Posts Tagged ‘India’

India: Google engineer latest victim of mob lynchings fueled by WhatsApp rumors

July 15, 2018

At least 25 people have been killed since May in incidents of mob violence triggered by rumors circulated on WhatsApp. The authorities are clueless as to who is behind the hoax messages.

    
A protester holds a placard during a demonstration against the mob lynchings in the India

A 32-year-old Google engineer was beaten to death and three others were severely injured in the southern Indian state of Karnataka on Friday in the latest incident of mob violence fueled by fake social media messages.

The victims were assaulted after one of them reportedly offered imported chocolates to school children, according to local media reports. The assailants assumed the group were trying to kidnap the children — the attack bore terrifying similarity to a string of mob lynchings in recent weeks.

Police arrested 25 people on Sunday.

Since May, at least 25 people have become victims of vigilante justice triggered by fake warnings of kidnappers or organ harvesters circulated on the Facebook-owned messaging platform WhatsApp.

The perpetrators in most cases are villagers, many of them first time smartphone users unable to discern between real and fake videos sent via the platform.

Technology-driven menace

An explosion in smartphone use is widely regarded as a major cause of the problem.

Nearly one in three Indians own a smartphone. Last year, 134 million smartphones were sold in India, which is the world’s second-biggest market, after China.

The smartphone revolution has changed the way people access information. Political parties, led by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party, are increasingly harnessing the new medium to garner support — in many cases through incendiary content.

Read moreIndia’s Dalits outraged at increase in caste-motivated attacks

Earlier this month, a mob killed five men in the western state of Maharashtra after videos circulated on WhatsApp warning about the presence of organ harvesters. The videos were fake, with one showing children who died from a nerve-gas attack in Syria.

On July 6, the army had to be called in the eastern state of Assam to rescue three priests who were under attack from a mob, incensed by hoax messages about child kidnappers carried on WhatsApp.

In June, two young men were lynched in the state on similar suspicions.

Alarmed by the string of lynchings, the Electronics and Information Technology Ministry has called on WhatsApp to remain “accountable, responsible and vigilant” and act immediately to curb the spread of false information.

“WhatsApp needs to recognize India offers a huge market for them. They are making good money out of India operations,” Information Technology Minister Ravi Shankar Prasad said earlier this month. “Therefore, they must focus on the security-related aspects of people of India.”

Read moreAttacks on Africans expose India’s racist inclinations

An Indian newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full back page advertisement from WhatsApp intended to counter fake informationWhatsApp published full-page advertisements in leading Indian newspapers

WhatsApp media blitz

Earlier this week, WhatsApp, which counts India as its biggest market, with more than 200 million users, published full-page advertisements in leading newspapers offering tips to users on how to identify false information.

“We are starting an education campaign in India on how to spot fake news and rumors,” a WhatsApp spokesman said in a statement. “Our first step is placing newspaper advertisements in English and Hindi and several other languages. We will build on these efforts.”

WhatsApp also launched a new feature that will label forwarded messages as such, informing receivers that the sender is not the creator of the message.

“It’s a good beginning,” Altaf Halde, cybersecurity global business head at the cybersecurity consulting firm Network Intelligence, told DW. “We need a mix of technology and people awareness to deal with the problem. More education is needed, but it will not happen overnight.”

Unlike its parent company, Facebook, messages on WhatsApp are difficult to monitor, as they are encrypted. This makes it hard for law enforcement agencies to trace the creators of the false content.

Tagging forwarded messages with the originating number is not an option, experts warn.

“That’s going to pose serious privacy-related questions,” Saket Modi, the chief executive of online cyber security firm Lucideus, told DW. “I don’t want my number to be flashed every time my message is forwarded.”

Saket Modi also feels awareness is key as the majority of WhatsApp users in the country are first-time smartphone users.

https://www.dw.com/en/india-google-engineer-latest-victim-of-mob-lynchings-fueled-by-whatsapp-rumors/a-44679902

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‘Fake news often goes viral’: WhatsApp ads warn India after mob lynchings
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Indian police hunt for five accused of gang raping woman

July 15, 2018

Police in India said on Sunday they were looking for five men after a 35-year-old woman was gang raped and burned alive in the northern city of Sambhal, the latest registered rape in a country that sees hundreds of cases of sexual violence against women each year.

Varun Kumar, an inspector at the Rajpura police station in Sambhal in the state of Uttar Pradesh, said a case had been filed against the five men, who they said had barged into the woman’s home at around 2.30 a.m. on Saturday and raped her, then burnt her body and dumped it at a temple nearby.

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Uttar Pradesh Police

More than 100 rape cases are reported each day in India. The recent rapes of an eight-year-old girl and a teenager in two states ruled by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s party led to public protests, prompting the Indian government in April to introduce the death penalty for rape of girls under the age of 12 and increase the minimum punishment for those whose victims are under 16. (bit.ly/2mh7BM5)

Crime statistics analyzed by Reuters show the number of reported rape cases in India had risen by 60 percent since 2012 to around 40,000 in 2016, and the conviction rate for crimes against women was generally lower than for most other crimes. (reut.rs/2Jo4AD3)

The case in Sambhal comes after a three-year-old girl was reported to have been raped on Friday by a lifeguard at a school in Noida, a satellite city close to New Delhi.

Manoj Kumar Pant, an officer at the Surajpur police station in Noida, said on Sunday that the accused had been arrested after the parents reported the incident on Friday. The parents learned about the rape when they took the girl for medical tests after she complained of pain, police said.

Reporting by Zeba Siddiqui in Mumbai; Editing by Susan Fenton

Reuters

Indian police arrest 25 in latest WhatsApp rumor-led lynching

July 15, 2018

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Police in India have arrested more than two dozen men who were part of a mob that lynched a 32-year-old man after rumors spread over WhatsApp that he was a child-kidnapper, police said on Sunday.

The killing of Mohammed Azam, who police said was a call center employee, in the southern state of Karnataka on Friday, was the latest in a series of assaults in India triggered by false messages about child abductors spread through Facebook Inc-owned WhatsApp.

At least three people have been killed and more than a dozen assaulted over such rumors this year, according to media reports.

Dileep Sagar, a police inspector in Karnataka, said a mob of at least 50 people attacked Azam and a relative after they were spotted offering chocolates to children in a remote village.

India is WhatsApp’s biggest market, with more than 200 million users.

The Information Technology ministry wrote to WhatsApp this month asking it to take measures to curb the spread of such fake messages.

WhatsApp put out advertisements in newspapers last week announcing an “education campaign” on how to spot fake news, adding it would also start labeling forwarded messages.

A spokeswoman for the company contacted on Sunday declined to make an immediate comment.

The inspector, Sagar, said at least 10 police officers, including him, were inured as they tried to control the attackers. Azam’s relative was injured.

Police have also arrested the administrator of a WhatsApp group on which the false messages were spread.

India: villagers lynch visitor for offering chocolate to girl

July 15, 2018

 

Villagers beat a person to death and injured two others with sticks and stones because they suspected them to be child-lifters.

The incident Friday night happened at Thoul hamlet and Murki village in Aurad taluk, Bidar district, India.

fake news

Facebook owned messaging service WhatsApp on July 10, 2018 published full-page advertisements in Indian dailies in a bid to counter fake information that has sparked mob lynching attacks across the country. PHOTO |

India blames an uptick of mob violence and lynchings on fake news and widely spread rumours on social media.

Read more at:
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‘Fake news often goes viral’: WhatsApp ads warn India after mob lynchings
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https://www.theguardian.com/world/2018/jul/13/fake-news-whatsapp-ads-india-mob-lynchings

When fake news sparks violence: India grapples with online rumours, mob violence

July 14, 2018

India has been shaken by a spate of mob killings sparked by a hoax about child kidnappers spread on WhatsApp.

In just two months, 20 people have been murdered in such attacks. Officials and social media platforms have so far been powerless to stop the violence.

But who is to blame? And why is a rumour turning people to violence?

– A rumour is born –

An online hoax emerged more than a year ago in eastern India claiming strangers were sedating and abducting children. Six men falsely accused of snatching kids off the streets were killed by mobs in Jharkhand state, police said.

© AFP/File | India is fertile ground for fake news to take hold and spread

In February this year, the rumours resurfaced nearly a thousand miles away in western India. By May, it had reached the country’s southern states, often accompanied by a grainy video purporting to show men on motorbikes stealing kids.

This falsehood spread like wildfire via WhatsApp, which boasts 200 million users in India who send a billion messages a day.

Later, a grisly video claiming to show Indian children killed by organ-harvesting gangs went viral. The macabre images were Syrian infants killed in a gas attack five years ago.

Translated into regional languages, the rumour triggered violence across India, particularly in rural areas where distrust of outsiders is entrenched and digital literacy is poor.

By early July, at least twenty people had been killed in the previous two months. Among the victims were homeless people, two picnic goers and an elderly woman handing out chocolates to children.

– Police powerless –

India’s police rounded up suspects and formed patrols, driving village to village to quash the rumours. In some areas, travelling musicians sung about the scourge of fake news.

Authorities in some states shut down internet access in a desperate bid to stop the hoax from spreading.

But the awareness campaigns had limited effect. In one instance, an official “rumour buster” was himself beaten to death.

Anger turned to WhatsApp, blamed by authorities for spreading “irresponsible and explosive messages”.

– Seeking penance –

WhatsApp said it was “horrified” by the violence and assured Indian authorities it was taking action.

The Facebook-owned company said it was working with Indian researchers to better understand the problem and had introduced changes which it said would reduce the spread of such messages.

But some pointed out that WhatsApp as a medium was not to blame, and urged the authorities to tackle the violence.

– Mob rule –

India is no stranger to mob violence, with well-documented cases of crowds turning on victims for every manner of transgression, real or imagined.

In recent years, for example, there has been a sharp escalation in “cow vigilantism” — Hindu extremists murdering Muslims and thrashing low-caste Dalits accused of killing cows or eating beef.

Many of the victims in other vigilante killings, such as those over child kidnapping rumours, are targeted because they are outsiders.

– Facts vs. Fiction –

India is fertile ground for fake news to take hold and spread.

It has a billion-plus mobile phone users — more than any other country on earth — and close to half a billion people with internet access, most via their smartphones.

Cheap handsets and data plans are bringing more Indians online but many are first-time internet users unskilled in discerning fact from fiction.

Indian police say there is no substance to the child kidnapping rumours, but the viral videos may not appear outlandish to some.

More than 120,000 children were abducted or went missing in 2016, according to the most recent Indian government figures. There is no data available on the number of children who were found.

AFP

India says twice-delayed strategic talks with U.S. to be held in September

July 13, 2018

India will hold a top-level strategic dialogue with the United States in the first week of September, India’s defense minister said on Friday, after the United States last month postponed the meeting for a second time this year.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi (left) with US President Donald Trump during their joint statement at the White House in June 2017

So-called two-plus-two talks were agreed by U.S. President Donald Trump and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi last year.

The United States postponed the talks twice but later said it was a priority.

“The 2+2 dialogue with the U.S. is to happen in the first week of September,” Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman told the television news agency ANI, a Reuters affiliate.

“The agenda will be to develop and strengthen strategic defense cooperation.”

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had been scheduled to hold joint talks with their Indian counterparts in Washington on July 6.

But Pompeo postponed the meeting because of “unavoidable reasons”, the Indian foreign ministry said last month.

The meeting was originally planned for April but had to be put off because Trump fired Secretary of State Rex Tillerson the previous month and Pompeo went through confirmation hearings before the U.S. Congress.

Separately, the Times of India daily reported on Friday that India has invited Trump to be the chief guest at January’s Republic Day parade.

India’s foreign ministry did not immediately respond to an email request for comment.

Trump and Modi took great pains to stress the importance of a strong U.S.-Indian relationship when they met in Washington a year ago.

But trade differences between their countries have increased in recent months. In June, India raised duties on U.S. farm products in retaliation for Trump’s tariff increases on steel and aluminum.

Reporting by Krishna N. Das and Nidhi Verma; Editng by Robert Birsel

Reuters

India’s social media monitoring plan worries Supreme Court

July 13, 2018

A government plan to monitor social media could turn India into a “surveillance state”, the Supreme Court was cited as saying on Friday as it asked the government to respond to such worries within two weeks, a lawyer involved in the case said.

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Supreme Court in New Delhi 

The government wants social media users monitored and fake news identified and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in April invited bids from companies to do that.

But a member of parliament challenged the plan, following which a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court began hearing the matter.

“Tracking and regulating social media content will transform us into a surveillance state,” one of the three judges observed, according to the petitioner’s lawyer, who declined to be identified.

Indian media also reported that the Supreme Court raised concerns about the plan to track social media.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Highlighting the danger of so-called fake news in India, a series of hoaxes posted on social media has led to a spate of lynchings recently.

Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messaging platform on Tuesday published advertisements in Indian newspapers aimed at tackling the spread of misinformation.

Reuters

Writing by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Robert Birsel

Ousted Pakistan PM flying home to face jail, authorities lock down Lahore city

July 13, 2018

Ousted Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his daughter Maryam, both sentenced to lengthy jail terms in absentia, are due to return to Pakistan on Friday in a high-stakes gamble to galvanize their beleaguered party ahead of a July 25 general election.

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Ousted Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif (L) and his daughter Maryam Nawaz (R) attend a UK PMLN Party Workers Convention meeting with supporters in London on July 11, 2018. (AFP)

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Authorities have mobilized more than 10,000 police officers ahead of their arrival and plan to block roads with shipping containers to shut down the city of Lahore. Supporters of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N) party say they will march to the airport there, where the former prime minister is due to land, in defiance of a ban on all public rallies.

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Sharif is returning from Britain one week after an anti-corruption court handed him a 10-year jail term over the purchase of luxury London flats and sentenced his daughter and political heir to seven years in prison.
Their return could shake up an election race marred by claims Pakistan’s powerful military was skewing the contest in favor of ex-cricket hero Imran Khan.

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Imran Khan

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Sharif alleges the military is aiding a “judicial witchhunt” against him and his PML-N party. The party’s past five years in power has been punctuated by the civil-military discord that has plagued Pakistan since its inception.

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“Nawaz really believes this is about democracy and his legacy,” Musadik Malik, Sharif ally and former PML-N cabinet minister, told Reuters.

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“That is why he is willing to lose 10 years of his life over this.”

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Sharif’s PML-N expects a groundswell of support as he returns from London, where his wife Kulsoom is critically ill and undergoing cancer treatment.

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To prevent PML-N workers staging a hero’s welcome on the streets, authorities said they will arrest the father and daughter upon landing and transport them to the capital Islamabad by helicopter, local media reported.

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Party officials say the police have started a crackdown against them, detaining hundreds of workers in the early hours on Friday.

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Recent opinion polls suggest PML-N has lost its lead nationally to the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party of arch-rival Khan, whose anti-corruption message has resonated with many Pakistanis.
Khan has painted Sharif as a “criminal” who has looted the state for decades, and welcomes his prison term as overdue accountability.

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Sharif was ordered jailed after failing to explain how the family acquired the London flats in a case stemming from 2016 Panama Papers revelations that showed they owned the apartments through off-shore companies. Maryam was convicted for concealing ownership of the apartments. The both deny wrongdoing.

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Sharif, 68, has cast himself as a defender of democracy, a far cry from the start of his political life when he was the protege of military dictator General Zia ul-Haq and had his career nurtured by the generals in the 1980s.

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He was elected prime minister in 1990-93. A second stint in power was ended by a military coup in 1999, prompting a period in jail for Sharif and years in exile in London. When he returned to power in 2013, he clashed with the military over how to deal with Islamist militants and his desire for friendlier relations with arch-foe India.

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After the Supreme Court disqualified Sharif in July 2017 for not declaring a small source of income which he denied receiving, he toured the nuclear-armed country urging voters to protect the “sanctity of the vote.”

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“Despite seeing the bars of prison in front of my eyes, I am going to Pakistan,” Sharif told Pakistani journalists this week in London, where he vowed to re-assert “civilian supremacy.”

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The opposition Pakistan People Party (PPP) has also alleged “pre-poll rigging” this week, but did not specifically name the armed forces.

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The military, which has ruled Pakistan for about half its history since 1947, has denied interfering in modern-day politics. It plans to place 371,000 soldiers around polling stations so there can a “free and fair” elections, it added.

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‘WE ARE WINNING’

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Sharif’s return comes at a time of dwindling fortunes for his party, which one year ago was considered a run-away favorite to retain power.

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After the Supreme Court ousted Sharif last July, the courts barred him from heading the PML-N party he founded. His brother Shehbaz became PML-N’s president, but Sharif remains the power behind the throne.
Since then, a host of his allies have been either disqualified by the courts, or face corruption cases. Many PML-N lawmakers have also defected to Khan’s party.

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PML-N has also been riven by internal divisions. Sections of the party oppose Sharif’s combative approach against the army and fear it will turn off voters in a deeply conservative and patriotic Muslim nation of 208 million people.

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The kind of reception Sharif receives on the streets of Lahore will be viewed carefully in Pakistan, where political popularity is often measured by the size of rallies that politicians can attract.

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PML-N leaders say authorities have began a crackdown against union council leaders, the street-level party workers who bring out people on the streets.

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“Those who think they can scare us…open your ears and hear this: we are winning this election,” Shehbaz Sharif told reporters in Lahore on Thursday.

http://www.arabnews.com/node/1338066/world

South Korea’s Moon urges North, United States to move forward on ending nuclear program

July 13, 2018

South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday urged North Korea and the United States to move forward on a pact to end Pyongyang’s nuclear program, as a lack of firm steps by the North raised questions about its commitment to its pledge.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in at a joint press conference with India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi (not pictured) after holding summit talks at Hyderabad House in New Delhi, India, on July 10, 2018.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

“If Chairman Kim (Jong Un) keeps the promise of denuclearization, he will be able to lead his country into prosperity,” Moon said in a speech during a visit to Singapore.

“This path is never easy, but if the agreements at the summit are implemented with sincerity, the goal can be achieved,” he added, referring to Kim’s historic meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in the city state a month ago.

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South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in reviews a Singapore Guard of Honor, July 12, 2018.

“If North Korea gives more substance on the implementation of denuclearization, and if South Korea and the United States quickly take comprehensive corresponding measures, the whole process will accelerate.”

At the summit, the two leaders pledged to work towards complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula and ease tension between their countries, still technically at war, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

Since the June 12 meeting, however, Pyongyang has yet to show any sign of concrete action to dismantle its nuclear program that has brought a series of U.N. and international sanctions against the impoverished state.

But Trump on Thursday hailed “great progress” after disclosing a July 6 note from Kim in which the North’s leader said their efforts could open up a “new future” for the two countries.

Moon said he believed Trump and Kim would eventually make good on the promise made before the international community.

“If the leaders do not honor the promise they themselves made with the international community watching, they will be subject to grave judgment,” he said.

South Korea is willing to build an economic community with its neighbor once the effort to root out Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions is completed, Moon said.

Reporting by Jack Kim; Writing by Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

Reuters

See also:

Singapore can help with efforts to denuclearise Korea: South Korean President Moon Jae-in

https://www.straitstimes.com/asia/east-asia/singapore-can-help-with-efforts-to-denuclearise-korea-south-korean-president-moon-jae

South China Sea: Albert del Rosario, Justice Antonio Carpio do not ‘fully comprehend the nature of arbitration,’ Philippine Government says

July 12, 2018

Does Philippine sovereignty matter? Is it meaningless?

Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque says former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario and other individuals do not ‘fully comprehend the nature of arbitration’

FRIENDSHIP FORWARD. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. Malacañang file photo

FRIENDSHIP FORWARD. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and Chinese President Xi Jinping pose for a photo following a bilateral meeting at the Boao State Guesthouse on April 10, 2018. Malacañang file photo

MANILA, Philippines – Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said the Philippines under the Duterte administration continues to defend its rights over the West Philippine Sea even as he said there is no need to enforce the landmark ruling won by the country against China.

“I’m not sure what they mean by enforcing an arbitral decision because an arbitral decision is binding on parties thereto,” said Roque on Thursday, July 12, the 2nd anniversary of the historic Hague ruling.

DIPLOMATIC PROTEST. Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario urge the Duterte administration to file a diplomatic protest against China's bombers in the South China Sea. File photos by LeAnne Jazul/Rappler

Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio and former Philippine foreign secretary Albert del Rosario

Asked by Rappler if he means there is no need for enforcement, Roque said in a message: “Who will enforce? It’s self-executory as it’s binding on parties thereto.”

“We continue to assert our sovereignty and sovereign rights, but we have decided to move on on issues that are non-controversial,” he said in a press conference.

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He questioned the call of former foreign secretary Albert del Rosario for the Duterte administration to enforce the ruling.

“I don’t know what makes him an authority to give that view…. It clearly underscores the fact that some individuals, including the former secretary of foreign affairs, [do] not fully comprehend the nature of arbitration,” said Roque. (READ: How to enforce Hague ruling? PH lead counsel explains)

It was under Del Rosario’s watch as Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) chief when the Philippines took China to court.

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Roque, asked why he thinks Del Rosario does not understand the nature of arbitration, said: “Because he’s calling for enforcement when clearly arbitration is binding…. Whether or not China will acknowledge it, China is bound by it because that is the nature of arbitration.”

However, China’s refusal to acknowledge the ruling, coupled with the Philippines’ decision to shelve it for later, has made the ruling ineffective in changing the situation on the ground.

Despite the ruling, China continues its military buildup in the West Philippine Sea and harassment of Filipino fishermen in areas declared by the decision as common fishing grounds. – Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/nation/207132-malacanang-no-need-enforce-hague-ruling

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