Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has said he will never visit Donald Trump in the White House, describing the United States as a “lousy country” after U.S. lawmakers raised concerns over a potential meeting.
Duterte’s remarks were in response to a U.S. Congressman protesting Trump extending an invite to Duterte to visit. “What makes this guy think I will ever go to America?” he said to an audience. “There will never be a time that I will go to America during my term, or even thereafter.”
“I’ve seen America and it’s lousy,” he continued. “It would be good for the U.S. Congress to start with their own investigation of their own violations of the so many civilians killed in the prosecution of the wars in the Middle East.”
On Thursday, the chairman of Congress’s human rights commission, Jim McGovern (D-MA), claimed that he would lead a protest against President Duterte should he be invited to the White House.
“No other country comes to mind where people are assassinated in the streets in the name of fighting drugs and leaders brag about it as a good thing,” said McGovern.
“President Duterte by all accounts seems to not have a high regard for human rights. I certainly believe, very strongly, that a man with the human rights records of President Duterte should not be invited to the White House, and if he comes, I will lead the protest,” he continued. “Because again we ought to be on the side of advocating for human rights not explaining them away,” he added.
Duterte has become a controversial figure since his election last year and is accused of a series of human rights abuses as part of his crackdown on drug trafficking and the Islamic State. Last year, he told a group of business leaders that his presidency would be a “bloody one,” issuing “thousands of pardons a day” to police officers involved in key operations and also vowed to pardon himself for mass murder at the end of his term.
In April, the White House confirmed that Trump had called Duterte to discuss mutual concerns and invited him to the Washington to further develop relations.
“It was a very friendly conversation, in which the two leaders discussed the concerns of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) regarding regional security, including the threat posed by North Korea,” the White House said in a statement, adding that they “discussed the fact that the Philippine government is fighting very hard to rid its country of drugs, a scourge that affects many countries throughout the world.”
“President Trump also invited President Duterte to the White House to discuss the importance of the United States-Philippines alliance, which is now heading in a very positive direction,” the statement continued.
Duterte has previously described Trump as a “realist” and a “pragmatic thinker.” However, he has also declared he is “not a fan of the Americans” and plans to “reorient” foreign policy with the United States, adding that for “for every five Americans, three are idiots.”