‘Shoot me’ if I become a dictator: Duterte tells troops to protect constitution

President Duterte
Updated 23 January 2018
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‘Shoot me’ if I become a dictator: Duterte tells troops to protect constitution

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Monday instructed the army and police to shoot him if he became a dictator and stayed on beyond his term, a scenario his foes are warning against, amid moves by his loyalists to change the constitution.
The firebrand leader sought to dispel speculation he had ordered loyalists in Congress to change the constitution to introduce a federal system that would let him stay in power beyond 2022, when his single term ends.
“If I overstay and wanted to become a dictator, shoot me, I am not joking,” Duterte told soldiers during an army base visit, adding that security forces should not allow anybody to mess with the constitution.
“It is your job to protect the constitution and to protect the people. Remember, it is your solemn duty.”
Duterte has advocated federalism to tackle inequality, empower provinces and recognize the country’s diverse makeup.
Last week, his lower house allies voted to convene a constituent assembly to revise the charter by May this year, scrapping mid-term elections next year and extending the terms of all elected officials.
Constitutional reform has been a divisive issue, with critics accusing lawmakers of trying to prolong their stay in office, or of seeking a way for the hugely popular Duterte to cling to power beyond the end of his term.
Opponents warn it could lead to a repeat of the oppressive rule of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, saying they are troubled by Duterte’s admiration for Marcos and his similar authoritarian traits.
Duterte’s spokesman, Harry Roque, has repeatedly said the president has no desire to stay longer than his term and, if anything, would prefer to retire earlier.


Putin attends Austria wedding, to meet Merkel for gas talks

Updated 31 min 16 sec ago
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Putin attends Austria wedding, to meet Merkel for gas talks

  • Putin is flying to Austria to attend the wedding Saturday of the country’s foreign minister
  • Austrian authorities have imposed tight security measures around the site of the ceremony

BERLIN: Russian President Vladimir Putin is flying to Austria to attend the wedding Saturday of the country’s foreign minister, before heading to Berlin for talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel.
Austrian authorities have imposed tight security measures around the site of the ceremony near the southern town of Graz of Foreign Minister Karin Kneissl, who was nominated by the pro-Russia Austrian Freedom Party.
Putin’s meeting with Merkel late Saturday takes place at the German government’s guesthouse in Meseberg, north of Berlin. Topics during the bilateral talks include Ukraine, Syria and the planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline from Russia to Germany that the United States and some European countries object to.
The two leaders planned to make statements before the talks.