WASHINGTON — U.S. Senator Ben Cardin (D-Md.), Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, released the following statement Wednesday after he met with the acting foreign secretary of the Philippines, Enrique Gonzales Manalo:
“I appreciated the opportunity to meet with Foreign Secretary Manalo, particularly at a time when relations between our two countries are strained because of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s inhumane campaign of the extrajudicial killing of his own citizens, his inflammatory rhetoric, and his statement about altering his regional relationships and strategy.
“In light of Mr. Duterte’s actions, I informed the Foreign Secretary of my plan to introduce bipartisan legislation tomorrow to restrict the exportation of certain defense articles to the Philippine National Police and to support efforts to develop a public health approach to substance abuse in the Philippines. Additionally, I told Mr. Manalo my bill would help strengthen civil society while also supporting other important elements of our alliance. I encouraged Mr. Manalo to relay to his president that it is the U.S. Congress’ expectation that criminal issues are handled through the rule of law, and that drug addicts get the treatment they deserve.
“I was also alarmed to read in The Washington Post this morning that until days ago, the voices and images of President Trump and his daughter, Ivanka, were being used to promote Trump Organization property in the Philippines. That they were recorded years ago does not matter – what matters is that the President’s actions and interests continue to raise questions as to the divisions of his business interests and the office of the President.
“The Philippines is one of the United States’ oldest friends and allies in East Asia. We have historic, diplomatic, cultural, and economic ties that bind us and of which I am confident will sustain us through the tenures of Presidents Trump and Duterte. As Ranking Member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, I remain focused on our bilateral relationship and the health, well-being, and fundamental human rights of the Filipino people.”