Philippines: Thousands protest President Duterte's 'dictatorship'
Filipinos seem to be growing increasingly unhappy with President Rodrigo Duterte's tough handed approach towards law and order. Amid growing criticism against his open threat to reinstate martial law and his brutal handling of the war on drugs, thousands participated in anti-Duterte protests. Meanwhile, parallel pro-Duterte rallies also managed to attract several thousands of people. Why are the protests taking place? Read more!
President Duterte is facing great criticism over his controversial anti-drug crackdown. He is known to have urged police and citizens to carry out extra-judicial killings of criminals. Since he took office a year ago, police say 3,800 suspects have been killed in anti-drug operations. The Human Rights Watch claims roughly 7,000 people have been executed. Rights groups have expressed concerns over extrajudicial killings.
In May 2017, Duterte said he may declare martial law in all of Philippines to help the army to fight against Islamist militants. Under martial law, the military can enforce law and order, effectively enabling Duterte to rule as a dictator. Filipinos fear that Duterte's proposed martial law will repeat the abuse they suffered when former-President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law 45 years ago.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets holding placards that said "No martial law" and "Stop the killings." Protests were held outside the presidential palace in Manila, the military headquarters and in universities. Vice-president Leni Robredo reminded Filipinos of the brutality of martial law under the Marcos regime. She urged citizens not to allow for its repeat, warning them to recognize "signs of tyranny".
While thousands protested Duterte's controversial policies, a counter-protest organized by Duterte supporters also attracted several thousands of people. This indicates that the numerous controversial policies and statements haven't affected Duterte's popularity. The President's high approval ratings only confirm this.