Mass protest in Philippines over Duterte ‘dictatorship’

Thousands of people in the Philippines have attended a day of protest over President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial law-and-order policies.

Opponents criticised Mr Duterte’s open threat to reinstate martial law and his brutal war on drugs that has killed thousands. Thousands also attended rival pro-Duterte rallies.

Mr Duterte’s own son Paolo is facing allegations of drug trafficking.

The president said he would approve Paolo’s killing if the claims are true.

“My order is to kill you if you are caught. And I will protect the police who kill you, if it is true,” he told reporters he had told Paolo.

His 42-year-old son appeared before a senate inquiry earlier this month, and insisted allegations that he helped ship drugs from China to the Philippines were “rumours and gossip” that were “baseless”.

The 72-year-old president took office in July 2016 on a hardline platform against crime and corruption.

He has consistently urged citizens and the police to conduct extra-judicial killings of suspects, in a policy labelled a violation of human rights by international critics.

Protesters took to the streets with signs saying “Stop the Killings” and “No to Martial Rule” – over fears President Duterte will implement it nationwide like dictator Ferdinand Marcos did exactly 45 years ago.

The country’s vice president, Leni Robredo, a liberal politician who did not run with Mr Duterte, called on Filipinos to remember the oppressive legacy under Marcos.

“If we do not remember the past, we are condemned to repeat it,” she said.

President Duterte has been accused of showing sympathy with the Marcos family, and publically said he admired him, despite his brutal legacy.

Demonstrations were held outside the presidential palace in Manila, as well as universities and military headquarters.

Effigies of the president were burned at the events and Ms Robredo warned Filipinos to recognise signs of “rising tyranny”.

But a counter protest attracted thousands of pro-Duterte supporters, and his approval ratings have remained high despite his controversial policies and public statements. (Courtesy BBC)


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