Duterte to deliver state of the nation address amid protests

Protesters criticized Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte before his his state of the nation address Monday. Mr. Duterte's violent anti-drug campaign has caused international alarm, but he remains popular in opinion polls and in the Philippine Congress.

Bullit Marquez/AP
Demonstrators protest President Rodrigo Duterte's State of the Nation address in Quezon City, northeast of Manila, Philippines, July 22, 2019. Mr. Duterte is under scrutiny for his perceived non-confrontational approach to China and his deadly campaign against drugs.

President Rodrigo Duterte will likely defend his deadly anti-drug campaign and his non-confrontational approach to China in territorial disputes when he addresses a joint session of the Philippine Congress later Monday. The United Nations Human Rights Council in Geneva voted earlier this month to look into the campaign, in which thousands of drug suspects have died.

In his state of the nation address at the House of Representatives, Mr. Duterte will likely discuss his plans to press on with his battles against drugs, criminality, corruption, communist and Muslim insurgencies, and how he plans to sustain economic growth in his final three years in power, presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said.

More than 5,200 protesters began to gather despite a downpour outside the House complex to call for his removal, while a smaller number of pro-Duterte supporters rallied separately. Left-wing protesters burned a mock Chinese flag and a giant mural with the images of Mr. Duterte, Chinese President Xi Jinping, and President Donald Trump in initial rallies.

"We have had enough of this government's 'kill, kill, kill' policy," Danilo Ramos, a left-wing leader of a farmers' group, said. "The Duterte presidency is killing its constituents in so many ways."

Military and police have been placed on full alert. Authorities declared a no-fly zone over the venue and outlying areas to ensure security.

Mr. Duterte took office in June 2016 and has remained hugely popular in opinion polling despite drug war deaths that have sparked international alarm and other controversial policies.

More of his allies captured congressional seats in midterm elections in May, giving them a tighter grip on the legislature, especially in the 24-member Senate, which opposed some of his key legislative proposals last year, including reinstating the death penalty and amending the pro-democracy constitution.

Ahead of the president's late-afternoon speech, House members met to uphold Mr. Duterte's recommendation to settle a leadership row through a term-sharing arrangement. Rep. Alan Peter Cayetano, a staunchly loyal Duterte ally, is to serve as House speaker for 15 months, followed by another presidential ally, Rep. Lord Allan Velasco.

Last year, Mr. Duterte's speech was delayed after a leadership squabble erupted between two allies vying for the House speakership in a chaotic scene that unraveled on live TV. Mr. Duterte stayed in a holding room until the confusion was sorted out.

Aides said Mr. Duterte may touch on the resolution adopted by the U.N. Human Rights Council two weeks ago.

Mr. Duterte's officials have lashed out at the resolution as Western meddling in the country's anti-crime efforts. Mr. Panelo said the president was considering cutting diplomatic ties with Iceland, which initiated the resolution.

Human rights groups, however, have lauded the resolution as crucial to helping end the drug killings and bringing perpetrators to justice.

Officials have reported that more than 5,000 to 6,000 mostly poor drug suspects have died in the campaign after they allegedly fired back at law enforcers during raids.

Rights groups have questioned the police reports and accused the police of committing extrajudicial killings.

Mr. Duterte has also said he would "educate" critics on the legality of an agreement he said he forged with Mr. Xi that allows Chinese fishermen to fish in the country's exclusive economic zone. Critics say Mr. Duterte's action violated the constitution, which requires presidents to protect the country's territory and sovereign rights.

This story was reported by The Associated Press.

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.

QR Code to Duterte to deliver state of the nation address amid protests
Read this article in
https://www.csmonitor.com/World/Asia-Pacific/2019/0722/Duterte-to-deliver-state-of-the-nation-address-amid-protests
QR Code to Subscription page
Start your subscription today
https://www.csmonitor.com/subscribe