Duterte a threat to criminals, not to democracy, says Panelo

IF President Rodrigo Duterte poses a threat, it is not to democracy but rather to people who seek to destroy the "democratically-instituted government," Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said Thursday, February 22.

Panelo's statement was in response to the United States (US) Intelligence Community's Worldwide Threat Assessment report dated February 13, which listed Duterte as a "threat to democracy and human rights" in Southeast Asia.

He said it was "totally misplaced and illogical" to claim that the President is a threat to democracy and human rights, stressing that the latter is committed to protect the nation's welfare under his watch.

Panelo, however, admitted that Duterte is "a threat to criminal elements, drug lords, corrupt government officials" as they are poised to undermine the "democratically-instituted government."

"(Duterte) is not a threat to democracy in the Asian region. Rather, he is a threat to criminal elements, drug lords, corrupt government officials and to all those who are bent on destroying the democratically instituted government," he said.

"(Duterte) is fealty to his oath of office to protect and defend the Republic and its people from those who seek to destroy them and he shall fulfill his duty regardless of the consequences to his life, honor and liberty," he added.

The US Intelligence Community, in its report, noted that Duterte has manifested "autocratic tendencies" when he warned to impose a martial law all throughout the country and declare a revolutionary state. It also took note of Duterte's relentless fight against illegal drugs, corruption, and crime.

Panelo defended Duterte, saying that the Chief Executive's pronouncements "is predicated on the assumption that the public safety is in imminent danger."

He said Duterte would only be compelled to make such move if "acts of terrorism, destruction of property, (and) killings of civilians" exist.

He also explained that Duterte is bent on curbing illegal drugs, corruption and crime because these are "antithesis of democracy."

"The command of the Constitution for him to 'serve and protect' the Filipino people is precisely the underlying principle of why he has relentlessly pursued his fight against drugs, corruption and crime because those are precisely the antithesis of democracy," he said. (SunStar Philippines)
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