Philippines 'concerned' as U.S. report labels Duterte a threat to democracy

Katrina Barker
February 23, 2018

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

"In the Philippines, President Duterte will continue to wage his signature campaign against drugs, corruption and crime", the report reads. Aside from imposing martial law, Duterte also pushed for Muslims in the southern region to be granted autonomous rule.

The Philippines is only mentioned twice in the 28-page report: once when it's named alongside Turkey and Venezuela (two countries that the United States has a rocky-at-best relationship with) as nations "whose governments used social media to spread government views, to drive agendas and to counter criticism of the government online".

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 dated 13 February.

Cambodia's Prime Minister Hun Sen arrives to attend the Cambodian People's Party (CPP) congress in Phnom Penh, Cambodia January 19, 2018.

Apart from the two leaders, the intelligence community said the Rohingya crisis in Burma would threaten its "fledgeling democracy, increase the risk of violent extremism, and provide openings for Beijing to expand its influence".

In Thailand leaders have vowed to hold elections later this year, but the new Constitution will institutionalize the military's influence.

Earlier, Duterte has said the Central Intelligence Agency wants him "out of government", while Hun Sen has accused the western country of trying to destabilise his country through protests and opposition proxies.

US President Donald Trump toasts with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte (R) during a special gala celebration dinner for the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Manila on November 12, 2017.

"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.

The spokesman refuted that assessment.

PHILIPPINE President Rodrigo Duterte's move to ban a critical news website from covering the presidential palace is a threat to press freedom, rights and media groups said today. "He adheres to the rule of law and remains loyal to the Constitution", he added.

Since taking power in 2016, Duterte has also publicly attacked other media outlets which have criticised his policies. Martial law was imposed there in May 2017 after rebels allied with the Islamic State laid siege to the city of Marawi, the region's commercial center.

"This is something that we have taken very seriously". Then-US President Barack Obama once infamously canceled a planned meeting with Duterte after the firebrand president called him a "son of a whore".

"We have to understand the use of social media has become an important part of the daily lives of Filipinos", Roque said describing it "foolhardy" not to tap social media as a tool.

Roque, for his part, said he does not believe the assessment report would affect a lawsuit filed against Duterte before the International Criminal Court since the USA refused to be a member of the ICC. U.S. allies with spotty human rights records, like Saudi Arabia and Thailand, receive few mentions in the report.

"This is something we are taking very seriously".

Other reports by AllAboutTopnews

Discuss This Article