Asian club replete with strongmen welcomes ‘Duterte Harry’

VIENTIANE, Laos (AP) — The Philippine president is making waves at his first summit of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations where he joins a diverse cast of leaders, including some who have found themselves in the crosshairs of human rights watchdogs.

Rodrigo Duterte would fit right in, critics say, and even steal the show.

As president, Duterte brings a long-blemished  rights record into the 10-nation ASEAN bloc, which has struggled with internal strife due to its unwieldy collective of dictatorships, authoritarian states, a monarchy and fledgling democracies.

Phelim Kine of New York-based Human Rights Watch says for most ASEAN leaders, Duterte represents a throwback to an uglier and more brutal form of Asian state, which taints ASEAN efforts to market itself as an increasingly progressive, modernizing trade block with a focus on trade.

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