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Philippines: bishops warn about threat of dictatorship as Duterte declares national emergency

September 06, 2016

The Catholic bishops of the Philippines have warned against the danger of dictatorship after President Rodrigo Duterte declared a "state of national emergency" in the wake of a September 2 terrorist attack in Davao City.

Duterte, the former mayor of Davao, said that the state of national emergency was necessary not only because of terrorist attacks in the region, where Islamic militants have been active, but more generally because of a trend toward lawlessness throughout the nation. The new president had already drawn criticism from the Catholic hierarchy because of his statements that seemed clearly to encourage vigilante justice against drug dealers and other criminals. Nearly 2,000 people have reportedly been killed by paramilitary groups, acting with the tacit cooperation of the military and police.

Bishop Broderick Pabillo, an auxiliary of the Manila archdiocese, said with that Duterte's assumption of sweeping executive powers, "the Philippines could be surrounded by the dark shadows cast by Marcos." He was referring to the autocratic rule of President Ferdinand Marcos, who declared martial law in 1972 and only began to relinquish that control in 1981. Bishop Pabillo said that the Church should ensure that "those dark years are never repeated."


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