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Filipino senators react to US Congress on Duterte visit

FILIPINO SENATORS REACT TO US CONGRESS ON DUTERTE VISIT

Supporters of President Rodrigo Duterte on Friday reacted angrily to complaints in the U.S. Congress over his human rights record, local media reported.

During a congressional hearing on Thursday, lawmaker James McGovern threatened to lead a protest should Duterte take up U.S. President Donald Trump's invitation to the White House.

Fellow lawmaker Jackie Speier, whose California district is home to a large Filipino community, said Duterte's "abuses" should be condemned by Trump and Congress.

"So what?" Vicente Sotto III, a Philippine senator, said in a text message, according to GMA News. "I don't think the president is interested in going to the White House anyway."

Aquilino Pimentel III, another pro-Duterte lawmaker, warned U.S. politicians "not to jump to conclusions" while Sherwin Gatchalian called McGovern's statement "unfounded and ignorant".

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the hearing would not affect U.S.-Philippine ties.

"We respect the views of the commission and we greatly value the support that the United States has given us and continue to give our country as we address our important economic and social development objectives," he said.

Meanwhile, four EU lawmakers visiting the Philippines spoke of their concern over the "recent deterioration" of human rights in the country.

"While welcoming the government's policy to battle the problem of illegal drugs… the delegation… expressed its concern about the high number of extrajudicial killings in the context of the war against drugs and the possible extension of martial law," they said in a statement quoted by ABS-CBN News.

European lawmakers also voiced worries over proposals to lower the age of criminal responsibility from 15 to nine years and restore the death penalty.

Since taking office in June last year, Duterte has waged a "war on drugs" that has led to the deaths of more than 7,000 people, according to Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Many of the killings have been attributed to the police, who HRW said falsified evidence to justify unlawful killings.

Duterte has also imposed martial law across the southern island of Mindanao following an attack by terrorists on Marawi City in May.

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