WORLD Philippines 'concerned' as US intelligence tags Duterte a threat to democracy

WORLD

Philippines 'concerned' as US intelligence tags Duterte a threat to democracy

Reuters

06:23, February 22, 2018

DuterteConcerned.PNG

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, wearing a military uniform, gestures as he attends the 67th founding anniversary of the First Scout Ranger regiment in San Miguel town, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines November 24, 2017. Photo: Reuters/Romeo Ranoco 

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is not an autocrat and is taking seriously a report by the US intelligence community that names the firebrand leader among the threats to democracy in Southeast Asia, his spokesman said on Wednesday.

The report, produced by the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, places Duterte alongside Cambodia’s Hun Sen, the Rohingya crisis and Thailand’s military-backed constitution as impediments to democracy.

“We view this declaration from no less than the intelligence department of the United States with some concern,” presidential spokesman Harry Roque told DZMM radio.

Democracy and human rights in many Southeast Asian nations will remain fragile in 2018 because of autocratic tendencies, rampant corruption and cronyism, the US intelligence community said in its Worldwide Threat Assessment report of Feb. 13.

“Duterte has suggested he could suspend the constitution, declare a ‘revolutionary government’, and impose nationwide martial law,” it said.

Roque dismissed that assessment.

“For one, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte is no autocrat or has autocratic tendencies. He adheres to the rule of law and remains loyal to the constitution,” Roque said in a statement.

There is no revolutionary government or nationwide martial law, which US intelligence officials say Duterte might impose, he added.

Duterte has publicly made such threats on several occasions, however. Philippine lawmakers in December approved a year-long extension of martial rule in the volatile southern region of Mindanao to suppress threats such as communist insurgents and Islamist militants.

This is not the first time the United States has shown concern about Duterte, who is notorious for his defiance of international pressure. Duterte was infuriated by expressions of concern by former President Barack Obama’s administration about drug-war killings in the Philippines.

Obama’s successor, Donald Trump, praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem,” but refrained from expressing concern about the crackdown during a visit to the Philippine capital last November.

More than 4,000 people have been killed in what police call legitimate operations against suspected drug dealers and users in Duterte’s signature war on drugs since July 2016. Rights groups accused police of summary executions, which authorities deny.

International Criminal Court prosecutors have opened a preliminary examination into Duterte’s anti-drugs campaign.

Related Stories

Terms of Service & Privacy Policy

We have updated our privacy policy to comply with the latest laws and regulations. The updated policy explains the mechanism of how we collect and treat your personal data. You can learn more about the rights you have by reading our terms of service. Please read them carefully. By clicking AGREE, you indicate that you have read and agreed to our privacy policies

Agree and continue