Palace rejects US intel report tagging Duterte as threat to democracy

MANILA MalacaAang on Wednesday rejected the US intelligence report that tagged President Rodrigo R. Duterte as threat to democracy, stressing that the President adheres to the rule of law.

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, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

This comes after the Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community released a report, dated Feb. 12, stating that Duterte has suggested he could suspend the constitution and declare a revolutionary government or martial law.

Citing a Freedom House report, the US intel report also listed the Philippines as one of the governments that use propaganda and misinformation in social media to influence foreign and domestic audiences.

Roque, however, described the report as myopic and speculative at best.

He acknowledged that the administration uses social media to promote government messages and accomplishments, but noted that the opposition and other cause-oriented groups do the same.

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.

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, Roque said.

Roque also explained that an autocracy is not prevalent in the Philippines since media are still able to broadcast and print what they want, including fake news.

He also said that the Philippine judiciary and the courts are functioning as usual, legislature remains independent, and basic services are still being delivered.

There is no revolutionary government or nationwide martial law, which US intelligence officials are saying that the President might declare or impose, Roque said.

In an earlier TV interview, Roque, a human rights advocate, said that he would not join Duterte's Cabinet if the President, a lawyer himself, was a threat to human rights.

He's a lawyer. He knows the law. He wants to uphold the rule of law. He knows about the bill of rights. And of course I wouldn't have joined him if he was a threat to human rights, Roque said.

Duterte has previously criticized the US for expressing concern over his aggressive campaign against illegal drugs, noting that he would not take orders from the country's former colonizer.

Source: Philippine News Agency