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US House leader wants Duterte barred from White House

The chairman of the human rights commission of the US Congress on Thursday said that he would lead the protest against President Rodrigo Duterte if he goes to the White House upon the invitation of US President Donald Trump.

In his opening statement during the Tom Lanston Commission's hearing on Duterte's war on drugs, Massachusetts Representative Jim McGovern said Duterte did not seem to have a very high regard for human rights.

"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, a co-chair of the human rights commission.

"President Duterte by all accounts seems to not have a high regard for human rights," he added.

"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," McGovern said.

"Because again we ought to be on the side of advocating for human rights not explaining them away," he added.

McGovern also made reference to the ongoing conflict in the southern Philippines, calling it "badly-managed."

Duterte has declared a 60-day martial law in Mindanao and is asking Congress to extend it for another five months.

Trump in April invited Duterte to Washington in a "friendly" call one Saturday night, in which the leaders discussed the "threat" of North Korea, the White House said.

"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 statement said.

The leaders also "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 said.

Towards the end of the hearing that lasted more than two hours, McGovern said Duterte should expected protests if he decides to visit the United States.

"If in fact if he comes here, he can expect to be greeted with a large number of protesters including yours truly," he said.

"We will continue to press the administration not to welcome President Duterte to the United States," he added. —NB/BAP, GMA News