Rodrigo Duterte will declare martial law next year: journalist

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Robles with her third book: ‘Marcos is Duterte’s idol and role model.’  Photos by Lambert Parong/FAPCNY

Robles with her third book: ‘Marcos is Duterte’s idol and role model.’ Photos by Lambert Parong/FAPCNY

By Cristina DC Pastor

President Rodrigo Duterte is methodically laying the groundwork for one-man rule next year, an influential journalist said in New York on October 20.

“Duterte is not yet a dictator, but he is moving in that direction,” said investigative journalist Raissa Robles who is in the U.S. to promote her third book, “Marcos Martial Law Never Again.”

She made the remarks in a forum organized by the Fil-Am Press Club of New York and held at the Church of St. Francis of Assisi in Midtown.

According to her, as early as 2014, or two years before he was elected, Duterte has been telling friends he would only agree to run for president if he could impose martial law. At the time, he was the mayor of Davao City and was known for his toughness as a leader. He imposed curfew, banned smoking, and restricted the sale of alcohol. He specifically cracked down on drug offenders in his campaign to rid the city of crime.

She cited a statement from Duterte ally, now Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol, that “Duterte will only agree to become President of the country if people will allow him to declare martial law to address the crime situation.”

Robles said Duterte appears to be following in the footsteps of his “idol and role model,” former dictator Ferdinand Marcos. He has been beefing up the police force and created two special military units of about 8,000 soldiers, similar to those units placed by Marcos under Gen. Fabian Ver. Duterte created a party called Kilusang Pagbabago, almost similar in nomenclature to Marcos’s Kilusang Bagong Lipunan. He is advocating for a federalist government in the same way that Marcos transitioned the country toward a parliamentary system of government.

“He is slowly and quietly taking steps to set up a revolutionary government,” she said, speaking before an audience of about 40 people.

The October 20 forum was sponsored by the Fil-Am Press Club of New York.

The October 20 forum was sponsored by the Fil-Am Press Club of New York.

What he is embarking on is “not a transition from democracy to federalism but a transition from democracy to dictatorship,” she said further.

When asked when she sees martial law becoming official, she said, “I think next year.”

She said, “A lot of journalists think there’s going to be chaos.” She said the military “will go along with it if they see change” and the Filipino elite will applaud him.

This week, Duterte has talked about setting up a “revolutionary government” if the challenges to his government continue. Such challenges, he said, are coming from communist rebels and other destabilizing forces.

Robles said Duterte has been “closely” studying the revolutionary governments under Marcos in 1972, and under Corazon Aquino in 1986, where both leaders dispensed with the Constitution and ruled by executive powers.

Before coming to New York, Robles spoke at UCLA where, she said, a woman “tried to hijack” her talk.

“I am all for freedom of speech and assembly,” she wrote in her blog. “However, I will not countenance anyone who tries to hijack my talk the way this loud, brassy and totally obnoxious woman tried to do in UCLA.”

In New York, she spoke before the Fil-Am Press Club, and AF3IRM National Conference. She will be at NYU on October 23 at an event hosted by the International Center for Transitional Justice.

© 2017 The FilAm

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