New York Times slams White House invitation for 'despot' Duterte
MANILA, Philippines – A week after issuing an editorial branding President Rodrigo Duterte a "man who must be stopped" over his drug war, the New York Times (NYT) has again featured the Philippine leader in its latest editorial, this time criticizing US President Donald Trump's invitation for Duterte to visit the White House.
The NYT editorial board, in its May 1 editorial titled "Donald Trump Embraces Another Despot," suggested that Trump's decision to invite Duterte to the White House goes against American values respecting human rights and the rule of law.
"During the last administration, Mr. Duterte disrespected President Barack Obama by calling him the 'son of a whore' and threatened to abandon his country's alliance with the United States for one with China. This is obviously not a man who should be welcomed to the White House," the editorial read.
The NYT added that Trump's invitation suggested his "fondness for other strongman leaders who, like him, chafe at governmental checks and balances."
"Mr. Trump reportedly admires Mr. Duterte's aggressive rhetoric about fighting the Islamic State and cracking down on drugs. He has praised President Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Turkey for winning a disputed referendum that will give him vastly more power and invited him to the White House on May 16. He has already given a friendly reception to President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi of Egypt, who was barred from the White House after staging a coup four years ago and arresting thousands of political opponents."
"He has replaced harsh criticism of China with praise for President Xi Jinping, and in the past displayed a bizarre affection for Russia's Vladimir Putin," the NYT said.
While noting that US presidents must work with all kinds of foreign leaders for the national interest, the NYT said Trump erodes America's reputation "when he uncritically embraces those who show the least regard for human rights, rule of law and democracy."
US Senator Benjamin Cardin has also demanded that Trump "immediately rescind" his invitation to Duterte, in light of alleged human rights abuses in the Philippines' war on drugs.
But Philippine Presidential Spokesman Ernesto Abella on Tuesday, May 2, dismissed the criticism, saying that Trump thinks Duterte is "doing a great job."
Duterte himself said he could not yet confirm if he could accept Trump's invitation any time soon since he has other foreign trips scheduled, including trips to Russia and Israel. – Rappler.com
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