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Harry Roque’s remark a hoax? Duterte, Trump say human rights ‘essential’

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Was Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque sitting in the proverbial noodle house during the bilateral talks of President Rodrigo Duterte and United States President Donald Trump?

Contrary to Roque’s comment that human rights “was not brought up” during the talks, a joint statement released by both the Philippines and the US confirmed that the two leaders talked about it.

“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,” said the joint statement released Tuesday (November 14).

Duterte and Trump also agreed “to share best practices in the areas of prevention, enforcement, including capacity-building and transparency in investigations and rehabilitation,” according to the joint statement.

Questions arose on whether the issue of human rights was brought up during Duterte and Trump’s bilateral talks after Roque said it wasn’t, but White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders said it “briefly came up.”

Roque later said Sanders’ comment was “fair” in so far as Duterte “described the war versus drugs as promoting” human rights.

In addition to discussing human rights, the joint statement said Duterte and Trump “decided to further deepen the extensive US-Philippine economic relationship” and condemned North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons.