Tuesday, 20 August, 2019

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte Mulls Imposing Martial Law Nationwide

Christy Curtis | 25 May, 2017, 08:18

Duterte reportedly told Trump that "as long as those rockets and warheads are in the hands of [North Korean leader] Kim Jong-un we will never be safe as there's not telling what will happen next".

The end of the phone conversation, according to the Times, centered on a first meeting between the two leaders.

"We are in a state of emergency", Duterte said Wednesday after he cut short a trip to Moscow and flew back to Manila. "But it seems from his face he is laughing always and there's a risky toy in his hands which could create so much agony and suffering for all of mankind".

Duterte told reporters in December that Trump, then President-elect, told him over the phone he was handling the fight against drugs "the right way". The campaign that has come under fire from global organizations, Western democracies, and human rights organizations.

During their discussion, one topic that the two leaders discussed was the situation in North Korea. Duterte informed Trump that he believes "China will play a very important role there".

Trump also told the Philippine president, "We can't let a madman with nuclear weapons on the loose like that".

Trump was likely referring to an Ohio-class guided missile submarine (SSGN), the USS Michigan, which made an official port call in Busan, South Korea on April 25, and the Los-Angeles-class attack submarine (SSN) USS Cheyenne, which visited Sasebo, Japan on May 2 as part of its regional deployment. There were no reports of major clashes on Wednesday.

"If I think that the ISIS has already taken foothold also in Luzon, and terrorism is not really far behind, I might declare martial law throughout the country to protect the people", Duterte told a news conference at the airport shortly after arriving from an official visit to Russian Federation.

"You are a good man", Trump said.

Trump assured Duterte that the USA would be able to "handle it", when it came to Jong Un. (A friendlier relationship with the Philippines, Reince Priebus said, was "necessary" to help counter North Korea.) But as usual, the president remains his own worst enemy as his staff labor to put a rosy spin on his obvious affinity for authoritarians. It's unclear why Trump was even discussing military intel regarding North Korea with Duterte, as the Philippines aren't involved in USA defense against North Korea in any way, shape, or form. He added, however, that he hopes China can solve the problem.

Trump's outreach to Duterte has been seen as another example of the affinity the US president has shown for some foreign leaders with shaky human rights or autocratic reputations.

A senior U.S. official briefed on the call independently verified the basics of the conversation to CNN, but said Trump was merely acknowledging the United States is combating its own drug problem, not condoning violence and human rights violations.

The Trump administration is pursuing a policy of "maximum pressure and engagement", which relies heavily on worldwide pressure and sanctions.

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