Posts Tagged ‘President Duterte’

Philippines President Duterte’s first year in office marked by ‘human rights calamity’—HRW

June 28, 2017
By: – Reporter / @MAgerINQ
/ 11:02 AM June 28, 2017

Editor’s Note: Starting June 25, the Inquirer will run on its print, online, and social media platforms a series of stories, reports and commentaries on the socioeconomic impact – positive and negative – that President Duterte has made in his first year in office. The articles will focus on how the former Davao City mayor has coped with the challenges of the presidency in five major areas that Filipinos consider most important in their lives: peace and order, traffic, economy, governance and foreign policy. This evaluation of the administration’s achievements and shortcomings will take into account what Mr. Duterte had promised to do during last year’s presidential campaign, his June 30 inaugural speech and his July 25 State of the Nation Address.

Rodrigo Duterte

President Rodrigo Duterte. JOAN BONDOC/INQUIRER FILE PHOTO

President Rodrigo Duterte has unleashed a “human rights calamity” in the Philippines in his first year in office, a New York-based human rights group said on Wednesday as it called for a UN-led probe to stop the killings in the country and hold the President accountable.

Human Rights Watch (HRW) said the government’s “murderous” war on drugs, drug-related overcrowding of jails, and alleged harassment and prosecution of drug war critics had caused a “steep decline in respect for basic rights” since Duterte’s assumption in office.

“President Duterte took office promising to protect human rights, but has instead spent his first year in office as a boisterous instigator for an unlawful killing campaign,” said Phelim Kine, deputy Asia director of HRW, said in a statement.

“Duterte has supported and incited ‘drug war’ killings while retaliating against those fearless enough to challenge his assault on human rights,” Kine added.

Duterte will mark his first year in Malacañang on Friday, June 30.

READ: Duterte: One year of bold initiatives, shock and awe

The group noted that since Duterte assumed office on July 1, last year, security forces and “unidentified gunmen” had reportedly killed at least 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers, including the 3,116 killings by police based on government’s data.

Yet, the HRC said the Duterte administration had rejected all domestic and international calls for accountability for these abuses, and instead, denied any government responsibility for the thousands of drug war deaths.

“During his first year in office, President Duterte and his government have demonstrated a fundamental unwillingness to respect rights or provide justice for people whose rights have been violated,” Kine said.

“A UN-led international investigation is desperately needed to help stop the slaughter and press for accountability for Duterte’s human rights catastrophe,” he said.

Duterte had already been charge at the International Criminal Court for alleged crimes against humanity.

The group, citing its own research, also branded as “blatant falsehoods,” the government’s claim that the deaths of suspected drug users and dealers were lawful.

READ: Duterte criminally liable for ‘human rights calamity’—HRW report

“Interviews with witnesses and victims’ relatives and analysis of police records expose a pattern of unlawful police conduct designed to paint a veneer of legality over extrajudicial executions that may amount to crimes against humanity,” the HRW said.

“While the Philippine National Police have publicly sought to distinguish between suspects killed while resisting arrest and killings by ‘unknown gunmen’ or ‘vigilantes,’ Human Rights Watch found no such distinction in the cases investigated.”

“In several such cases, the police dismissed allegations of involvement when only hours before the suspects had been in police custody. Such cases call into question government assertions that the majority of killings were carried out by vigilantes or rival drug gangs,” it further said.

The HRW said Duterte’s war on drugs has also “worsened the already dire conditions of Philippine jail facilities, including inadequate food and unsanitary conditions.”

“Government data indicates that the country’s jail facilities run by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology, which have a maximum capacity of 20,399, currently hold nearly 132,000 detainees, an overwhelming majority of them awaiting trial or sentencing,” it said.

“The bureau attributes the overcrowding to the arrest of tens of thousands of suspected drug users and dealers since the anti-drug campaign began.”

The drug war, the group said, has also boosted the number of “secret jails” in which police had reportedly detained suspects unlawfully, demanding bribes in exchange for their release.

The HRC, likewise, mentioned how the Duterte administration had subjected to harassment, intimidation and even arrest some of its prominent critics like Senator Leila de Lima.

De Lima was arrested and detained last February over her alleged involvement on illegal drugs.

“Other critics of the killings – including activists, journalists, international officials, and ordinary Filipinos – have been threatened online by pro-Duterte supporters and trolls. Among those targeted were Agnes Callamard, the United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, and international experts on drug dependency,” the group added. IDL

Duterte Year 1

Explore on our special anniversary site the Inquirer series of multiplatform reports and commentaries on the gains and challenges during President Duterte’s first year in office. Daily content begins June 25 till July 24.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/909368/dutertes-first-year-in-office-marked-by-human-rights-calamity-hrw#ixzz4lHBuENTw
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Duterte to Extremists: No Talks Even if You Kill Hostages

June 4, 2017

MANILA, Philippines — The Philippine president says he won’t talk to militants aligned with the Islamic State group and has ordered troops to kill them even if the gunmen slaughter their hostages in a besieged southern city.

President Rodrigo Duterte issued his strongest warning yet late Sunday to local and foreign militants who laid siege on Marawi starting May 23, saying he has lost too many soldiers and policemen to the violence and won’t let that pass.

The military says 178 combatants and civilians have been killed in Marawi, the heartland of Islamic faith in the country’s south, after hundreds of gunmen waving Islamic State-style black flags rampaged across the city, burning buildings as they battled troops who were backed by airstrikes and artillery fire.

Philippines President Duterte on Rebel Fighters: “I have ordered (the military) to bring the heads of these sons of the bitches.”

June 4, 2017
Marawi armored troops

FILE- Troop movement in armored tanks moving out of 103rd Army’s Brigade Kampo ranao in Marawi City to provide fore power support of the ongoing firefight between the military and the suspected Islamic State and Maute group. (Photo RICHEL V. UMEL / Inquirer Mindanao)

Spare no Maute rebel.

Saying he had lost many soldiers and policemen from the attack of the Maute Group in Marawi City, President Duterte said Sunday night that it was too late to talk peace now and indicated he wanted the rebels dead.

“I will not talk to you. Whatever the leaders of the group say, I don’t care. that is why make sure you fight well because I have ordered (the military) to bring the heads of these sons of the bitches,” the President said.

“You started a wrong cause. We did not ask for it. You were all along brutal and cruel. I won’t allow it,” the President said in a speech at the Mactan-Benito Ebuen Air Base in Lapu-Lapu City in Cebu.

The President said he had ordered soldiers to “shoot (the enemy) and shoot you dead.”

“I’m not ready to talk to any terrorist. Mag kaubusan na tayo dyan (We will annihilate each other on this)… We have cross the.. Rubicon. Hindi ako aatras diyan (I will not yield)). Mag-ubusan tayo para matapos na (Let’s finish each other to end this),” he said.

President Duterte also said the National Democratic Front offered to help fight the Maute Group but he told them “not at this time.”

He said he was willing though to integrate not only the New People’s Army rebels who surrender their arms but the Moro Nationalist Liberation Front in the military.

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/902621/duterte-too-late-to-talk-peace-spare-no-maute-rebel#ixzz4j2iXiHYC
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Philippine Military Used Some Heavy Firepower on Islamic Rebels

May 27, 2017
Government troops patrol a deserted street in Marawi City as planes and helicopters bombed positions of Maute fighters yesterday. Civilians waved white flags from their windows to show they were not combatants as soldiers fought to wrest control of the city from gunmen linked to the Islamic State. AFP

MANILA, Philippines – The military unleashed heavy firepower – including guided rockets fired from helicopters – for the first time yesterday on Maute positions in Marawi City in a bid to end the siege by the terror group once and for all.

This came amid growing confidence that the location of the man believed to be the leader of the Islamic State (IS)-inspired fighters, Isnilon Hapilon, has been pinpointed in the city.

“We are trying to use our maximum force,” said Maj. Gen. Carlito Galvez, chief of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom).

“The main purpose of the offensive is to suppress the lawlessness and to maintain normalcy in Marawi so that our people here, our countrymen, can return, especially by Ramadan,” he said.

He said the presence of the terrorists in their midst was preventing Muslim residents of the city from peacefully observing Ramadan.

“It is in this light that there is a need to deliberately employ forces and air assets to target with precision selected, identified and already isolated terrorist locations,” Galvez said.

He said even Muslim soldiers deferred their observance of Ramadan so they could help defeat the terrorists and restore normalcy in the city and in the rest of Mindanao.

“Our Muslim soldiers for now need to give their share of sacrifices in order to make sure that Islam believers from Marawi can soon go back to their homes and observe Ramadan,” the Westmincom chief said.

“Our Muslim soldiers who are in Marawi need to sacrifice for now and defer their religious practice until we can address the situation in Marawi,” he pointed out.

Galvez said civilians are enduring “extreme deprivation” because government services are unavailable and shops are closed.

“These terrorist atrocities continue to sow terror and confusion even to non-combatant Muslims and Christians,” he said in a statement.

Ramadan, Islam’s holy month of fasting and prayer, began yesterday. It has special significance in Marawi, which has a predominantly Muslim population in a largely Catholic country.

The Maute rebels’ hold of Marawi City and the government’s announcement that Indonesians and Malaysians were among the fighters have raised alarm about the prospect of the IS’s radical ideology gaining traction in Southeast Asia.

“I saw two jets swoop down and fire at rebel positions repeatedly,” Alexander Mangundatu, a security guard, said as a plume of black smoke billowed in the distance. “I pity the civilians and the women who were near the targeted area. They’re getting caught in the conflict and I hope this ends soon.”

Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año said Hapilon is still hiding out in the city under the protection of gunmen who are desperately trying to find a way to extricate him. He said Hapilon suffered a stroke after a government airstrike wounded him in January.

Año predicted that the military operation would take about a week as soldiers go house to house to clear the city of militants.

Solicitor General Jose Calida said foreigners were fighting alongside the gunmen in Marawi, including Indonesians and Malaysians.

“We suspect that, but we’re still validating,” he said on reports that foreign fighters were helping the Maute militants.

Military spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said government forces were working to “clear the city of all remnants of this group.”

He said some civilians refused to evacuate because they want to guard their homes, slowing down government operations.

“But that’s fine as long as civilians are not hurt,” Padilla said.

“In as much as we would like to avoid collateral damage, these terrorists are forcing the hand of government by hiding and holding out inside private homes, government buildings and other facilities. Their refusal to surrender is holding the city captive,” he said.

“We appeal for everyone’s understanding as we take the necessary steps to accomplish our mission and prevent the loss of more innocent lives and damage to property,” Padilla said.

Open to dialogue

At Malacañang, President Duterte’s spokesman Ernesto Abella said the Chief Executive is open to negotiation with the terror group in the spirit of Ramadan.

“In this spirit of Muslim peace, the President has offered the hand of peaceful dialogue to terrorist groups, to avoid bloodshed in this time of prayer, fasting and mercy,” Abella said yesterday.

“With all faiths, we pray that God restore and preserve peace in Mindanao,” he said.

The Palace issued a statement of solidarity with the Muslim community as Islam’s observance of Ramadan began yesterday.

“We stand with Muslim Filipinos in their reverent observance of the holy month of Ramadan.
Together we pray for an end to terrorism that falsely claims to advance Islam and seeks to subjugate our land to the brutal IS,” Abella said.

The Palace also took time to pray for the policemen killed in the initial fighting with the Maute group.

“We take a moment to remember some of the first casualties in the May 23 attacks in Marawi City; Marawi City Police Senior Insp. and Intelligence Unit chief Freddie Manuel Solar, from Baguio City, and two members of Special Forces, First Lt. John Carl Morales and Special Forces Marlon Baldovino, both of Kabacan, North Cotabato,” Abella said.

While claiming he is open to dialogue, Duterte said on Friday he had instructed the military to kill anyone brandishing unlicensed firearms in Mindanao, especially if they resist when accosted.

The Maute group has emerged from the glut of bandit and separatist groups in Mindanao. It is seen as a tactically smart, social media savvy group eager to align with IS militants.

Security experts say Mindanao could become a draw for regional extremists and the Maute’s alignment with the IS and its ability to take on the military could support moves to secure funding and recruit foreign and local fighters.

A city of 200,000 people, Marawi is mostly deserted, with officials saying “80-90 percent” of the population has been evacuated.

Some residents remain in relatively safe neighbors but others are trapped close to the fighters from the Maute group and other militants from the area.

IS’s Amaq news agency claimed responsibility for the Marawi unrest, although that came more than a day after it started.

The military said Maute has yet to be endorsed by the IS as one of its affiliates.

The militants have control of some government buildings, including a jail, which was seized on Tuesday, leading to the escape of more than 100 prisoners, including some Maute members.

“I saw them near the highway. I saw ISIS there. I could tell because they wore black headbands with the ISIS signs,” said one man fleeing Marawi by foot, who identified himself as Musa. “They were also riding around my area on motorcycles.”

Jo-Ar Herrera, a military spokesman, said 41 militants had been killed, with 10 more deaths after heavy fighting on Friday. Two more soldiers died, bringing the total of those killed in action to 13. Forty-five military personnel had been wounded.

Asked whether the military had located the whereabouts of Hapilon in Marawi, Herrera answered “yes.”

“They can run but they can’t hide,” he said, adding that it was only a matter of time before Hapilon is captured or killed.

Hapilon, a leader of another Mindanao-based rebel group Abu Sayyaf, pledged allegiance to IS last year and has formed an alliance with Maute.

The military said he is still wounded from a January air strike and the fierce Maute resistance is aimed at protecting him.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said Hapilon received $2 million from Syria to fund his campaign in Mindanao.

Sidney Jones, a regional security expert, said it was not clear that Hapilon was calling the shots in Marawi.

Abdullah Maute, one of two brothers that formed Maute, may be setting the overall strategy.

“He’s smarter, and the fighters are in his territory. So no, Hapilon’s death would not cripple the movement,” Jones said.  – With Christina Mendez, AP

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/28/1704332/afp-turns-heavy-firepower-vs-maute

 

Philippine Military Has Retaken Total Area of Marawi City

May 27, 2017
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Gen. Eduardo Año said although the troops have the upper hand, it is proving difficult for them to engage in urban warfare as the militants have taken tactical positions in almost every house in the city.AP/Bullit Marquez, file

ILIGAN CITY, Philippines – As the fighting between government forces and gunmen of the Islamic State-inspired Maute group entered its fifth day, Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief Gen. Eduardo Año predicted the military operation will take about a week as soldiers go house to house to clear Marawi City of militants.

Año said although the troops have the upper hand, it is proving difficult for them to engage in urban warfare as the militants have taken tactical positions in almost every house in the city.

“We are in total control of the whole area but it’s not cleared due to the urban terrain,” Año told reporters on the sidelines of President Duterte’s visit to the Army’s 2nd Mechanized Battalion headquarters late Friday.

Año, however, vowed to crush the militants and end the siege.

“We will make this their cemetery,” he said. “We have to finish this.”

Troops often encounter sniper fire as they advance slowly to clear the city of rebels.

“We have to clear one step at a time, house to house, block by block,” Año said.

Año pointed out the troops are used to fighting in the jungle but not in close combat encounters with gunmen in an urban setting.

“Here (Marawi) all it takes is for an armed person to position himself inside a building (as a sniper)… it would take time before it could be cleared,” he said.

Año said they have to send in more troops to help in the clearing operations. “We have enough troops but we need additional reinforcement to speed up our clearing,” he said.

AFP spokesman Brig. Gen. Restituto Padilla said government forces are working to “clear the city of all remnants of this group.”

Padilla said some civilians refused to evacuate because they want to guard their homes, which is slowing down the government operations.

“But that’s fine as long as civilians are not hurt,” he said.

On Friday, Duterte ordered the military to crush the militants, warning that the country is at a grave risk of  “contamination” by the Islamic State (IS) group.

At least 44 people have died in the fighting, including 31 militants and 11 soldiers, officials said. It was not immediately clear whether civilians were among the dead.

The violence has forced thousands of people to flee and raised fears of growing extremism.

Duterte told the troops here that he had long feared that “contamination by ISIS” loomed in the country’s future, using the acronym for the Islamic State group. “You can say that ISIS is here already,” he said.

He gave the troops a free hand to wrest control of Marawi. “You can arrest any person, search any house without warrant,” Duterte said.

The city of Marawi, home to some 200,000 people, has been under siege by IS-linked militants since a failed raid Tuesday night on the suspected hideout of Isnilon Hapilon, the leader of the notorious Abu Sayyaf group.

Hapilon got away and fighters loyal to him took over parts of the city, burning buildings and seizing about a dozen hostages, including a priest. Their condition is unknown.

Hapilon is still hiding out in the city under the protection of gunmen who are desperately trying to find a way to “extricate” him, Año said.

“Right now, he is still inside (the city). We cannot just pinpoint the particular spot,” he said.

Año said Hapilon suffered a stroke after a government airstrike wounded him in January.

Año also said foreign fighters were believed to be among the militants still holding out in the city.

“We suspect that but we’re still validating,” he said. – With Jaime Laude, Evelyn Macairan, John Unson, Lino dela Cruz, Christina Mendez, AP

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/28/1704348/afp-control-marawi-city-…

Philippines: Town police chief not beheaded — President Duterte Keeps Going on Martial Law Anyway (Farce or Hoax? — Should We Be in Martial Law?)

May 25, 2017
/ 01:41 AM May 26, 2017

DAVAO CITY — President Rodrigo Duterte may have been misinformed when he reported that terrorists who had rampaged through Marawi City beheaded the police chief of Malabang town in Lanao del Sur.

Mr. Duterte said on Wednesday that the police chief, whom he did not identify, was stopped at a checkpoint on Tuesday by the gunmen who decapitated the officer “right then and there.”

Still alive

The Malabang police chief, however, is still at his post he had occupied just two months earlier.

“I’m still alive,” Senior Insp. Romeo Enriquez told the Inquirer by phone on Thursday.

Authorities said five soldiers and two police officers were killed in clashes with Abu Sayyaf and Maute group fighters.

Enriquez said he had replaced one of the slain officers — Senior Insp. Freddie Manuel Solar — as police chief of Malabang two months ago. Solar was shot, not beheaded by his killers.

The body of the other officer, Insp. Edwin Placido, deputy police chief of Marawi still has not been retrieved as of this writing.

Solar was a graduate of Philippine National Police Academy Class 2007 and served as Marawi police intelligence chief.

He was outside Amai Pakpak Medical Center in a police car when the gunmen seized him. His abductors later shot him dead. —NICO ALCONABA

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/899751/town-police-chief-not-beheaded#ixzz4i78MVhAV
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Lorenzana said the confrontation opened Tuesday afternoon, when government forces attempted to arrest a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, an extremist organization with ties to the Islamic State. They had learned Isnilon Hapilon was in the area, but according to Lorenzana, the military had not expected him to be backed up by “more or less 100 fighters” — many of whom were members of another ISIS-linked organization, the Maute Group.

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

 (with links to related reports)

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Philippines: A look into Duterte’s reasons for martial law in Mindanao

May 25, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte gestures as he answers questions from reporters as he arrives at Manila’s international airport, Philippines, Wednesday, May 24, 2017. Duterte warned Wednesday that he’ll be harsh in enforcing martial law in his country’s south as he abruptly left Moscow to deal with a crisis at home sparked by a Muslim extremist siege on a city, where militants burned buildings overnight and are feared to have taken hostages. AP/Aaron Favila

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte cited rebellion as motive for declaring martial law and suspending the writ of habeas corpus in Mindanao through Proclamation 216.

This was after state forces attempted on Tuesday to arrest Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon in Marawi City in Lanao del Sur. Gunmen, belonging to allied Maute group inspired by the so-called Islamic State, then entered the city at Hapilon’s beckoning.

The proclamation cited Article 7, Section 18 of the 1987 Constitution granting the president the power to declare martial law in cases of “invasion or rebellion, when the public safety requires it” for a maximum of 60 days.

It also cited a provision under the Revised Penal Code setting the conditions for the crime of rebellion, as:

Committed by rising and taking arms against the Government for the purpose of removing from the allegiance to said Government or its laws, the territory of the Republic of the Philippines or any part thereof, of any body or other armed forces, or depriving the Chief Executive or the Legislature, wholly or partially, of any of their powers or prerogatives.

Proclamation 216 further notes that the Maute militants started flying the flag of the Islamic State in several areas, “thereby openly attempting to remove from the allegiance to the Philippine Government this part of Mindanao.”

Experts, however, aired concerns on the government’s rationale for what is perceived to be an extreme policy.

Security questions

The ISIS factor

Flying the black flag linked to ISIS is characteristic of extremist organizations around the world that have pledged allegiance to the terror group. It does not, however, indicate that ISIS channels resources to the local militants.

Upon arriving from Russia on Wednesday, Duterte also announced that he is considering military rule throughout the country, declaring that the Islamic State is here and may gain footholds in Luzon and Visayas.

While the spread of Islamic extremists in Southeast Asia is a major security concern due to ISIS propaganda, Duterte’s remarks contradict the military’s stance that the ISIS has no known presence in the Philippines

“When we call them ISIS, we are making them famous. We don’t have ISIS in the Philippines,” military spokesperson Col. Edgard Arevalo said on Wednesday.

Maute as a force

For Zachary Abuza, expert on Southeast Asian security and a professor at the National War College in Washington, the Maute is not a terrible force for the military to reckon with despite belonging to a terrorist network in the region.

“Maute group is a small group. It is manageable. They feed off of or recruit from disaffected (Moro Islamic Liberation Front) combatants,” Abuza told Philstar.com.

“Though they have pledged their allegiance to IS, there is no evidence to date that IS has given them any resources. This is a manageable threat, but it has been repeatedly mismanaged,” he added.

He pointed out that Marawi is a heartland of the MILF rebel group that has became a government partner in a concluded peace process. Implementation of the agreement is yet to be seen, with Duterte vowing to include it in his ambitious plan to shift the country to a federal system.

Duterte, meanwhile, has reached out in friendship to Moro National Liberation Front  founding chairman Nur Misuari, who has in the past rejected the peace agreement with the MILF. He has said that the new agreement sets aside a 1996 final peace agreement with his group. Other factions of the MNLF have agreed to work with the MILF on a common roadmap for peace.

“You can’t have multiple peace processes for the same plot of land. The [agreements] were inclusive, there were ample opportunities for Misuari to engage… As long as the MILF have no hope at a peace process, they have no incentive to act as responsible stakeholders and police their territory,” Abuza said.

“The Maute group has targeted Davao, Manila, launched brazen jail breaks. Without MILF giving the government security cooperation, the Maute group has ample sanctuary,” he added.

As a 60-day recourse

Doubts have also been raised on whether state actors can suppress Maute or the ISIS threat within the 60 days of martial law.

Government troops patrol the outskirts of Marawi city three days after Muslim militants lay siege in the city in southern Philippines Thursday, May 25, 2017. The exodus of thousands of residents has continued amid continuing gunbattle between Government forces and Muslim militants occupying several buildings and houses in the city where they hoisted IS style black flags. AP/Bullit Marquez

“I doubt if the 60-day martial law in Mindanao is enough time to fix the problem of extremism,” Julkipli Wadi, professor at the Institute of Islamic Studies, said on Wednesday.

The Maute group, whose members evolved from petty criminals to militants, has been blamed for several attacks in Lanao del Sur and Davao City and is suspected to be behind an explosive device found near the United States Embassy in Manila in November last year.

But Duterte has weighed the idea of martial law since August of last year, and has mentioned it publicly at least 35 times in his presidency. Reasons he cited included illegal drugs, crime and terrorism.

Legal questions

‘Rebellion’

For a framer of the current constitution, terrorism, or even lawless violence, does not qualify as “rebellion,” which is among the two conditions for the declaration of martial law, along with invasion.

Constitutional expert Christian Monsod said that terrorism, unlike rebellion, is a crime without “political purpose of taking out a part of the Philippines or a part of the armed forces from the jurisdiction of the Philippines.”

An essential element of rebellion, according to penal law, is a public uprising or taking up of arms against the government. The action is to overthrow or supersede the government or deprive the president or Congress of exercising their powers.

Proclamation 216, however, calls the Maute both a “terror group” and among “rebel groups” that “sow terror, cause death and damage to property not only in Lanao del Sur but also in other parts of Mindanao.”

Monsod said Duterte’s proclamation seems similar to former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s call in 2009 after a massacre in Maguindanao. Martial law was used to quell what was claimed to be rebellion in the murder of political opponents and journalists.

“If you look at the facts that she (Arroyo) was enumerating, it was as if there really was a rebellion. But, as it turned out, it was not a real rebellion that calls for martial law,” he told Philstar.com.

“It’s so very easy to make the facts (to point to rebellion), like Arroyo did,” the lawyer said.

Scope

President Duterte could also opt to isolate the state of martial law instead of expanding it to cover all other areas in Mindanao, and, potentially, throughout the country.

“You can sow terror [when you have] a terrorist attack in Ilocos or if there is a terrorist attack in Leyte, and so on, does that mean that you will declare the entire country in a state of martial law?” Monsod said.

This May 23, 2017, handout photo provided by the Presidential Communications Operations Office, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signs Proclamation No. 216, declaring Martial Law and suspending the privilege of the Writ of Habeas Corpus in the whole of Mindanao during his visit to the Russia Federation. PCO via AP

Presidential powers under martial law, especially when coupled with a grant to authorities to arrest those suspected of rebellion without court warrant, are encompassing, arbitrary and—for the most part in recent history—unexplored. This was because martial law was crafted in the 1987 Constitution that upholds democratic checks and balances as a measure of ‘last resort,'” Monsod said.

Ateneo de Manila University law professor Tony La Viña, for his part, is giving the president the benefit of the doubt in declaring military rule, but identifies dissonance in the government’s take on the situation.

“I would want to know though why this was resorted to even after the military repeatedly assured the public that things were under control. I also would like to know why the whole of Mindanao was included given the limited area affected by the Maute rebellion,” he said in a television interview.

If the majority of Congress, voting jointly, decides not to revoke martial law in Mindanao, it is up to the Supreme Court, if asked to by a petitioner, to assess the facts behind its declaration.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/25/1703505/rodrigo-duterte-reasons-martial-law-mindanao

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

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

 (with links to related reports)

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Philippines denies gov’t orchestrated Marawi terror attack — “How Better To Silence Duterte’s Critics?” — “This is all ‘cover’ so Duterte can invoke martial law… Police and army are corrupt.”

May 25, 2017

Our sources tell Peace and Freedom that the Islamic State inspired action in Marawi, the Philippines, was “manufactured in Manila to allow Duterte to impose martial law.” .

Our sources gave us several pieces of evidence supporing their claim. One informant said, “We noticed soldiers not wearing combat boots but slippers instead.”

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Philippine Inquirer

/ 06:33 PM May 25, 2017
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The Philippine National Police (PNP) on Thursday quelled speculation that the terror attack in Marawi City was orchestrated by the government to justify President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of martial rule in Mindanao.

“What would we get from (doing that)?” Chief Supt. Dionardo Carlos, PNP spokesperson, said in a news conference at Camp Crame.

He said those accusing the Duterte administration of plotting the attack should back their claim with evidence.

“Huwag tayo mag-isip ng masama,” he said. “Mag-isip tayo kung paano maayos ‘yung bansa.“

(“Let’s not be negative in our thinking. Let’s think kof how we can put the country in order.”)

“If we keep on dividing the people by speculation, they should come out and show proof,” he added.

Carlos also stressed that PNP and military personnel on the ground had been doing their best to protect the people of the terror-stricken Marawi and restore normalcy in the city.

“Mas mapapabilis kapag tayo ay nagtulong-tulong na alisin ang Maute at Abu Sayyaf groups,” he said.

(“Things will work out faster if we can help each other eject the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups.”)

Since being elected president in July, Duterte has mentioned several times in his public speeches about the possibility of his declaring martial law in the country.

On May 23, he placed all of Mindanao’s 27 provinces and 33 cities under martial law following the armed clashes between government forces and Maute bandits, who had pledged allegiance to the international terrorist group Islamic State.

Under the Constitution, martial law would only be in effect for 60 days. But Duterte said he might consider extending it for a year and expanding its coverage to the Visayas, and even Luzon, if the terrorists should reach those areas. /atm

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

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

 (with links to related reports)

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Philippines: Martial law in Mindanao won’t impact economy, says Finance chief, Only 200-300 rebels?

May 25, 2017
/ 03:10 PM May 25, 2017

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO (FILE)

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III ALBERT ALCAIN/PRESIDENTIAL PHOTO (FILE)

The head of the Duterte administration’s economic team on Thursday said the declaration of martial law in Mindanao will protect businesses there from the threat of terrorism and would unlikely slow the country’s growth momentum.

“The economy is in no way threatened by the imposition of martial law. The military is in full control of the government installations and major infrastructures on the island,” Finance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez III said in a statement.

Dominguez said that “martial law will ensure that these facilities are protected so that business transactions will be unaffected.”

According to Dominguez, President Rodrigo Duterte himself committed the government to do “anything and everything” to end violence in Marawi City as well as “restore normalcy in the affected areas as quickly as possible so as not to affect the economy.”

While Marawi is Lanao del Sur’s business and economic center, Dominguez said that “the threats by lawless elements are contained in areas far from Mindanao’s major business centers and the military is doing everything to minimize these.”

“Martial law in Mindanao for a limited period is intended to protect the flow of commerce, protect the innocent and eliminate future threats to the communities,” the Finance chief said.

READ: Private sector backs martial law in Mindanao

Also, Dominguez said that pursuing peace and order in Mindanao will help slash the poverty incidence in the war-torn island.

“The President is determined to protect the lives of innocent civilians and he will apply everything within his legal means to stop these extremist terrorist groups from further threatening the people of Mindanao and undermining government efforts to lift people up from poverty and transform southern Philippines into a major growth center and investment destination,” according to Dominguez.

For Dominguez, “threats of violence in the poorest regions of the country will not affect adversely the economic position of the whole country,” citing that since “the centers of commerce and sources of growth are in areas far away from the sites of potential conflict, economic expansion will not be jeopardized and economic opportunities will remain robust.”

“These threats will, however, dampen the economic prospects of the poorest regions. The government plans to revive this regional economy and transform it into a meaningful participant in the country’s growth will be held in abeyance until lasting peace is attained,” Dominguez said.

Citing Department of Finance data, Dominguez said the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, where Marawi is located, accounted for a mere 0.6 percent or P50.6 billion of the P8.1-trillion gross domestic product (GDP) last year, the smallest share among the country’s 17 regions.

The entire Mindanao contributed 14.4 percent to last year’s GDP, as it grew 6.4 percent year-on-year in 2016 or faster than the 5.8-percent growth in 2015.

READ: Economic expansion slowed in Q1

On a more personal note, Dominguez said “I have known President Duterte for a long time: he is a strong leader driven by an intense love for this country—a man of grit and fortitude and determination who is no stranger to situations such as what is currently happening in Mindanao.”

“President Duterte’s record in Davao City is strong proof that he has what it takes to overcome and prevail over any and all kinds of threats, turning an area that was once known as the ‘Wild Wild West’ into a thriving, prosperous and stable city in Mindanao,” Dominguez said.

RELATED VIDEO

Inquirer calls for support for the victims in Marawi City

Responding to appeals for help, the Philippine Daily Inquirer is extending its relief to victims of the attacks in Marawi City

Cash donations may be deposited in the Inquirer Foundation Corp. Banco De Oro (BDO) Current Account No: 007960018860.

Inquiries may be addressed to Inquirer’s Corporate Affairs office through Connie Kalagayan at 897-4426, ckalagayan@inquirer.com.ph and Bianca Kasilag-Macahilig at 897-8808 local 352, bkasilag@inquirer.com.ph

Read more: http://business.inquirer.net/230131/martial-law-mindanao-wont-impact-economy-says-finance-chief#ixzz4i4tgt6Ou
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Lorenzana said the confrontation opened Tuesday afternoon, when government forces attempted to arrest a senior leader of the Abu Sayyaf Group, an extremist organization with ties to the Islamic State. They had learned Isnilon Hapilon was in the area, but according to Lorenzana, the military had not expected him to be backed up by “more or less 100 fighters” — many of whom were members of another ISIS-linked organization, the Maute Group.

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

 (with links to related reports)

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Philippines: We will not give up our South China Sea claims despite China “Belt and Road” participation

May 13, 2017
Ambassador Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana said the South China Sea dispute might derail trade and economic ties once it is forced amidst the reinvigorated ties between Manila and Beijing. File

BEIJING – The Philippines’ claim over the disputed areas in the South China Sea will not be abandoned despite President Duterte’s participation in China’s Belt and Road Summit.

Ambassador Jose Santiago “Chito” Sta. Romana said the South China Sea dispute might derail trade and economic ties once it is forced amidst the reinvigorated ties between Manila and Beijing.

“It could, if it is not handled properly, as we experienced in the past couple of years. Here you have to understand the broad strategic approach of the Duterte administration,” he said when asked if the South China Sea dispute would be brought up during Duterte’s attendance at the Belt and Road forum.

The improved bilateral relations between the Philippines and China had resulted in the granting of about $24 billion in investment deals under the Duterte administration.

This is apart from any other benefit that the government may also gain from participating in the Belt and Road Forum, which will be attended by 28 heads of state today and tomorrow.

In a press briefing, Sta. Romana explained the reasons for the need to put the South China Sea issue on a “separate track,” saying it would help the two countries deal with areas of cooperation and common interests.

“You see the problem is, if you put the disputes in the front and center of bilateral relations, and you use that, then you have to resolve this first before you can have trade, before you can have cultural links and so on, the result is the relations will be frozen because the disputes cannot be solved overnight,” he said.

“The basic approach of the Duterte administration has been to put it on separate tracks – take the dispute from the front and center, put it on the separate track and there you discuss, you deal with it one by one, the issue of South China (Sea), the issue of ownership, the issue of sovereignty, the issue of the tribunal award, the issue of nine-dash line,” he said.

Sta. Romana, who was a Beijing-based journalist before he became ambassador, said the shift to work on areas of cooperation does not abandon the Philippine claim. The arbitration tribunal ruling is now part of international law.

“There is a whole field, whole sphere of relationship that you could fast track and yet without giving up your sovereignty claim,” he said.

Sta. Romana said the Philippines would not sign any treaty with Beijing, if it later on accedes to the joint communiqué being drafted by China on the One Belt, One Road initiative.

With 28 heads of state attending China’s Belt and Road forum, Sta. Romana said the Philippines would ensure that national interest is protected, even if it pursues agreement with other countries.

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/05/14/1699820/china-forum-participation-wont-affect-phl-sea-claim

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 (The authors say, China prefers places with lots of poverty and corruption and not too much interest in rule of law or human rights…)
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For about five years China has been loudly proclaiming “indisputable sovereignty over the South China Sea.” China has said, everything north of the “nine dash line” shown here, essentially, belongs to China.  On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China chose to ignore international law and nobody has even complained.