US Congressman James McGovern: If Duterte visits, he can expect many protesters, including myself

July 21, 2017 - 12:11 AM
US Rep James McGovern
U.S. Congressman James McGovern, in a screenshot from a video by the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission, which held an inquiry into the Philippines' war on drugs.

(UPDATE – 6:54 a.m.) United States Congressman James McGovern (Dem), speaking at a congressional hearing into the war on drugs in the Philippines, said President Rodrigo Duterte can expect many protesters if he should visit the U.S. upon the invitation of U.S. President Donald Trump.

McGovern is the co-chair of the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission at the U.S. House of Representatives, which on Thursday morning (Thursday evening PH time) conducted a legislative inquiry into the human rights consequences, specifically, of the war on drugs.

He remarked that the Trump administration made a mistake in inviting Duterte to the White House.

McGovern then went on to say that he himself would join the protest should Duterte step on U.S. soil, adding that the latter’s values does not align with those of Americans.

iDEFEND spokesperson Ellecer Carlos, Amnesty International senior crisis adviser Matthew Wells, and Human Rights Watch Asia deputy director Phelim Kine were present at the hearing to brief the legislators on the human rights situation in the Philippines.

Carlos reported that 12,000 people had been killed in the Philippines since the Duterte administration started in June 30, 2016, including at least 32 children.

He added that human life had become cheap in the Philippines, with people becoming dehumanized and the youth learning the wrong values. He said that even the most law-abiding policemen had been transformed into butchers.

Carlos appealed to the American public, as well as to Filipino-Americans, to come forward and “help break the silence” on the matter.

For his part, Wells said their investigations indicated that police officers had received under-the-table payments for “encounters” where alleged drug offenders were killed.

He added that there was sufficient evidence to demonstrate that authorities at the highest levels of government had effectively issued a license to kill.

The fact that the targets were from the poorest segments of society made the killings even more disgusting, Wells said.

Kine sounded the alarm on the “human rights calamity” happening in the Philippines: Thousands were being slaughtered with “zero accountability” from the government.

In response, McGovern said the three had made a “compelling case.”

He called the human rights situation in the Philippines “appalling and unacceptable.”

“We need to be more engaged on this issue,” he said.

McGovern promised to work with the U.S. Senate and introduce relevant legislation, as well as to press the U.S. administration to not welcome Duterte to the U.S.

Also presented at the hearing was a statement by Efren Morillo, the lone survivor of five men who were shot by police in an alleged execution during a “tokhang” operation in Payatas, Quezon City last year.

In February, Morillo and the families of the four slain men filed a petition for the issuance of a writ of amparo with the Supreme Court, the first successful legal challenge against the Duterte administration’s anti-drug policy.

Criminal charges have also been filed against the policemen involved.

Morillo’s statement was prepared by the Center for International Law, which serves as his counsel.