SPEAKER Pantaleon Alvarez of Davao del Norte called on the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) on Thursday to file a diplomatic protest with the United States following a US intelligence community assessment listing
President Rodrigo Duterte among Southeast Asian leaders that pose a “threat” to democracy and human rights.
The assessment of the US intelligence community cited Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, as well as his threats to establish a revolutionary government and declare martial law nationwide.
“The DFA should file a [diplomatic]protest because firstly, what is the business of United States in our domestic affairs?” Alvarez said in a radio interview.
The United States itself, he argued, was the threat to democracy.
“The US has been getting away [with]threatening democracies because of its interference in domestic policies and violation of sovereignty of many nations for so long. It needs to stop,” Alvarez added.
Alvarez then pitched for a new international body that would only include Asian countries, echoing Duterte’s position that the United Nations was useless for its failure to end wars.
“We should have a United Nations of Asia so we can push for our interests. We don’t need Western nations’ involvement because for one, their economy is not doing good. They are just depending on the Asian market,” Alvarez said.
“The UN is useless. The interest of the Philippines would be better served in an Asian-only international body,” he added.
The Philippines is a member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean), founded in 1967. Asean regularly meets dialogue partners from Asia, such as Japan, China, South Korea and India.
‘Totally misplaced and illogical’
Duterte’s top legal counsel on Thursday shrugged off the US intelligence assessment.
Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo said tagging Duterte as a threat because of his “unwavering dedication” to his war against drugs was “totally misplaced and illogical.”
“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,” Panelo said.
Panelo also defended the numerous threats of Duterte to declare a revolutionary government and impose martial law nationwide, saying these would be anchored on the assumption that public safety was in imminent danger because of the actions of the anti-government forces.
“[Duterte] has 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,” Panelo said.
with RALPH U. VILLANUEVA