Pacific News Minute: Philippine President Duterte Cracks Down on Critics

Sep 5, 2018

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
Credit PCOO EDP / Wikimedia Commons

While on a diplomatic visit to the Middle East, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte moved against two prominent critics back home. Duterte ordered the arrest of an opposition Senator and the deportation of an Australian nun and human rights campaigner. 

Tuesday’s edition of the Manila Times published proclamation 572, invalidating an amnesty granted to Antonio Trillanes back in 2011. Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told the news site, The Rappler, that the former naval officer had not met the minimum requirements, including an admission of guilt, and ordered his arrest.

In 2003 and again in 2007, Trillanos was among the leaders of brief, bloodless rebellions against then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. Arroyo is now Speaker of the House of Representatives and an ally of President Duterte. Trillanos was elected to the Senate from his prison cell. 

It’s not clear whether Senator Trillanos did or did not comply with the terms of the amnesty, or whether the President has the authority to reject an amnesty approved by both houses of the Philippine Congress. What’s unmistakable, is the animus between the President and the Senator…In June, Duterte remarked, “There will come a day that someone will shoot him, because he’s arrogant.” For his part, the Senator has called the president a mass murderer.

Last year, Senator Leila De Lima was arrested as she launched in investigation into Duterte’s bloody drug war, there have been accusations of treason against Vice President Leni Robredo, Duterte allies ousted  the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court this year, and now a deportation order has been filed against Patricia Fox, a 71 year old Australian Nun and longtime human rights advocate…she drew the President’s anger after a visit to the island of Mindanao, which is still under martial law.