Thousands rally in Philippines to warn of Duterte 'dictatorship'

  21 September 2017    Read: 771
Thousands rally in Philippines to warn of Duterte 'dictatorship'

Left-wing activists and political opponents of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte held rallies on Thursday to warn against what they see as the emergence of a dictatorship under the no-nonsense but hugely popular leader.

Politicians, indigenous people, church leaders, businessmen, and leftists marched, staged rallies and attended masses to denounce Duterte, accusing him of abuses and authoritarianism similar to that of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

The events were to mark the 45th anniversary of the declaration of martial law under Marcos, which lasted nine years and is remembered by many Filipinos as brutal and oppressive.

Vice President Leni Robredo appeared at a mass at the University of the Philippines, traditionally a hotbed of political activism, and was due to appear at a rally of the opposition Liberal Party she leads.

Robredo, who was not Duterte’s running mate, said Filipinos born after the Marcos era should not be complacent and should recognize signs of “rising tyranny”.

“If we do not remember the past, we are condemned to repeat it,” she said in a statement. “Sadly those who are deceived do not even know that they are walking a doomed path.”

Marcos declared martial law in 1972, a year ahead of elections in which he was ineligible to run, and held power for 14 years until his removal in a bloodless, army-backed “people’s power” uprising.

He abolished democratic institutions and was accused of killing, torturing and “disappearing” thousands of opponents.

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