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 says.
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 in Manila.
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 February 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 politicians 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. (AAP)
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