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The majority whip of the US Senate Richard “Dick” Durbin (D-IL) on Thursday (Wednesday in Washington, DC) told Secretary of State Teodoro Locsin Jr “exclusion of the country’s human rights record.

Durbin and Locsin met virtually to discuss US-Filipino cooperation issues and ongoing detention Senator Leila de Lima, a staunch critic of President Duterte, to clarify. Locsin is still in the United States after attending the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) and the commemoration of the 70th anniversary of the mutual defense treaty between the two countries.

During its meeting with Locsin, the senior Illinois lawmaker raised several human rights concerns among Duterte, including the controversial extrajudicial killings related to drugs, the harassment of journalists like Maria Ressa, and the detention of opponents like De Lima.

“I reassured Filipino Foreign Minister Locsin and Ambassador (Jose) Romualdez that the United States recognizes the importance of working with the Philippines to strengthen security in the region, but not to the detriment of the country’s human rights record,” Durbin said in one statement posted online.

The Democratic Senator noted that Filipino community leaders from his home state of Illinois remain “troubled” by Duterte’s actions, including the detention of human rights defender De Lima, the raid on the free press and extrajudicial killings.

In July, Durbin and 10 other Senate Democrats sent a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken expressing their concern about the human rights situation in the Philippines.

The US Senators also asked about the Biden’s strategy -Administration to address the Duterte government’s violations.

Last year Senators Ed Markey (D-MA), Durbin, and others passed Senate Resolution 142, in which they criticized the Duterte administration’s “troubling human rights record” and called for De Lima’s release.

On June 18th of this year, US MP Susan Wild (D-Pa) reintroduced the Philippine Human Rights Act (PHRA) in the House of Representatives, which aims to block US funds for police or military aid to the Philippines, including equipment and Training until human rights conditions are met.

Ref: https://mb.com.ph