By Genalyn Kabiling
President Duterte has no autocratic tendencies and continues to adhere to the rule of law, Malacañang declared Wednesday rejecting a United States intelligence report purportedly tagging the Philippines leader “a threat to democracy” in the region.
“The US intelligence community’s assessment is myopic and speculative at best,” Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said in a statement.
“I do not think that’s true. He is a lawyer, he knows the law, he wants to uphold the rule of law, he knows about the bill of rights,” he said.
“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,” he added.
A check made by Manila Bulletin showed that nowhere in the 28-page Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community did the paper describe Duterte a “threat to democracy” in Southeast Asia.
In its February 13, 2018 report, the paper said: “Southeast Asia Democracy and human rights in many Southeast Asian countries will remain fragile in 2018 as autocratic tendencies deepen in some regimes and rampant corruption and cronyism undermine democratic values. Countries in the region will struggle to preserve foreign policy autonomy in the face of Chinese economic and diplomatic coercion.”
“In the Philippines, President Duterte will continue to wage his signature campaign against drugs, corruption, and crime. Duterte has suggested he could suspend the Constitution, declare a “revolutionary government,” and impose nationwide martial law. His declaration of martial law in Mindanao, responding to the ISIS-inspired siege of Marawi City, has been extended through the end of 2018,” the report added.
But Roque argued that no autocracy exists in the country under Duterte’s leadership, citing the freedom of the press, a working judiciary and legislature, among others.
“An autocracy is not prevalent, as they would like everyone to believe. Our media are still able to broadcast and print what they want – ‘fake news’ included,” he said.
“Our judiciary and the courts are functioning as usual. Our legislature remains independent and basic services are still being delivered,” he added.
Also, Roque said there was no revolutionary government or nationwide martial law “which US intelligence officials are saying that the President might declare or impose.”
Roque likewise defended the administration’s use of social media to promote government messages and accomplishments, saying the political opposition and other groups utilize the same platform to advance their agenda.
“We have to understand the use of social media has become an important part of the daily lives of Filipinos. It is therefore foolhardy not to tap social media as a tool when the technology exists for free,” he said.
“I don’t know of any government in the free world which does not use the Internet and social media to promote its agenda. This is very true especially in the case of the US. This latest intelligence assessment is a classic case in point,” he added.