VERA FILES FACT CHECK: Human rights violations were publicly mentioned in ASEAN, contrary to Duterte’s claim

Read this fact check in Filipino

President Rodrigo Duterte claimed no one during the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit asked him in public about human rights violations, mere minutes after dodging a question regarding a public statement by another world leader about human rights violations.

STATEMENT

At the close of the 31st ASEAN Summit in Manila Nov. 14, Duterte was asked to comment on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s statement that concerns about human rights violations were raised in their brief chat.

Duterte dodged the question, rambled about the Philippines supposedly being a narco-politics state among others, returned to the subject in response to another question, and said:

“Nobody ever mentioned about human rights violation. No one was ready to ask it either private or public. We were… The Canadians were talking about aid, assistance.”

Source: Press Conference of President Rodrigo Duterte following the Closing Ceremonies of the 31st ASEAN Summit , Nov. 14, Pasay City, watch from 52:35 to 52:58

FACT

Trudeau, earlier the same day, in public, told reporters:

“But I also mentioned human rights, the rule of law, and specifically extrajudicial killings as being an issue that Canada is concerned with.”

Source: Press Briefing of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nov. 14, 2017, watch from 09:39 to 09:50

During the same briefing, Trudeau, again in public, also said:

“As I mentioned to President Duterte, we're concerned with human rights, with the extrajudicial killings, impress upon him the need for respect for the rule of law, and as always, offered Canada's support and help as a friend to help move forward on what is the real challenge.”

Source: Press Briefing of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Nov. 14, 2017, watch from 34:52 to 35:16

BACKSTORY

Joint statements by both the United States and the Philippines, and the U.S. and ASEAN, also refer to human rights, without explicitly mentioning violations.

The statement outlining the outcomes of Duterte’s Nov. 13 meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump, reads:

“The two sides underscored that human rights and the dignity of human life are essential, and agreed to continue mainstreaming the human rights agenda in their national programs to promote the welfare of all sectors including the most vulnerable groups.”

Source: Philippines-US Joint Statement

Meanwhile, the ASEAN-U.S. joint statement, released to mark 40 years of diplomatic relations, reads:

“We are committed to ensuring opportunities for all of our peoples, through strengthening democracy, enhancing good governance and the rule of law, promoting and protecting human rights and fundamental freedoms, combating corruption and encouraging the promotion of tolerance and moderation.”

Source: Joint Statement of the ASEAN-U.S. Commemorative Summit on the 40th Anniversary of the ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Relations

Sources:

Joint Statement of the ASEAN-U.S. Commemorative Summit on the 40th Anniversary of the ASEAN-U.S. Dialogue Relations

Philippines-US Joint Statement

Press Briefing of Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau

(Guided by the code of principles of the International Fact-Checking Network at Poynter, VERA Files tracks the false claims, flip-flops, misleading statements of public officials and figures, and debunks them with factual evidence. Find out more about this initiative.)

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