Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte has launched a brutal war on his own people that has left around 7,000 people dead.
Purportedly a “war on drugs,” an Amnesty International investigation revealed “the police have systematically targeted mostly poor and defenseless people across the country while planting ‘evidence,’ recruiting paid killers, stealing from the people they kill and fabricating official incident reports.”
“This is not a war on drugs, but a war on the poor. Often on the flimsiest of evidence, people accused of using or selling drugs are being killed for cash in an economy of murder,” Amnesty International’s Crisis Response Director Tirana Hassan said.
Trump responded to this vicious campaign by praising Duterte’s efforts and inviting him to the White House. The invitation was extended during a phone call on Saturday, which the White House described as “very friendly.”
We are watching in real time as the American human rights bully pulpit disintegrates into ash. https://t.co/VgVflWoMUf
— Chris Murphy (@ChrisMurphyCT) April 30, 2017
How did a murderous tyrant score praise from Trump and an invite to White House? Let’s follow the money.
The Trump Organization, which Trump still fully owns, licenses its name on a new “a $150 million tower in Manila’s financial district.” These kind of branding deals, which require very little capital or day-to-day work, are among Trump’s most lucrative.
Trump’s Philippine business partner on the deal, Jose E. B. Antonio, was named by Duterte to be a trade envoy to the United States. After his call with Duterte on Saturday, Trump described the “United States-Philippines alliance” as “headed in a very positive direction.”
Ivanka Trump, who now has an official role in the White House, was prominently featured in the marketing for Trump Tower in the Philippines. An article about her involvement, which has been taken offline, said that Ivanka “has played a key role in the brand’s much publicised Trump Tower Century City project, driving the development’s position as a bold luxury statement for Asia and creating what will soon be an iconic landmark on the city’s skyline.”
Trump reportedly extended the invitation to Duterte without consulting the State Department or the National Security Council.
Breaking precedent, Trump has retained ownership over his business empire and visits Trump-branded properties on a weekly basis. He is in regular contact with his sons, who manage day-to-day operations, and receives regular reports on the company’s profitability. He is able to withdraw money from the business at any time.
Trump’s sons also said they would not involve themselves in their father’s presidency, but have taken on prominent roles as White House surrogates.