Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Palace: Duterte may be persuaded to go to US

President Duterte might still reconsider his stance of not going to the United States if he chooses to join other Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) leaders who will accept US President Trump’s invitation for a special summit in Las Vegas in March. “Yes, because there is a US-ASEAN special summit. The invitation to all ASEAN leaders? I haven’t talked to him… But given this is an ASEAN meeting of leaders, the President might be persuaded to attend. I will ask him later,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said yesterday. Asked if Duterte and other members of his delegation might be barred entry under the Magnitsky Act, Panelo expressed belief this won’t be applied since the invitation came from the US leader himself. The Magnitsky Act is an American law which allows Washington to punish foreign officials implicated in “significant corruption or gross violations of human rights” in any part of the world. Under the law, the US President shall decide on requests to impose sanctions on human rights violators and corrupt foreigners within 120 days. Trump also signed in December a pending measure which includes a reference to a Senate committee report that instructs US State Secretary Mike Pompeo to ban foreign officials who have had a hand in the “wrongful imprisonment” of Sen. Leila de Lima from entering the US. Panelo quoted Philippine Ambassador to the US Jose Manuel Romualdez as saying that the executive branch will still have the prerogative to decide on whether the provision will be implemented.

“The fact alone that it was President Trump who made the invitation, that contradicts already the position of the Senate,” Panelo said.