Co-Chairs Urge President Trump to Share U.S. Concerns over Philippine Extra-Judicial Killings
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Congressmen Randy Hultgren and James P. McGovern, Co-Chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, have released a letter sent to President Donald J. Trump urging him to use his upcoming meeting with Philippines’ President Duterte as an opportunity to express the United States’ profound concern over reported extra-judicial killings associated with the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.” The letter notes that a Commission hearing earlier this year included strong evidence that police have killed 7,000 alleged drug dealers and users without charges or trial since the Philippine government launched its campaign against illicit drugs. The Co-Chairs request that just as the President will reaffirm to President Duterte the United States’ unwavering commitment to the Philippines, he should also reaffirm the United States' commitments to fundamental human rights, including due process, and the rule of law.
The full text of the letter is available here and below.
Dear President Trump:
During your upcoming visit to the Philippines for meetings with regional leaders at the ASEAN summit in Manila, including Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, we urge you to impress upon President Duterte the United States’ profound concern over reported extra-judicial killings associated with the Philippine government’s “war on drugs.”
We certainly recognize the strategic importance of maintaining our strong partnership with the Philippines, especially amid rising tensions in the region over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and Chinese territorial sovereignty issues involving the South China Sea. At the same time, we believe the United States must remain a champion of human rights, due process, and the rule of law.
According to the Country Report on Human Rights Practices for 2016 by the Department of State, there has been a significant increase in the number of extra-judicial killings in the Philippines. The United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights referred to the recent increase as an “appalling epidemic.” At a Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission hearing earlier this year, we were distressed to learn that police have killed 7,000 alleged drug dealers and users without charges or trial since the Philippine government launched its campaign against illicit drugs.
Human rights are fundamental. Every government should afford their citizens the protection and due process of the law. The Philippines is a valuable ally of the United States and major recipient of U.S. aid. For these reasons, it is paramount that human rights violations not be the consequences of the Philippines’ “war on drugs.” It is the obligation of the United States to advocate for and defend those human rights as set forth in the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights.
As co-chairs of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, we ask that you raise these concerns in your talks with President Duterte even as you reaffirm the United States’ unwavering commitment to and friendship with the Philippines.
Member of Congress Member of Congress
Co-Chairman, TLHRC Co-Chairman, TLHRC