Lacson, Gordon want Duterte to accept Trump’s invitation to Las Vegas summit
MANILA, Philippines — At least two senators want to see President Rodrigo Duterte accepting the invitation of U.S. President Donald Trump to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) summit in Las Vegas.
According to Senator Panfilo Lacson, Duterte’s attendance in the summit could be an opportunity to clarify issues on the human rights situation in the Philippines and the controversial U.S. entry ban against officials proven to be behind Senator Leila de Lima’s imprisonment.
“Being an active and prominent member of the (Asean), the Philippines must maintain its status in the international community,” Lacson told reporters in a message Wednesday.
“(The President’s) presence in the U.S. (Asean) summit can also serve an opportunity to clarify whatever issues are being raised especially on human rights and the administration’s anti-illegal drugs campaign as well as the country’s judicial system and due process brought about by the resolution filed by some U.S. senators in relation to the Magnitsky Act,” he pointed out.
Trump formally invited Duterte, and other Asean leaders, in a summit between the regional bloc and the U.S. in March.
Trump’s invitation follows a resolution recently passed by the U.S. Senate which calls on the Philippine government to immediately release De Lima and asked Trump to impose sanctions provided under the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on government officials proven to have “orchestrated” her imprisonment.
The Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act authorizes the U.S. to impose sanctions—including denial of travel visas and the freezing and forfeiture of U.S. assets—to foreigners proven to have committed human rights violations or acts of significant corruption.
Similar sanctions were sought against De Lima’s accusers and jailers in an amendment earlier introduced by U.S. Senators Richard Durbin and Patrick Leahy to the 2020 State and Foreign Operations Appropriations Bill.
That amendment was included in the 2020 national budget of the U.S., which Trump signed in December last year.
“Since he (Duterte) was officially invited by Pres. Trump, the President will be accorded the necessary diplomatic immunity and courtesy befitting a head of state, so there should be no apprehension on how he will be treated while in the U.S. territory,” Lacson went on.
For his part, Senator Richard Gordon said that while it is Duterte’s prerogative whether or not he would accept Trump’s invitation, he noted that accepting the invitation will benefit the relations of the two countries.
“That is his prerogative. Certainly, when a nation as big as America or China or Russia invites, you should go. Because it’s always good to…know each other very well, it would be good for the understanding of each other,” Gordon said.
Trump first invited Duterte to visit Washington in 2017, but Duterte declined the invitation.
Edited by MUF
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