Palace rejects U.S. intel report tagging Duterte as threat to democracy

  • Palace rejects U.S. intel report tagging Duterte as threat to democracy

Palace rejects U.S. intel report tagging Duterte as threat to democracy

The Duterte administration pushed back Wednesday against a USA intelligence report that listed the Philippines among some Southeast Asian countries where, it said, "autocratic tendencies" were deepening.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the USA intelligence community's 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment was "myopic and speculative at best".

"In the Philippines, President Duterte will continue to wage his signature campaign against drugs, corruption, and crime", the report read, adding that Duterte has suggested he could suspend the constitution and declare a revolutionary government.

Moreover, he said there is no revolutionary government or nationwide martial law, which USA intelligence officials are saying that Duterte might declare or impose.

He said the use of social media to promote the government's agenda had become "part of the daily lives of Filipinos", in much the same way that it is used for the same objective in the United States.

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.

The spokesperson was reacting to a report released by the U.S. Intelligence Community in its Worldwide Threat Assessment on February 13 that Duterte "will continue to wage his signature campaign against drugs, corruption, and crime". "It is therefore foolhardy not to tap social media as a tool when the technology exists for free", he said.

US-based watchdog Human Rights Watch said the move "threatens media freedoms".

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

"This is something we are taking very seriously. This latest intelligence assessment is a classic case in point".

Manila is viewing the new report with some concern because parts pertaining to the Philippines could strain bilateral relations, presidential spokesman Harry Roque indicated. It is coming from the intelligence community.

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

Rappler, set up in 2012, is among a clutch of Philippine news organisations that have sparred with Duterte over their critical coverage of his drug war which the government says has claimed the lives of almost 4,000 suspects. "An autocracy is not prevalent, as they would like everyone to believe", he said.

The president also said the Chinese military presence in the region is not a threat to the Philippines. In an April phone call with Duterte, Trump reportedly congratulated him for doing an "unbelievable job on the drug problem".