Posts Tagged ‘President Duterte’

Philippines: Islamic Insurgents Behead Kidnapped Soldier — Abu Sayyaf is notorious for kidnappings, beheadings and deadly bombings

April 24, 2017
The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for kidnappings, beheadings and deadly bombings. Its leaders have also pledged allegiance to Islamic State gunmen in Iraq and Syria. File

3 Abus killed in Bohol

MANILA, Philippines –  The terror group Abu Sayyaf beheaded another one of its captives, a soldier in Patikul, Sulu, the military said yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Cirilito Sobejana, commander of Joint Task Force Sulu, confirmed that Staff Sgt. Anni Siraji was beheaded three days after he was kidnapped in Barangay Igasan.

Sobejana told ABS-CBN that troops found Siraji’s severed head and body in the village of Taglibis, Upper Patikul early yesterday.

Siraji, a former Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighter integrated into the Army, was snatched by seven suspected Abu Sayyaf gunmen on Thursday morning.

The military said the soldier, who was unarmed, was traveling to Barangay Igasan in Patikul when the militants snatched him at gunpoint.

Siraji, a native of Sulu, had been helping the government in the peace and development efforts in the province.

The kidnapping of Siraji came after the bandit group beheaded Filipino sailor Noel Besconde earlier this month.

The beheadings occurred while the military  focused on hunting down the Abu Sayyaf gunmen who went to Bohol.

After a massive manhunt, government forces killed at least four suspected Abu Sayyaf bandits since Saturday in Bohol where troops had foiled possible kidnapping and bombing plots by extremists earlier this April.

Hours after Joselito Melloria, alias Abu Alih, was killed Saturday, three more suspected bandits were killed by troops in Barangay Bacani, Clarin town yesterday.

Officials have yet to verify the names of the three dead militants who were reportedly armed with M16 and M14 rifles.

The regional military command said local officials decided to bury the four slain bandits in a mass grave yesterday. Melloria’s body was placed in a white casket while the three still unidentified gunmen were buried in body bags.

Melloria was killed in a gun battle with about seven militants near Clarin. His companions fled and three of them were later killed by troops, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año said.

“They dared to go to an unfamiliar area and they couldn’t find any support from villagers in Bohol,” Año said, adding that troops were continuing to hunt down the remaining militants.

Following the killing of the four bandits over the weekend, President Duterte yesterday ordered the military “not to sleep” until they finish off the Abu Sayyaf in Bohol as he warned the terrorists that he can replicate their acts  “50 times over.”

“Do not sleep. Kill them. I want them dead. Do not deliver them to me alive,” Duterte said during the opening of the Palarong Pambansa in Antique.

“The terrorists cut other people’s throat, slit it. They are animals. If you want me to be an animal, I am used to that. We are alike. I can dish out more than what you can 50 times over,” he added.

Duterte reiterated his previous warning to terrorists that he can eat them alive.

“Just give me vinegar and salt, I’ll eat you. That’s true, and I’ll eat his liver,” he said.

The military said the slain suspects were stragglers from a boatload of Abu Sayyaf gunmen who sailed to Bohol early this month as part of a plot to kidnap tourists.

The raid had signaled an escalation of the kidnapping threat from the Abu Sayyaf, who are based in Sulu and Basilan and also blamed for beheadings and deadly bombings.

“Terrorism has no place in the Visayas (central) region,” said a joint military and police statement announcing the death of the four Abu Sayyaf gunmen.

Five other Abu Sayyaf militants had been killed in earlier clashes in Inabanga town on April 11, where three soldiers and a policeman were also slain.

Among those killed was Abu Sayyaf sub-commander Muamar Askali, alias Abu Rami, who was reportedly involved in the beheading of two Canadians last year and a German hostage last February.

The military said they had been pursuing up to seven of the remaining gunmen.

Three suspects were still on the run after the latest clashes, officials said.

“The remaining lawless armed elements who are strangers in the area have nowhere to go,” the joint statement said.

“It could just be a matter of time before we can say that the threat (on Bohol) is totally eliminated,” they said.

Lockdown

While he claimed to have no plans to resort to such drastic action, Duterte said he would put an end to all the problems in Mindanao if he declares martial law.

“I will end all problems whether it is terrorism or land boundary row or family feud. I will end all of them. I will not leave any problem behind,” he said.

“If I declare martial law, I’ll ask the Navy to blast even the people. To the terrorists in Mindanao, I’m warning you I hate it. I do not want it but I said do not force me to do it because it will be a sad day for all of us.”

Duterte said Mindanao will change if he decides to impose military rule in the island.

“I will lock down Mindanao. I will put an end to the problem, even the people there,” he said. 

Duterte earlier warned he might “invade” Jolo, the island province stronghold of the Abu Sayyaf to “finish the game.”

When asked when he thinks the Abu Sayyaf menace in Bohol would end, Duterte had said invading Jolo, or locking down Mindanao, might be “the last option” if the whole nation is placed in jeopardy by the bandit group.

The Abu Sayyaf is notorious for kidnappings, beheadings and deadly bombings. Its leaders have also pledged allegiance to Islamic State gunmen in Iraq and Syria.

The fighting in Bohol caused a scare for the country’s tourism industry.

The clashes occurred as the Philippines prepared to host the ASEAN Summit and Related Meetings on April 26 to 29.

The Philippines alerted Western governments after the military said it got wind of an Abu Sayyaf plan to raid tourist resorts in Central Visayas during the Easter holidays and kidnap up to a dozen tourists.

This led to travel warnings being issued by the United States, Australia and other countries.

President Duterte had offered a P1-million bounty for each Abu Sayyaf bandit captured dead or alive. He said he preferred them dead.

Over the past year the Abu Sayyaf has been expanding its activities from southern Mindanao where the military has been waging an offensive in recent months.

Its gunmen have been boarding commercial and fishing vessels and abducting dozens of foreign crew members, ransoming some of them off for huge sums of money. – Michael Punongbayan,  Alexis Romero, Cecille Suerte Felipe, Gilbert Bayoran, Christell Fatima Tudtud and Rolex Elmido/The Freeman, AFP

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/04/24/1693418/sayyaf-beheads-kidnapped-soldier

Philippines: Editorial — “Shoot the corrupt government workers!” — The President reiterated his commitment to stamp out corruption (Just like in China)

April 17, 2017

It can amuse the audience, and there are people who would love to shoot government workers who demand grease money before doing what they are paid to do. But everyone knows the average person isn’t going to shoot such crooks in government, as President Duterte advised the business community in Qatar last Saturday.

Addressing the Philippines-Qatar business forum in Doha, the President reiterated his commitment to stamp out corruption. If any employee of the Bureau of Internal Revenue or Bureau of Customs, for example, demanded even P10 in grease money, “shoot him,” the President told the businessmen.

The public would prefer to have the government do the shooting – figuratively, it must be stressed in this season of Tokhang and Double Barrel Reloaded. The country has tough laws against various forms of corruption including the most serious, plunder. Anti-money laundering laws also cover graft-related offenses. What is lacking, as is the case in many laws in this country, is proper enforcement.

Stamping out corruption, as the President has promised, also suffers from the weakness of the regulatory environment and institutional structures. Processes are designed to force the payment of grease money to oil the wheels of government.

Among the biggest hindrances to any attempt to fight graft are corrupt members of the judiciary. As long as justice is for sale in this country, people can expect to get away with corruption. This is true especially among those who are accused of large-scale plunder. These individuals typically have amassed sufficient ill-gotten wealth to hire topnotch lawyers who know the judges and justices whose decisions are for sale to the highest bidder. A recent report prepared by the US government also specifically cited the problem of corruption in the Philippine judiciary as a major hindrance to bilateral trade.

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President Duterte has no disciplinary supervision over an independent and co-equal branch of government, but he can use his power to appoint or promote members of the judiciary to help clean up the justice sector. Within the executive branch, he must demand results from his officials in drastically cutting red tape and improving procedures in every agency. It will take more than bullets to rid this country of corruption.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/04/18/1691374/editorial-shoot-corrupt

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

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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)

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

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Philippines: A Businessman’s Murder Unmasks a Web of Violent Police

April 14, 2017

The abduction and killing of an innocent South Korean executive in the Philippines has blossomed into a national scandal amid President Duterte’s war on drugs

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

April 14, 2017 10:27 a.m. ET

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ANGELES CITY, Philippines—Around lunchtime on Oct. 18, several men entered Jee Ick-joo’s home, bundled the South Korean businessman into his black Ford Explorer and drove off.

Nearly two weeks later, his wife began receiving text messages demanding five million pesos—around $100,000—for his release. “Do not ask the police or someone bcuz we know what u do,” one message said.

In mid-January, the National Bureau of Investigation discovered that Mr. Jee was dead. Investigators said they traced his remains to a funeral parlor owned by a retired policeman who had been contracted by police antinarcotics agents to dispose of his body. It had flushed Mr. Jee’s ashes down a toilet.

Jee Ick-joo, a South Korean businessman in the Philippines, was abducted by police from his home in October. It took his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, three months to learn his fate. Video: Eva Tam; photo: Jes Aznar for The Wall Street Journal

Of all the 8,000-plus killings that have taken place since Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared a bloody war on drugs here last year, it is the abduction and killing of Mr. Jee, who was 53 years old, that has raised some of the most troubling questions. Investigators have said he had no known ties to drugs.

Civil-rights campaigners say police are killing people without due process in what amounts to an extrajudicial execution campaign. Sometimes, they say, police are using Mr. Duterte’s war on cheap methamphetamine as cover for kidnapping and extorting people such as Mr. Jee.

The mayhem has drawn criticism from around the world. Mr. Jee’s death has transfixed the nation and sparked calls from South Korea’s government to bring those responsible to justice. The Joint Foreign Chambers of Commerce in the Philippines, including those of the U.S. and European Union, have demanded a full investigation.

The Philippines police say they are enforcing the law and that if any abuses occur, offending officers will be punished. Several have admitted, in sworn statements, involvement in Mr. Jee’s abduction and have been detained pending further investigation, though none have confessed to the killing and no clear reason has emerged for it. The first court hearing about his death is scheduled to take place Wednesday in Angeles City.

Mr. Jee, a man of medium build whose thick black hair was starting to gray, was a successful businessman who friends and family say tried to keep a low profile.

He had worked in Europe and elsewhere before moving to the Philippines in 2007 as a manager with Hanjin Heavy Industries & Construction Co. Ltd., which ran a shipbuilding operation at former U.S. naval base Subic Bay.

He and his wife, Choi Kyung-jin, had begun thinking about retirement, and thought the Philippines looked like a good place to settle down, Ms. Choi said in an interview. Mr. Jee opened a staff-recruitment business for factories around Angeles City, about 50 miles north of Manila. They moved there with their daughter in 2012 and found a growing community of South Korean expatriates drawn by the sun and slower pace of life.

Choi Kyung-jin, Mr. Jee’s wife, found the door open and rooms ransacked when she returned home on the afternoon of Oct. 18.
Choi Kyung-jin, Mr. Jee’s wife, found the door open and rooms ransacked when she returned home on the afternoon of Oct. 18. PHOTO: JES AZNAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Ms. Choi says her husband enjoyed golf, wines and science-fiction movies. He saved on his phone a song list for office karaoke outings—a favorite was Elvis Presley’s “Hound Dog.” He was a talkative man. “I used to joke that my husband was silent only when he was asleep,” she says.

On the morning of Oct. 18, she got a text message from her husband asking about lunch. He often ate at home. She had plans to visit a sauna but said she would leave something for him.

When Ms. Choi returned at 5 p.m., she recalls, she found the door open and no one home. Upstairs rooms had been ransacked.

The couple’s housekeeper, Marisa Morquicho, later told authorities that two men identifying themselves as police entered the house and said they were looking for drugs. Among them was a paunchy officer with short dark hair whom she later identified as Ricky Santa Isabel. Police brought Officer Santa Isabel in for questioning after security cameras captured his wife’s car in front of Mr. Jee’s house that day.

Neighbors told Ms. Choi and investigators they had noticed a struggle when several men pushed Mr. Jee into his SUV. Ms. Morquicho also was taken to the vehicle, where she saw Mr. Jee sandwiched between two men on the rear seat. She said the men instructed her to wrap a shirt around her head as a blindfold. Then they drove to Manila.

The couple’s housekeeper, Marisa Morquicho, who also was abducted briefly, appeared with her face covered at a Senate hearing in January.
The couple’s housekeeper, Marisa Morquicho, who also was abducted briefly, appeared with her face covered at a Senate hearing in January. PHOTO: TED ALJIBE/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES
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When they got there, Ms. Morquicho was put into a different vehicle and taken to another location, where some men gave her money and told her to get out at a bus station, wait 10 seconds, then remove her blindfold, she said. She counted to 10. Then they were gone.

One man who later admitted to being in the Ford Explorer, police officer Roy Villegas, told investigators they took Mr. Jee to police headquarters, Camp Crame.

Another man who said he accompanied the officers, civilian Jerry Omlang, told police in a sworn statement that Mr. Jee pleaded to be let go and offered four million pesos, or about $80,000, for his freedom.

Mr. Jee was killed just before 10 p.m., witnesses said. Accounts of how it happened differ.

Officer Villegas told investigators that Officer Santa Isabel got some tape and surgical gloves and told him to wrap the tape around Mr. Jee’s head. Until that point, Officer Villegas said, he believed he was on a legitimate antidrug operation. Now he feared for his life and smothered Mr. Jee as instructed while Officer Santa Isabel killed Mr. Jee by strangling him, Officer Villegas said.

The accused

Police officer Ricky Santa Isabel

Police officer Roy Villegas

Jerry Omlang
PHOTOS: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES; ASSOCIATED PRESS(2)
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In an affidavit, Officer Santa Isabel denied killing Mr. Jee or being present at the kidnapping. He said he was at Camp Crame and saw another officer hitting Mr. Jee with a pistol, and helped dispose of the body on orders from his superiors.

Mr. Omlang, the civilian, who once was an informer for the National Bureau of Investigation, said in his police statement he was at the kidnapping and that Officers Villegas and Santa Isabel were there, too. He said he got out of the SUV before Camp Crame to draw money from an ATM with Mr. Jee’s card.

Efforts to reach Officer Villegas and Mr. Omlang, who are in government custody, and their lawyers were unsuccessful. In a brief interview during an investigatory panel at the Department of Justice in February, Officer Santa Isabel, who also has been detained, said other police were to blame for Mr. Jee’s death.

On the night of the killing, Mr. Jee’s body was dropped off at a funeral parlor owned by retired policeman Gerardo Santiago.  He told investigators Officer Santa Isabel had asked him if he could get rid of a body. He said he assumed whoever it was had been killed in an antidrug operation.

Officer Villegas said Mr. Santiago was paid the equivalent of a few hundred dollars and given a set of golf clubs from the back of Mr. Jee’s car. Mr. Santiago said in an affidavit he took some money, but denied getting the clubs.

Funeral-home staffers told police they prepared Mr. Jee’s body for cremation under a false name and with a faked death certificate. Teodolito Tarepe, the embalmer, said in a sworn statement he found strangulation marks on the neck and said the wrists appeared to have been tied. “The front of his pants were wet, as if he had urinated himself,” he said.

The place in Manila where Mr. Jee allegedly was killed, as seen in February.
The place in Manila where Mr. Jee allegedly was killed, as seen in February. PHOTO: ERIK DE CASTRO/REUTERS
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Back in Angeles City, Ms. Choi says, she tried texting and calling her husband, but he didn’t respond. She called his driver, and together they searched for Mr. Jee’s car until 1 a.m.

The next day, she called the police, but they weren’t much help. As it became more evident her husband had been abducted, she started looking through evidence herself, including neighborhood security-camera footage that showed a Toyota Hilux pickup. It was later identified as belonging to Ricky Santa Isabel’s wife.

Ms. Choi found out from her husband’s bank branches that his cards had been used to withdraw cash. She began packing Mr. Jee’s clothes into zip-lock bags so they could depart quickly for South Korea if he returned.

“It was OK if he came back crippled, as long as he came back,” Ms. Choi says.

On Oct. 30, still unaware of her husband’s fate, Ms. Choi received a late-night text message from an anonymous sender asking for five million pesos, or about $100,000, by 6 p.m. the following day, along with the warning not to contact the police.

Ms. Choi’s cellphone showing text messages she sent to her husband's abductors.
Ms. Choi’s cellphone showing text messages she sent to her husband’s abductors. PHOTO: JES AZNAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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The sender said nothing further. Ms. Choi began calling friends and family to raise the money. She decided not to alert police, but wrote down the serial numbers of the bank notes in case they might be useful later.

A message the next day from a different number instructed her to go to a supermarket near a Jollibee fast-food restaurant in Angeles City. She was to park her Honda Civic in front of the store with the engine running, leave the cash inside and wait in the restaurant, with an obscured view of the parking lot.

“Now move hurry and don’t try anwting ok,” another message said.

Ms. Choi arrived, with some friends watching from a distance, and waited inside the hamburger joint. After half an hour, she sent a message asking if she could return to her car. When she didn’t get a reply, she walked back. The bag with the cash was empty.

Half an hour later, a text message arrived telling her not to worry and promising to be in touch.

Another message two days later asked for 4.5 million pesos more. This time, Ms. Choi didn’t have the means to pull together the cash.

She couldn’t respond immediately because of a cellular-network outage. When service was restored, she found a message warning her she was “playing” with Mr. Jee’s life. When she texted back, no one answered.

The site in Angeles City where Ms. Choi left a bag of ransom cash.
The site in Angeles City where Ms. Choi left a bag of ransom cash. PHOTO: JES AZNAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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In mid-January, an intermediary summoned Ms. Choi to the office of a private detective she had hired. He told her Mr. Jee was dead, without explaining how he knew. She broke down, and to this day can’t remember how she got home afterward.

A couple of days later, the National Bureau of Investigation called Ms. Choi into its offices to tell her that her husband’s body had been cremated and its remains flushed away. Other investigators asked her to identify Mr. Jee’s golf clubs, found at the crematorium.

On Jan. 20, the Philippines Department of Justice accused several policemen, including Officers Santa Isabel and Villegas, of kidnapping for ransom, with homicide. The case became a national sensation. National Police Chief Ronald Dela Rosa told reporters he was “deeply offended” and sorry that “my people” were involved in Mr. Jee’s homicide. “If I had my way, I will kill the policemen involved,” he said.

President Duterte also apologized. “Police, you sons of bitches, I won’t let you get away with it. You will suffer,” he said in a speech.

He suspended his antidrug campaign and ordered police to clean up their act, but vowed to get tough again a few weeks later, when authorities launched a new phase of the drug war, dubbed Operation Double Barrel: Reloaded.

Officer Santa Isabel said he was pressured into taking the fall for the killing by his commanding officer, Superintendent Rafael Dumlao. Mr. Dumlao has denied wrongdoing and in a sworn statement implicated Officer Santa Isabel.

The streets near Mr Jee’s home, where his wife searched for him after he went missing.
The streets near Mr Jee’s home, where his wife searched for him after he went missing. PHOTO: JES AZNAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Last month, a Philippines lawmaker filed an impeachment complaint against Mr. Duterte, saying he was unfit for office, partly because of the drug war. Catholic Church leaders have criticized the drug campaign. Human Rights Watch cited Mr. Jee’s case in calling for a United Nations inquiry last month.

At the end of January, Ms. Choi says, Gen. Dela Rosa, the police chief, asked her if her husband or his company had links to casinos or drugs. She said they didn’t. He didn’t even like taking medicine when sick. She says Gen. Dela Rosa told her not to read anything into his questions.

Some police officials and lawmakers, including Senator Panfilo Lacson, a former police chief, have said they worry the contradictory accounts of what happened on Oct. 18 might undermine prospects of ever convicting anyone for Mr. Jee’s death.

Ms. Choi has tried to move on. At a memorial service on the outskirts of Seoul in February, she laid out her husband’s favorite blue shoes and the clothes she saved in zip-lock bags on firewood and set them ablaze as part of a Buddhist ritual for the dead.

A week later, she visited their Angeles City home again. She had moved to a more secure location after the killing. She stared blankly into her old living room.

“He only visited me in my dreams once,” she said after leaving. “I’m a bit hurt he didn’t visit more often.”

Ms. Choi returned in March to the home she once shared with her husband.
Ms. Choi returned in March to the home she once shared with her husband. PHOTO: JES AZNAR FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
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Write to Eun-Young Jeong at Eun-Young.Jeong@wsj.com and James Hookway at james.hookway@wsj.com

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https://www.wsj.com/articles/a-businessmans-murder-in-the-philippines-unmasks-a-web-of-violent-police-1492180075

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

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

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

 (December 23, 2016)

Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl looks like it has been put out with the trash…..
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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

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

 (November 30, 2016)

 

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

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

 (November 16, 2016)

 

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file
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President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippines President Duterte Vows to Pardon Police Accused in Mayor’s Premeditated Jailhouse Murder — “To show his full support for policemen who obey his orders in the drug war”

April 2, 2017
President Duterte made the promise despite observations that he has encouraged summary killings and impunity in his drug war. He earlier made public his order to policemen to kill drug suspects if they fight back during anti-drug operations.Boy Santos

MANILA, Philippines – To show his full support for policemen who obey his orders in the drug war, President Duterte will not just pardon the cops involved in the murder of Albuera mayor Rolando Espinosa in jail, he will also promote them.

Duterte made the promise despite observations that he has encouraged summary killings and impunity in his drug war. He earlier made public his order to policemen to kill drug suspects if they fight back during anti-drug operations.

“But these policemen who were charged, I cannot abandon them, I really cannot abandon them. Because maybe they followed my order to a tee,” the President said in Filipino on Friday night.

“Convicted? No problem. Just read ‘you are hereby sentenced to…’ And then they will call, ‘Sir, we are convicted.’ Tell the judge to wait. There’s pardon, give it to the judge. Let the judge read it. You are all pardoned,” he added.

Espinosa and inmate Raul Yap were killed inside their jail cell in Baybay City, Leyte in Nov. 5, 2016.

Policemen who conducted the operation claimed that Espinosa fought back when they tried to serve a search warrant against him.

But the Department of Justice has found probable cause to file charges against 19 police officers, including former Criminal Investigation and Detection Group Region 8 chief Supt. Marvin Marcos.

Investigation showed that the killing of Espinosa was premeditated.

The President maintained that he is not intervening in the filing of murder charges against the policemen because he will allow the legal processes to take place.

But once a guilty verdict is rendered, Duterte said he would exercise his power to grant presidential pardon. He said he would issue a reinstatement order with the promotion to one rank higher.

“It was (Justice Secretary Vitaliano) Aguirre who filed the murder charges. On my part, I am not intervening because they might say that I am protecting them. I said, go ahead file the charges. But that is the theory of the Department of Justice, (which is) under me,” he said.

“But I tell the police now, basta sinunod lang ninyo – o ‘yung pinatay nitong mga p***** inang ito (if you just followed – the killing of these sons of b******). Why do you grieve for a son of a b****? He destroyed half of the Visayas. How many crazy people are now left unattended, the family gone?” he added.

Duterte also reminded his audience that he has the power to pardon under the Constitution.

“The Constitution says the president can pardon, either conditional or absolute, a convicted criminal or grant amnesty with the concurrence of Congress,” he said.

He added that he can also use the same power in granting amnesty to communist rebels, but that would depend on the outcome of the peace negotiation.

CHR: pardon for killers ‘premature’

But Commission on Human Rights Chairman Chito Gascon said Duterte’s pronouncement that he will pardon and promote the police officers involved in the killing of Espinosa is premature.

Gascon said Duterte and the administration should instead focus on holding perpetrators in the killing accountable for their actions.

“Although the powers to grant executive clemency – that includes pardon – are clearly vested on the President, there are established rules and procedures to exercise the same. Pardon can only be granted after final conviction, thus what President Duterte is contemplating is at best premature,” Gascon told The STAR.

“At this time, what must be pursued are mechanisms that will hold all perpetrators to account for their crimes, particularly those involving extrajudicial killings. We must end impunity,” he added.

Gascon also noted that the continuing public exoneration by Duterte of the police officers involved in killings encourages and contributes to the perpetration of a climate of impunity in the country.

“Both Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch – that are both credible independent international human rights groups – have found that the extrajudicial killings are encouraged or tolerated by state authorities,” he warned.

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Olupan na Laiko ed Arkdiosis na Lingayen-Dagupan also expressed disgust on the growing culture of summary killings in the country and the decision of Congress to reimpose the death penalty under the Duterte administration.

“We are outraged, deeply hurt and utterly dismayed by the decision of the five congressmen from the province of Pangasinan to vote for the ratification of the death penalty bill,” the laity said in statement yesterday. – Christina Mendez, Janvic Mateo and Eva Visperas

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Philippines Leader Vows to Pardon Police Accused in Mayor’s Death

MANILA — President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines suggested on Friday that 19 police officers accused of killing a politician should spare themselves a lengthy trial and plead guilty because he planned to pardon them anyway.

“I can’t leave these officers behind. If they are convicted? No problem,” Mr. Duterte said. “They can call me and say they have been convicted, and I’ll tell the judge to pardon them all.”

He said the officers would be not only reinstated, but also promoted.

Mr. Duterte’s comments were criticized by opposition leaders and human rights groups, who have accused him of abusing his powers in a monthslong crackdown on drug dealers and users that has left thousands of people dead.

Leila de Lima, a senator and former rights commissioner who was jailed in February on what she says are trumped-up charges, said Mr. Duterte’s pledge to free the police officers was “extremely disturbing.”

“It’s crass impunity,” Ms. de Lima said in a statement smuggled out of jail.

Senator Paolo Benigno Aquino, an opposition leader, said Mr. Duterte’s comments meant there were some “individuals and groups who are above the law.” He added: “It would be better to let justice takes its course before issuing promises.”

The 19 officers were arrested after the November shooting death of Rolando Espinosa Sr., the mayor of Albuera, a town in the central Visayas region. Mr. Espinosa was killed in his jail cell after being arrested on a drugs charge in October. Mr. Duterte had accused him of being one of 150 local officials involved in the drug trade.

The officers, led by Marvin Marcos, a police superintendent, have claimed that a gunfight broke out in the provincial jail after the mayor pulled a gun, which he had concealed in his cell, on the men who were there to serve a search warrant.

Mr. Espinosa was the second politician on Mr. Duterte’s list killed by officers in less than two weeks. In October, another mayor, Samsudin Dimaukom, was gunned down by police officers after reportedly firing at them at a checkpoint.

A Senate investigation into Mr. Espinosa’s death said both mayors had been killed under “suspicious circumstances.”

The Senate report said 19 officers were guilty of a “grave abuse of authority,” adding that Mr. Espinosa’s death appeared to be premeditated and carried out by people who wanted him silenced.

Despite these findings, Mr. Duterte has stood by the officers and insisted that scores of mayors and village chiefs, including Mr. Espinosa, have profited from the drug trade.

“Why do you grieve for the son of a bitch?” Mr. Duterte asked on Friday at an event commemorating Women’s Day at the presidential palace.

“He destroyed half of the Visayas. How many have been left crazy and unattended, their family already gone? Then you grieve for this idiot who was killed inside his cell,” he said, adding an expletive.

Mr. Duterte said it was well within his presidential powers to grant conditional or absolute pardons with agreement from Congress, which is controlled by a majority of his allies.

The case highlights Mr. Duterte’s attempts to silence and kill not only criminals actively involved in the drugs trade, but also leaders who may oppose his policies and tactics.

China to work with Asean on sea code

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Panatag master plan

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

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

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

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/03/29/1685665/china-work-asean-sea-code

Philippines: President Duterte Foes Amend Impeachment Complaint, Call Duterte Stance on China ‘Dereliction of Duty’

March 20, 2017
Magdalo party-list Rep. Gary Alejano holds a copy of the impeachment complaint he filed against President Duterte at the House of Representatives on Thursday. Philstar.com/File photo
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MANILA, Philippines — Magdalo Party-list Rep. Gary Alejano said that his group is considering  filing a supplemental complaint against President Rodrigo Duterte for allegedly being subservient to China.
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Alejano’s statement came after Duterte claimed last week that he allowed China to send survey ships to Benham Rise as part of an agreement.
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The Department of Foreign Affairs last week said it was not aware of an agreement or policy over the Benham Rise region.
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In an interview on CNN’s ‘The Source,’ Alejano said that the president’s action is a matter of national security since there is a conflict of interest with China on the West Philippine Sea, the part of the South China Sea that Manila claims.
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“We’re talking about national interest here, we’re talking about national security here because we have a clear conflict of interest in West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.
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China has repeatedly reiterated its position over the South China Sea, saying it has a historical and legal claim over the vast area.
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An international tribunal however, ruled in favor of the Philippines in an arbitration case against China, saying that China’s “nine-dash line” claim over a large part of the South China Sea, including part of the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone, has no basis.
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In a speech on Sunday, Duterte also said that he cannot stop China from setting up a reported monitoring station in the Scarborough Shoal, also known as Panatag or Bajo de Masinloc.
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“We cannot stop China from doing its thing. Hindi nga napara ng Amerikano,” Duterte said.
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Duterte added that the country will lose all of its military and policemen if he declares war against China.
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Alejano however, said that war is not the only solution, saying that the president could constantly raise issues in the West Philippines Sea.
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“He’s not doing that because he’s afraid to offend China,” Alejano said.
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He added that if Duterte said he cannot do anything to protect the country’s territory “then that’s dereliction of duty.”
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 (Contains links to several previos articles on the South China Sea)

Philippine President Duterte Seeking Allies For At Sea Code of Conduct

March 20, 2017
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Duterte is welcomed by his Myanmar counterpart U Htin Kyaw at the Presidential Palace in the capital Naypyitaw yesterday. Duterte flew to Bangkok, Thailand last night. AP

MANILA, Philippines – In a bid to avoid tension in disputed areas in the South China Sea, President Duterte called for support for the approval of a Code of Conduct (COC) among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).

“It’s very important for China and the rest of the nations, especially the ASEAN, to come up with a Code of Conduct,” Duterte said in a press briefing in Myanmar on Sunday night.

The President also pitched for the COC while he was in Myanmar, which was part of the last leg of his introductory tour of Southeast Asia in the run-up to the ASEAN summit this November in Manila.

The Declaration on the Code of Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea (DOC) was signed by all members of ASEAN and China on Nov. 4, 2002. It lists the principles of self-restraint and non-militarization.

Duterte said he would invoke the arbitral ruling favoring Philippine claims if China starts gathering mineral resources from the disputed areas.

“Kung ang China kukuha na sila ng mga oil o uranium (If China starts getting oil or uranium) or whatever that’s inside the bowels of the sea, kalabitin ko sila (I will do something). Ako man rin ang may-ari niyan (We own it). You claim it by historical right, but by judgment I won and it’s mine,” he said.

But Duterte again admitted that the Philippines cannot stop China from building a radar station at Panatag (Scarborough) Shoal because the Philippine military is no match for Chinese armed forces. And he cannot allow Filipino soldiers to go to disputed areas to avoid casualties.

“First hour pa lang ubos na ‘yun (they are finished already). We are not in a position to declare war,” he said.

“But I said to China that someday during my term as President, I will have to confront you about the arbitral ruling and that would be maybe, during the time when you begin to extract minerals and the riches of what is inside the bowels of the earth,” he added.

Duterte also claimed that the United States is also “scared” of China.

“Hindi nga natin mapigilan kasi hindi natin kaya ang China. Hindi nga mapigilan ng Amerikano. In the first place, sa umpisa pa lang niyan, hindi na pumunta ang Amerikano, natakot na (We cannot stop China. Even the Americans cannot stop it. In the first place, from the start America did not respond, they got scared right away),” he said.

He noted that what the Philippines has right now are only entitlements.

“Just entitlement, not territory. I said repeatedly it is not within our territorial waters. But what we are trying to achieve is that we are also recognized to own the entitlements,” he said.

“The structures have nothing to do with the economic zone. It might impede but actually it’s a construction that would disturb the navigation of the sea,” he added.

Despite China’s excessive claims, Duterte said he is working to further bolster economic and trade ties between Manila and Beijing.

Defend Panatag

Supreme Court Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio reminded Duterte that he has the constitutional duty to defend Panatag Shoal from Chinese incursion.

Carpio also formulated a five-point strategy on how the Duterte administration can respond to China’s reported plan to install a radar station in the disputed shoal.

The magistrate explained that Panatag is part of the national territory under Republic Act No. 9522 or Philippine Baselines Law and should be defended to “preserve for future generations of Filipinos their national patrimony in the West Philippine Sea.”

But he stressed that since the Philippines cannot match the military power of China, Duterte may opt for other actions to defend the country’s sovereignty over the shoal and fulfill his duty as president.

First, Carpio suggested that the government should file a strong formal protest against the Chinese building activity before the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague.

“This is what the Vietnamese did recently when China sent cruise tours to the disputed Paracels,” he added.

The PCA ruled that Panatag Shoal is a “common fishing ground” of fishermen not only from the Philippines but also from China and other neighboring countries and nullified China’s nine-dash line claim over South China Sea. The justice said the government could also send the Philippine Navy to patrol the shoal.

“If the Chinese attack Philippine Navy vessels, then invoke the Philippine-US Mutual Defense Treaty which covers any armed attack on Philippine navy vessels operating in the South China Sea,” he suggested.

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South China Sea: China says It Will Build Upon Scarborough Shoal — Apparently Breaking a Promise made to President Dutere

March 17, 2017

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The top official in Sansha City that has administered China’s island claims since 2012 was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off the northwestern Philippines. File photo

BEIJING – China plans to build the first permanent structure on a South China Sea shoal at the heart of a territorial dispute with the Philippines, in a move likely to renew concerns over Beijing’s robust assertions of its claims in the strategically crucial waterbody.

The top official in Sansha City that has administered China’s island claims since 2012 was quoted by the official Hainan Daily newspaper as saying that preparations were underway to build an environmental monitoring station on Scarborough (Panatag) Shoal off the northwestern Philippines.

The preparatory work on the stations and others on five other islands in the strategically vital waterway was among the government’s top priorities for 2017, Sansha Communist Party Secretary Xiao Jie was quoted as saying in an interview published in the paper’s Monday edition seen online yesterday in Beijing. No other details were available.

Beijing seized tiny, uninhabited Scarborough in 2012 after a tense standoff with Philippine vessels. Taiwan also includes the island within its South China Sea claims that largely overlap with those of China.

The other stations mentioned by Xiao would be situated on features in the Paracel island group that China has controlled since seizing parts of it away from Vietnam in 1974.

China’s construction and land reclamation work in the South China Sea have drawn strong criticism from the US and others, who accuse Beijing of further militarizing the region and altering geography to bolster its claims. China says the seven man-made islands in the disputed Spratly group, which it has equipped with airstrips and military installations, are mainly for civilian purposes and to boost safety for fishing and maritime trade.

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

China has since allowed Filipino fishermen to return to the shoal following President Duterte’s calls for closer ties between the countries, but it does not recognize the tribunal’s ruling as valid and insists it has historical claims to almost the entire South China Sea, through which an estimated $5 trillion in global trade passes each year.

Scarborough has no proper land mass and any structure on it would likely have to be built on stilts. The shoal forms a triangle-shaped lagoon of rocks and reefs running for 46 kilometers, with its highest point just 1.8 meters (about 6 feet) above water at high tide. Known in Chinese as Huangyan Island, it lies about 200 kilometers (120 miles) west of the main Philippine island of Luzon, and about 600 kilometers (370 miles) southeast of China.

US diplomats have said privately that reclamation work on the shoal would be seen as crossing a red line because of its proximity to the main Philippine islands and the threat it could pose to US and Filipino military assets.

During his Senate confirmation hearing for secretary of state, Rex Tillerson compared China’s island-building and military deployments to Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea and suggested China’s access to the islands should not be allowed. The US says China has reclaimed more than 1,295 hectares (3,200 acres) of land in the area.

The topic is likely to be high on the agenda when Tillerson visits Beijing for talks with top officials on Saturday and Sunday.

Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Wang Yang was visiting the Philippines, just days after Duterte said Monday that he had told the military to assert Philippine ownership of a large ocean region off the country’s northeastern coast where Chinese survey ships were spotted last year, in a discovery that alarmed Philippine defense officials.

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

Also this week, the commander in chief of China’s navy, Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong, noted improving relations in a meeting with his Vietnamese counterpart, Rear Adm. Pham Hoai Nam, in Beijing.

China and Vietnam have had long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea. Tensions spiked in 2014 after China parked an oil rig near Vietnam’s central coast, sparking mass protests in Vietnam.

The two navies and their countries should “together play a positive role in maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea,” Shen was quoted as saying by China’s defense ministry.

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On July 12, 2016 a ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration in the Hague said China’s nine-dash line claim (shown above) was invalid and not recognized in international law.

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Philippines tells EU lawmakers to butt out after criticism of drugs war — “They should mind their own business.” — More than 8,000 people have been killed since Duterte took power on June 30

March 17, 2017

Reuters

March 17, 2017

MANILA (Reuters) – The Philippines derided the European parliament on Friday for interfering in its affairs after it issued a resolution calling for the release of a top critic of the president’s war on drugs, which it said should target narcotics networks instead of users.

EU lawmakers on Thursday adopted a resolution condemning the “many extrajudicial killings” taking place in the Philippines and showing concern for the safety of Senator Leila de Lima, a fierce critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, who is being held on charges of involvement in the drugs trade.

“They should mind their own business,” said Salvador Panelo, chief presidential legal counsel.

“They cannot dictate on the Philippine government on what to do with its constituent facing criminal charges,” he said. “Nor can they can interfere with the judicial processes of our country.”

More than 8,000 people have been killed since Duterte took power on June 30 last year and delivered on his election promise to launch a merciless campaign against crime and drug users.

Police take responsibility for over 2,500 of those deaths during their anti-drugs operations, but reject allegations by local and international human rights groups that police are involved in thousands of mysterious murders of drug users.

The EU parliament’s resolution said it supported fighting drugs, but from the source, not the consumer.

It called on Manila to “prioritize” the fight against trafficking networks and drug barons over tracking down small-scale consumers.

Duterte’s spokesman, Ernesto Abella, singled out the EU for criticism, rather than the parliament, and said it had been “spooked” into making “unwarranted threats” as a result of flawed information.

Duterte’s ally and Senate President Aquilino Pimentel said the EU parliament was trying to “micro manage” the Philippines’ internal affairs.

De Lima, a former justice minister, was last month arrested in her Senate office after being accused of accepting bribes from convicts engaged in the drug trade.

She says the charges are politically motivated and intended to stifle criticism of Duterte, whom she has called a “sociopathic serial killer”.

The foreign ministry also rejected the resolution and said European lawmakers had no right to comment on the judicial system of a sovereign state.

“The Philippine government asks the international community to refrain from influencing the outcome of a case that is rightly under the jurisdiction of Philippine local courts,” it said in a statement.

It said the government was “taking pains to investigate the veracity of these allegations of state-sponsored extrajudicial killings”.

(Reporting by Manuel Mogato; Editing by Martin Petty)

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

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

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

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

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Philippine National Police chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa

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

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

 (December 23, 2016)

Discarded — The body of a dead Filipino girl looks like it has been put out with the trash…..
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 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

 (Philippine Star, December 1, 2016)

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

 (November 30, 2016)

 

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

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

 (November 16, 2016)

 

 (August 10, 2016)

Davao City’s Ronald dela Rosa has been appointed to become the next chief of the Philippine National Police to lead President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s planned crackdown on illegal drugs. Facebook/Dela Rosa
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Crime scene investigators examine a vehicle used by two drug suspects killed during an alleged shootout with officers along NIA Road in Quezon City on June 21, 2016. JOVEN CAGANDE/file
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President Rodrigo Duterte's crusade against drug users and dealers is controversial

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Philippines — Editorial: Road to impeachment — At some point, an impeachment effort will prosper

March 17, 2017

 (The Philippine Star) |

Impeachment is a numbers game, as everyone knows in this country where a president, chief justice and ombudsman have been impeached.

Right now, President Duterte still has the numbers – 267 members out of 292 – in the House of Representatives, where all impeachment efforts are initiated. And the House super majority, consisting overwhelmingly of balimbings whose chief concern is self-preservation, isn’t about to impeach this President. At least not while he remains immensely popular, as indicated in surveys.

The only sure consequence of the complaint filed yesterday by party-list Rep. Gary Alejano, Sen. Antonio Trillanes’ brethren in the Magdalo, is the inoculation of Du30 for a year from further impeachment efforts.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez accurately summed up the fate of Alejano’s impeachment complaint: “Everybody is entitled to his own stupidity.”

True enough, though mean – but it’s the mean season in our country.

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At this point the only thing that might alter balimbing support is if lawmakers’ personal or family interests are threatened, or if there is a lobby as persuasive as the one that prompted the House ways and means committee to pass with impressive haste the bill imposing a two-tier excise tax on cigarettes.

No such factors are present in the impeachment complaint against Duterte.

Also, it’s early days yet – no longer a honeymoon period for a new president, but still too early for regime change, especially for someone who obtained a clear mandate in free elections.

Du30 hasn’t even fully repaid yet the political debts he incurred during the elections. Cabinet seats and other government posts await his allies who lost in the polls when the one-year prohibition on their appointment to public office lapses.

Except for the extrajudicial killings linked to Oplan Tokhang and Double Barrel (the original, not the reloaded version), the offenses cited in the impeachment complaint are enhanced versions of the accusations hurled against presidential candidate Duterte during last year’s vicious campaign.

Extrajudicial killings have always been raised against him, but candidate Duterte actually used the EJK issue as a campaign platform. He publicly and unequivocally promised to kill, kill, kill, using the same reasoning that he still invokes to explain the continuing deaths related to his war on illegal drugs.

Candidate Du30 was more incensed about the accusations of corruption, P2 billion in bank transactions and lying about his wealth. This is one of the issues cited in the impeachment complaint. His family members led by partner Cielito “Honeylet” Avanceña have been accused of questionable bank transactions.

Apart from the impeachment complaint, a new issue raised by Du30’s opponents is the Chinese incursion in Benham Rise in the Pacific Ocean, which the President indicated was mentioned if not cleared with him by his Chinese friends.

From the reactions of administration officials, it’s clear that the Chinese “research trip” in the Benham continental shelf, where the Philippines has sovereign rights recognized since 2012 by the United Nations, was not cleared with the defense or foreign affairs departments.

There is grumbling in the military / defense establishment in particular that Benham is shaping up to be the next Panatag or Scarborough Shoal, occupied and never relinquished by the Chinese even after the UN-backed Permanent Arbitration Court declared it a common fishing ground where no country can keep others away.

In Zambales and even Pangasinan, residents are lamenting that Panatag has been their traditional fishing ground for centuries.

Du30 can pass off as an oversight his failure to inform at least his defense chief about any agreement for a Chinese visit in Benham Rise. But he will still have some explaining to do in case inquiries on the Benham incident, planned in both chambers of Congress, push through.

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Although Du30 enjoys a firm hold on the House, it would be prudent for him to consider how quickly political winds can change direction in this country.

He cannot afford to disregard the turbulence that has buffeted his administration so early in his term.

His daughter’s kumpareng sarado Joseph Estrada, now the godfather of Du30’s newest grandson Stonefish, can personally attest that reversal of political fortunes in this country can be brutally swift.

It’s useful to remember that Erap also won the presidency by a landslide, despite everything including the kitchen sink hurled at him during the bruising 1998 campaign.

There were stories, mostly accurate, about Erap’s extended family and his predilection for pricey Petrus wine, women, late-night carousing and high-stakes gambling. He was linked to the still unsolved disappearance of a PAGCOR employee who reportedly leaked a video showing Erap playing in a VIP casino pit accompanied by the redoubtable (up to now) gambling aficionado Atong Ang.

And yet Erap won, and enjoyed high ratings in the surveys for at least a year and a half. Pinoys, however, can only tolerate so much. Scandal after scandal chipped away at the popularity of the former movie superstar. In the end, Erap failed to serve even half of his term.

Dirty Rody seems to have keener survival instincts than “Erap para sa mahirap.” But if the ongoing turbulence, now including active destabilization (according to Du30 and some of his officials), doesn’t kick him out of office, it can make governance of this ungovernable land even more complicated.

Public service then suffers; business confidence is shaken and jobs and the economy are affected. Already, the employment picture this year isn’t encouraging.

Any sign of weakening public support for the President and his notoriously fickle super majority will smell blood.

That’s the time an impeachment effort will prosper.

http://www.philstar.com/opinion/2017/03/17/1681870/road-impeachment

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