US envoy summoned after Duterte named in threat report
MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s top aide has summoned the U.S. ambassador to discuss a global threat assessment by American intelligence agencies that mentioned Duterte along with dangers facing democracy in Cambodia, Myanmar and Thailand.
Presidential spokesman Harry Roque Jr. said Friday that Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea discussed the U.S. intelligence community’s Worldwide Threat Assessment report with U.S. Ambassador Sung Kim on Thursday.
Medialdea also asked U.S.-based Philippine diplomats to explain to Washington steps taken by Duterte to promote economic development and ensure public security while “respecting at all times the rule of law,” Roque said.
The U.S. Embassy said the discussion “focused on the references to the Philippines in the report, including clarifying that the information about the Philippines had been previously reported by media sources.”
Medialdea and Kim also discussed common interests and the “possibilities for expanding our partnership,” with the meeting ending with a reaffirmation of “the strength of the broad and deep bilateral relationship,” the embassy said.
The U.S. report says “autocratic tendencies” are expected to deepen in some governments in Southeast Asia and mentioned that Duterte has suggested he could suspend the constitution, declare a “revolutionary government” and impose nationwide martial law.
Duterte’s declaration of martial law in the southern third of the country, which was in response to an Islamic State group-linked siege on the southern Islamic city of Marawi last year, has been extended through the end of 2018, according to the report, which outlined Duterte’s moves without explicitly criticizing his actions.
Duterte, who came to office in mid-2016, has been hypersensitive to criticism of his anti-drug crackdown and other policies, especially by Western governments, the United Nations and human rights groups.
He told then U.S. President Barack Obama to “go to hell” and threatened to withdraw the Philippines from the United Nations over concerns they raised over his anti-drug campaign, which has left thousands of mostly poor drug suspects dead.