What will Trillanes accomplish in meeting with US Senator Marco Rubio?
Senator Antonio Trillanes IV has confirmed that he had a one-on-one meeting with Senator Marco Rubio of the United States during his recent trip to the country.
In a statement released early Friday morning, Trillanes said that he and Rubio talked about enhancing Philippine-United States relations, corruption, and the human rights situation in the country. Rubio, who represents the state of Florida, first broke the news about the meeting last Thursday via Twitter.
“Unlike the officials of the Duterte administration, I presented only factual information,” Trillanes said, in an apparent reference to Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano’s recent interview with the international news outlet Al Jazeera, which has been described as full of factually-challenged statements. “You cannot fool the US government; they know what’s happening in our country,” he added.
Trillanes also clarified that he did not try to stop US President Donald Trump’s scheduled state visit to the Philippines next month in connection to the country’s hosting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations or ASEAN Summit. “These things are carefully planned and cannot be stopped on the mere say-so of a Senator,” he said. It will be Trump and President Rodrigo Duterte’s first chance to meet one-on-one.
Rubio has long expressed interest in the human rights situation in the country. Last May, he teamed-up with Democratic Senator Ben Cardin of Maryland to introduce the Philippines Human Rights Accountability and Counternarcotics Act.
In a joint statement, the two senators explained that their bill seeks to “restrict the exportation of certain defense articles by the United States to the Philippine National Police, support human rights and civil society organizations in the Republic of the Philippines, and report on sources of narcotics entering that country.”
It is not clear though how much influence Rubio has over Trump on issues pertaining to the Philippines. First, Trump has lavished praised for Duterte and his War on Drugs ever since he became president. More importantly, although Trump and Rubio are both members of the Republican Party, the two aren’t exactly close allies.
Rubio was one of Trump’s main challengers during last year’s Republican presidential primaries. The competition between the two eventually became so nasty that Trump and Rubio at one point exchanged insults in a nationally-televised debate. In response to Trump calling him “Little Marco,” Rubio retaliated by referencing the size of Trump’s hands.