President Trump invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House during a phone call described as “very friendly” (though it reportedly surprised and angered many, including those within his own administration). It’s an invitation that Duterte has not yet accepted.
Rodrigo Duterte was born on March 28, 1945. According to the Philippine Embassy’s website, his mother was a public school teacher, and his father eventually went on to become the governor of the then-unified province of Davao.
Duterte first made his mark in 1988, when he was became the mayor of Davao City. Crime dramatically decreased during his 22 years in office, but his violent tactics drew criticism from human rights groups and the international community. Duterte allegedly sanctioned extrajudicial killings by vigilante groups that allegedly murdered more than 1,000 people, including 132 children.
In late 2015, Duterte announced his run for president. Throughout his candidacy, he was the subject of international headlines not only because of his violent record in Davao City, but also for his crass and inflammatory statements.
But that didn’t stop him from getting elected and assuming office in June 2016. His controversial comments didn’t stop then, either. In September, President Obama canceled a meeting with him after he called Obama a “son of a whore.” The two later briefly spoke, but in October Duterte called for a “separation” from the U.S. In December, he bragged about once throwing someone out of a helicopter.
His national anti-drug campaign has now killed more than 7,000 people. When discussing his bloody war on drugs in September, he compared his actions to Adolf Hitler’s during the Holocaust.
The White House has acknowledged Duterte’s human rights abuses while saying a meeting would be in “the national interest of the United States” with regard to North Korea. Whether Duterte will accept Trump’s invitation remains to be seen.