Philippines’ Duterte vows to press ahead with controversial policies

World Today

More than 10,000 demonstrators marched in Manila on Monday to voice their grievances against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s government.

The protest came as the controversial leader delivered his third State of the Nation address in Congress, but not before former President Gloria Arroyo made news of her own.

CGTN’s Barnaby Lo has the details.

After two years in office, President Duterte faces growing discontent. On Monday, thousands poured onto this highway leading to the House of Representatives where the populist leader was to deliver his annual State of the Nation address.

“They want answers and solutions to the worsening crisis of the Philippine economy,” Renato Reyes of the leftist coalition, the New Patriotic Alliance said. “They want solutions to human rights abuses. They want solutions to violations of national sovereignty — not a self-serving exercise that will keep the ruling elite in power.”

But Duterte remained unfazed by opposition to his signature anti-illegal drugs campaign.

“The war against illegal drugs will not be sidelined,” he declared. “On the contrary, it will be as relentless and chilling as on the day it began.”

Earlier in the day, former President Gloria Arroyo, who at one point was detained on corruption charges, was sworn in as the first woman to serve as speaker of the House of Representatives. She took the post in the middle of a presidential term by unseating Pantaleon Alvarez, despite last-minute moves to block her.

That left lawmakers with no time to ratify a much-touted law that would create a new autonomous region in the southern part of the country. But Duterte said he will press for the plan to be approved.

“When the approved version has been transmitted and received by my office, and the law has been passed, and I intend that it will be,  within 48 hours it will be signed.”

Outside, protesters say the divisions within Duterte’s ranks prove their point, and that they’re more united now than ever.