Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Photo: REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
eptember is the month New York commuters dread. Their already packed city becomes even more densely packed with visitors from across the globe. Stretched limousines trailed by black SUVs appear all over Manhattan. September is the month when world leaders and their entourages from countries large and small come a-calling. The United Nations General Assembly is back in session.
Presidents, premieres, sultans, kings, queens, and prime ministers of the 190-plus sovereign countries that make up the UN meet to give speeches, as well as listen to what other leaders have to say.
As expected, in this year’s gathering, Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte was no where to be found. During the plenary, when leaders address the world body to tout their successes in their home countries, Duterte instead just sent an emissary to say something on his behalf.
Why the reticence on Duterte’s part? Is he not proud of what he has accomplished so far? His timetable may have been pushed back “slightly” (from 3 months to 2-plus years), but there is no denying that he has “eliminated” or removed thousands of supposed drug addicts from the streets. According to Human Rights Watch’s World Report 2018, which was published back in January, 2018, “more than 12,000 drug suspects” have been killed in Duterte’s “drug war.”
Isn’t Duterte proud of his accomplishments? By all accounts, he is doing what he promised to do during his campaign. So why not go before the General Assembly and tell the world the “great news?” Is Duterte just so exceedingly humble that he is worried others might think he would be bragging in front of the global assembly? After all, look what happened to U.S. President Donald Trump. He was laughed at for his excessive braggadocio during his speech.
Or could it be that Duterte is simply scared and embarrassed to face the world because of what he has done … and continues to do. Imagine if was announced that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was scheduled to give a speech at the UN. Would many world leaders attend? Maybe China’s Xi Jin Ping would, but who else? And supposing many did attend. Would they be there just to boo him and shout him down? If so, Duterte might never get to finish his speech—or perhaps even get it started.
And consider this as well: if Duterte decided to attend the General Assembly, what extra security precautions would the U.S. and the city of New York have to put in place just for him? For sure there would be large numbers of demonstrators everywhere he went—not to mention a few who would like to get their hands on one they see as a mass-murdering thug. Security would have to be heightened significantly just to protect Duterte.
Then there are all those human rights organizations around the globe—including the UN’s own United Nations Commission on Human Rights (UNCHR); will these organizations try to have Duterte arrested or detained to stand trial for his alleged "crimes against humanity?" The United States will then be placed in the unprecedented as well as embarrassing position of detaining a visiting head of state.
It would not be surprising, that given the many complications of Duterte’s presence on U.S. soil, the State Department may have sent him a letter discreetly telling the Philippine president to just stay away.
Much of this is conjecture on our part, but we’d like to hear what you think—this includes the Duterte trolls who either believe their idol-in-chief can do no wrong, or are paid to say so all over the internet. Published 10/3/2018