Posts Tagged ‘Philippine President Duterte’

Philippine President Duterte to visit Japan ahead of key regional summits

October 25, 2017

Reuters

TOKYO (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte will visit Japan for talks with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe this month, ahead of key regional meetings beginning with the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) gathering in Vietnam in November.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he delivers his speech, during the oath taking of Philippine National Police (PNP) star rank officers, at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines August 30, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

“Japan and the Philippines have close ties and our strategic partnership can promote stability in the region,” Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said on Wednesday during a regular press briefing.

Duterte will arrive on Oct 29 for a three day visit, Suga said.

Japan is concerned about China’s growing power in the South China Sea and sees cooperation with the Philippines, which lies on the waterway’s eastern side, as key to helping prevent the spread of Beijing’s influence into the western Pacific.

Duterte, unlike his predecessor, Benigno Aquino, has courted China and has been less critical of its island building in the region.

Following the two-day APEC meeting from Nov 11, which U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping will attend, Asia Pacific leaders will travel to the Philippines for the East Asia Summit, including representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) and other Asia Pacific nations.

Duterte’s visit will mark his second trip to Japan and his third meeting with Abe.

Reporting by Tim Kelly; Editing by Paul Tait and Sonali Paul

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Fact check: Philippine President Duterte’s claims on US and Chinese aid to military (Sounds like fentanyl talking)

October 23, 2017
One of the military first battalions to be deployed in the besieged southern city of Marawi board a military truck as they arrive to a hero’s welcome at Villamor Air Base Friday, Oct. 20, 2017, in Pasay city, southeast of Manila, Philippines. The military has begun to scale down their forces in Marawi after President Rodrigo Duterte declared its liberation following the killings of the militant leaders after five months of military offensive. AP/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines — Last Friday, President Rodrigo Duterte thanked the US, China and Israel for providing military assistance for the clearing operations in Marawi City.

In his speech before the 43rd Philippine Business Conference and Expo concluding ceremony, Duterte revealed that the sniper rifle that killed Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was made in China.

Duterte said that the bulk of four planeloads of rifles that government troops used in war-torn Marawi came from China.

“It was only China who gave it on time and plenty,” Duterte said.

The president, meanwhile, said that the equipment provided by the US was only borrowed and were already returned.

“So I said, the countries helped us. China. We needed it badly, you gave it to us. Thank you very much and President Xi Jinping. And of course the Americans just provided the — we just borrowed it, we have returned it already,” the president said.

“They are not willing to give it to us unlike China,” he added.

At least P2.84 billion in US assistance

Despite Duterte’s claims that Washington was not willing to give arms to the country, the US provided a major grant of arms and munitions worth at least P250 million last May, about the same time the conflict in Marawi started.

“In May 2017, a major grant of 200 Glock pistols, 300 M4 carbines, 100 grenade launchers, four mini-guns and individual operator gear worth P250 million was delivered,” US Embassy press attache Molly Koscina told Philstar.com.

Koscina also noted that the unmanned aerial vehicle system that the US delivered earlier this year was used in Marawi.

“In January 2017, the U.S. delivered a Raven tactical UAV system worth P60 million which was first tested by the AFP during Balikatan and then used in Marawi,” she said.

Aside from these, the US also provided 25 combat rubber raiding craft and 30 outboard motors worth P250 million to support the Philippine Marine Corps in its counter-terror efforts.

In July, the US officially turned over two C-208 Cessna aircraft worth P1.6 billion to the Philippine Air Force. The surveillance aircraft were used to help in fighting against ISIS-inspired militants in Marawi City.

In August, Washington transferred a radar system to the Philippine Navy, which would enhance its maritime surveillance capabilities.

All of the above mentioned were major grants of the US to the Philippines, disputing Duterte’s remarks that the equipment were only borrowed.

China admitting own aid to Philippine military ‘not that big’

In late June, China turned over P370 million ($7.3 million) worth of military assistance to the Philippines in a ceremony led by President Duterte, whose antipathy toward the Philippines’ traditional ally, the United States, is well known.

Duterte, who has pushed for a policy of rapprochement with China, presided over a turnover of 3,000 rifles and 6 million pieces of ammunition.

While significant on its own given the previous administration’s less cordial approach toward Beijing—Manila’s rival claimant over the South China Sea—it was also aware that the amount of assistance it provided was relatively small.

Chinese Ambassador to the Philippine Zhao Jianhua was quoted as saying the amount was “not that big.”

In comparison, the US provided an average of P3 billion (around $60 million) in grant funding to the Philippine military in the previous five years. The amount included weapons, upgrades and training assistance.

On October 5, meanwhile, China turned over a second batch of military equipment composed of 3,000 units of rifles, 30 sniper cones and 3 million rounds of ammunition.

Assistance to Marawi rehabilitation

As for its support for Task Force Bangon Marawi, the US government made available $14.3 million or about P730 million to directly assist with ongoing emergency relief operations and the longer term recovery of Marawi and surrounding areas.

“With $3 million in Humanitarian Assistance, USAID’s Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance is working with humanitarian organizations on the ground to deliver critical relief supplies such as safe drinking water, hygiene kits, kitchen sets, shelter materials to improve the conditions in evacuation centers and in host families, and programs to protect displaced women and children,” the US Embassy said.

At the same time, approximately $11.3 million will be used to support the early recovery, stabilization and rehabilitation of Marawi and the surrounding areas.

This includes restoration of basic public services such as health care, water and electricity, jumpstart livelihoods, revitalize the economy, and promote community reconciliation and alternatives to violent extremism.

Image result for USAID, humanitarian, photos, philippines

FILE photo

Aside from the financial grant, the USAID has delivered 12,00 water containers and nearly 100,000 chlorine tablets for safe drinking water to families in evacuation centers. These were delivered upon requests from the Departments of Education and Health.

The USAID had also provided 6,500 desks for temporary schools and psycho-social support for affected teachers and students, according to the US Embassy.

The Philippine government is now shifting its focus to the rebuilding, reconstruction and rehabilitation of Marawi as the fighting in the war-torn city has ended.

“There are no more militants in Marawi City,” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said.

RELATED: How other countries helped regain Marawi

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/10/23/1751665/fact-check-dutertes-claims-us-aid-military

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European Union says Philippines rights situation worsened due to drug war — Are Duterte and Dela Rosa “War Criminals in the War on Drugs”?

October 23, 2017

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Philippine President Duterte (l) announces that Filipino troops have ended the uprising of Islamist rebels in Marawi

ABS-CBN News

Posted at Oct 23 2017 04:53 PM

MANILA – The human rights situation in the Philippines worsened in the second half of 2016 under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, according to the latest European Union Annual Report on Human Rights And Democracy.

In the 2016 report that was adopted by the council last week, October 16, the EU noted some positive developments, particularly in peace negotiations with rebels and efforts to eradicate poverty.

“Positive developments under the government of President Duterte include the new momentum provided to the Mindanao Peace Process, peace negotiations with the Communist Party of the Philippines/New People’s Army/National Democratic Front and a socio-economic agenda aimed at lifting people out of poverty,” the EU report said.

On the other hand, it said: “Despite positive developments in some areas, the human rights situation in the second half of the year has considerably worsened as a consequence of the so-called ‘war on drugs.'”

The Philippines has defended a surge in killings since Rodrigo Duterte was elected president last year.

On Monday Duterte said he will take a hands-off approach on the war on drugs after ordering the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to take the lead in the war on drugs.

The Philippine National Police has also said there have been no extrajudicial killings under the Duterte administration.

The EU report said that while there was a decrease in the number of extrajudicial killings under the Aquino administration, there was no follow-up and key legislative measures were not passed until Duterte assumed office and launched the war on drugs.

“Various problems – in particular the culture of impunity and torture –remain, however, and a series of key legislative measures were not passed. The second half of the year was marked by a serious deterioration in respect for the right to life, due process and the rule of law,” it added.

Image result for Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, photos

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa

The report also said that President Duterte’s statements “seemingly encouraged” the police to be aggressive in dealing with drug suspects. It also cited human rights advocates’ statement saying Duterte’s pronouncements encouraged vigilante killings.

Meanwhile, it was also mentioned that EU’s Committee to Protect Journalists ranked the Philippines as no. 4 in the world on the Global Impunity Index in 2016, adding that killings of human rights defenders and media workers remain largely unresolved

“Duterte has made statements justifying the killing of ‘corrupt’ journalists and human rights defenders. On the other hand, he has issued a landmark ‘Freedom of Information Order’ and has recently created a Presidential Task Force on Violence against Media Workers,” the report said.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano recently said the Philippines will stop accepting grants from the EU following a statement of President Duterte.

“The whole point of his speech is we have a problem on drugs, but certain groups are giving wrong facts, fake news. Sinisiraan tayo all over the world, so that’s why he’s decided na sa ngayon hindi tatanggapin ang bagong grants from the EU,” Cayetano said.

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Filipino relatives mourn on the remains of Ephraim Escudero, who was a victim of extra judicial killing, during burial rites at a cemetery in San Pedro city, Laguna province, Philippines, 30 September 2017

Filipino relatives mourn on the remains of Ephraim Escudero, who was a victim of extra judicial killing, during burial rites at a cemetery in San Pedro city, Laguna province, Philippines, 30 September 2017. CREDIT: EPA

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According to the Philippine National Police, there have been 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017. Despite this, the authorities claim that there has only been one extrajudicial victim under the current administration. AFP/Noel Celis
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Three of five Filipinos believe that only the poor are killed in the government’s anti-illegal drug campaign, the Social Weather Stations said in its latest survey. AFP/Noel Celis
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Photos obtained by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism show the body of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. lying flat on his back with his eyes half-open, and both of his hands empty. He was killed while in police custody during a “jail house shoot out” with police. All the police involved were exonerated and returned to duty. Image obtained by PCIJ/Nancy Carvajal
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Credit: Raffy Lerma—Philippine Daily Inquirer

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Philippine drug war. Credit: Alecs Ongcal

 (The Philippines seems to be siding with China, Russia and Iran)

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Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl — killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs — looks like it has been put out with the trash….. Presidential spokeman Abella said the war on drugs is for the next generation of Filipinos.
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Image result for Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talks to Philippine National Police (PNP) Director General Ronald Dela Rosa. AFP photo

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

Philippines: Human Rights Watch director Phelim Kine 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

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2016/07/08/1600763/cop-linked-drugs-tortured-killed

 (December 23, 2016)

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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

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“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
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Philippine President Duterte now claims arrest warrant vs drug lord triggered Marawi siege — A firefight started the rebellion — The president’s claim runs counter to what security forces have been saying since hostilities in the city began

September 27, 2017
In this July 20, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte visits government troops who are engaged in a battle with the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City on July 20, 2017. The President gave out food packs and other assistance when he set foot at Camp Ranao. PPD/Ace Morandante

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday claimed that the deadly Marawi siege, which has dragged on since May, erupted after security forces served a warrant of arrest on a drug lord operating there.

“The Marawi war was ignited by the service of a summon and a warrant of arrest of one of the drug lords there,” Duterte said in his speech during the 56th anniversary of the Philippine Constitution Association.

“There was a firefight and that started the rebellion. And I was really aghast to know that until now, they have so many bullets, ordnance and everything that the fight is still going on,” he added.

The president’s claim runs counter to what security forces have been saying since hostilities in the city began months ago.

According to the military, a failed attempt by government troops to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi on May 23 triggered the battle against the Maute group, homegrown jihadist militants who claim allegiance with the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria and backed by some foreign fighters.

“A firefight ensued and our troops reacted properly, but as of tonight, in the Philippines, the Maute group burned several facilities (in the city),” Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said in a briefing from Moscow the night of the attacks.

The urban warfare prompted Duterte to place the entire Mindanao region under military rule. After the declaration reached the 60-day limit, Congress overwhelmingly voted to extend martial law in the strife-torn region until yearend.

Hapilon, the appointed emir of ISIS in the region, is wanted for the kidnapping of foreigners in the Philippines. The US government has put up a $5-million bounty for his capture with his name on its “most wanted” terror list.

Duterte has, in the past, said that drugs are behind the Marawi siege, claiming in June that “Christians and the Moro, who were into shabu sought sanctuary amongst the terrorists for protection and to ensure the success of their business.”

‘Marawi drug matrix’

Last week, Duterte released a “drug matrix” of politicians and alleged drug lords whom he claims to have financed the deadly Marawi siege, the biggest internal security crisis for the Philippines in decades.

He then claimed that slain Ozamiz City Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog was one of those who poured cash into the extremists that occupied Marawi. He added that some local officials in Central Mindanao are also financing terrorists, but did not elaborate.

In July, government forces discovered 11 kilograms of high-grade methamphetamine or shabu during clearing operations in Marawi.

A few days later, authorities seized two kilos of shabu worth P10 million in the house of former Marawi Mayor Omar Solitario Ali – a discovery that Malacañang said affirmed the link between the ongoing crisis in the city and illegal drugs.

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http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/09/27/1743196/duterte-now-claims-arrest-warrant-vs-drug-lord-triggered-marawi-siege

Philippine President Duterte In “Genocidal War,” Critic Claims — “Yes, he will go down for those crimes.”

July 29, 2017
 / 03:44 PM July 29, 2017
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Bayan secretary-general Renato Reyes. NOY MORCOSO/INQUIRER.net FILE PHOTO

“Yes, he will go down for those crimes.”

This was what Bagong Alyansang Makabayan (Bayan) Secretary General Renato Reyes had to say on Saturday to President Rodrigo Duterte who threatened to bomb Lumad schools he accused of propagating subversive ideas.

“If Duterte makes true his threat to bomb the Lumad and their schools, he will reap domestic and international condemnation, the likes of which he has never seen before. No amount of red-tagging will justify a genocidal war,” Reyes said.

The president of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte has also likened himself to Hitler

President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte

Duterte, however, clarified that he did not intend to harm the people, more so students, but the establishment that disseminate subversive ideas and involved in the brainwashing of young minds.

READ: Duterte: I’ll never hurt lumad kids, I want to save them from NPA hatred

Duterte, at a press conference after his second State of the Nation Address on Monday, threatened to bomb Lumad schools he accused of “operating illegally and teaching subversion and communism.”

The president’s threat later drew flak from different groups, prodding him to retract his statement.

READ: NGO hits Duterte over threats against lumad schools

Reyes added that this could permanently end the peace talks between the Philippine government and the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP).

“It could be the last nail on the coffin for the peace talks. It will galvanize a broad united front against his regime and hasten its demise,” said Reyes. “Yes, he will go down for those crimes.”

The militant leader also pointed out that the President should retract his statement, apologize to the Lumad, and address their just demands, as his pronouncements are seriously taken by his troops.

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READ: Duterte told: Retract threat to bomb Lumad schools

“It behooves him to recall his troops who are terrorizing Lumad communities. His daily patutsada (innuendo) against the revolutionary movement is not the least entertaining nor productive. His tirades are already being taken as policy by his fascist troops,” he said.

Reyes also advised Duterte to consult his peace panel and the progressives in his Cabinet on how to move forward from his latest debacle.

“That is, if he still wants to move forward. It’s starting to look like quicksand for him, from where we’re sitting,” added Reyes.

“Duterte is positioning himself to fight a war on different fronts—backed by the US war machine—against a struggling people who have history on their side,” Reyes warned. “It is a war he cannot possibly win.” JPV

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/918658/militant-leader-duterte-may-account-for-crimes-if-lumad-schools-destroyed#ixzz4oCxEOabD
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In this Monday, July 24, 2017, photo, young Indigenous People known as Lumads form the words “Save Lumad schools” as they join a march of thousands of protesters to coincide with the state of the nation address of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. Human rights groups asked Duterte Wednesday, July 26, 2017, to retract a threat to order airstrikes against tribal schools he accused of teaching students to become communist rebels, warning such an attack would constitute a war crime. U.S.-based Human Rights Watch said international humanitarian law “prohibits attacks on schools and other civilian structures unless they are being used for military purposes,” adding that deliberate attacks on civilians, including students and teachers, “is also a war crime.” AP/Bullit Marquez

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 (Contains links to several related articles)

Residents and police gather near the blanket-covered body of a man killed, along with four others, in an alleged police anti-drug operation in Manila, Philippines Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Authorities said 3,200 alleged drug personalities have died in police operations from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

What Philippine President Duterte Gets Wrong About Commission on Human Rights — Newspaper Begging to keep Human Rights voice in the Philippines?

July 26, 2017
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses thousands of protesters following his state of the nation address outside the Lower House Monday, July 24, 2017 in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. Thousands of protesters march towards the Lower House with an effigy of Duterte to demand that he deliver on a wide range of promises he made in his first state of the nation address last year, from pressing peace talks with Marxist guerrillas, which is currently on hold, to upholding human rights and the rule of law. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez

MANILA, Philippines (First Published July 25, 6:59 p.m.) — President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to abolish the Commission on Human Rights, which has been critical of his sexist jokes and the killings associated with his brutal war on drugs.

READ: Duterte vows to keep drug war amid human rights concerns

At a press conference following his State of the Nation Address on Monday, Duterte went on to rebuke the CHR lengthily, while asking it to perform activities outside its mandate.

Duterte’s statements against the CHR repeat and reinforce common misconceptions among his officials and supporters who have defended his anti-narcotics campaign, controversial off-color remarks and views on rights.

READ: Rape ‘jokes’ normalize objectification of women, CHR tells Duterte

1. That the president can block CHR investigations

Duterte said on Monday that he would not allow members of the military to be investigated for possible human rights violations, saying the body should go through him before getting to his men.

“Padaanin niyo sa akin lahat. Lahat. Maski sino. Pulis o imbestigahin niyo, padaanin niyo dito. You address it to the [Department of the Interior and Local Government], to me. Attention DILG. Pag sinabi kong huwag kayo magpa-imbestiga, huwag kayong magpapaimbestiga,” Duterte said.

READ: Duterte: Troops, cops need clearance to appear before CHR

The president, clearly irked by human rights defenders’ disapproval of some of his policies, also urged the CHR to instead investigate an ambush that hurt members of the Presidential Security Group and speak out on atrocities committed by terrorists locked in an urban combat with the military in Marawi City.

“Better do an equal job here. It does not say that your investigations will be solely focused on government men,” Duterte said.

It is the Constitution, under Section 17, and not the executive that grants the CHR independence from any branch of government, while Section 18 mandates it to probe “all forms of human rights violations involving civil or political rights.” This is why the body calls out perceived violations of the rights of due process of an accused.

2. That speaking out vs crime by non-gov’t actors is not CHR’s main function

In the same media conference, the president also challenged the CHR to investigate into attacks committed by non-state actors like the New People’s Army.

Particularly irritating for the irascible Duterte was the alleged non-action of the CHR on attacks against Philippine security forces, with the latest being an attack by suspected communist militants on his security detail in Arakan, Cotabato province that hurt several Presidential Security Group personnel.

READ: Duterte ‘lowest of the low’ over threat to bomb lumad schools, Reds say

The president said that sans these investigations, which he said fairness dictates, the human rights commission should not interfere with the government’s affairs and operations.

“Imbestigahin na muna ng Human Rights yung ambush nung sa Presidential Security Group pati yung pulis. Pag wala kayong report niyan, huwag mo kaming [anong tawag diyan?] Huwag mo kaming guguluhin diyan. Itapon ko uli, yan sa mukha ninyo. Better do an equal job here,” the president, known to utter colorful and oftentimes offensive remarks in public, said.

“Patas tayo. Justice for all. What is sauce for the gander is sauce for the goose,” the chief executive told the media after his yearly national address before the joint session of Congress.

However, the president, a lawyer, seems to miss the legal mandate of the government agency usually at the end of his public tirades.

The CHR said that its mandate is to be the watchdog against government abuses and not to implement laws that would stop crime.

It reiterated a previous statement by CHR Chairman Chito Gascon, who pointed out that they are not a law enforcement agency unlike the Philippine National Police and the Armed Forces of the Philippines, assists the police.

“The CHR is concerned about the rights of all persons, and in particular, we are concerned when the state violates the rights of people in the exercise of their function,” said Gascon.

“You have to ensure that the police comply with the established provisions of the bill of rights and to ensure that no abuse occur. That’s what we do,” he added.

The commission has also shared infographics explaining the difference between their role and that of law enforcers.

“It is the responsibility of the CHR to protect the rights of the people from abuse by state agents such as the government, police and the military. The CHR is mandated to ensure that the government will not abuse and violate its duty to protect the primary rights of the people,” the agency said in Filipino.

The CHR said every government agency has an obligation to protect the rights of the people—the PNP on the right to life and property, the Department of Health on the right to health, and the Department of Education on the right to education.

“But if it is the state that violated the human rights, it is the responsibility of the CHR to act as the conscience of the government,” it said.

This does not mean however that the commission cannot probe cases involving non-state actors.

The CHR can investigate into issues that involve vulnerable sectors, according to Jacqueline De Guia, spokesperson of the agency.

“We do that [investigation] kapag vulnerable sector at tsaka yung IHL (International Humanitarian Law),” she said. The commission has, in the past, condemned the Abu Sayyaf for beheading hostages.

She said that government agencies should be allowed to do their work in other cases, emphasizing that they are better equipped and have more resources to deal with them.

“We cannot respond to all incidents of rights violations” considering their resources and manpower, she said.

READ: Activists chant Duterte off rally stage

3. That the CHR was created by and is protected by the Constitution

The president also expressed his desire to abolish the CHR, which was created by the 1987 Constitution to prevent human rights abuses seen during the dictatorship ousted strongman Ferdinand Marcos.

“Yung CHR, you are better abolished,” Duterte said.

Abolishing the Commission on Human Rights will require an amendment to the 1987 Constitution, the commission said Tuesday amid threats by President Duterte to close down the independent body. The CHR, like other constitutional commissions, the Office of the Ombudsman, and the judiciary, also enjoys fiscal autonomy. That means they cannot be defunded or given a budget of a peso as lawmakers sometimes threaten agencies at budget hearings.

“The CHR has a constitutional mandate and will continue with its responsibilities of fact-finding and documenting of human rights violations as well as inform the public about the importance of human rights in society,” said Gascon.

“Any discussion to abolish CHR or any other institution for that matter can be taken in the proposed constitutional reform process. In other words, we shall cross the bridge when we get there,” he added.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/07/26/1721380/what-duterte-gets-wrong-about-chr

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Residents and police gather near the blanket-covered body of a man killed, along with four others, in an alleged police anti-drug operation in Manila, Philippines Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016. Authorities said 3,200 alleged drug personalities have died in police operations from July 1, 2016 to June 20, 2017. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez
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Credit: Raffy Lerma—Philippine Daily Inquirer

 (Contains links to several related articles)

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Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl — killed in President Duterte’s war on drugs — looks like it has been put out with the trash….. Presidential spokesman Abella said the war on drugs is for the next generation of Filipinos.
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U.S. Lawmakers Highly Critical of Philippine President Duterte on Human Rights, Drug War, Rule of Law

July 21, 2017

“If he comes I will lead a protest (against it),” said Democratic congressman James McGovern at a US House hearing on Thursday on the human rights consequences of the war on drugs in the Philippines.  Tom Lantos Human Rights Commission

WASHINGTON – US legislators savaged President Duterte for the “explosion” of extrajudicial killings in his war on drugs and urged President Donald Trump to rescind an invitation to the Filipino leader to visit the White House.

“If he comes I will lead a protest (against it),” said Democratic congressman James McGovern at a US House hearing on Thursday on the human rights consequences of the war on drugs in the Philippines.

McGovern, co-chair of the chamber’s Human Rights Commission, said the EJKs stain bilateral relations with the United States.

There are other alternatives to fighting the spread of drugs consistent with the rule of law rather than killing people in cold blood, he said.

No other country comes to mind where people are assassinated in the name of fighting drugs and leaders brag about it, he said.

Congresswoman Jackie Speier, also a Democrat, said she was disgusted that President Trump invited Duterte to the White House.

“We need to call this (Duterte’s) deranged policy out for what it is: state-sanctioned vigilantism that contravenes the rule of law and damages the international standing of the Philippines,” she said.

“It is critical that both Congress and the President condemn Duterte’s unacceptable human rights abuses in the strongest possible terms, and take concrete action to ensure that the United States is not enabling these practices,” she added.

Republican congressman Randy Hultgren, the other co-chair of the commission described the EJKs as an appalling epidemic and said 7,000 drug users and dealers have been killed without charges and without trial.

He said it was the obligation of the US Congress to not only advocate for but to defend human rights.

“We need to maintain bilateral cooperation with our ally without jeopardizing human rights in the Philippines,” he said.

One of the witnesses at the hearing, Ellecer Carlos, spokesperson for In Defense of Human Rights and Dignity Movement (iDEFEND) of the Philippines said Duterte has effectively put in place a de facto social cleansing policy with his war on drugs affecting the most vulnerable and impoverished sections of Philippine society.

He has effectively defined a particular section of Philippine society as inhuman and worthy of elimination, Carlos said.

Another witness, Matthew Wells of Amnesty International, said he has been part of an AI team that has investigated the murderous campaign against drugs in the Philippines.

He said local government officials, at the behest of the police, draw up what is known as a “drug watch list” that purports to identify people who use or sell drugs in that area. The vast majority of victims come from the poorest segments of Philippine society.

Inclusion is at times based on hearsay, community rumors, or personal rivalry, with little or no verification.

These “drug watch lists” are then often turned into kill lists.  Police units usually rely on these lists to identify targets.

Amnesty International’s investigation found that, in at least some areas of the Philippines, police officers have received significant under-the-table payments for “encounters” in which alleged drug offenders are killed.

Payments ranged from P8,000 for killing a person who uses drugs to P15,000 for killing a small-scale “pusher.”

He called Duterte’s war on drugs campaign as one of the worst human rights calamities in the world today.

The Philippines is a treaty ally of the US and the largest recipient of American assistance in East Asia and has a unique leverage and influence to help ensure the war on drugs be reoriented towards a model based on the protection of health and human rights, he said.

On the eve of the hearing, presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella in Manila described the Duterte administration’s campaign against illegal drugs as a “noble effort to protect the security and safety of the Filipino people and the future of the nation.”

He said proceedings like the House hearing that allege wrongdoing should provide the opportunity for all sides to be considered. “Insinuations and hasty judgments have no place in due process,” Duterte’s spokesman said on Thursday.

A House spokeswoman said the commission has a policy of not inviting foreign government officials to deliver statements at hearings but pointed out anyone was free to attend the proceedings.

She said a speech by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano at the UN Human Rights Council in May which was sent by the Philippine embassy, was included as an annex to the official record of the hearing.

The Cayetano speech provides a holistic and composite picture of the number of deaths relative to the fight against illegal drugs, an embassy letter said.

Palace: Let people judge

Presidential spokesman  Abella said the administration is unfazed by criticism coming from US lawmakers.

“As the President would say, the real judge of the actions of the administration would be not so much these opinions, but people actually,” Abella told a press briefing.

Abella pointed out that streets are safer now for Filipinos as a result of Duterte’s tough approach. – With Paolo Romero, Christina Mendez, Helen Flores, Romina Cabrera

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/07/22/1720295/us-congress-hits-philippines-drug-war-wants-rody-dis-invited

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Philippine President Duterte Insists He Won’t Listen To Congress, Supreme Court — Despite the Constitution giving them oversight, even during martial law

May 28, 2017
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An Air Force helicopter gunship fires a rocket at Maute positions in the continuing assault to retake control of some areas of Marawi City yesterday. AP

JOLO  , Philippines – President Duterte has vowed to ignore the Supreme Court and Congress as he enforces martial law across Mindanao despite the Constitution giving them oversight.

Duterte on Tuesday imposed martial law in Mindanao, home to 20 million people, following deadly clashes in the mostly Muslim-populated Marawi City involving the Maute group which, he said, was trying to establish a caliphate for the Islamic State group.

“Until the police and the Armed Forces say the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue. I will not listen to others. The Supreme Court, Congress, they are not here,” Duterte told soldiers on Saturday.

“Are they the ones dying and losing blood, bleeding, hemorrhaging because there is no help, no reinforcement? It’s not they,” he said.

The 1987 Constitution imposes limits on martial law to prevent a repeat of the abuses carried out under the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was deposed by the people power revolution in 1986.

The Constitution requires Congress to approve a president’s declaration of martial law, and limits military rule for 60 days. If a president wants to extend it, he or she must again get congressional endorsement.

The Supreme Court (SC) can also rule on martial law’s legality.

“The Supreme Court will say they will examine into the factual (basis). Why I don’t know. They are not soldiers. They do not know what is happening on the ground,” Duterte said.

A day after declaring martial law, Duterte described the nine years of military rule under Marcos as “very good,” and said his would be similar.

Duterte also told soldiers on Friday they would be allowed to conduct searches and arrests without warrants.

“During martial law, your commanders, you, you can arrest any person, search any house. There is no more warrant needed,” Duterte told troops.

Duterte’s comments contradicted a government statement released on Saturday to explain martial law.

“Warrants of arrest or search warrants should be issued,” the statement from the government’s information agency said.

“No person may be arrested and detained without orders coming from these civil courts.”

Duterte has overwhelming support in Congress, which this week is widely expected to endorse his initial declaration of martial law.

Looming clash

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, however, on Friday expressed concerns about martial law, saying the sins of martial law during the dictatorship of the late Ferdinand Marcos could possibly be repeated under the current martial law.

“Given the present day, when the possibility of history repeating itself looms imminent, no cause requires your commitment as much as the cause of human rights, justice, and democracy,” Sereno was quoted as saying in her speech during the commencement exercise at the Ateneo de Manila University last Friday.

“Today, people’s fundamental human rights and freedoms, the core of our democracy, face grave and blatant threats. The culture of impunity is on the rise. People are pressured to favor the easy choice over the right choice: expediency over due process; convenient labeling over fairness; the unlawful termination of human life over rehabilitation,” she further stated.

But Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II yesterday questioned her opinion, stressing that statements publicly made by Sereno might be uncalled for.

“I believe such statements are premature and imprudent on the part of the Chief Justice,” he told The STAR.

Aguirre said that Duterte’s declaration of martial law to neutralize the Maute terror group after its occupation of Marawi City is expected to be submitted for judicial review of the SC through petition by critics.

The justice secretary said prudence dictates that members of the high court, including the chief justice, must refrain from commenting on legal questions and issues up for SC review, adding that public statements by magistrates could be used as ground for inhibition in cases.

Aguirre believes Sereno’s position should better be included in a magistrate’s written opinion on the issue only after submission of arguments, hearing and deliberations in the high tribunal.

The SC has yet to lay down guidelines on the use of executive power to declare martial law after the Marcos regime.

Still no implementing guidelines

One week into the declaration of martial law in Mindanao through Proclamation 216, no ground implementation guidelines have been issued by the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to the two major military commands in the area, the Eastern Mindanao Command (Eastmincom) and the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

“(Eastmincom) is awaiting guidelines from the (AFP) on how this will be implemented on the ground,” the Eastmincom said in a statement yesterday.

“We are yet to get a written guidance as to how the declaration will translate to our operations on the ground, especially here in Western Mindanao, where all threat groups are present,” the Westmincom said in a separate statement.

“The guidelines will come out soon. They’re working on them,” Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea told The STAR.

Eastmincom officials said they have remained on heightened alert since May 11, when joint AFP-Philippine National Police operations encountered the group of Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi City.

While noting volatile situation in its area, which jurisdiction includes Marawi City, Westmincom assured the public it would use the current mandate to boost its campaign against terrorism, in accordance with the law and with respect to human rights and the International Humanitarian Law.

‘Misguided commentaries’

Meanwhile, Malacañang yesterday lashed at critics of the Mindanao martial law who feared it could lead to abuses and curtailment of civil and political rights.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella dismissed the criticisms as “misguided commentaries.”

“The President’s focus is on addressing the terrorist threat in Mindanao,” Abella said in a statement yesterday.

“He is committed to succeeding in this mission and to restoring peace and order so that other people throughout Mindanao can fully participate in our nation’s development.” — AFP, Edu Punay, Edith Rgalado, Alexis Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/29/1704646/duterte-wont-listen-congress-sc-ml

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Philippine President Duterte vows to ignore Supreme Court on martial law

May 28, 2017
/ 04:26 PM May 28, 2017
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Duterte on Tuesday imposed martial law in the Mindanao region, home to 20 million people, following deadly clashes in a mostly Muslim-populated city involving militants he said were trying to establish a caliphate for the Islamic State group.

“Until the police and the armed forces say the Philippines is safe, this martial law will continue. I will not listen to others. The Supreme Court, Congress, they are not here,” Duterte told soldiers on Saturday.

“Are they the ones dying and losing blood, bleeding, hemorrhaging because there is no help, no reinforcement? It’s not them.”

The 1987 Constitution imposes limits on martial law to prevent a repeat of the abuses carried out under the regime of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, who was deposed by a famous “People Power” revolution the previous year.

The Constitution requires Congress to approve a president’s declaration of martial law, and limits military rule for 60 days. If a president wants to extend it, he or she must again get congressional endorsement.

The Supreme Court can also rule on martial law’s legality.

“The Supreme Court will say they will examine into the factual (basis). Why I don’t know. They are not soldiers. They do not know what is happening on the ground,” Duterte said Saturday on Jolo, a southern island that is under martial law.

A day after declaring martial law, Duterte described the nine years of military rule under Marcos as “very good”, and said his would be similar.

Duterte also told soldiers on Friday they would be allowed to conduct searches and arrests without warrants.

“During martial law, your commanders, you, you can arrest any person, search any house. There is no more warrant needed,” Duterte told troops on Friday.

Duterte’s comments contradicted a government statement released on Saturday to explain martial law.

“Warrants of arrest or search warrants should be issued,” the statement from the government’s information agency said.

“No person may be arrested and detained without orders coming from these civil courts.”

Duterte has overwhelming support in Congress, which is this week widely expected to endorse his initial declaration of martial law.

However the Supreme Court chief justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno, on Friday expressed concerns about martial law./rga

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/900310/duterte-vows-to-ignore-supreme-court-on-martial-law#ixzz4iOXVATk5
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Friday, May 26, 2017

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Lorenzana said the confrontation opened Tuesday afternoon, when government forces attempted to arrest a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, an extremist organization with ties to the Islamic State. They had learned Isnilon Hapilon was in the area, but according to Lorenzana, the military had not expected him to be backed up by “more or less 100 fighters” — many of whom were members of another ISIS-linked organization, the Maute Group.

More than 100 gunmen responded to the raid by burning buildings and conducting other diversionary tactics, officials said, adding that thousands of residents have fled Marawi.

 (with links to related reports)

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South China Sea: Philippine President Duterte Expect Code of Conduct Agreement With China, Next Week

May 16, 2017
“There will be a code of conduct. I will not speculate on how or rather the dimension of the agreement. It has to be worked out. So I don’t want to speculate,” the President said upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport before dawn yesterday from China. Francis Malasig/Pool Photo via AP, File

DAVAO CITY, Philippines – For years an elusive target for nations with conflicting claims in the South China Sea, a code of conduct for managing the dispute is expected to be ready on May 19 when the China-led Bilateral Consultation Mechanism convenes for the first time, President Duterte said yesterday.

“There will be a code of conduct. I will not speculate on how or rather the dimension of the agreement. It has to be worked out. So I don’t want to speculate,” the President said upon his arrival at the Davao International Airport before dawn yesterday from China.

The President was in Cambodia and Hong Kong before his China visit.

The President stressed that both China and the Philippines are looking forward to a bilateral mechanism for settling the dispute over areas in the South China Sea.

The Philippines refers to the side of the disputed waters within its exclusive economic zone as West Philippine Sea.

Other claimants in the South China Sea aside from the Philippines and China are Malaysia, Vietnam, Brunei and Taiwan. China claims almost the entire South China Sea through which 40 percent of world trade passes.

Many of the disputed areas were uninhabitable land features on which the Chinese built fortresses with airstrips and bristling with sophisticated weapons system.

“We look forward to the bilateral meeting on the South China Sea. This is one step forward in peacefully managing disputes,” the President said.

The President emphasized that the forging of deals with China amounting to billions of dollars under the latter’s One Belt One Road development strategy would not influence – much less undermine – the Philippines’ position in next week’s bilateral talks on the South China Sea issue.

He said the government does not have to take extra measures to ensure the sovereignty of the country is not compromised.

“It is not really the safety measure that you are talking about. The safety measure is that when you avoid trouble, we avoid violence and we avoid war because frankly, we cannot afford it and China cannot afford it also at this time. Masisira tayong dalawa (We’ll both lose),” the President further said.

While acknowledging there is indeed a dispute with China over territories, Duterte said he and Chinese Premier Li Keqiang and President Xi Jinping had agreed there is a proper time to raise the July 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling on the issue.

The UN-backed Permanent Court of Arbitration based in The Hague invalidated China’s massive claims in the South China Sea and reaffirmed the Philippines’ maritime entitlements. Beijing, however, made it clear it would not comply with the ruling.

“There is a time for me to ask about the arbitral ruling but it is not now. We have to go into the mechanics of… We have to have an agenda, the structure of the meeting and… how to present the case to them first because we agreed to talk, to have a dialogue,” the President pointed out.

“Maybe at some future time these things will crop up. And you cannot avoid it because there is the arbitral ruling,” he added.

“In the end it would always be legal. The arbitral ruling rendered by an organ of the United Nations will always be there,” he said.

The previous Aquino administration filed a case against Beijing in 2013 with the arbitral tribunal in response to China’s escalation of island building activities in the West Philippine Sea.

The filing of the case came a year after the Chinese took control of Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal off Zambales after a standoff with the Philippine Navy. Chinese maritime surveillance vessels arrived in the area to rescue Chinese poachers arrested by the Philippine Navy earlier.

The poachers were allowed to leave with their illegal cargo of endangered corals, giant clams and baby sharks.

Fair and balanced

Meanwhile, President Duterte said he still has to study the suggestion of former speaker Jose de Venecia that the Philippines conduct joint exploration of the West Philippine Sea with China and Vietnam, as he stressed any deal would have to be “fair and balanced.”

De Venecia, recently named special envoy for intercultural dialogue, raised the idea at the Belt and Road Forum in China last Sunday.

He said the three countries should “discard occasional enmity and exaggerated pride” and consider conducting a three-way energy exploration in the South China Sea and West Philippine Sea.

He expressed belief his suggestion, if adopted, could promote peace and development in the area.

Duterte said De Venecia’s proposal should be examined to ensure that the Philippines would not end up shortchanged.

“Let us see the wherewithals. Tingnan muna kung ’di ba ako malugi (Let’s see if we will not be shortchanged)? It has to be fair and it has to be balanced,” the President said. “So if we can get something there with no hassle at all, why not?”

A Joint Marine Seismic Undertaking signed by the Arroyo administration with China drew flak from various sectors, which saw the deal as tantamount to giving Beijing unbridled access to the Philippines’ maritime territory. – With Alexis Romero

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/17/1700690/rody-expects-china-nod-sea-code-conduct