Posts Tagged ‘military officers’

Philippines: Doctor Shortage — Why Not Pay Tuitions With Government Funds To Get More Doctors? (Editorial)

March 20, 2017

Philippines: Doctor Shortage — Why Not Pay Tuitions With Government Funds To Get More Doctors? (Editorial)

Taxpayers spend P2.5 million over four years to produce a graduate of the Philippine Military Academy. Why not make the same investment in producing surgeons and other physicians?

The proposal was made by Senate President Pro Tempore Ralph Recto, who noted that the Department of Health already has an existing scholarship program for aspiring doctors. All that’s needed is to expand the program while at the same time making compensation and benefits more attractive for physicians working for the DOH.

Unless remuneration is improved, the nation may see its shortage of doctors worsen, especially in rural areas. Recto noted that of the 946 available slots in the government’s Doctor to the Barrios program from 2015 to 2016, only 320 were filled. The program is meant to provide at least one doctor in each low-income municipality, but there were few takers. Those 626 unfilled slots meant that millions were deprived of the services of a doctor in their communities.

The medical profession can pay handsomely – but only after many years of grueling studies and substantial financial investment in schooling and specialized training. The cost of medical textbooks alone can be beyond the reach of a low-income household.

Parents who have invested their life savings to send their child to medical school would naturally be reluctant to let the new doctor volunteer for a rural assignment that pays P56,000 a month, especially in conflict zones. The medical community is still waiting for justice for a Doctor to the Barrio volunteer, Dreyfuss Perlas, who was shot dead by still unknown assailants last March 1 while serving in Lanao del Norte.

If the government shoulders the schooling expenses of deserving medical scholars, the nation may be assured of a steady supply of physicians, even if the beneficiaries leave the DOH after a mandatory four-year service. The government may then have at least one doctor for every municipality, with the scholars encouraged to serve in their hometowns.

Health experts estimate that the country currently faces a shortage of 60,000 doctors. This means six out of every 10 Filipinos die without seeing a doctor. This need not be the case. The government is recruiting more police and military personnel. Why not boost resources to produce and recruit more doctors?


Thousand fired in new wave of Turkey coup purges

January 7, 2017


© AFP/File | In the latest Turkish government decree over 6,000 people have been dismissed under emergency powers imposed after a failed coup, including 2,687 police


ISTANBUL (AFP) – Turkey has dismissed over 6,000 people and ordered the closure of dozens of associations under the state of emergency imposed after the July failed coup, in a purge that shows no sign of slowing.

More than 100,000 people have already been suspended or sacked so far in a crackdown on those alleged to have links to coup-plotters while dozens of media outlets have been shut down.

In the latest government decrees published late Friday, 2,687 police officers were dismissed.

Meanwhile, 1,699 civil servants were removed from the ministry of justice, plus 838 health officials and hundreds of employees from other ministries.

Another 631 academics and eight members of the Council of State were also dismissed.

The dismissals are permitted under the state of emergency, which was extended by another three months in October, and was originally imposed in the wake of the coup.

But its scope has been vehemently criticised by the European Union and human rights activists.

The three decrees also ordered the closure of more than 80 associations accused of “activities affecting the security of the state”.

Critics have claimed that the crackdown goes well beyond the suspected coup plotters and targets anyone who has dared show opposition to President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Ankara blames the coup plot on US-based Muslim preacher Fethullah Gulen and says an unrelenting campaign is needed to root out his influence from public life. Gulen denies the allegations.

Turkey also argues the exceptional security measures are necessary in the face of rising threats from the Islamic State group and the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).

The country has been hit by two attacks this week, one claimed by the Islamic State group against a high-end Turkish nightclub, and the other which authorities blamed on the PKK in the western city of Izmir.


Turkey’s Erdogan Blasts Foreign Countries Over Coup Reaction

August 2, 2016


Turkish president accuses Western countries of failing to support Ankara in the wake of July 15 failed coup attempt.

Erdogan says Fethullah Gulen was behind the coup [Kayhan Ozer/Presidential Press Service via AP]

The Associated Press

August 2, 2016

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan once more blasted unnamed Western countries Tuesday for what he said was support for the attempted coup on July 15 that left more than 270 people dead.

“The West is supporting terrorism and taking sides with coups,” Erdogan said, adding that forces unhappy with Turkey’s rise as a regional power were behind the coup.

“They have actors inside (Turkey) but the scenario of this coup was written abroad,” he said during a speech at an event for foreign investors in Ankara.

Turkey’s government says the coup was instigated by U.S.-based Muslim cleric Fethullah Gulen, a former Erdogan ally now living in self-imposed exile in Pennsylvania. Turkey has demanded his extradition, but Washington has asked for evidence of the cleric’s involvement.

Erdogan complained about the U.S. request: “We did not request documents for terrorists that you wanted returned.”

Speaking late Tuesday night in a live television interview on CNN Turk, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said there would be a high-level visit to Turkey from the United States this month, without saying who would be visiting.

The government has launched a sweeping crackdown on Gulen’s movement, which it characterizes as a terrorist organization. Nearly 70,000 people have been suspended from their jobs on suspicion of being involved in the movement, which runs schools, charities and businesses internationally.

Erdogan has singled out Germany for criticism, after a court there ruled against allowing him to appear on a video link to address a crowd of about 30,000 supporters and anti-coup demonstrators in Cologne over the weekend.

The president said Turkey had sent Germany more than 4,000 files on what he said were wanted terrorists, but Germany did nothing. However, he said, courts quickly decided against him speaking at the rally.

Germany’s Foreign Ministry had no immediate comment, but German Vice Chancellor Sigmar Gabriel on Monday defended the court’s decision as “absolutely OK and also lawful.”

In his television interview, Yildirim also expressed the government’s displeasure at Germany’s stance.

“They make grand statements on democracy, human rights but then three different courts there come up with a decision,” Yildirim said. “Is our president’s address something that would perturb Germany’s domestic affairs? It was a great disappointment to us.”

Erdogan also repeated a complaint that no foreign leader had visited Turkey after the failed coup, while France and Belgium received visits in solidarity after terror attacks there.

“Those we considered friends are siding with coup-plotters and terrorists,” the president said.

When it was allied with Erdogan’s government in the past, the Gulen movement was believed to have been behind a series of crackdowns on pro-secular figures as well as military officers accused at the time of plotting a coup. Hundreds were jailed after trials in which evidence was later found to have been fabricated. Many convictions have been overturned.

Justice Minister Bekir Bozdag sent a second document to the United States Tuesday seeking Gulen’s arrest, the state-run Anadolu news agency said. “They requested certain information following our first letter; we provided answers to the question ‘why is it urgent?'”

He added that Turkey had intelligence indicating Gulen might leave for a third country. If he does, Bozdag said, it would only be with the full knowledge of U.S. authorities.

Yildirim also explained the reasons for Turkey’s request for Gulen’s arrest.

“We have such a request so that he does not escape, nothing happens to him or that he does not tamper with the evidence,” he said in his interview. “This is a legal and reasonable request. I hope U.S. officials consider this request with sensitivity.”

Part of the crackdown against Gulen’s network has focused on reforming the military, bringing it increasingly under civilian command. About 18,000 people have been detained or arrested, most of them from the military, and authorities have said the purge will continue.

The government has already decreed sweeping changes to the military, including giving the president and prime minister the power to issue direct orders to the force commanders.

“These arrangements won’t weaken the Turkish Armed Forces, on the contrary they will strengthen them and prepare them to face all kinds of threats,” Prime Minister Binali Yildirim said in an address to his ruling party legislators. “The armed forces will focus their energies on their fundamental duty.”

Several countries and rights organizations have expressed concern over the scope of the crackdown, and have urged restraint.

But Erdogan insisted the purges of the civil service, military and other sectors were necessary to rout out those responsible for the coup.

“If we show pity to these murderers, to these coup plotters, we will end up in a pitiful state,” he said.

On Tuesday, the Turkish Football federation said it had sacked 94 people, including a number of referees. It said the action was taken as a “necessity,” without saying whether those dismissed were suspected of links to the Gulen movement.

Separately, authorities issued 98 new detention warrants, including for military doctors, a senior government official said, on condition of anonymity in line with regulations.

Meanwhile, a lawyer filed a criminal complaint against the, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff; U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper and Gen. Joseph Votel, the top U.S. commander for the Middle East, accusing them of backing Gulen.

The complaint, which has to be accepted by prosecutors before any action is taken, came days after Erdogan told Votel to “know your place” after he expressed concern that the post-coup crackdown may affect the fight against Islamic State militants.


Becatoros contributed from Istanbul.



Turkey summons German charge d’affaires over “slight” to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan — Plus: Turkey’s Fractured State

August 1, 2016


Supporters of Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan wave Turkish flags during a pro-government protest in Cologne, Germany July 31, 2016. © Thilo Schmuelgen

Turkey has summoned the German charge d’affaires in Ankara to explain restrictions imposed by the authorities in Germany on a pro-President Erdogan protest in Cologne.


The event in the western German city drew thousands of people, who defended Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s policies following a failed coup attempt. Turkey’s Western allies criticize an ongoing crackdown on supporters of US-based cleric Fethullah Gulen, who is suspected by Turkey of masterminding the deadly coup.

Several Turkish officials attended the Cologne rally. The organizers wanted to live stream an address by Erdogan on a big screen, but local authorities prohibited it, citing security concerns.

Turkey’s deputy prime minister, Numan Kurtulmuş, said the ban on Erdogan’s speech was “unacceptable” and a “double standard.”

The German charge d’affaires was summoned to the Turkish Foreign Ministry on Monday to discuss the ban placed on a live-stream address, the German Foreign Ministry confirmed. Berlin downplayed the development, saying the summoning was “nothing extraordinary.”

“I don’t think it is meant as a reprimand,” Martin Schaefer, spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told journalists.

He added that Ambassador Martin Erdmann, who heads the German diplomatic mission in Turkey, is currently on holiday, correcting earlier reports that he had been summoned by the Turks.

Relations between Turkey and Germany remain strained after the German parliament, the Bundestag, passed a resolution last month acknowledging the mass killings of Armenians in the Ottoman republic in 1915-16 as genocide of Armenian people.

Ambassador Erdmann has reportedly been given the cold shoulder since the vote and been obstructed by the Turkish Foreign Ministry and other branches of the government.

READ MORE: Erdogan dismisses 1,400 army staff, announces sweeping overhaul of Turkish military

“We have had phases in the past that were bumpy and other phases when things went extraordinarily well. Now we have a bit of a bumpy phase,” Schaefer said, adding that the two countries will manage to overcome their differences.

Turkey’s cooperation is crucial for the EU’s plan to tackle the refugee crisis, which hit Europe last year. The unprecedented inflow of refugees, predominantly from Syria and Afghanistan, fueled sympathies for right-wing parties throughout the EU.

The refugee deal, under which Turkey agreed to take back irregular asylum seekers from Greece in exchange for visa-free travel, political preferences and financial aid, has been slow in implementation. Ankara threatens to withdraw from the agreement, unless the EU delivers on the visa promise by October. Brussels is reluctant due to harsh anti-terrorism laws in Turkey, which Ankara will not amend.


Turkey’s Fractured State

GOTHENBURG, Sweden — The Turkish military is known to be a stronghold of Kemalism, the secularist and nationalist ideology of the founder of Turkey, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. So when the Islamic conservative Justice and Development Party, known as the A.K.P., came to power in 2002, many then feared that the military would stage a coup in the name of Kemalism.

Yet when a coup in Turkey did finally materialize, on July 15, it wasn’t Kemalists who were blamed, but the Gulenists, members of an Islamic fraternity led by the cleric Fethullah Gulen, who has lived in exile in the United States since 1999. President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, echoed by the Turkish military’s general staff, claimed that what they call the “Fethullah Gulen terrorist organization” was behind the failed ouster.

In the wake of the coup, the Turkish government has arrested scores of military officers, hundreds of other military personnel have been dismissed, and thousands of officials have been purged from the state bureaucracy. Not all of these people are necessarily connected with the Hizmet movement, the official name of the Gulen fraternity that means “service” in Turkish.

Read the rest:

Chinese military paper warns a corrupt army does not win wars

August 2, 2015


Former Chinese Central Military Commission vice-chairman Guo Boxiong (right) shaking hands with military officers in Shijiazhuang, Hebei province, China, on Feb 1, 2007. Reuters photo

BEIJING (REUTERS) – The Chinese military’s official newspaper warned on Sunday that a corrupt army would not win wars, three days after the government announced a former senior officer would be prosecuted for graft.

Serving and retired Chinese military officers as well as state media have questioned whether China’s armed forces are too corrupt to fight and win a war.

President Xi Jinping has made weeding out corruption in the armed forces a top goal and several senior officers have been felled, including two of China’s most senior former military officers, Xu Caihou and Guo Boxiong.

The government said on Thursday that it would prosecute Guo for corruption. Xu died of cancer in March.

“If we allow the growth and spread of corruption, the guns will rust, the pillars will collapse,” the People’s Liberation Army Daily said in a front-page editorial. “History has repeatedly proven that if corruption is not eliminated, we will defeat ourselves even before a war.”

High-ranking officers such as Xu and Guo affected the morale of the people and had a severe impact on the soldiers’ beliefs and convictions, the paper said.

State media had previously focused on how corruption was a key reason for China’s defeat to Japan in the waning years of the Qing dynasty.

China stepped up a crackdown on corruption in the military in the late 1990s, banning the People’s Liberation Army from engaging in business.

However, analysts have said the military has been involved in commercial dealings in recent years due to a lack of checks and balances.

The buying and selling of senior jobs in the military, an open secret, has worried reformers who say it leads to those with talent being cast aside and damages morale.

Xi’s graft crackdown has coincided with increased efforts to modernize forces that are projecting power across the disputed waters of the East and South China Seas, although it has not fought a war in decades.

Biggest corruption scandal to ever engulf the Chinese armed forces is now unfolding

April 1, 2014

The New York Times

BEIJING — Prosecutors accused a former senior military official on Monday of a litany of crimes, including bribery, embezzlement and abuse of power, presenting a first glimpse of what could be the biggest corruption scandal to ever engulf the Chinese armed forces.

The charges against the officer, Lt. Gen. Gu Junshan, are the outcome of a far-reaching inquiry under President Xi Jinping that signaled his determination to make high-profile examples out of dishonest military figures. His goal, military analysts said, is to transform a service larded with pet projects and patronage networks into a leaner fighting force more adept at projecting power abroad and buttressing party rule at home, while strengthening his own authority over the army.

Chinese general caught with 'pure gold' statue of Chairman Mao

During a raid on the home of Lieutenant General Gu Junshan armed police seized four truck’s worth of luxury items

The announcement of the case against General Gu, made by Xinhua, the official news agency, came two years after he was quietly dismissed as deputy chief of the General Logistics Department, and provided no details. But an internal inquiry has accused him of presiding over a vast land development racket that hoarded kickbacks, bought promotions, and enabled him and his family to amass dozens of expensive residences, including places where investigators found stockpiles of high-end liquor, gold bullion and cash, according to people briefed on the investigation.

Guesthouses at a military housing compound in Beijing are said to have been built by General Gu to curry favor. Credit Jonathan Ansfield/The New York Times 

The investigation into General Gu, who had a commanding authority over how resources in the army were used, has shaken the military because of the scale of his activities — estimates of his assets range from several hundred million to a few billion dollars — and because it threatens some of its most senior figures.

Even as Mr. Xi has pressed a sweeping campaign against graft in the Communist Party, he has seized on the case against General Gu to pursue a parallel drive to clean up the 2.3 million-member armed forces. In doing so, he is challenging military elders who promoted General Gu and have sought to protect him and themselves from the investigation, the people with knowledge of the inquiry said.

In internal speeches, Mr. Xi has railed against a wider “Gu Junshan phenomenon” of military corruption, demanded action to “dredge the soil that produced Gu Junshan,” and threatened to bring down both “large and small Gu Junshans,” said a retired official and associate of Mr. Xi’s, suggesting that unprecedented punishments of other, higher-ranking military figures in the People’s Liberation Army, the world’s largest, could lie ahead. The campaign presents Mr. Xi with a cudgel to tighten control over an institution that some say has drifted from the party leadership’s orbit even as it remains a bulwark of one-party rule.

General Gu has already provided investigators with enough information to target powerful patrons, principally Xu Caihou, the army’s second-ranking general and a Politburo member before retiring in 2012, people with knowledge of the inquiry said. These people, who include retired military officers, foreign diplomats and children of former senior leaders, spoke on the condition of anonymity for fear of retaliation.

Several said investigators had restricted the movements of General Xu, who has been hospitalized with bladder cancer. If Mr. Xi were to move formally against General Xu, he would enter uncharted territory. No military leader of General Xu’s stature has ever been toppled for corruption.

Mr. Xi, unlike his immediate predecessors, took over the military and the party at the same time — in November 2012 — and brought strong military ties. After university, he served as an aide to a top military official. His father was a revolutionary guerrilla commander. His wife was a star in the P.L.A.’s song-and-dance troupe. Gen. Liu Yuan, the political commissar of the logistics department who is credited with helping to initiate the anticorruption drive, is among his oldest comrades.

While his predecessors struggled to manage the military, Mr. Xi regards it as a bastion of support and has embraced its vision of China as a more robust power, diplomats and analysts said.

In an internal speech soon after taking office, he made a point of placing blame for the collapse of the Soviet Union in part on Mikhail S. Gorbachev’s losing control of the military. “His implication was: ‘I’m going to take charge of the military for real. I’m not going to be like the last two administrations, putting up with you as you bumble around,’ ” said the associate of Mr. Xi.

Early on, he and others said, Mr. Xi established a routine of working at the Central Military Commission headquarters at least half a day each week, significantly more often than previous party chiefs.

He has ordered a stream of antigraft measures, audits and criticism sessions; has enlarged drills to upgrade “battle readiness”; and is pushing forward contentious plans to restructure a military bureaucracy criticized as bloated and outmoded.

“Xi Jinping is highly aware of the deepening complexities in China’s neighborhood, so the P.L.A. has never been more in demand,” said Zhu Feng, an international security expert at Peking University. “The P.L.A. spends a lot of money, but the question is, how are they following up on all the spending?”

Corruption has bedeviled the military since the market overhauls of the 1980s, when it was permitted to venture into industry and earn the funds to modernize its arsenal and sustain its troops. Widespread smuggling, graft and profiteering ensued. It took years of debate for the party in 1998 to order the military to divest from business. But as Beijing increased military spending, officers tapped these resources for profit.

The army retains extensive land holdings, which have ballooned in value in line with property prices across the country, and real estate transactions are considered its biggest source of corruption. One former military officer said generals sometimes evaded regulations limiting the size of their residences by building ceilings twice the standard height. “That way they can add a floor later,” he said.

Bribery for promotions is believed to be more institutionalized than within the party. Insiders say an endorsement for a general’s slot can carry a price of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Procurement is plagued by waste and fraud. One recent order for fighter jet canopies, for example, cost nearly three times more than a state aviation contractor’s bid and resulted in products riddled with flaws, according to an academic with the institution that designed the part.

Such abuses proliferated under Mr. Xi’s predecessor, Hu Jintao, who was often seen as ineffectual and disengaged from military affairs. It was during that period that General Gu oversaw a multibillion-dollar construction boom as head of the infrastructure and barracks division. He built several hundred outsize villas for high-ranking officers, profited from scores of land deals and acquired three dozen homes in central Beijing alone, the military insiders said.

Since a military scholar first acknowledged the case against General Gu last August, two Chinese news media outlets, Global People and Caixin, have pierced the secrecy surrounding it with investigative reports. 

They portrayed General Gu as a stocky farmer’s son who made up for his lack of qualifications with networking skills. He married a superior’s daughter, plied higher-ups and underlings with perks, and recently commissioned a biography and a grave site that inflated his father’s revolutionary credentials, they reported.

In the family’s hometown in central China, his brother, a former village party chief, won local real estate deals and military supply contracts with his backing, they reported. General Gu’s wife, a city police official, worked to intercept villagers who took their grievances against the land deals to Beijing.

In one deal that drew internal scrutiny, General Gu approved more than double the funds that the song-and-dance troupe requested for renovations, and collected a kickback worth several hundred thousand dollars in cash and gold bullion, two of the sources said.

General Liu first proposed action against General Gu in late 2011, said two elite party members close to General Liu. Mr. Hu, who was nearing the end of his presidency, then asked the military’s disciplinary agency to suspend General Gu twice, they said, but encountered resistance from top military leaders. Only after Mr. Hu ordered the party’s own disciplinary body to investigate was the military forced to take action.

Even then, investigators moved slowly. By fall 2012, the military was preparing an indictment accusing the general of pocketing less than $1 million in bribes and kickbacks, said the retired official.

But Mr. Xi was incensed by the case and, after he took office, widened the scope of the inquiry.

A turning point came in January 2013, when investigators raided a storage chamber General Gu kept in his home village and hauled off four truckloads of items, including 20 crates of liquor and a pure gold statue of Chairman Mao, Caixin reported.

China’s Defense Ministry did not answer a request for comment on the case.


One question under scrutiny is whether General Gu’s rapid rise — five high-level promotions in eight years, over repeated objections from the head of the logistics department — involved payoffs of now-retired military leaders, particularly General Xu. General Xu is considered a protégé of Jiang Zemin, the former president, and once oversaw appointments.

After he retired, investigators found a hoard of expensive gifts, including large pieces of ivory, in a locked storeroom next to his former office, a businesswoman briefed by military officers said.

“Gu Junshan gave him up,” said the businesswoman, after meeting with a member of the military task force investigating the case. “He said that Gu gave up information on just about everyone.”