Mao Zedong ruled China from the time the Communist party took over until he died in 1976 at  82 without ever setting foot on the USA or on any foreign soil. Rodrigo Roa Duterte has been in office since 2016 and has become the most frequently and widely traveled Filipino president in history. In three years, he has visited China more often and more frequently than any other  head of state. But he has not once attempted to visit the United States.

Part of the reason for this is his announced “independent foreign policy” characterized by “separation” from the US, in order to pivot to China and Russia, with whom he has tried to build increased economic and military cooperation as he embarked a scurrilous attack on Western personalities such as former US president Barack Obama, former US ambassador Philip Goldberg, and former UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon, and other “sons of bitches,” for calling attention to his drug killings as violations of human rights.

In Donald Trump DU30 saw an apparent or likely “soul-mate,” and it is safe to assume his respect for the American President has  skyrocketed since he ordered a drone attack that killed Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps in Baghdad. Trump had earlier invited  DU30 to visit him in Washington, D.C. or New York, so they could bond together as fellow insurgents. DU30 neither accepted nor rejected this invitation, but his live-in partner Honeylet Avanceña has graced at least one social function at Trump Towers in New York.

Now a fresh invitation has been issued to DU30 to join the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) leaders in a special summit meeting with Trump in Las Vegas this March. This is the city that has made Manny Pacquiao, the Filipino senator-boxer and die-hard DU30 supporter, super-rich and world famous; with or without a meeting with Trump, its gorgeous lights and entertainment alone are enough to attract a world traveler to visit.  Even Rizal, our national hero, was believed to have come to Nevada when it was still a desert. Still it is a big question whether DU30 will — or should — accept the invitation or not.

One possible concern is the recent passage of a US Senate resolution authored by Democrat Sen. Edward Markey of Massachusetts, Marco Rubio (Florida), Richard Durbin (Illinois), Marsha Blackburn (Tennessee) and Chris Coons (Delaware) and invoking the provisions of the Global Magnitsky Human Rights Accountability Act on the DU30 government for its prolonged “wrongful” detention of Sen. Leila de Lima and the extrajudicial killings in the war on drugs. The resolution calls on Trump to impose travel restrictions to the US and freeze bank accounts and other assets in the US of persons involved in the de Lima’s detention and responsible for the drug killing of thousands.

The US law, signed by President Obama in 2012, is named after a Russian lawyer and auditor, Sergei Magnitsky, who uncovered massive tax fraud that implicated Russian officials. In 2008, he was jailed, beaten and denied medical treatment during his detention. He died one year later before he could be released. The law mandates the State and Treasury departments to impose sanctions on offending foreign personalities; in 2016, it was expanded to empower the US President to impose those sanctions.

A Senate chairman or ranking member can now write Trump to implement the resolution, and he will have 120 days to determine whether the individual/individuals recommended for sanctions are guilty of human rights violations. The DU30 government has tended to denounce any concern expressed by foreign individuals or agencies over its extrajudicial drug killings as undue and unwelcome interference in its own domestic affairs, and has threatened to ban or arrest foreign officials who try to come to the Philippines on human rights-related missions.

On Jan. 22, the US embassy was reported to have cancelled the US visa of Sen. Roland “Bato” de la Rosa without any explanation. Bato as Philippine National Police chief used to run DU30’s war on drugs under “Operation Tokhang.” He said the embassy did not say why his visa had been cancelled, but told him he could apply again, if he so desires. Is this a sign that the Senate resolution on the Philippines is now in motion?

Teddy Boy Locsin, our tweeting foreign secretary, has dismissed the US Senate resolution as “idiotic,” saying not even a Philippine Senate resolution can end a criminal trial; he says this requires an acquittal, a conviction or a dismissal by demurrer to evidence. The statement is technically correct, but de Lima has been detained without bail for more than 1,000 days on drug-related charges when she was B.S. Aquino 3rd’s secretary of justice and in charge of Bilibid Prison, without any trial. The case has not moved at all.

The clamor for de Lima’s release is coming from far and wide, not only from the US senators but also from the UN Working Group on Arbitrary Detention, the European Parliament, Canadian Parliament, Australian Parliament, Parliamentarians for Global Action, and Inter-Parliamentary Union. The government can still withdraw the charges if it so desires.

The Magnitsky Act may appear to make the US an international gendarme on corruption and human rights, but a number of countries seem to applaud it. Britain has passed its own version of the law, so have Canada, Estonia, Lithuania and Latvia. The European Union foreign ministers were reported to have agreed on their own draft of the same law last December.

As host of the proposed summit, Trump has the burden of assuring DU30, if he really wants him there, of an incident-free visit. It would be good  for the country, the US, the Asean, and even for China, for him to be able to attend. With Trump running for a second term and likely to survive his ongoing Senate impeachment trial, he could benefit from the strongman’s presence. Trump should be able to assure him all the courtesies due a visiting head of state, but it is beyond his power to assure him he won’t be bothered by hostile crowds in public places and by some Democrats calling him out in the Senate. DU30 will have to decide for himself whether he can take any of these.