U.S. intelligence sees Duterte as threat to democracy in Southeast Asia

enablePagination: false
maxItemsPerPage: 10
maxPaginationLinks: 10

President Rodrigo Duterte. (FILE PHOTO)

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines, February 21) — The United States Intelligence Community listed President Rodrigo Duterte as one of the leaders in Southeast Asia who pose a threat to democracy and human rights in the region.

In its recently published worldwide threat assessment report, the U.S. intelligence said democracy and human rights in many Southeast Asian countries will "remain fragile" this year due to corruption, "cronyism" and "autocratic tendencies."

"In the Philippines, President (Rodrigo) Duterte will continue to wage his signature campaign against drugs, corruption, and crime," the report said.

It added the President has suggested declaring 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," it stated.

READ: Congress grants Duterte request to extend Mindanao martial law until end of 2018

The U.S. Intelligence Community is a federation of 16 agencies that work separately and together to conduct intelligence activities necessary for United States' national security and foreign relations.

It listed Duterte along with Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, who will be relying on China's political and financial support for the 2018 national elections.

Other threats to democracy and human rights in the region included the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar and Thailand's new Constitution, which gives its military more influence in the country's upcoming elections in 2019.

The assessment also cited a Freedom House report which said the Philippines was one of 30 governments that used social media to drive agenda and counter criticisms of government institutions.

"We note that more governments are using propaganda and misinformation in social media to influence foreign and domestic audiences," it added.

Palace: Assessment is 'myopic'

Malacañang, however, called out the U.S. Intelligence Community's report for being "myopic" and "speculative at best."

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement Wednesday said Duterte is not autocratic.

"He adheres to the rule of law and remains loyal to the Constitution. An autocracy is not prevalent, as they would like to believe," he said.

Roque also denied the existence of a revolutionary government or nationwide martial law.

But the President's spokesperson said the use of social media to put forth government agenda is not only enjoyed by public officials but opposition figures as well.

"I don't know of any government in the free world which does not use the internet or social media to promote its agenda. This is very true especially in the case of the U.S.," he said.

The Duterte administration has been widely criticized for its war on drugs, which has left almost 4,000 casualties, according to government data. Human rights groups, however, have pegged the deaths to more than 11,000.

The conflicting data, as well as other cases of misinformation, drove the country's Senate to hold hearings on peddling fake news. A Senate bill was filed in February penalizing government employees who publish or disseminate false information.

In November 2017, Duterte said human rights critics should not single him out, adding that there are also violations of human rights in the U.S.

He also proposed a separate global summit to address human rights issues around the world.

"We should have a summit only on human rights. But we should call all," the President told reporters in Da Nang, Vietnam.

READ: Duterte wants separate summit for human rights violations

Duterte previously said he needs to act like a "dictator" to move the country forward.

READ: Duterte defends 'dictatorship' style