U.S. intel agencies say Duterte a ‘regional threat’ in Southeast Asia

Paterno Esmaquel II
U.S. intel agencies say Duterte a ‘regional threat’ in Southeast Asia
The CIA and 16 other US intelligence agencies cite President Rodrigo Duterte's suggestion to declare a 'revolutionary government' and impose nationwide martial law as a threat to democracy in Southeast Asia

MANILA, Philippines – US intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), said Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is among the “regional threats” to US national security in Southeast Asia as democracy in the region is expected to “remain fragile” this year. 

“In the Philippines, President Duterte will continue to wage his signature campaign against drugs, corruption, and crime,” said the US Intelligence Community in its Worldwide Threat Assessment issued February 13.

“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 US Intelligence Community added.

The US Intelligence Community is a group of 17 agencies, including the CIA, that conduct intelligence activities to help in their country’s foreign affairs and to protect their national security.

The Worldwide Threat Assessment of the US Intelligence Community was released by Daniel Coats, US director of national intelligence, on February 13.

Coats said the report covers “threats to US national security.” Their output, he said, is needed “to protect American lives and America’s interests anywhere in the world.” 

Among the likes of Hun Sen

The report placed Duterte’s name under the heading “regional threats.”

In Southeast Asia, regional threats also include the following:

  • Cambodian leader Hun Sen, who “will repress democratic institutions and civil society, manipulate government and judicial institutions, and use patronage and political violence to guarantee his rule beyond the 2018 national election”
  • The Rohingya crisis that “will threaten Burma’s fledgling democracy, increase the risk of violent extremism, and provide openings for Beijing to expand its influence”
  • The pledge of Thailand’s leaders to hold elections late this year, even as the new Constitution “will institutionalize the military’s influence”

Duterte earlier said he believes the CIA wants him “out of government.” He also falsely claimed that the CIA funds Rappler.

US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim denied in October 2017 that the CIA is backing destabilization plots against Duterte’s government. – Rappler.com

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Paterno Esmaquel II

Paterno R. Esmaquel II, news editor of Rappler, specializes in covering religion and foreign affairs. He obtained his MA Journalism degree from Ateneo and later finished MSc Asian Studies (Religions in Plural Societies) at RSIS, Singapore. For story ideas or feedback, email him at pat.esmaquel@rappler.com.