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Ernst Statement on President-elect Trump’s White House Invitation to Philippines President Duterte

WASHINGTON, D.C. –  U.S. Senator Joni Ernst (R-IA) today issued the following statement in response to reports that President-elect Donald Trump has invited Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte to the White House for a meeting next year:

“I have urged President Obama to focus on the rise of ISIS in Southeast Asia and am optimistic that President-elect Trump will work with President Duterte to stop the clearly growing threat in the region. 

“It is my hope that fighting ISIS in Southeast Asia will be a main point of discussion as terrorist activity continues to increase. Just this week we have witnessed an attempted bombing near the U.S. Embassy in Manila, and a terrorist attack on President Duterte’s advance security team in the southern Philippines; both of which appear to have been carried out by Islamic extremist groups affiliated with ISIS and add to the lengthy list of ISIS linked attacks in the region.

“Continuing bilateral military training exercises with the Philippines and ensuring our long standing military relationship stays strong will be a key part to success in the region. The southern Philippines was a critical foothold for al Qaeda linked groups early in the Global War on Terror, and it is a place U.S. Special Forces worked hand in hand with the Philippine Government to fight terrorism. It is clear now that ISIS is attempting to take root in this region, and we cannot underestimate their rise in Southeast Asia as President Obama’s administration did in the Middle East.” 

Senator Ernst’s statement today follows her efforts to call attention to the alarming rise of ISIS in Asia:

  • On August 23, 2016, Senator Ernst penned a column in Time warning of the growing threat of ISIS in Asia.
  • On September 1, 2016, Senator Ernst urged President Obama ahead of his trip to the Philippines to discuss the rise of ISIS with President Duterte, and consider solutions to counter it.
  • On September 22, 2016, Senator Ernst pressed Department of Defense Secretary Ash Carter and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford on the need for a comprehensive plan to counter the dangerous actions of ISIS in Asia.
  • On September 27, 2016, Senator Ernst questioned Director of the National Counterterrorism Center Nicholas Rasmussen, Director of the FBI James Comey, and Department of Homeland Security Director Jeh Johnson on the impact of the rise of ISIS in Asia on our national security.
  • On October 1, 2016, following the U.S./ASEAN meeting, Senator Ernst argued that more progress needed to be made in putting forth a strategy to counter ISIS’ expansion in Asia.