Posts Tagged ‘Philippines’

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.

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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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Japanese Official Warns North Korean Threat Critical, Imminent

October 23, 2017

Defense minister tells Asian counterparts, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis that Japan supports U.S. position that “all options are on the table”

U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is given a book by Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers meeting on Monday.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis is given a book by Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Defense Ministers meeting on Monday. PHOTO: AMBER SMITH/ZUMA PRESS
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CLARK FREEPORT, Philippines—Japan’s defense minister said the threat posed by North Korea has grown to an “unprecedented, critical and imminent level,” reflecting a rising sense of urgency over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera told counterparts from South Korea and the U.S. at a gathering of defense ministers of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations here that Japan supports the American position that “all options are on the table”–referring to a possible military response—while also favoring efforts at peace.

He said the danger from North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles meant the allies had to carefully calibrate their response.

Mr. Onodera met with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis as well as South Korean Minister of National Defense Song Young-moo, for a rare trilateral meeting on security issues. The meeting comes just weeks before President Donald Trump travels to the region.

The Japanese defense minister’s pronouncements on North Korea came within a day of an election victory by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has pushed to change Japan’s posture as a pacifist nation and play a larger international role, taking part in peacekeeping missions and other operations.

North Korea has launched missiles throughout the area, contributing to anxiety among the U.S. and its allies that a missile actually could strike Japan, South Korea or even Guam, a U.S. territory where thousands of American troops are stationed.

In making his warning Monday, Mr. Onodera didn’t point to an impending North Korean operation. The last North Korean launch was more than a month ago, when Pyongyang fired an intermediate-range missile, according to U.S. defense officials.

North Korea boasts about its nuclear weapons program by releasing photos and videos of its missiles. But in them are tiny clues to their true capability. A team of U.S. analysts, working outside the government, shows how they decode these images to determine when North Korea is bluffing – and when it is showing true power. Photo: North Korea State Media

Mr. Trump has countered North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s launches and belligerent remarks with his own rhetoric, threatening a massive military response. Mr. Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson have maintained that ongoing diplomatic options remain the best approach to resolve the crisis.

South Korea, considered the most vulnerable to a missile attack from the North, has struggled to refine its message since a new, more liberal administration was installed earlier this year. Mr. Song said Monday that military options must be weighed carefully.

“As defense ministers who are in charge of national defense and other high tech weapons such as ballistic missiles, we understand the very weight of engaging in a war and as such we will make all the efforts necessary to resolve the issue in a diplomatic and economic way as much as possible,” Mr. Song said on the sidelines of the security conference.

He continued: “As soldiers, we will refrain from using military force as much as possible and resolve the problem through other measures. However, if we are attacked then we will have to take firm actions.”

North Korea has emerged as a focal point among allies in the region, even if no consensus yet has emerged on how to counter its provocations. The issue of China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, where Beijing has attempted to expand its claims, has figured slightly less prominently during the defense meeting this year.

While the U.S. has signaled that it will continue to challenge China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, where it has built or expanded artificial islands, Washington also is urging China to do all it can to pressure North Korea to back off its provocations.

“Asean nations have demonstrated that they can listen to one another, they identify opportunities to increase defense cooperation for their own security and seek shared solutions to shared concerns,” Mr. Mattis told reporters before arriving here Monday. “The United States remains unambiguously committed to supporting Asean.”

Asean is a group that serves as an international venue that “gives voice to those who work together,” Mr. Mattis said.

Mr. Mattis will travel to Bangkok on Wednesday to pay respects during royal cremation rites for Thailand’s late King Bhumibol Adulyadej. Mr. Mattis later this week also will attend a security meeting in Seoul with his South Korean counterpart, Mr. Song.

Write to Gordon Lubold at Gordon.Lubold@wsj.com

https://www.wsj.com/articles/japanese-official-warns-north-korean-threat-critical-imminent-1508776523

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  (Published today, October 23, 2017, The Independent)

North Korea’s nuclear threat now at ‘critical and imminent level’, says Japan

October 23, 2017

Donald Trump threatened to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea

By Andrew Buncombe New York
The Independent
October 23, 2017, Noon in New York

northkoreathreat-japan.jpg

The threat from North Korea’s developing nuclear and conventional weapons programme has reached a “critical and imminent level”, Japan’s defence minister has claimed.

Speaking in the Philippines, in the company of his US and South Korean counterparts, Itsunori Onodera said it was essential those countries concerned about the threat acted to confront it.

“[The] threat posed by North Korea has grown to the unprecedented, critical and imminent level,” he said.

According to Reuters, he added: “Therefore, we have to take calibrated and different responses to meet with that level of threat.”

The comments from Mr Onodera came amid escalating tension between North Korea and the West. Since Kim Jong-un assumed leadership of the country in 2011, he has overseen a rapid escalation of its nuclear weapons programme.

In recent months, it has continued to test intercontinental ballistic missiles, despite repeated calls from the international community not to do so. Many experts believe those missiles – which North Korea has tested by firing them over Japan – could reach the US mainland. At the same time, it has also been testing the nuclear payloads that could be carried by such missiles.

The US has responded by sabre-rattling and a barrage of rhetoric. During his first speech before the United Nations General Assembly, Donald Trump said the US may be obliged to “totally destroy” North Korea. He has also denounced the outreach endeavours of his top diplomat, Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson.

North Korea writes unprecedented open letter to multiple Western countries

“I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man,” Mr Trump said on Twitter earlier this month, using the nickname he has adopted for the North Korean leader. “Save your energy Rex. We’ll do what has to be done!”

Mr Onodera’s remarks, which highlighted the deep concern in Tokyo about North Korea’s weapons testing, were more outspoken than the comments from US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-Moo.

Mr Song said “North Korea’s provocative behaviour is becoming worse and worse”. Mr Mattis also renewed criticism of North Korea’s tests, saying they “threaten regional and global security”.

Meanwhile, former US President Jimmy Carter said he was willing to travel to North Korea on behalf of the Trump administration to try and help diffuse the situation, the New York Times reported over the weekend.

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/us-politics/north-korea-latest-us-threat-trump-kim-jong-un-japan-critical-imminent-level-a8015511.html

Mattis says to discuss N. Korea threat on Philippines trip — Praises the Philippines for its successes in battling Islamic State in Marawi

October 23, 2017

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US Secretary of Defense James Mattis

CLARK (PHILIPPINES) (AFP) – US Secretary of Defense James Mattis said Monday that curbing military threats from North Korea would be high on the agenda on his Asian tour this week, ahead of a visit by Donald Trump.

Tension has been high on the divided peninsula for months with Pyongyang staging its sixth nuclear test and launching two ICBMs that apparently brought much of the US mainland into range.

Trump and the North’s leader Kim Jong-Un have meanwhile traded threats of war and personal insults.

Mattis, on his way to the Philippines for security talks with Southeast Asian defence ministers, said he would discuss the “regional security crisis caused by reckless… North Korea” among other issues.

At the forum, Mattis is also expected to hold three-way talks with his counterparts from South Korea and Japan — key US allies in Asia — before visiting Seoul for annual defence talks.

“We will discuss… how we are going to maintain peace by keeping our militaries alert while our diplomats — Japanese, South Korean and US — work with all nations to denuclearise the Korean peninsula,” Mattis told reporters on his aircraft.

He stressed the international community’s goal was to denuclearise the flashpoint region, adding: “There is only one country with nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula.”

Mattis’ visit to Seoul comes ahead of Trump’s first presidential trip to Asia next month, which also includes South Korea. All eyes will be on Trump’s message to the isolated North.

His recent remark that “only one thing will work” with North Korea fuelled concerns of a potential conflict.

But even some Trump advisers say US military options are limited when Pyongyang could launch an artillery barrage on the South Korean capital Seoul — only around 50 kilometres from the heavily fortified border and home to 10 million people.

The defence ministers from the 10-member Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), meeting in the northern Philippine city of Clark ahead of talks with Mattis, issued a strong statement against North Korea on Monday.

“(We) express grave concerns over the escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula including the testing and launching by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) of intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) in addition to its previous nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches,” the joint declaration said.

“(We) strongly urge the DPRK to immediately comply with its obligations arising from all the relevant UN Security Council Resolutions.”

Mattis met with his counterparts from ASEAN on Monday afternoon.

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U.S. defense chief Mattis praises Philippines for success in Marawi

Mattis: ‘It was a very tough fight as you know in southern Mindanao. And I think the Philippine military sends a very strong message to the terrorists.’

Published 12:59 PM, October 23, 2017
Updated 1:00 PM, October 23, 2017

PENTAGON CHIEF. In this file photo, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives on Capitol Hill, October 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

PENTAGON CHIEF. In this file photo, U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis arrives on Capitol Hill, October 20, 2017 in Washington, DC. Drew Angerer/Getty Images/AFP

CLARK, Philippines – US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Monday, October 23, praised the Philippines for its successes in battling Islamic State (ISIS) supporters, as he began an Asian trip aimed at reaffirming American support for regional allies.

Image result for Soldiers stand on guard in front of damaged buildings after government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a war-torn area in Bangolo town, Marawi City, southern Philippines October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announces the end of the battle for Marawi

Mattis echoed Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s statement last week that Filipino forces had “liberated” the southern city of Marawi, after 5 months of bitter urban fighting that had claimed more than 1,000 lives, even though battles have continued.

 Image result for Soldiers stand on guard in front of damaged buildings after government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a war-torn area in Bangolo town, Marawi City, southern Philippines October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco
Damaged houses and buildings are seen after Philippine government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic rebels. Reuters photo

“One of the first things I’m going to do when I get there is commend the Philippine military for liberating Marawi from the terrorists,” Mattis told reporters on the flight to the Philippines, according to an official transcript.

“It was a very tough fight as you know in southern Mindanao. And I think the Philippine military sends a very strong message to the terrorists.”

Gunmen who had pledged allegiance to ISIS occupied parts of Marawi, the largest Islamic city of the mainly Catholic Philippines, on May 23 in what Duterte said was a bid to establish a Southeast Asian caliphate there.

Hundreds of insurgents withstood a US-backed military campaign, including near daily air strikes and artillery fire, that displaced more than 400,000 people and left large parts of Marawi in ruins.

Duterte last week travelled to Marawi to declare it had been “liberated”, a day after the Southeast Asian leader for ISIS, Isnilon Hapilon, was shot dead there.

Image result for Soldiers stand on guard in front of damaged buildings after government troops cleared the area from pro-Islamic State militant groups inside a war-torn area in Bangolo town, Marawi City, southern Philippines October 23, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

Philippine troops at work

However deadly fighting has continued, with the military reporting dozens of militants are still resisting in a small pocket of the city.

Mattis flew to the Philippines to attend a meeting hosted by Southeast Asian defense ministers at the former American military base of Clark, two hours’ drive north of Manila.

The Philippines is a former American colony and the two nations are bound by a mutual defense treaty.

But relations have soured under Duterte as he has sought to build closer ties with China and Russia.

Defense ministers from Australia, China, India, Japan, New Zealand, South Korea and Russia are also scheduled to attend the two-day Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) event.

Mattis’ Asia trip, which will also take him to Thailand and South Korea, comes ahead of US President Donald Trump’s visit to Asia next month.

Some American allies in the region have become wary of Trump’s interest in Asia.

Mattis sought to reassure allies.

“The US remains unambiguously committed to supporting ASEAN,” Mattis said. – Rappler.com

Trump’s November Trip To Asia Could Be His Defining Moment

October 23, 2017

US leader’s historic Asian trip will have an enduring impact, but he must confront three harsh realities

United States President Donald Trump’s first official visit to East Asia next month is historic in its combination of low expectations and high potential impact.

The President will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines, marking a potentially defining moment in the next chapter of US-Asia relations.

There is considerable benefit to making a first visit to Asia after rather than before the spectacle that has been the 19th Congress of the Chinese Communist Party. It is also of inestimable help to hear the private wisdom of Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, whom the President hosts today in Washington.

But as a five-nation tour ushers in America’s post-pivot Asia policy, three harsh realities will precede the President’s arrival at every stop on his itinerary.

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U.S. President Donald Trump (Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

In North-east Asia, Mr Trump will find grave doubts about the reliability of US leadership, especially given North Korea’s irresponsible proclivity to evoke the spectre of nuclear war. Nobody wants to see Pyongyang deploy a deadly arsenal of missiles carrying hydrogen bombs. And a catastrophic conflict is everyone’s nightmare.

The words Mr Trump chooses during his visit will influence Asian opinion about America’s status as the ultimate security guarantor. Long seen as a benign distant balancer, US staying power and political will are increasingly called into question. Washington has focused on a North Korea strategy of maximum pressure and minimal diplomacy. In Seoul – or perhaps if he visits the DMZ or demilitarised zone, Mr Trump can channel Ronald Reagan in Berlin three decades ago (“Tear down this wall”), conveying both determination and imagination. He must signal to the region that his intention is to convert pressure into diplomatic opportunity, not war.

 Mr Donald Trump will visit Japan, South Korea, China, Vietnam and the Philippines on his first trip to Asia as President next month.

 

If the US cannot convince Asia to follow America’s lead in dealing with Mr Kim Jong Un, North Korea’s impulsive leader, there’s scant chance that the region will help balance the Sinocentric siren call of Chinese President Xi Jinping.

This raises a second hard truth that Mr Trump must confront on his Asian tour: shifting economic realities.

Delivering powerful speeches in Seoul, Da Nang or Manila will not be as important as the follow-through, and it is impossible to do this alone. Success depends upon hewing to newly identified US priorities, empowering a multi-dimensional policy, and harnessing a network of effective and able partners and allies.

As the President lands in Vietnam for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit, the spotlight will be on economics. Here the perception that China is the main engine of global economic growth will loom larger than many in the presidential entourage would care to admit. Illustrative of China’s popular ascendancy is that, according to a recent Pew poll, Australians by a two-to-one margin see Beijing rather than Washington as the economic leader. America may still surpass China in “soft power”, but other data suggests even that gap is closing quickly.

The notion that China simply is the purveyor of public goods, as in building infrastructure under the guise of a benevolent Belt and Road Initiative, needs to be corrected. But Mr Trump must resist the temptation to take the lead in doing so, at least before he clarifies what the US will offer the region by way of an affirmative, inclusive agenda during his tenure. His prerequisite is to articulate a compelling vision, especially after waving the banner of economic nationalism and withdrawing from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) pact. Only then will he be at liberty to puncture some of the glib assumptions upon which Beijing’s inflated narrative rests.

Mr Trump should remain attentive to geopolitical opportunities as well. Hence, he should visit Hanoi for bilateral talks with Vietnamese officials, before heading to Da Nang; and he should not completely close the back door that will remain open for rejoining the TPP.

The world’s largest economy retains myriad levers for supporting Asia’s economic opportunity. In the meantime, the President’s call for fair and reciprocal bilateral trade and investment deals can highlight the high standards and transparency by which Washington seeks to fortify a free and open Indo-Pacific region.

A third reality concerning global challenges will be obvious by the time Mr Trump joins Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and other regional leaders in Manila as they commemorate the 50th anniversary of Asean. Rising Asian leaders have pride and operate within their own political and cultural constraints, just as Mr Trump does.

The axiom that “all politics is local” pertains to Asia as well. Seeking to support efforts to confront global challenges such as terrorism, trafficking in illegal drugs and securing borders will best be done by offering support and capacity building, not judgment and disengagement. The US can both lead and cooperate, bringing in allies and partners to anchor Washington’s goals within local mechanisms. Let the Philippines determine the scope of expanded counter-terrorism cooperation, for example, and then work with next year’s Asean chair, Singapore, to broaden and deepen that cooperation.

Managing this trio of unavoidable obstructions – China’s economic power, questions about America’s role and seeing global challenges through a local prism – requires a specific type of preparation for November’s journey.

At the top of the agenda is understanding the challenge. Mr Trump’s call for America to advance a free and open Indo-Pacific region sets a new ambition rooted in history. The White House understands the high degree of continuity in a US policy focused on commerce, the maritime commons, and a balance of power operating within a rules-based order.

In the span of 12 days, few deliverables may emerge out of the President’s Asian trip. Yet the impact will be enduring. Delivering powerful speeches in Seoul, Da Nang or Manila will not be as important as the follow-through, and it is impossible to do this alone. Success depends upon hewing to newly identified US priorities, empowering a multi-dimensional policy, and harnessing a network of effective and able partners and allies.

•The writer is senior director of the Asia-Pacific Security Programme at the Centre for a New American Security.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 23, 2017, with the headline ‘Trump’s Nov visit can be his defining moment in Asia’.
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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)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

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

 (November 30, 2016)

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

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

 (November 16, 2016)

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Indonesia, Singapore should encourage conflicting parties to solve South China Sea dispute

October 23, 2017

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Indonesia, Singapore should encourage conflicting parties to solve South China Sea dispute

Illustration of South China Sea. (www,beforeitnews.com)

Jakarta (ANTARA News) – Indonesia and Singapore can take the initiative to encourage countries involved in the South China Sea dispute to sit together to solve it, Indonesian senior diplomat Hasjim Djalal said.

“Indonesia and Singapore can take the initiative to bring the conflicting parties to negotiations,” he said in a discussion on “The South China Sea Disputes: Will ASEAN and China Find Convergence?” here on Saturday.

The discussion was held as a side event of the 3rd Indonesian Foreign Policy Conference themed “Win-Winning ASEAN, Conquering Globalization”. The conference highlighted 50 years of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations and globalization.

As non-claimant countries, Indonesia and Singapore can take the initiative to bring claimant countries to a meeting, he said.

According to the expert in law of the sea, non-claimant ASEAN member states should encourage claimant countries to sit together to find a solution to the dispute.

“We need diplomatic initiative on the part of Indonesia and Singapore as non-claimant ASEAN member states to encourage claimant ASEAN member states to sit together with China,” he said.

The South China Sea disputes involve both island and maritime claims among several sovereign states within the region, namely Brunei, China, Taiwan, Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam.

An estimated US$5 trillion worth of global trade passes through the South China Sea and many non-claimant states want the South China Sea to remain international waters.

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http://www.antaranews.com/en/news/113162/indonesia-singapore-should-encourage-conflicting-parties-to-solve-south-china-sea-dispute
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Philippines: New Police Leader in Muslim Mindanao Says “I want peace in my homeland.”

October 22, 2017

 (philstar.com) 

Image may contain: 1 person, standing, beard and outdoor

Philippine Police Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa at the symbolic turnover of the ARMM police directorship from Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac (middle) to Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares (left). JOHN UNSON

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MAGUINDANAO, Philippines — The new police director for the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao has vowed to helping push the peace process in the southern Philippines forward.

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Chief Superintendent Graciano Mijares, who graduated from the Philippine Military in 1988, took command of the Police Regional Office-Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao from his PMA upperclassman, the Chief Superintendent Reuben Theodore Sindac.
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Sindac, who belongs to PMA class 1984, served in the Army, the Philippine Constabulary and the Philippine National Police for 37 years.
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Mijares said he will extend the same support Sindac provided to people in the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation who are working together to put closure to the now 50-year Mindanao Moro issue.
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“I was born in Marawi City, raised in Mindanao, so how can I not support the Mindanao peace process? I love peace. I want peace in my homeland,” Mijares said.
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The ceremonial PRO-ARMM leadership transition rite was led by PNP Director General Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa, who also hails from Mindanao.
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Dela Rosa lauded Sindac for his role in the surrender of thousands of drug dependents and peddlers to the provincial and municipal police offices and in the restoration of normalcy in the conflict-stricken Marawi City while director of PRO-ARMM.
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Philippine President Duterte (l) announces that Filipino troops have ended the uprising of Islamist rebels in Marawi
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He awarded Sindac with three more citation medals for his accomplishments as police director for the autonomous region during a program at Camp SK Pendatun in Parang town in Maguindanao.
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Mijares said he will emulate the management examples of Sindac, who was tasked with heading the ARMM police in December 2016.
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“He is a Mindanaon. He speaks well of the socio-economic, political and religious dimensions and intricacies of the southern communities. I know he will make good,” Sindac said of the new regional director.
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Mijares told The STAR he will work closely with Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process Jesus Dureza, also a Mindanaon, in protecting the gains and dividends of Malacañang’s peace overture with the MILF and the Moro National Liberation Front.
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http://www.philstar.com/nation/2017/10/22/1751346/new-pnp-armm-chief-i-want-peace-my-homeland

Duterte to return police to drug war ‘if things get worse again’

October 21, 2017

Rappler

7:53 PM, October 21, 2017

‘Okay, let us see, 6 months from now. If things get worse again, I will say to these apes: “Go back to this job. You solve this problem of ours,”‘ says President Rodrigo Duterte, referring to the police

MANILA, Philippines – President Rodrigo Duterte has warned that he may bring the police back to the frontlines of his deadly war on drugs.

Duterte made the comments late Friday, October 21, following his announcement more than a week earlier to withdraw the police from his anti-drug war after they were accused of rights abuses in killing thousands of people while following his orders to eradicate illegal drugs.

He replaced them with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which has about 2,000 officers compared with the 165,000-strong police force.

Duterte has repeatedly insisted he has not ordered or incited police to murder drug addicts or suspects, while at other times he has said he would be happy to slaughter them or have tens of thousands killed.

On Friday, Duterte said he was already considering bringing the police back to run the drug war.

“Okay, let us see, 6 months from now. If things get worse again, I will say to these apes: ‘Go back to this job. You solve this problem of ours,'” he said, referring to the police.

Barely a week after Malacañang released the President’s memo removing the PNP from the helm of the anti-drug campaign, top cop Director General Ronald dela Rosa said he would ask Duterte to reverse his decision if there would be a spike in drug-related crimes. (READ: If crimes rise, I’ll ask Duterte to order PNP back to drug war – Dela Rosa)

The President also said Friday night that he would be prepared to kill criminals himself, as he raised doubts about the PDEA being able to contain illegal drugs.

“Those who rape children, who rape women, those sons of – if you don’t want the police, I am here now. I will shoot them. That’s true! If nobody would dare it, I will pull the trigger,” he said.

Duterte was elected to office in 2016 after vowing during the campaign that 100,000 people would die as he eradicated illegal drugs in society.

Since then, police have reported killing more than 3,900 “drug personalities.” Another 2,290 purple have died in unsolved “drug-related” killings, government figures show.

Many Filipinos continue to support the charismatic Duterte, seeing him as the solution to crime and corruption.

But human rights and Catholic Church leaders charge thousands of extra-judicial killings have been carried out by police and vigilantes as part of the drug war. (READ: The Impunity Series)

Authorities insist police only kill in self defense. While a majority of Filipinos support the government’s campaign against illegal drugs, most of them also fear ending up as collateral damage in the campaign like teenager Kian delos Santos, whose death sparked public outrage.

Duterte in January made a similar move to give the appearance of sidelining the police from the drug war after revelations that officers murdered a South Korean businessman in the police headquarters under the guise of an anti-drug operation.

He had then described the police as “corrupt to the core” and gave PDEA the lead role in the drug war.

But Duterte quickly reinstated the police without making any major reforms. Police officials swiftly announced a revitalised anti-drug campaign named “Double Barrel Re-Loaded.”

Asked for a reaction to Duterte’s latest comments, PDEA spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon conceded the agency faced a tough battle and was prepared to stand aside for the police.

“If the president so decides, we will welcome that,” Carreon told Agence France-Presse.

“We are strained. Definitely it will be an uphill climb.”

PDEA chief Aaron Aquino himself had earlier said that the police was still needed in the government’s war on drugs because of the lack of manpower of his agency. – with reports from Agence France-Presse / Rappler.com

https://www.rappler.com/nation/185992-duterte-return-police-war-drugs-crimes-worsen

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Philippines’ Duterte says he will shoot criminals — Not bothered by his own illegal activities

October 21, 2017

AFP

© AFP/File | Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered to shoot criminals himself, while warning he may bring police back to the frontlines of his deadly war on drugs

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has offered to shoot criminals himself, while warning he may bring police back to the frontlines of his deadly war on drugs.Duterte made the comments late Friday following his announcement on October 11 to withdraw the police from his anti-drug war after they were accused of rights abuses in killing thousands of people while following his orders to eradicate illegal drugs in society.

He replaced them with the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which has about 2,000 officers compared with 165,000 for the police force.

Duterte has repeatedly insisted he has not ordered or incited police to murder drug addicts or suspects, while at other times he has said he would be happy to slaughter them or have tens of thousands killed.

On Friday he said he would be prepared to kill criminals himself, as he raised doubts about the PDEA being able to contain illegal drugs.

“Those who rape children, who rape women, those sons of… if you don’t want the police, I am here now. I will shoot them. That’s true! If nobody would dare it, I will pull the trigger,” he said.

Duterte said he was already considering bringing the police back to run the drug war.

“Okay, let us see, six months from now. If things get worse again, I will say to these apes: ‘Go back to this job. You solve this problem of ours’,” he said, referring to the police.

Duterte was elected to office last year after vowing during the campaign that 100,000 people would die as he eradicated illegal drugs in society.

Since then, police have reported killing more than 3,900 “drug personalities”. Another 2,290 purple have died in unsolved “drug-related” killings, government figures show.

Many Filipinos continue to support the charismatic Duterte, seeing him as the solution to crime and corruption.

But human rights and Catholic Church leaders charge thousands of extra-judicial killings have been carried out by police and vigilantes as part of the drug war.

Authorities insist police only kill in self defence.

Duterte in January made a similar move to give the appearance of sidelining the police from the drug war after revelations that officers murdered a South Korean businessman in the police headquarters under the guise of an anti-drug operation.

He had then described the police as “corrupt to the core” and gave PDEA the lead role in the drug war.

But Duterte quickly reinstated the police without making any major reforms. Police officials swiftly announced a revitalised anti-drug campaign named: “Double Barrel Re-Loaded”.

Asked for a reaction to Duterte’s latest comments, PDEA spokesman Derrick Arnold Carreon conceded the agency faced a tough battle and was prepared to stand aside for the police.

“If the president so decides, we will welcome that,” Carreon told AFP.

“We are strained. Definitely it will be an uphill climb.”

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