Is It Bad For Philippines's President To Kill 6,000 People? Trump's SecState Just Doesn't Know!
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Donald Trump's nominee for secretary of State, ExxonMobil CEO Rex Tillerson, said Wednesday during his confirmation hearing that he would need to study up a little bit before deciding whether there are any human rights problems in the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte has overseen the extrajudicial killings of about 6,000 people in his very literal war on drugs. Or at least on anyone suspected of selling, using, or being remotely associated with drugs. In response to questions from recent spine transplant recipient Sen. Marco Rubio, Tillerson had a lot of trouble saying whether a campaign of murder was really all that bad if an ally does it.
Rubio responded by pointing out that Tillerson actually already has access to the information, given that it was published in an article in the Los Angeles Times and that Duterte was quoted for the piece. Tillerson stuck to his defense, claiming he could not "rely solely on media reports." However, he did note that he knows the Philippines is a U.S. ally, and "we need to make sure they stay an ally."
Oh Hi Donald Trump, Here Are Some Things To Know About Your New Best Pal, Murdering Fascist Man Duterte
Is Donald Trump America's Duterte, or is Rodrigo Duterte the Philippines' Trump?
Human rights organizations including Amnesty International have condemned Tillerson for his unwillingness to acknowledge human rights violations in his hearings, citing his answers on government abuses by the Philippines, Russia, Saudi Arabia, and other countries; most of those answers were variations on "I'd need more information" before he could really say whether Russian bombing of hospitals in Syria is a war crime or not. Thursday's Rachel Maddow Show included a feature on the lavish lifestyle enjoyed by the ruling family of Equatorial Guinea, one of the poorest nations in the world, where enormous wealth from ExxonMobil contracts has gone to the country's rulers, but 3/4 of the population lives below the poverty line:
In his Senate testimony, Tillerson wasn't too worried about wealth disparities in Equatorial Guinea, as Oregon Sen. Jeff Merkley pointed out in an interview with NPR:
I asked him about the treatment that Exxon had done in the country of Equatorial Guinea, in which they had channeled enormous amounts of money to the president's family instead of back to the people of the country. And the State Department has reported on this. And it was a perfect opportunity for him to be able to step in and make the case that we need to have a much stronger set of strategies for dealing with corruption in such nations. [...]
He said, we've been investigated, and we haven't been charged. We haven't been convicted. And yet he framed that after he had talked about the need for moral clarity, and there's so much more than just winning a lawsuit in terms of managing foreign policy.
Merkley isn't planning on voting to confirm Tillerson; Rubio, who was very tough on Tillerson during the hearings, won't say how he intends to vote.
And The Trump administration's new pal Duterte? He's spent this week threatening mayors and other municipal officials from around the Philippines with death if he decides they're involved with the drug trade, busing in groups of mayors for meetings in which he told the mayors, "Repent, resign or die." Duterte waved around a thick binder which he said was a list of names of local officials involved in drugs. He reportedly said he'd grant amnesty to any local police chief who killed a mayor on the list.
On Monday, prior to Wednesday's meetings, Duterte had said,
I will talk to them. With the thick document I showed you, I will tell them, "Look for your name there, mayor, you son of a bitch. If your name is there, you will have a problem. I will really kill you."
One of the mayors who attended the meetings Wednesday told the Philippines Inquirer, "He said the list was validated but we were not shown the list and we do not know how we can check if we were mistakenly included. We might be shot by our police chief[.]" Hey, that's how get-tough justice goes!
The President of the Philippines seems determined to apply Godwin's Law to himself.
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