Back in late April, it caused a bit of a stir when President Trump called Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and allegedly heaped praise upon him.
That was one of those White House leaks that the administration seemed more concerned over than the fact that our president was making friendly calls to a man considered a murderer by his own people, for his bloody initiative to kill all addicts and drug dealers.
Yes, I’ve long felt drug dealers are the scum of the earth, but I also believe in due process and a right to trial.
Call it my pesky Americanism.
Duterte and his regime don’t have the same sense of justice as I, or most Americans. There’s also the unfortunate fact that my family, like so many in the U.S. has been touched by addiction.
You stress over those loved ones who fall into the grips of the drug epidemic. You worry, you get angry, and quite often, you mourn as if they are already dead, but what you don’t do is wish them to die. That fear is always looming for the families of addicts, but in Duterte’s Philippine, it’s a near-certainty, because it’s government sanctioned.
From The Intercept:
Since Duterte took office in June, Philippine national police and vigilante death squads have embarked on a campaign to slaughter drug users as well as drug dealers. “Hitler massacred three million Jews [sic], now, there’s three million drug addicts. I’d be happy to slaughter them,” he said in September. Last month, he told a group of jobless Filipinos that they should “kill all the drug addicts.” Police have killed over 7,000 people, devastated poor areas of Manila and other cities, and used the drug war as a pretext to murder government officials and community leaders.
And earlier this week, it was announced that Duterte has instituted martial law over the island of Mindanao, as a battle rages between government forces and Islamist rebels.
Also happening this week, the transcript of the call between Trump and Duterte has been released.
Spoiler alert: The content is every bit as embarrassing as those leaks suggested.
“You are a good man,” Trump told Duterte, according to an official transcript of the April 29 call produced by the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs and obtained by The Intercept. “Keep up the good work,” Trump told Duterte. “You are doing an amazing job.”
Trump began the call by telling Duterte, “You don’t sleep much, you’re just like me,” before quickly pivoting to the strongman’s drug war.
“I just wanted to congratulate you because I am hearing of the unbelievable job on the drug problem,” Trump told Duterte at the beginning of their call, according to the document. “Many countries have the problem, we have a problem, but what a great job you are doing and I just wanted to call and tell you that.”
Unbelievable, yes, but I’m not sure murder should be considered a “great job.”
So did Trump just not get that the man was murdering his own people?
On the April 29 call, Trump pointed out to Duterte that his predecessor in the White House had been critical of the rising body count under Duterte’s reign in the Philippines, but that Trump himself gets it. “I understand that, and fully understand that, and I think we had a previous president who did not understand that,” Trump said, “but I understand that and we have spoken about this before.”
Where does your mind have to be that you could possibly “understand” something like that?
When the Obama administration offered some tempered criticism of Duterte’s killing spree, Duterte called the U.S. president the “son of a wh*re” and an “idiot” who “can go to hell.” Speaking in Beijing in October, Duterte said, “America has lost now. I’ve realigned myself in your ideological flow. And maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia. It’s the only way.”
Well, there’s a human rights nightmare, and Trump apparently admires them all.
In the transcript of the call, they also discuss the “unstable” leader of North Korea, Kim Jung Un, and Trump’s new friendship with Chinese President Xi Jinping.
You can read the full transcript of the call here.