08 May 2016

Coup Threaten Possible Rodrigo Duterte's Win

Philippine politician Rodrigo Duterte may be enjoying a rollicking ride to presidential favoritism, but his popularity has triggered warnings of a coup should he win next week's election. His opponents are already branding him as a dictator in the making.

The Philippines has endured a tumultuous democracy since millions of people took to the streets to overthrow dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986, with a succession of leaders having to quell military unrest and one president ousted in another uprising.

Duterte is enjoying a double-digit lead over his rivals ahead of the 9 May presidential election, but he has created enemies with vows to embrace communist rebels and threats to abolish Congress or create a revolutionary government that could rewrite the constitution.

"The moment he tries to declare a revolutionary government, that is also going to be the day he will be removed from office," Senator Antonio Trillanes, a former navy officer famous for leading failed military uprisings in 2003 and 2007, told AFP last 4 May.

"This guy has no respect for democratic institutions."

Trillanes said some in the military were "strongly averse" to Duterte's long-standing ties with communists, and that the reaction "could be violent."

Communists in the Philippines are waging one of Asia's longest-running insurgencies, with tens of thousands killed since the rebellion began in 1969. Dozens still die each year as the communists retain support among the poor.

Duterte has ruled the major southern city of Davao, which was one of the communist hotspots, as mayor for most of the past two decades, ending violence there by forging close ties with the rebels.

He has vowed to offer communist leaders posts in his government.

He has also raised deep fears about the rule of law under his presidency, promising to kill tens of thousands of criminals and pardon himself for mass murder.

On some occasions while campaigning Duterte has boasted about wanting to set up a dictatorship, and praised Marcos, but other times said the opposite.