Posts Tagged ‘Duterte’

China to work with Asean on sea code

March 28, 2017
Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua relayed the message to President Duterte during their meeting in Davao City last Monday, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said. Kamuning Bakery Cafe/Released

MANILA, Philippines – China is determined to work with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) for the crafting of a framework for the code of conduct for claimants in the South China Sea dispute.

Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua relayed the message to President Duterte during their meeting in Davao City last Monday, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said.

“His excellency Zhao expressed China’s determination to work with ASEAN member states in finalizing the Code of Conduct Framework on the South China Sea middle of this year,” Abella said in a statement.

Zhao said China is looking forward to the first meeting on bilateral mechanism for the South China Sea row in May.

“Through this bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation will be forged and misunderstandings will be avoided,” Abella said.

Hours before the meeting, United States Ambassador Sung Kim called on Duterte to convey his country’s readiness to assist the Philippines in terms of military equipment and training.

“The President said that Philippines-US relations at the bilateral level remain strong and there is readiness to discuss more matters of mutual interest with the US,” he said.

“His Excellency Sung Kim also assured (President Duterte) that the US understands the security concerns of the Philippines and that the US is ready to provide more military equipment, assistance and training,” he added.

Abella said Duterte and Kim agreed that their countries have mutual interests and shared values and that fruitful engagements and discussions are very important “in ensuring that both states are on the same page.”

Duterte and Zhao also discussed the handling of the South China Sea issue, defense cooperation and capacity building, infrastructure projects financing, anti-poverty and the campaign against illegal drugs.

Abella said Zhao assured Duterte that China is ready to implement a cooperation agreement signed by the two countries’ coast guards.

“He (Zhao) looks forward to the Philippine Coast Guard delegation’s visit to China to hammer out actions, activities and new engagements to ensure that South China Sea is a sea of cooperation,” Abella said.

“He is also looking forward to the resumption of bilateral defense cooperation and participation in the One Belt, One Road Summit in Beijing in May 2017,” he added.

Zhao said China is hopeful that the Philippines would soon use its donations for anti-poverty programs and anti-illegal drugs operations.

Duterte also met with Péter Szijjártó, Hungary’s foreign affairs and trade minister, and expressed readiness to strengthen bilateral ties between Manila and Budapest.

“The President said that the Philippines is very interested in further strengthening bilateral relations with Hungary in terms of trade and investment and commerce, opening up the Philippine countryside as potential new markets, security cooperation and people-to-people exchanges through scholarship programs,” Abella said.

Szijjárto informed Duterte that Hungary is set to reopen its embassy in the Philippines.

“There will also be constant dialogue and person-to-person exchanges through scholarship programs to Hungary. Citing these areas of cooperation, Szijjártó said he is excited about the upgrade in the Philippines-Hungary cooperation,” Abella said.

Szijjárto said Hungary shares a common vision with the Philippines in the fight against terrorism and illegal migration.

Panatag master plan

Despite an earlier denial of reports that it was building a monitoring station on Panatag Shoal, China actually has a master plan for the full development of the shoal which is within the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, former Parañaque congressman Roilo Golez said yesterday.

Based on the master plan, Beijing is eyeing a 3,000-meter long runway and a harbor on the shoal.

“In our various strategic meetings – that latest was held in Japan – China, it turned out, already has a master plan (for Panatag Shoal),” Golez said in a forum at the Manila Hotel yesterday.  – With Jaime Laude, Paolo Romero

South China Sea Update: Philippines and China To Solidify Bilateral Deal in May 2017 — Scarborough Shoal? Depends on who you ask. — ASEAN deal soon…

March 27, 2017


BEIJING — Mar 27, 2017, 4:05 AM ET

A look at recent developments in the South China Sea, where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons in waters crucial for global commerce and rich in fish and potential oil and gas reserves:


EDITOR’S NOTE: This is a weekly look at the latest developments in the South China Sea, home to several territorial conflicts that have raised tensions in the region.


CHINA’S SCARBOROUGH PLANS STILL UNCLEAR — China may or may not be planning to build an environmental monitoring station on the disputed Scarborough Shoal, depending on who you ask.

While the top official in the administrative region covering the island says preparatory work for the station is a priority, the foreign ministry says there is no such plan.

The Philippines, which also claims the shoal, has sought a clarification from Beijing.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said last week that reports about the facility on Scarborough had been checked and were untrue.

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China’s Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying

However, the official Hainan Daily newspaper had earlier quoted Xiao Jie, the top official in Sansha City, as saying that preparatory work on the station was among the government’s top priorities for 2017. Calls to the region’s government seeking clarification have rung unanswered.

Such a move would likely renew concerns among Beijing’s neighbors over its assertive territorial claims in the strategically crucial South China Sea.

Beijing seized tiny, uninhabited Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels.

China’s construction and land reclamation work in the South China Sea have drawn strong criticism from the U.S. and others, who accuse Beijing of further militarizing the region and altering geography to bolster its claims. China says the seven man-made islands in the disputed Spratly group, complete with their airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes.

Prior to the announcement, South China Sea tensions had eased somewhat after Beijing erupted in fury last year following an international arbitration tribunal ruling on a case filed by the Philippines. The verdict invalidated China’s sweeping territorial claims and determined that China had violated the rights of Filipinos to fish at Scarborough Shoal.

China has since allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the shoal following an improvement in ties between the countries, but it does not recognize the tribunal’s ruling as valid.

China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have long contested ownership of the South China Sea, which straddles one of the world’s busiest sea lanes and is believed to sit atop vast deposits of oil and gas.


CHINA’S PREMIER REASSURES ON FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION, OVERFLIGHT — On a visit to Australia, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang offered reassurances on the freedom of navigation and overflight in the South China Sea.

Li, China’s second ranked official, said China would work with Australia to ensure freedom of navigation in distributed regions.

China will “never seek hegemony and dominance,” Li said, adding China needed a stable world environment to grow its economy.

Li was welcomed to Parliament House by a 19-gun salute and distant protest chants of anti-China demonstrators who were kept well away from the Chinese leader.

While Australia does not take an active participant in the South China Sea disputes, it is a close security partner of the United States, while also relying on China as its biggest export market. During Li’s visit, he and Turnbull oversaw the signing of agreements that will expand their 2-year-old free trade pact. China also agreed to expand its market for Australian beef exporters.

Turnbull rejected arguments that Australia must choose between the U.S. and China, despite growing tensions between the economic superpowers.


PHL, China to discuss South China Sea bilateral mechanism in May

Published March 27, 2017 10:54pm
The Philippines and China are expected to discuss the bilateral mechanism on the South China Sea issue this coming May, Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a Monday statement.
Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, in his courtesy call on President Rodrigo Duterte in Davao City, had said that China had been looking forward to discussing the matter with the Philippines.


 Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (left) shakes hands with China’s ambassador to the Philippines, Zhao Jianhua, last August. Photo: EPA
“He conveyed that China looked forward to the convening, in May 2017, of the first meeting of the bilateral mechanism set up to properly handle the SCS issue,” explained Abella. “Through this bilateral mechanism, mutual trust and maritime cooperation will be forged and misunderstandings will be avoided.”
Zhao had also said that China was determined to work with ASEAN member states in finalizing the Code of Conduct Framework on the South China Sea mid-2017.
The Chinese ambassador also mentioned the successful meeting between Philippine and Chinese Coast Guard committees, and China’s readiness to implement the agreed memorandum of understanding signed during Duterte’s Beijing visit last October.
“He (Zhao) looks forward to the Philippine Coast Guard delegation’s visit to China to hammer out actions, activities and new engagements to ensure that SCS is a sea of cooperation,” Abella added.
Additionally, the Chinese ambassador looked forward to the resumption of bilateral defense cooperation between the two nations.
Aside from the South China Sea, Zhao and Duterte also discussed infrastructure projects and anti-poverty programs.
“H.E. Zhao hoped that the infrastructure projects in the pipeline will soon be launched, implemented, and completed within the term of PRRD,” said Abella. “H.E. Zhao reported that China hopes for PH to soon utilize donations for anti-poverty programs and anti-illegal drugs operations.” — DVM, GMA News
Related (Incliding East China Sea):

Opinion: Philippine Lawyers say murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, extortion, illegal arrests should be investigated, prosecuted — Police should not be “death squads”

March 27, 2017


Why does it feel as if he is waging a war against the people?

The Philippine Inquirer

President Duterte is wrong to promise immunity to law enforcers who abuse or exceed their authority, like those involved in “tokhang.”

There are standards and regulations that should be followed in police operations; these are codified to protect the citizens against the awesome powers of the state.  When law enforcers violate the law, when they commit crimes, they should be punished as everybody else. When law enforcers become criminals, they themselves are threats to public security.

Even the President, with his solemn oath to faithfully execute the laws of the land, is beholden by the same set of laws and ethics.

Image result for Philippine National Police, photos

Philippine Star photo

Allegations of murder, extrajudicial killings, rape, extortion, illegal arrests and other rights abuses and violations by the police must be seriously, fairly and timely investigated and prosecuted.

Mr. Duterte must not embolden erring and corrupt law enforcers into committing crimes, whether in his name or in the name of the state. It is morally reprehensible to condone organized brutality and criminality, and use the uniform as a shield against accountability. It is obstruction of justice and, in a sense, complicity, cultivating a mercenary tradition.

Mr. Duterte said he will wage a war against the illegal drugs trade. But measured by the number of dead and the magnitude of its toll, why does it feel as if he is waging a war against the people?

JULIAN F. OLIVA, adviser, MARIA KRISTINA C. CONTI, secretary general, National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers-NCR

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Philippines: Duterte Government Says Human Rights Watch is At Fault — Doesn’t Understand Mass Murder of Filipino Drug People

March 27, 2017

Philippines accuses HRW of cultural insensitivity over stinging drug war criticism

Agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) escort alleged drug suspects in a continuing raid at an informal settlers’ community inside the sprawling compound of a public cemetery Thursday, March 16, 2017 in suburban Quezon city northeast of Manila, Philippines. The drug raid came at a time that a Philippine lawmaker has filed an impeachment complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for the thousands of deaths in his anti-drug crackdown and for alleged corruption. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
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MANILA, Philipines — Malacañang Monday denied the claim of a Human Rights Watch (HRW) official that President Rodrigo Duterte has “contempt for lives” as it accused the group of “deep insensitivity to others’ cultures.”
HRW deputy director for Asia Phelim Kine claimed in an online post on Sunday that Duterte has finally acknowledged that his campaign against drugs is “in fact a war on the poor”
Kine said Duterte employed a “grotesque logic” and that his crackdown on illegal drugs showed his “contempt for lives.” Majority of the 7,000 people who died because of the drug war were urban slum dwellers, he added.
“Duterte’s admission ends the perverse fiction that he and his government have sought to perpetuate over the past nine months that the victims of the drug war – many of whose bodies are found on street corners wrapped in packing tape, riddled with bullets or perforated with stab wounds – have been ‘drug lords,’” the HRW official said in a Twitter post.
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella denied Kine’s statements and asked the HRW not to meddle with the Philippines’ internal affairs.

Since Mr. Duterte took office last June and declared a “war” on drugs, the police and unknown assassins have killed more than 3,600 people, the police say, mostly in the slums of Philippine cities. Some put the toll at more than 7,000.


A man suspected of dealing drugs shot dead after a “buy and bust” operation in Quezon City in September. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times

“Nothing can be farther from the truth than the HRW accusation that President Duterte has ‘contempt for lives.’  In fact, eight out of ten Filipinos living in Metro Manila now feel safer and more secure under his administration,” Abella said, referring to a Pulse Asia survey conducted last December.
“HRW and similar other organizations should, therefore, be more circumspect about meddling in the country’s domestic affairs. Their lack of appreciation of the context and local reality show a deep insensitivity to other cultures,” he added.
Abella also denied that the anti-drug war is targeting the poor.
“The war on drugs is not targeted at any particular segment of society.  However, the most prevalent drug in the Philippines is shabu, dubbed as poor man’s cocaine,” Duterte’s spokesman said.
“The supply, largely from outside the Philippines, is in great demand from users and distributors both coming from poor families.  Poverty, however, does not justify the use and selling of shabu,” he added.
Abella said Duterte would continue to clean up the streets of drug users, pushers and dealers “regardless of their socioeconomic status in life.”
HRW, a watchdog based in New York, previously said that the Philippines is in the midst of a “human rights calamity” because of drug-related killings. The group also accused the police of carrying out the extrajudicial killings of drug suspects and planting evidence in crime scenes.
Duterte has denied endorsing summary executions but encouraged policemen to shoot drug suspects if they feel that their lives are in danger. The president also vowed to continue clamping down on illegal drugs until the last drug pusher is out of the streets.

READ: Duterte brings back police into war on drugs

Alleged drug personalities are being shot to death in Metro Manila and other parts of the Philippines in a program condemned by Amnesty International and other groups.. STAR/Joven Cagande

 (Includes commentary by former President of Columbia Gaviria)


South China Sea: One of the World’s Biggest Fisheries Is on the Verge of Collapse

March 26, 2017

South China Sea’s most important resource – its fish – is disappearing

Major disputes in the South China Sea are putting critical habitat—and the food supply of millions—at risk.

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Dock workers use cranes to off-load frozen tuna from a Chinese-owned cargo vessel at the General Santos Fish Port, in the Philippines. Tuna stocks in the South China Sea have plummeted in recent years because of overfishing. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

By Rachael Bale
National Geographic

PUERTO PRINCESA, PHILIPPINES — Years ago Christopher Tubo caught a 660-pound blue marlin in the South China Sea. The fishing was good there, he says. Tuna fishermen would come home from a trip with dozens of the high-value fish as well as a good haul of other species.

“Here there’s none of that,” he says, looking toward the Sulu Sea, the Philippine sea where he’s been fishing for the past four years. His two boats, traditional Filipino outriggers called bancas, float in the shallow water nearby, new coats of white paint drying in the sun.

Tubo is sitting on a wooden bench in front of his home, which perches on stilts above the bay. One of his four kids wraps an arm around his leg. Worn T-shirts and shorts flutter on clotheslines behind them.

A worker carries a line-caught yellowfin tuna at the General Santos Fish Port, which is known as the “tuna capital of the Philippines.” The South China Sea, through which tuna migrate, produces more fish than almost anywhere else, but it has been severely overfished and is nearing collapse. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
Glancing over at his wife, Leah, and the other children, he says, “It’s just chance, whether or not we can feed our families now.”

Tubo lives in Puerto Princesa, a city of 255,000 on Palawan, a long finger of an island that faces the Sulu Sea and the Philippine archipelago to the east and the contested South China Sea to the west. He’s one of the nearly 320,000 fishermen in the Philippines who have traditionally made their livelihoods from the South China Sea—and one of a growing number who are now fishing in other waters because of increasing Chinese interference. Beginning around 2012, China adopted a more assertive posture in the sea’s long-running territorial dispute, building military installations on contested islands and increasingly using its coast guard to intimidate fishermen from other countries.

It was after a Chinese coast guard vessel attacked a friend’s fishing boat with water cannons that Christopher Tubo stopped fishing the South China Sea.

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Filipino fishermen aboard the Ninay haul in sardines and scad in national waters near the South China Sea. The territorial and maritime disputes in the South China Sea have increased competition for dwindling fish stocks of all species.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
“One minute you’ll see an airplane, the next thing there’s a naval boat,” he says, describing how the Chinese attempt to keep fishermen from other countries out of the disputed area. “If we kept going over there, maybe we won’t be able to go home to our families.”

“As they see it, it’s theirs now, and Filipinos are forbidden,” says Henry Tesorio, an elected councilor for a fishing village in Puerto Princesa.

Vietnamese fishermen could say the same thing. Some 200 Vietnamese from the island of Ly Son, 15 miles (24 kilometers) off the mainland, reported being attacked by Chinese boats in 2015, according to local Vietnamese government officials.

The lights on the Melissa attract fish toward the boat and up to the surface. A storm later forced the boat to return to Quezon, a fishing village on the island of Palawan, in the Philippines. Fishermen from the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, and elsewhere all fish the South China Sea.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

Tubo’s decision not to fish in the South China Sea speaks to the rising tensions in the region, which are causing fierce competition for natural resources. Encompassing 1.4 million square miles (3.7 million square kilometers), the South China Sea is of critical economic, military, and environmental importance: $5.3 trillion in international trade plies its waters annually; in terms of biodiversity, it is thought of as the marine equivalent of the Amazon rain forest; and its fish provide food and jobs for millions in the 10 countries and territories that surround it.

Of those, seven—China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and Indonesia—have competing claims to the sea’s waters and resources. So it’s understandable why all eyes have been focused on the political and military wrangling. If war broke out over these claims, it would pit two superpowers, China and the United States—a longtime Philippine ally and guarantor of freedom of navigation in the Pacific Ocean—against each other.

South China Sea map. Credit Center for Strategic and International Studies

But another less publicized, also potentially disastrous, threat looms in the South China Sea: overfishing. This is one of the world’s most important fisheries, employing more than 3.7 million people and bringing in billions of dollars every year. But after decades of free-for-all fishing, dwindling stocks now threaten both the food security and economic growth of the rapidly developing nations that draw on them.

China argues that it has a right to almost the entire South China Sea because it says it has historically exercised jurisdiction in that area, which China delineates on maps with a U-shaped “nine-dash” line (see map). Every other disputant in the South China Sea, including the Philippines, bases its maritime claims on the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, an international agreement that defines maritime zones.

Opposing Beijing’s expansionist claims, in 2013 the Philippines brought a case against China before an arbitral tribunal at the Permanent Court of Arbitration—a forum for settling international disputes—in The Hague, Netherlands. China refused to participate. On July 12, the tribunal ruled in favor of the Philippines on almost all its claims, declaring that China forfeited the possibility of any historically based rights when it ratified the UN convention in 1996. China has vowed to ignore the ruling.

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Crew members take shelter from a storm aboard the Ninay. Filipino fishermen have reported increasing interference from Chinese coast guard vessels in the South China Sea. China claims most of the South China Sea for itself.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
Competition for fish has exacerbated the dispute, and the dispute has intensified competition among fishermen, further depleting fish. Some parts of the South China Sea have less than a tenth of the stocks they had five decades ago. And high-value fish such as tuna and grouper are becoming scarcer.

“What we’re looking at is potentially one of the world’s worst fisheries collapses ever,” says John McManus, a marine biologist at the Rosenstiel School at the University of Miami who studies the region’s reefs.

.“We’re talking hundreds and hundreds of species that will collapse, and they’ll collapse relatively quickly, one after another.”


Fishermen on the Front Lines

As coastal waters are depleted, fishermen have been forced to venture farther offshore and into disputed waters to make a living. China has seized this as an opportunity to bolster its claims by aggressively supporting its fishermen. Beijing has consolidated the coast guard, militarized fishing fleets, and begun offering subsidies for bigger and better boats, water, and fuel. There’s even a special subsidy specifically for fishermen to fish in the contested Spratly Islands, more than 500 miles (800 kilometers) to the south.

“The only reason that smaller [Chinese] fishermen go out to the Spratlys is because they’re paid to do so,” says Gregory Poling, the director of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, at the Washington, D.C.-based think tank, the Center for Strategic Studies. This extra pressure has sped up the depletion of fish stocks, he says.

The Chinese have also been building artificial islands atop reefs in the Spratlys to support military installations there. “Possession is nine-tenths of the law,” says Zachary Abuza, an expert on Southeast Asian politics and maritime security at the National War College, in Washington, D.C. “China is trying to enforce its sovereignty through the construction of these islands and by denying other countries access to natural resources.”

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A couple sits outside a home built over the water in Quezon, where most people have family members who work as fishermen. Overfishing has put the livelihoods of many Filipinos at risk.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

Eugenio Bito-onon, Jr.—until recently the mayor of the Kalayaan municipality, which includes islands in the Spratlys—is an outspoken advocate for the Philippines’ claims. Bito-onon and I met in the island’s cramped satellite office in Puerto Princesa, where he had a gigantic map of the South China Sea marked up with his own handwritten labels and colored dots showing which countries claim which features.

He pulls up Google Earth on his laptop and finds Thitu, an island in the Spratlys known locally as Pag-asa, where about 200 Filipinos, including a small number of troops, live part-time, their presence demonstrating the Philippines’ claim to the island. Rice, clothing, soap, and other necessities must be brought in by boat or airlift, and two government-owned generators are the only source of electricity. Bito-onon points out just how close Chinese-claimed Subi Reef is to Thitu. So close, he says, that on a clear day residents can see it on the horizon.

Even closer, though, are Chinese fishing boats, which he says have fished the reefs empty. “For the past three years, [the Chinese] never leave,” Bito-onon says from behind his laptop, now displaying satellite imagery of reefs around Thitu. “Chinese fishing boats come and go, replacing each other,” he says, but there are never not boats within sight of the island.

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A Filipino fisherman wades from boat to shore with part of the crew’s catch. Fishermen who go to the South China Sea report that their catches have gotten smaller in recent years. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

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The Navotas Fish Port in Manila is the largest in the Philippines. The markets at the port trade in seafood from freshwater farms, national waters, and international waters, including the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
Gilbert Elefane, the Filipino captain of a tuna boat based in the municipality of Quezon, on Palawan, says he now sees up to a hundred boats, many Chinese, on a single two-week fishing trip in the South China Sea. Just a few years ago, he says he’d have seen no more than 30.

Beijing has provided military training and sophisticated GPS and communications technology to its fishermen so they can call in the coast guard if they have a run-in with a foreign law enforcement vessel or alert the coast guard of the presence of fishermen from other countries.

In the face of China’s island building, Vietnam has done some small-scale land reclamation of its own in an attempt to bolster its capacity in the Spratlys. Its efforts, however, have been less destructive than China’s.

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A dock worker uses a mallet to dislodge frozen tuna aboard a Chinese cargo vessel docked at the city of General Santos in the Philippines. The cargo vessel spends up to two months at sea with a fleet of a dozen tuna boats working to fill its freezer. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

As long as the conflict in the South China Sea continues, it will be nearly impossible to regulate fishing.

When one country tries to protect its fishing grounds, tensions flare. In March, for instance, Indonesian maritime law enforcement officials arrested eight Chinese on charges of illegal fishing. The fishermen were less than three miles (five kilometers) from Indonesia’s Natuna Islands. The Natunas themselves are not in dispute, but the waters north of them, which are particularly rich in gas, have become a new flashpoint. Under international law they’re Indonesian, but they partially overlap with China’s nine-dash line claims, so China says it has a right to fish there.

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A pregnant woman wades in the dirty water near the Navotas Fish Port. The Philippines’ economy relies heavily on fishing and the seafood trade, as do most of the countries around the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

When Indonesia’s vessel began towing the Chinese boat back to port, an armed Chinese coast guard ship appeared and began ramming the Chinese boat to break it free. The Indonesians were forced to let the boat go and retreat.

“It’s unclear whose laws you’re enforcing when you have seven overlapping sets of fisheries laws,” Poling says. “States have a vested interest in purposely violating fishing laws of other states.”

That’s because abiding by another country’s fishing law is tantamount to accepting that that country has jurisdiction over that region, which no country has been willing to do.

In 2012, a Philippine navy warship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen at Scarborough Shoal, about 138 miles (220 kilometers) from the Philippine coast, on suspicion of illegal fishing and poaching rare corals, giant clams, and sharks. A Chinese coast guard ship interfered to prevent the arrests, forcing a standoff. After 10 weeks both sides agreed to withdraw, but once the Philippines left, China remained, effectively seizing control of the shoal.

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A fisherman at the General Santos Fish Port carries a yellowfin tuna caught in the South China Sea. Fishermen say the fish they catch now are smaller than before.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic


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Workers at the Navotas Fish Port unload and sort fish from commercial boats that have returned from the South China Sea, where overfishing has exacerbated the land and sea disputes in the region.
Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

As Filipino fishermen have seen their catches—and the fish themselves—getting smaller, they’ve increasingly been resorting to dangerous, illegal fishing methods. Blast fishing, which Filipinos call “bong bong” fishing, involves setting off homemade bombs underwater to kill dozens of fish at one time. Cyanide fishing, which involves squirting fish in the face with poison to stun them, is used to catch live reef fish to supply high-end live seafood restaurants in Hong Kong and other large Asian cities. Both practices kill coral and other fish, collateral damage that’s pushing the sea ever closer to an overfishing crisis.

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Dock workers at the Navotas Fish Port sort through mussels. If the South China Sea fishery were to collapse, it would threaten the food supply of millions. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
China’s island building and giant clam poaching have caused most of them documented reef destruction in the South China Sea, an area totaling 62 square miles (163 square kilometers). Island building grinds up corals for use as foundation material, smothers reefs that become the base of islands, and creates sediment plumes that suffocate nearby reefs. Dredging to deepen ports also causes serious damage. And poaching of giant clams entails grinding up corals to loosen the shells from the reef.

“It’s quite possible we’re seeing a serious decline in about half of the reefs,” John McManus, the marine biologist, says. “That’s what I expect will happen, if it hasn’t happened already. It’s just total destruction.”

When a reef is destroyed, the ecosystem unravels. Reef fish lose their habitat, and pelagic fish such as tuna lose an important source of food. Furthermore, reefs in the South China Sea are connected. Fish larvae from one reef ride the current across the sea to repopulate another reef. If a reef disappears, so does that source of larvae, increasing the chance that local extirpations of fish species will be permanent.

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Dock workers and fishermen buy food from a street vendor at the Navotas Fish Port, in Manila. Some 320,000 Filipinos fish the South China Sea, and many more work on the docks, as fish packers, and as seafood traders, among other jobs.  Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic

McManus says that many of the damaged reefs will be able to recover in a decade or two—if the island building and destructive giant clam poaching stop. He champions the idea of a “peace park,” a kind of marine protected area where all countries would put a freeze on their claims and halt all activities, like island building, that bolster those claims.

Experts also say cooperative regional management could go a long way toward making the South China Sea fishery sustainable. It would require dramatic cutbacks in the number of fishing boats and restrictions on fishing methods such as the use of huge fishing vessels that use powerful lights at night to attract tuna. All this would in turn mean helping fishermen find other ways to earn a living.

Under a sustainable management plan, tuna and mackerel could recover 17-fold by 2045, Rashid Sumaila and William Cheung at the University of British Columbia predicted in a 2015 report. Reef fish would recover up to 15 percent, and the catch and value of reef fish would also increase. Sharks and groupers, which are also high-value fish, would make a comeback too.

But Poling, of the Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, questions whether such a plan will happen in time. “What that requires is setting aside the disputes,” he says. “It’s possible—it’s just not likely. In order to have a successful joint management system, the first step is to agree on what area you’re talking about.” With China clinging to its nine-dash line while other countries base their claims on international law, agreement just won’t be possible, he says.

As it now stands, the South China Sea’s most important resource—its fish—is disappearing, and countries are either passively standing by or actively encouraging their fishermen to take more.

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Children fish at dusk in the fishing community of Quezon in the Philippines. Fishermen here ply their trade in national waters and the South China Sea. Credit Adam Dean, National Geographic
Aurora Almendral contributed to this report.

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Coming Tuesday: China’s giant clam poaching is decimating reefs in the South China Sea.

Follow Rachael Bale on Twitter.

This story was produced by National Geographic’s Special Investigations Unit, which focuses on wildlife crime and is made possible by grants from the BAND Foundation and the Woodtiger Fund. Read more stories from the SIU on Wildlife Watch. Send tips, feedback, and story ideas to


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 — From March 25, 2017 with links to other related articles

National Geographic:


A China Coast Guard ship (top) and a Philippine supply boat engage in a stand off as the Philippine boat attempts to reach the Second Thomas Shoal, a remote South China Sea a reef claimed by both countries, on March 29, 2014 (AFP Photo/Jay Directo )


A Vietnamese fisherman repairs his vessel after it was rammed by a Chinese patrol ship that it protecting the waters around a disputed oil rig in the South China Sea, May 18, 2014. (

A Vietnamese fisherman repairs his vessel after it was rammed by a Chinese patrol ship that it protecting the waters around a disputed oil rig in the South China Sea, May 18, 2014. (

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.

Vietnamese fishing boat Captain Tran Van Quang

Chủ tàu Trần Văn Quang và chiếc mỏ neo bị tàu lạ đâm lút vào mũi tàu. Ảnh: Đức Nguyễn.


Outrage: Vietnamese and Filipino protesters outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city to protest the recent moves by China to construct an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea

Outrage: Vietnamese and Filipino protesters outside the Chinese Consulate at the financial district of Makati city, the Philippines, to protest the recent moves by China to construct an oil rig in disputed waters in the South China Sea


 (This    article has links to several  others related to environmental issues in the South China Sea).

A green sea turtle is seen off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii.

A green sea turtle.(Reuters)

 (Includes Obama creates largest ocean reserve, takes heat for new federal decrees)

 (Has links to many related conservation and environmental articles)

 (Rupert Wingfield-Hayes reports)

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Filipino activists and Vietnamese nationals display placards and chant anti-China slogans as they march outside the Chinese Consulate in Manila’s Makati financial district on May 16, 2014. Several hundred Filipino and Vietnamese protesters united in a march in the Philippine capital on Friday, May 16, 2014, demanding that China stop oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. — PHOTO: REUTERS


 (August 25, 2016)

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China’s Tian Jing Hao – Cutter suction dredger — Used to destroy South China Sea coral reefs to provide dredge material for new man made- islands — an environmental disaster

 (Contains links to several related articles)

August 17, 2015
ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON

ANOTHER set of a dredge floater assembly with Chinese markings found in the Zambales sea is pulled to the shore of the capital town of Iba on Sunday. The first set of dredge floaters was found by local fishermen off Cabangan, Zambales province, in July. ALLAN MACATUNO/INQUIRER CENTRAL LUZON



An elderly Vietnamese protester holds a placard during an anti-China protest in front of the Chinese consulate in the financial district of Manila on May 16, 2014. Several hundred Filipino and Vietnamese protesters united in a march in the Philippine capital on May 16, demanding that China stop oil drilling in disputed South China Sea waters. Many Vietnamese remain uneasy with China in the South china sea till this day.  AFP PHOTO/TED ALJIBE (Photo credit should read TED ALJIBE/AFP/Getty Images)

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The End of an era?  Fishermen work to unload a net full of anchovies during a fishing expedition in the Pacific Ocean. Photo AP



China to host Asean in meeting on South China Sea

March 25, 2017
MAR 24, 2017, 5:00 AM SGT

Aim is for preliminary accord on framework for code of conduct to ease tension over spats

China will host a meeting with Asean in May to come up with a “preliminary agreement” on a framework for a “code of conduct” (COC) meant to ease tensions over disputes in the South China Sea.

“Maybe by that time, we will have made significant progress on the framework,” said Philippine Foreign Secretary Enrique Manalo at a news briefing on the sidelines of President Rodrigo Duterte’s official visit to Thailand on Wednesday.

Mr Manalo said earlier that a draft of the framework – first broached during a senior Asean officials’ meeting in the resort island of Boracay in the Philippines last month – is already being circulated to get Asean’s 10 member states to sign off.

“I’m not saying it will happen, but the hope of everyone is that by the time we get to the meeting in May, the senior officials… may be able to already have at least a preliminary agreement on the framework,” he said.

Mr Manalo declined to discuss specifics about the framework, except to say that it will incorporate elements already agreed upon under the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea.

In that declaration, the two sides agreed to “exercise self-restraint” to prevent actions that could “complicate or escalate disputes”.

At the Boracay meeting, Singapore’s Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said Asean was looking at concluding the COC framework by June this year.

A COC has been in the making since 2002, but talks have been slow, as consensus within Asean has been elusive and China insists on conditions that have made it difficult to reach a compromise.

Last year, following a ruling from a tribunal striking down its claims to nearly all of the South China Sea, China sought to have a COC framework ready by the middle of this year.

A COC is expected to lay down legally binding rules and guidelines on avoiding conflicts arising from rival claims by China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan over all or parts of the South China Sea, through which US$5 trillion (S$7 trillion) worth of trade passes through each year.

This comes as Mr Duterte reiterated that Chinese President Xi Jinping has assured him that China will not build structures on Scarborough Shoal as a “token of friendship”.

Beijing denied a news report that plans are afoot to erect an “environment monitoring station” on Scarborough Shoal, a potential flashpoint in the South China Sea.

“I was informed that they are not going to build anything on Scarborough,” said Mr Duterte at a news briefing shortly after he arrived in Manila from Bangkok just after midnight yesterday.

“Out of respect for our friendship, they will stop it. They won’t touch it. That’s what China said. Don’t worry. We are friends.”

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 24, 2017, with the headline ‘China to host Asean in meeting on South China Sea’.

The Five Fastest Growing Economies In East Asia In 2017

March 24, 2017

I cover under-reported stories from Taiwan and Asia.

A man rides a bicycle under the flyover at the South Luzon Expressway in Manila on November 18, 2010. (NOEL CELIS/AFP/Getty Images)

The first thing you saw last year after walking out of Manila’s international airport was an expressway flyover construction project. It wasn’t scenic, and detours due to construction might have set back your taxi ride to the hotel in an already infamously congested city. But the 11.6-km project, the NAIA Expressway, opened at year’s end as a typical case of basic infrastructure work that is pushing the Philippine economy to expand faster than a lot of its peers around Asia.

The Philippines is just one growth engine for the region stretching from Japan to Singapore, and infrastructure booms are just one source of booming economies. Here are the countries that the World Bank projects will grow fastest in East Asia and the Pacific this year:

1. Laos. This impoverished country with a strict Communist government will grow 7% this year because of investment in the power sector and deeper integration with the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations, the World Bank The landlocked country of about 7 million people is improving its power network to provide electricity to 10% of households by 2020 and possibly export it as well, according to the Department of Energy Business website. Laos has also made it easier to do business. The 2016 GDP stood at $13.7 billion.

2. The Philippines. It’s not just the expressway that will push Philippine GDP growth upward by 6.9% this year, per the World Bank’s estimate. Public infrastructure spending will hit a record high of $17.7 billion, more than 5% of the GDP, Philippine News Agency says. The country of 102 million people should see “faster and more effective roll-out of tax reform and government infrastructure projects and public-private partnerships,” adds Jonathan Ravelas, chief market strategist with Banco de Oro UniBank in Metro Manila. Infrastructure spending combined with older economic drivers such as remittances from overseas, consumer spending and call centers will expand an economy worth $311 billion economy last year. Once the airports and rail systems start coming online, foreign-invested factories will find thing easier and tourists — always a core part of the Philippine economy — will find getting around easier.

3. Cambodia. The World Bank forecasts the $19.4 billion economy of this small Southeast Asian country to expand 6.9% this year. It cites exports following a “sizable foreign direct investment” into the garment sector, as well as real estate and construction projects. Some garment factories have shifted from Vietnam because labor in Cambodia is even cheaper. The value of garment exports reached $6 billion in 2015, worth 70% of all exports, and employed 700,000 people, according to Research and Markets. Like Laos, Cambodia has also made doing business easier, the World Bank says.

4. Myanmar. Another country expected to grow 6.9% this year, the former military dictatorship that just opened to foreign investment in 2012 will keep that advantage as well as domestic private sector investments, the World Bank says. The country with a 2016 GDP of $68.3 billion has lured foreign investors with its natural resources, young workforce and pro-business changes to laws. A lot of foreign-funded projects cover energy, garment production and food and beverages.

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5. China. Although the World Bank’s projected 2017 growth rate of 6.5% marks a growth slowdown from last year’s 6.7% — already a 26-year-low — the world’s second largest economy will keep expanding. That’s most likely due to fiscal stimulus, attention to new infrastructure such as bridges and roads as well as continued focus on export manufacturing. Those engines that have run China since the 1980s will keep going despite pledges from government officials to push both aside in favor of private investment and consumer spending. Foreign investment is expected to grow 15% this year, up from 4.1% in 2016.

Philippine President Duterte Ally Says New York Times is Destabilizing The Philippines — (Read it here and judge for yourself)

March 24, 2017
By: – Reporter / @deejayapINQ
/ 05:30 AM March 24, 2017

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles. MARC JAYSON CAYABYAB/ FILE PHOTO

Davao City Rep. Karlo Nograles. MARC JAYSON CAYABYAB/ FILE PHOTO

Now, it’s the New York Times that is destabilizing the Duterte administration by publishing a profile of the Philippine leader as an emerging strongman, according to an ally of the President.

Davao City Rep. Karlo Alexei Nograles on Thursday said the Times article was an attempt to “destabilize and topple down the government” so that “enemies of the State” may grab power.

“New York Times owes our country, our people and our President an explanation and an apology,” Nograles said in statement.

The Times article, “Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman” by Richard Paddock, traced Duterte’s life and career as a “killer-savior”—from the beatings he received as a boy to his rise as one of the country’s toughest mayors to being a foul-mouthed president.

The article was published also by the Inquirer on Thursday.

“The spin doctors are on overtime to put in disrepute the President of our republic in a desperate attempt to take over. They are going international because they know that our people know better and nobody would believe them,” Nograles said.

Nograles, chair of the House appropriations committee, said the Duterte profile was “nothing more than a rebooted, rehashed, exaggerated remake of a movie script.”

‘Calculated move’


“This is obviously a calibrated and calculated move by enemies of the State to force themselves into power in an undemocratic manner. Only rich and powerful enemies have the means to operate in this manner,” he said.

Nograles said the details in the story were all “obviously fed” by detractors of Mr. Duterte and not based on objective research by “hard-nosed journalists.”

“The writer made it appear that he interviewed a few people for the article but it is clear that he picked only parts of those interviews that were unfavorable to President Duterte and his people,” Nograles said.

“It destroyed the time-honored balance required in journalism and recklessly tried to damage the interests of the Philippines,” he added.

Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, a fierce critic of Duterte, was among the people interviewed by the writer, who also extensively quoted the President’s brother and sister.

“Curiously,” Nograles said, “the malicious article came at a time when there was this report from New York City by Filipina journalist Ethel Cantor Constantino, a former Davao broadcaster, that intense fund-raising activities are being undertaken in that particular American area.”

“The report from New York made public online did mention of Philippine opposition figures raising money to bring down the Duterte administration,” he said.


Duterte thinks Trillanes, De Lima, Robredo planning to oust him
Becoming Duterte: The Making of a Philippine Strongman

He is a child of privilege turned populist politician, an antidrug crusader who has struggled
with drug abuse. Obsessed with death, he has turned his violent vision into national policy.

DAVAO CITY, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte relishes the image of killer-savior. He boasts of killing criminals with his own hand. On occasion, he calls for mass murder.

Speaking of the drug addicts he says are destroying the Philippines, he said, “I would be happy to slaughter them.”

Mr. Duterte and his friends have long cultivated legends of his sadistic exploits, like throwing a drug lord from a helicopter and forcing a tourist who violated a smoking ban to eat his cigarette butt at gunpoint.

It is a thuggish image that Mr. Duterte embraces.

Whether Mr. Duterte has done what he says — the killings he claims to have carried out are impossible to verify — he has realized his gory vision in national policy. First as a mayor, now as president of the Philippines, he has encouraged the police and vigilantes to kill thousands of people with impunity.


While his draconian justice and coarse manner have earned him widespread condemnation outside the Philippines, an in-depth look at his rise to power and interviews with many people close to him reveal a man of multiple contradictions.

He has alienated many with outrageous comments and irrational behavior, yet remains wildly popular. He is an antidrug crusader, yet has struggled with drug abuse himself. And he grew up a child of privilege, the son of a provincial governor, yet was subjected to regular beatings.

His mother whipped him so often for his misbehavior that she wore out her horsewhip, according to his brother, Emmanuel Duterte. At parochial school, he was caned by Jesuit priests and, the president says, molested by one. By his teenage years, he was known as a street brawler.

“Violence in the house, violence in the school and violence in the neighborhood,” Emmanuel Duterte said. “That is why he is always angry. Because if you have pain when you are young, you are angry all the time.”

Years later, a psychological assessment of Mr. Duterte, prepared in 1998 for the annulment of his marriage, concluded that he had “narcissistic personality disorder” and a “pervasive tendency to demean, humiliate others and violate their rights.”

Nonetheless, his ailing ex-wife campaigned for his presidential bid last year.

That act of devotion only begins to unravel the paradox that is Mr. Duterte. Behind his brutish caricature, according to interviews with dozens of Mr. Duterte’s friends, family members, allies and critics, is a man who can be charming and engaging. He has many loyal friends and a soft spot for sick children.

As mayor of Davao City, he was known to help people in need by digging into his pocket and handing them a wad of cash. To many, his vulgar jokes only burnish his bona fides as a man of the people. When he appears in public, he is swarmed by adoring fans.

Still, the bodies have been piling up. Since Mr. Duterte took office last June and declared a “war” on drugs, the police and unknown assassins have killed more than 3,600 people, the police say, mostly in the slums of Philippine cities. Some put the toll at more than 7,000.

A man suspected of dealing drugs shot dead after a “buy and bust” operation in Quezon City in September. Credit Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times


“I might go down in the history as the butcher,” he acknowledged unapologetically in January.

In less than nine months, he has already surpassed the death toll of President Ferdinand Marcos, whose forces killed about 3,300 political opponents and activists during his harsh 20-year rule.

Yet his gangland approach to combating crime and drugs has largely endeared him to Filipinos who have suffered high rates of violent crime and who see him as a refreshing change from the sophisticated but out-of-touch elite who have ruled this country for most of the last three decades.

The dissonance between the image of the gentle, caring grandfather and the brutal strongman spilling blood on the streets is just one of many in a common-man president who was born to the elite and has lived a life surrounded by violence.


Duterte says Philippines can’t afford oil rigs, open to sharing resources with China in disputed sea

March 24, 2017

South China Morning Post, AFP and Reuters

Friday, 24 March, 2017, 1:09pm
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The Haiyang Shiyou oil rig, the first deep-water drilling rig developed in China, 320 kilometres southeast of Hong Kong in the South China Sea in 2012. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he was open to sharing resources with Beijing in flashpoint South China Sea waters over which Manila has been given exclusive rights by an international tribunal. File photo: Xinhua

Philippines President Duterte Again Floats Idea of Martial Law — Groups vow ‘rising resistance’

March 23, 2017

In a democracy, the people “own” the President and all the lawmakers. Under martial law, some say the President “owns” the people….

President Rodrigo Duterte urges Filipinos, in his speech during the meeting with the Filipino community at the Horizon Lake View Hotel in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar on March 19, 2017, to be more assertive of their rights and proactive in reporting corruption in government. PCOO/Released
MANILA, Philippines — Human rights group Karapatan on Thursday criticized President Rodrigo Duterte for again mentioning martial law, saying doing so will not solve illegal drugs and terrorism.
Karapatan Secretary-General Cristina Palabay said in a statement that the human rights situation in the country will only worsen with the imposition of martial law, which Duterte again floated as a possibility to address security issues in parts of Mindanao.
“It is unacceptable that Duterte trifles with concepts and rhetoric that will result to open fascist rule,” Palabay said.
In a speech on Wednesday evening, Duterte again mentioned martial law, a prickly issue for many Filipinos.
“Pag ako ang pumasok sa Mindanao ng martial law, I will see to it, tapos ang lahat,” Duterte said in his speech at Ninoy Aquino International Airport after he returned from Thailand.
Duterte has been criticized in the past for contradictory statements on martial rule. In one of his speeches, he said that he does not want to impose martial law but also said in another speech, that no one will be able to stop him from declaring it.
The Palace has often clarified Duterte’s statements on martial law and other issues and a Palace spokesman even criticized the press for what he said was misinterpreting what Duterte said.
Palabay said that Duterte should expect “strong resistance” from the Filipino people against martial law and any other fascist attacks.
Kabataan: Martial law will be met with rising resistance
Kabataan party-list, meanwhile, promised “rising resistance” if “Duterte keeps toying with the idea of martial law and increased fascist repression.”
Kabataan party-list Rep. Sarah Elago said that solving the root causes of poverty and conflict, and not martial rule, will ensure security in Mindanao and the rest of the country.
“Martial law and all-out war has only caused harm and discord among our communities, and even right now, Duterte’s fascist offensives have only increased the casualties,” she said.
“Illegal arrests and detention remain, just like during Marcos’ martial law days, and around 400 and counting political prisoners with trumped-up charges are still waiting to be released. And even up to now, justice is still wanting for the Martial Law victims and their families,” Elago also said.
Earlier this month, Davao-based Konsyensya Dabaw also warned Duterte against declaring martial law in Mindanao, saying the situation there only got worse the last time it was declared across the country.
“Mindanao became more neglected and its development even more stunted as Marcos and his cronies sought to funnel government resources to areas that they controlled. We were the cash cow that got peanuts. The violent and frontier image that Marcos had cultivated to warrant the continuation of authoritarian rule made Mindanao unattractive to more sustainable economic activities,” the group said.
The statement was made in response to a speech where Duterte asked local executives of Mindanao to help him curb terrorism and extremism or he would be forced to declare martial law.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa (R) during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila on January 30, 2017. © NOEL CELIS / POOL / AFP

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Philippines: Filipino’s killed by police without a court warrant or hearing in President Duterte’s “war on drugs.”

Amnesty International accused the Filipino police of murdering defenceless people or paying others to kill as part of President Rodrigo Duterte's drug war

Amnesty International accused the Filipino police of murdering defenceless people or paying others to kill as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war ©NOEL CELIS (AFP/File)

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kline also said the numbers of fatalities in the drug war launched by President Rodrigo Duterte when he assumed office on June 30, 2016, are “appalling but predictable” since he (Duterte) vowed to “forget the laws on human rights.”

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Philippines Policeman found tortured and strangled after some fellow police said he was involved in the illegal drug trade. Photo Credit Boy Cruz

 (December 23, 2016)

Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl looks like it has been put out with the trash…..

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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

“They are afraid the incident could cause President Duterte to declare martial law. I talked with some sultans and ulamas and elders here… and that’s what they have told me,” Ponyo said.

 (November 30, 2016)


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High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein. UN Photo, Jean-Marc Ferré

Summary executions of supposed drug dealers and other criminals have become a common occurence in recent weeks. The STAR/Joven Cagande, file

 (November 16, 2016)


 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa

Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file

President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial


Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry's Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers burying cadavers in various stages of decomposition in a mass grave in Manila, after health officials recovered the cadavers from Henry’s Funeral Home. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.

A worker arranging cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila. Picture: AFP/ Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Health officials closed Henry's Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Health officials closed Henry’s Funeral Home after recovering at least 120 unclaimed and rotting cadavers in Manila. The city health department conducted a surprise raid after receiving complaints about a foul odour coming from the funeral parlour. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry's Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.

Workers carrying cadavers in various stages of decomposition at the morgue of Henry’s Funeral Homes in Manila, October 2016. Picture: AFP / Noel Celis.Source:AFP