effectively put in place a de facto social cleansing policy, whereby police and vigilantes are not only encouraged, but rewarded and forced, to commit extrajudicial killings.”
Congressmember James McGovern, a Democrat from Massachusetts, said he was troubled by reports that President Duterte is planning to travel to Washington this fall for talks with President Trump.
Rep. James McGovern: “A man with the human rights record of President Duterte should not be invited to the White House. And if he comes, I will lead the protest, because, again, I mean, we ought to be on the side of advocating for human rights, not explaining them away.”
In April, President Trump called Duterte and invited him to the White House. In the transcript of their conversation leaked by The Intercept, Trump said, “I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem.”