USA intel report on Duterte, PHL democracy 'myopic, speculative'

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte in his speech during the 10th Biennial National Convention and 20th Founding Anniversary Celebration of the Chinese Filipino Business Club Inc. at the Manila Hotel

Malaca├▒ang on Wednesday slammed a United States intelligence community report which branded President Rodrigo Duterte as a threat to democracy and human rights in Southeast Asia. "An autocracy is not prevalent, as they would like everyone to believe", Roque said. "His declaration of martial law in Mindanao, responding to the ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria)-inspired siege of Marawi City, has been extended through the end of 2018", it added.

Coats also pointed to the Philippines as one of 30 countries cited in a report by Freedom House, which said their governments used social media to spread pro-government views and counter online criticism of those governments.

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

"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 something that we have taken very seriously. This latest intelligence assessment is a classic case in point", Roque said. It's from the intelligence community.

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque Jr., in a statement, dismissed the tag as "myopic and speculative at best". "Duterte has suggested he could suspend the Constitution, declare a 'revolutionary government, ' and impose nationwide martial law", the report said.

In a statement, Palace spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said the United States intelligence community's 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment was "myopic and speculative at best". "It's not even coming from the State Department, and it's something that the president, of course, will take seriously as well".

Duterte's spokesman said the president had chose to bar Rappler journalists from covering his events due to a "lack of trust".

The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community released on Feb 13 said Duterte's suggestion to declare a "revolutionary government" and impose nationwide martial law as a threat to democracy in the region.

(File) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, wearing a military uniform, gestures as he delivers a speech during the 67th founding anniversary of the First Scout Ranger regiment in San Miguel town, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines Nov 24, 2017.

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.

International Criminal Court prosecutors have opened a preliminary examination into Duterte's anti-drugs campaign.

In Oct 2017, the US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim denied that the Central Intelligence Agency was plotting against Duterte's government, according to Rappler.

Roque said the Philippines still wants to be friends with the U.S. "but with declarations such as this, it is very hard to be friendly with the United States.It doesn't seem to be too friendly a declaration". The Philippine leader has also adopted Trump's accusations of "fake news" in an attempt to intimidate critical journalists.

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