Malacañang hits U.S. intel for calling Duterte a ‘threat’

Paterno Esmaquel II
Malacañang hits U.S. intel for calling Duterte a ‘threat’
Malacañang claims that President Rodrigo Duterte 'is no autocrat' and has no 'autocratic tendencies'

MANILA, Philippines – Malacañang on Wednesday, February 21, criticized United States intelligence agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), for calling President Rodrigo Duterte a “regional threat” in Southeast Asia.

“The US intelligence community’s assessment is myopic and speculative at best,” said Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque in a statement.

Roque claimed that Duterte, who previously said he has to act like a dictator, “is no autocrat” and has no “autocratic tendencies.” 

He said that the President “adheres to the rule of law and remains loyal to the Constitution.”

“An autocracy is not prevalent, as they would like everyone to believe.  Our media are still able to broadcast and print what they want – ‘fake news’ included. Our judiciary and the courts are functioning as usual. Our legislature remains independent and basic services are still being delivered,” Roque said.

The US Intelligence Community a group of 17 agencies, including the CIA – classified Duterte in a February 13 report as among “regional threats” to US national security. The group cited Duterte’s suggestion to declare a revolutionary government, among other things. 

Reacting to this report, Roque also said, “There is no revolutionary government or nationwide martial law, which US intelligence officials are saying that the President might declare or impose.”

At the same time, Roque defended the Duterte administration’s use of social media “to promote government messages and accomplishments.”

This was after the US Intelligence Community cited a 2016 Freedom House report that said the Philippines is among 30 countries “whose governments used social media to spread government views, to drive agendas, and to counter criticism of the government online.”

Roque said, “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.”

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.