Pres. Duterte displaying strong political will, not dictatorship — Palace

MANILA — Malacañang on Wednesday stressed that President Rodrigo Duterte’s display of strong political will is just a firm response to the issues of the times and not a sign of a looming dictatorship.

Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella issued the statement to debunk claims made by a group called February 25 Coalition alleging that there are indicators that the tools of dictatorship are being resurrected under the Duterte administration.

“The President has displayed strong political will but this does not necessarily follow he would become a dictator,” the Palace official said.

“The scenarios listed by the February 25 Coalition, such as the President’s references against some members of the clergy, the lowering of age of criminal liability, among others, are not signs of a looming dictatorship but firm responses to the prevailing issues of the day,” Abella said.

Prior to his election, President Duterte has repeatedly vowed to be a hardliner against crime and corruption but said he would not be a dictator.

Upon his assumption to the presidency, Duterte waged a no-nonsense war against illegal drugs and advocated for the re-imposition of the death penalty.

His actions were largely criticized by local and international human rights activists as well as the hierarchy of the Roman Catholic Church in the Philippines.

President Duterte shrugged off the criticisms saying he was just exercising political will that his predecessors were unable to do.