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Rodrigo Duterte's Path to Dictatorship in the Philippines?

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“Until the armed forces and the police say that the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue,” Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said during a crisis management visit to Mindanao, suddenly the epicenter of terror group Islamic State’s thrust into Southeast Asia.

“I will not listen to anyone else, be it the Supreme Court, congressmen. They’re not here.”

The tough-talking, popularly elected Filipino president has again raised the specter of forging a full-blown dictatorship, sparking fears he could veer the country back towards the iron fisted, rights abusing rule seen under former autocrat Ferdinand Marcos.

Marcos leveraged a deteriorating security situation in 1972, characterized by mysterious bombs in the capital and a rising communist insurgency, to impose over a decade of emergency rule that brooked no opposition. Duterte has repeatedly warned he may extend martial law beyond his home island of Mindanao across the entire country if Islamic militants strike other areas.

The controversial leader provoked a global outcry by quipping that he would stand “shoulder to shoulder” with his soldiers even if they committed rape while waging war.

Legal experts and human rights advocates said that Duterte could potentially be prosecuted if such statements were construed as encouraging war crimes. Presidential aides have said Duterte’s comments were merely “heightened bravado” and not calls........

© The National Interest