Posts Tagged ‘President Rodrigo Duterte’

‘Freedom is fake’ without justice, Catholic Church leader says on Philippine Independence Day

June 12, 2018

 

Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle blessing the palm fronds during a mass at the Manila Cathedral.

The STAR/Edd Gumban
Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) – June 12, 2018 – 5:19pm

MANILA, Philippines — True liberty is without killings, Manila Archbishop Luis Antonio Cardinal Tagle said as the country commemorates the 120th anniversary of the Philippine Independence.

In a statement, the church leader lamented the continued killings of Filipinos within the country and even in foreign land.

“Freedom is fake if justice is being toyed at. We repeat: Destruction of life is against the will of God. Killing is not the solution to personal and societal problems,” Tagle said in Filipino.

Tagle mourned that demise of Henry Acorda, an overseas Filpino worker in Slovakia who was beaten up to death, and the continued killings in the country, including priests, latest of which was Father Richmon Nilo.

READ: OFW dies after being beaten up in Slovakia

Just last weekend, Nilo was gunned down by unidentified gunmen as he was about to celebrate a mass inside the Nuestra Señora dela Nieve Chapel in Brgy. Mayamot, Zaragoza, Nueva Ecija.

Nilo was the third priest who was killed in a span of six months. Father Marcelito Paez was gunned down in Jaen, Nueva Ecija last December 4, while Father Mark Ventura was killed by armed men in Gattaran, Cagayan Province.

“We weep for them, for their families and the entire country. We ask justice for them,” the Manila archbishop added.

Nilo’s killing sparked strong condemnation from different dioceses across the country and human rights groups.

Plea for Filipinos

Tagle then asked the Filipino Catholics not to heed “anger, envy, arrogance and revenge to hurt their fellowmen.”

“The Filipino who is truly free does not abuse, destroy and lambast others,” the archbishop added.

He also urged lawmakers and law enforcement agencies to review the laws on manufacture and use of firearms.

“Why are there so many guns or weapons at disposal?” Tagle said.

“Let us not wait for the day when it would be easier to buy guns than rice,” he added.

The members of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines have not been remiss of condemning the rising spate of killings under the administration of the President Rodrigo Duterte. In September 2017, the CBCP issued its strongly worded statement against the drug war, and has continued to voice their condemnation of the deaths under this administration.

READ: Killing of priest ‘unchristian, un-Filipino’ — Cabanatuan bishop

On Monday, June 11, the Diocese of Cabanatuan slammed the killing of a priest as “unchristian,” “inhuman” and “un-Filipino.” – with a report from Evelyn Macairan

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/06/12/1823979/freedom-fake-without-justice-tagle-says-philippine-independence-day#aLTM4IhOvf8WM3c0.99

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Philippines: Are Filipino Fishermen Welcome In The South China Sea? — Anybody brave enough to ask China the rules?

May 30, 2018
Cayetano hails fishermen’s access to South China Sea (West Philippine Sea); Alejano questions continued harassment
Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – May 30, 2018 – 12:56pm

MANILA, Philippines — Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano and Magdalo Partylist Rep. Gary Alejano have conflicting takes on the state of Filipino fishermen in the West Philippine Sea.

While the country’s top diplomat said that Filipino fishermen can now sail freely, the Magdalo lawmaker revealed that the fishermen still experience harassment from the Chinese.

Cayetano, in a briefing at the House of Representatives, said that it is a gain for the Philippines under the Duterte administration that local fishermen are allowed to fish in the disputed seas.

“There is still slight harassment but in the past it was total harassment. Before, our ships cannot enter but now they can access the maritime environmental protection area,” Cayetano told the House panel.

While Cayetano sees “slight harassment” as an improvement, it remains a point of contention for Alejano.

Alejano agreed that Filipino fishermen now have access to Scarborough Shoal but their activities are limited.

“In fact, when they fish there, their catch are being inspected and the best fish are being taken away from them there. If you are a fisherman, your time is wasted, your effort is wasted,” Alejano said.

The Magdalo lawmaker also questioned the “red line” that the Philippines imposed on China not to encroach on Scarborough Shoal.

“I don’t believe that we have control over there because they (China) are now controlling Scarborough Shoal so how can you say that we have control?” Alejano said.

Earlier this week, Cayetano said that the Philippines has identified actions that would be considered unacceptable in the South China Sea amid the maritime dispute between the two countries.

Aside from the Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines also warned China against attempting to remove the Philippine Navy ship anchored near Ayungin Shoal.

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Chinese bomber over Scarborough Shoal, the Philippines

According to Cayetano, President Rodrigo Duterte would be willing to wage a war against Beijing if they break these conditions.

“That’s what the president said. If anyone gets the natural resources in the West Philippine Sea-South China Sea, he will go to war. He said: ‘Bahala na.’ He will go to war. So those were our red lines,” Cayetano said last Monday.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO, GARY ALEJANO, SCARBOROUGH SHOAL, SOUTH CHINA SEA

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/05/30/1820041/cayetano-hails-fishermens-access-west-philippine-sea-alejano-questions-continued-harassment#WKcXQs2pWieXK3b2.99

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China has seven military bases near te Philippines
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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

Beijing winning the great South China Sea game

May 12, 2018

The security temperature in the South China Sea has ratcheted upward precipitously in recent weeks. On May 2, news outlet CNBC reported U.S. intelligence that China has installed anti-ship cruise missiles and surface-to-air missiles on three fortified outposts in the Spratly Islands.

By Jansen Tham

This deployment follows the installation in April of jamming equipment that disrupts military communications and radar systems — also on outposts in the Spratlys.

 

This continued militarization of South China Sea features that Beijing controls comes on the back of extensive land reclamation activities — to the tune of 1,295 hectares of land — since 2013; the contravention of a 2015 verbal agreement between Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Barack Obama not to militarize Chinese-occupied features; and Beijing’s blatant rejection of the Permanent Court of Arbitration’s ruling in 2016 in favor of the Philippines.

Most worryingly, the deployment of missiles — for the first time — provides China with offensive power projection capabilities, augmenting its existing anti-access, area-denial (A2/AD) naval strategy against its primary rival, the United States.

All these developments, coupled with the lack of any concerted or robust response from the U.S. and its allies and partners in the region, point to the inevitable conclusion that the sovereignty dispute in the South China Sea has — irreversibly — become a foregone conclusion. Three compelling reasons justify this assertion.

First, China sees the South China Sea issue as a security matter of paramount importance, according it the status of a “core interest” — on par with resolution of the Taiwan question. From Beijing’s perspective, the greatest threat to its national security stems from the U.S. and its naval dominance in the Western Pacific — strengthened by the military capabilities of its Japanese and Australian allies.

Surveillance and control over the South China Sea allows Beijing to detect and deter Washington’s maritime coercion, should the latter choose to do so. The recent deployment of offensive missiles perpetuates the A2/AD strategy of preventing the U.S. Navy’s access to regional waters, while also permitting power projection far from Chinese shores. This safeguards China’s security.

Seen through this lens, there is no chance of Beijing acknowledging the sovereignty claims of Vietnam, the Philippines, Malaysia or Brunei. It is also wishful thinking to hope that it eventually dismantles the military facilities already constructed in those waters. The reality today is China possesses de facto control of the South China Sea — and claimant states have little way to combat this fait accompli.

Second, the sovereignty of South China Sea waters is a foregone conclusion partly because of U.S. ambivalence toward Chinese military encroachment.

Thus far, Washington’s policy response has been conducting freedom of navigation operations to assert its rights to traverse the waters aligned with international law. Nonetheless, FONOPs are purely symbolic protests that do nothing to reverse the reality on the ground.

In addition, Washington issues ambiguous statements urging Beijing not to militarize its South China Sea outposts with veiled warnings of “near-term and long-term consequences” — as the White House put it in response to the latest missile installations. At the time of writing, there was neither clarity nor follow-through on what these “consequences” entailed.Beijing winning the great South China Sea game

U.S. freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea, such as this one conducted by the Nimitz carrier group in 2010, have done little to slow Beijing’s efforts to boost its military presence in the disputed waters . | U.S. NAVY

These points suggest that the foreign policy and defense establishment in Washington is of two minds. While it recognizes the threat that China’s expansionism poses to American pre-eminence in the region, it hesitates to risk escalation to the brink of conflict. In other words, the U.S. reluctance to take more robust action in balancing China stems from its wariness of precipitating conflict in Asia.

This failure to signal resolve has emboldened Beijing to continue its reclamation and military build-up. Maintaining the status quo now further entrenches the South China Sea as “China’s lake.”

Third, the implicit acquiescence of ASEAN states toward China’s moves in the South China Sea has strengthened its position that all features and waters within the “nine-dashed line” belong to Beijing.

This is because ASEAN member states have prioritized regional peace and stability over sovereignty concerns. As China flexed its military muscle in the region — for example the seizure of Scarborough Shoal from the Philippines in 2012 — ASEAN statements sought to emphasize the non-use of force and resolution through negotiation, while creating rules like the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea, the Declaration of Conduct (DOC) of Parties in the SCS, and initiating a Code of Conduct building on the DOC.

In their anxiety to avert conflict in the region, ASEAN claimant states have avoided opposing infringements to its sovereignty claims — most notably from the Philippines, where President Rodrigo Duterte said in February that Manila should not “be fighting over the South China Sea because it will only lead to war.”

Nonetheless, Chinese military expansion has continued — and indeed, hastened. Sovereignty of South China Sea waters has fallen to China by default because claimant states have neither capacity nor intent to challenge Beijing, preferring the perilous status quo — no overt use of coercive force but permitting the Chinese military’s creeping annexation.

The above three factors — Beijing’s sharpened focus on national security, lack of American resolve to balance China in the SCS, and ASEAN’s prioritization of peace and stability over sovereignty considerations — have contributed to the bleak state of affairs today.

What does this mean for security in Southeast Asia? From the realist perspective, as Beijing accrues naval dominance in the South China Sea, the rules meant to regulate its behavior are likely to matter less and less — underscoring the geopolitical truism that “might makes right.” While China foreswears the use of coercive force on its Southeast Asian neighbors and may indeed have no offensive intentions today, it has now placed itself in a position to do so in the future.

In other words, while it had no capacity nor intent to threaten Southeast Asian states previously, it has developed the requisite capabilities today.

Under a different Chinese leader, or when regional geopolitics shifts to one more antagonistic to Beijing’s interests, there is a very real chance that its hitherto benign intent could change. If that happens, there would be nothing stopping China from “teaching its neighbors a lesson” — like how it taught Vietnam and India painful lessons during the 1979 Sino-Vietnamese War and the 1962 Sino-Indian border war.

While acquiescing to preserve today’s regional peace and stability makes sense, Southeast Asian states must realize the trade-off that doing so engenders potential costs of military confrontations with China tomorrow — confrontations stacked in Beijing’s favor given its entrenched regional military influence henceforth.

Jansen Tham is a master’s candidate specializing in politics and international affairs at the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, National University of Singapore. © 2018, The Diplomat; distributed by Tribune Content Agency

https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2018/05/11/commentary/world-commentary/beijing-winning-great-south-china-sea-game/#.WvbidIgvyUk

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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How China’s military adding missiles in disputed waters could torpedo Rodrigo Duterte’s foreign policy shift

May 12, 2018

The Philippine president’s post-America foreign policy likely is to be decided by what happens in the contested South China Sea

By Richard Heydarian
South Chna Morning Post
Saturday, 12 May, 2018, 4:02pm

For almost two years,, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has painstakingly moved to normalise bilateral relations with China. A consummate pragmatist, the mayor-turned-president views the Asian powerhouse as an emerging superpower to be reckoned with.

For him, American hegemony in Asia is a geopolitical anomaly, the accidental upshot of two global wars in the early 20th century and headed towards an inexorable decline. 

By contrast, China, according to Duterte, is an age-old geographical reality that simply can’t be ignored. If anything, it needs to be viewed as an indispensable partner for national development in the Philippines and across Southeast Asia.

Yet, the blossoming bilateral relationship is far from impregnable. China’s assertiveness within the Philippines’ claimed waters could torpedo the president’s hopes of reorienting his country’s foreign policy calculus.

 At least two American aircraft carriers have visited Philippine shores in recent months. Pictured: the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, anchored off Manila Bay on April 13. Photo: AP

In recent days, China’s reported deployment of surface-to-air-missile and anti-cruise ballistic missile systems [sic] in territory claimed by the Philippines has rekindled a ferocious policy debate in Manila.

Weeks earlier, US officials said China had installed equipment across several artificially created islands in the South China Sea capable of jamming communications and radar systems. For rivals and critics of China, the move was seen as the prelude to the establishment of a Chinese exclusion zone in a major global maritime artery.

In the Philippines, hawks have been eager to portray China’s latest moves as a sign of its supposed shiftiness, a direct threat to freedom of regional navigation and overflight and an example of Beijing’s untrammeled appetite for Philippine resources.

To them, the Philippines’ conciliatory policy towards China has only emboldened the latter to push its luck in adjacent waters. They propose revitalising defence ties with America and ending Duterte’s strategic flirtation with China.

Earlier this year, the Philippine defence chief implied that any unilateral deployment of advanced military assets on Philippine-claimed land would constitute a direct betrayal of China’s promise not to militarise the disputed area.

While Philippine defence officials have consistently called on the country’s foreign ministry to take a tougher stance against China’s purported threat to Philippine interests in the South China Sea, the Americans, a century-old ally of the Southeast Asian country, have wasted no opportunity to chip in.

Sung Kim, the US ambassador to the Philippines, accused China at a high-profile press conference of engaging in “aggressive unilateral action” and “moving towards militarisation” of the disputed area. That statement came just days before the Philippines and the US conducted annual joint exercises involving as many as 8,000 soldiers, 60 per cent more than a year ago.

Among the Philippine public, the US continues to remain the country’s most favoured foreign partner, while China’s approval ratings have seen only a modest uptick in recent years.

By highlighting China’s assertiveness in the South China Sea, the US and its regional allies hope to pull the Philippines back into their strategic embrace. To that end, at least two American aircraft carriers have visited Philippine shores in recent months, highlighting Washington’s hopes for continued and expanded access to strategically located bases.

Despite a massive public backlash amid China’s latest activities in the contested waters, Duterte remains adamant about the utility and soundness of his foreign policy. In his view, Donald Trump’s administration is the swan song of Western global primacy; China’s President Xi Jinping is the incoming leader of a new global order.

In a speech in his home city of Davao, Duterte portrayed China as the Philippines’ primary security partner.

“China said, ‘We will protect you. We will not allow the Philippines to be destroyed. We are just here and you can call for our help anytime’,” the president said, in an attempted push back against criticism of his cosy relations with Beijing.

Duterte may be a popularly elected commander-in-chief, but he is not a king. In matters of foreign policy, he has to contend with various veto players, including the defence establishment and the broader media-intelligentsia complex, that remain embedded in the American sphere of influence.

 Duterte’s critics have complained that a conciliatory policy towards China has only emboldened it to push its luck in the disputed South China Sea. Photo: AP

Among the Philippine public, the US continues to remain the country’s most favoured foreign partner, while China’s approval ratings have seen only a modest uptick in recent years.

This is precisely why tensions in the South China Sea continually threaten the tenuous Philippine-China rapprochement. The fate of Duterte’s post-American foreign policy is likely to be decided by what happens in the contested waters. And that ultimately will lead to a test of will and nerves among competing factions in the Philippine political leadership.

Richard Heydarian is a Manila-based academic and author

http://www.scmp.com/news/china/diplomacy-defence/article/2145242/how-chinas-military-play-disputed-waters-could-torpedo

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China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.

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Philippine economic growth surges, fuelling rate hike talk

May 10, 2018

The Philippine economy was one of Asia’s best performers in the first quarter of 2018, data showed Thursday, but the strong growth has fuelled speculation the central bank will be forced to lift interest rates.

© AFP | President Rodrigo Duterte is taking aim at bridges and public transit in a drive to unclog Manila’s notorious traffic, while also building another international airport north of the capital

AFP

The 6.8 percent expansion, which tied it with China and was only eclipsed by Vietnam, was boosted by a surge in government spending under President Rodrigo Duterte.

Philippine growth, which was four percentage points higher than same period last year, has now come in at 6.5 percent or better for 10 successive quarters.

“The Philippines remains one of the best performing economies in the region,” Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia told reporters.

“If not for the… increase in inflation, real GDP (gross domestic) growth could have been closer to the high end of our growth target of 7.8 percent,” he added.

As part of his “Build, Build, Build” initiative, Duterte has pushed spending to a record high.

He is taking aim at bridges and public transit in a drive to unclog Manila’s notorious traffic, while also building another international airport north of the capital.

However, inflation is at a five-year high of 4.5 percent and the central bank is expected to step in to bring it under control, with eyes on a policy board meeting later Thursday.

Its benchmark interest rate is at a record low of three percent.

Capital Economics analysts warned rising prices, along with weak export growth and sluggish investment pose a risk to the high-growth trajectory.

“Looking ahead, while we expect the Philippines to remain one of the fastest growing economies in the region, growth in 2018 is unlikely to match the 6.7 percent expansion seen last year,” it said.

Rising inflation was “likely” to draw a response from the Philippine central bank, it said, but analysts warned a lift could hurt consumer spending.

Pernia said last week that higher inflation was due mainly to the “transitory” impact of a major tax reform law passed last year that jacked up fuel, alcohol and beverage products.

However, he said this should “taper off over the coming months”.

Philippines: Release of ‘narco-list’ does not violate human rights, Palace says, despite past inaccuracies and trouble caused — Is this a “license to kill list?”

April 27, 2018

Releasing a list of candidates supposedly involved in the trade of illegal drugs does not violate any human right, Malacañang said on Friday, as rights advocates and groups continue to slam the decision.
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President Rodrigo Duterte is seen showing his so-called “narco-list” during one of his speeches.

The STAR/Michael Varcas
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Release of ‘narco-list’ does not violate human rights, Palace says, despite past inaccuracies
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) – April 27, 2018 – 3:31pm

MANILA, Philippines — Releasing a list of candidates supposedly involved in the trade of illegal drugs does not violate any human right, Malacañang said on Friday, as rights advocates and groups continue to slam the decision.

Presidential spokesman Harry Roque said that the order of President Rodrigo Duterte for the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency to release the government’s list of so-called narco-politicians did not violate the human rights of individuals to be named as they were running for elective government posts.

He said that the list would just “confirm” what was supposedly common knowledge among residents of a village who knew the people involved in illegal drugs in their communities.

“There’s not violation in that (decision) because what we are talking about is an elective government position,” Roque said in an interview with the state radio broadcaster.

PDEA this week said that it would release a village drug list containing 211 community officials supposedly linked to the trade of illegal drugs, just weeks before the elections on May 14.

PDEA spokesperson Derrick Carreon, in a phone interview with Philstar.com, said that the order came from the president himself amid supposed public clamor for the disclosure of the names.

Duterte, in many of his speaking engagements, brandished and bragged about his so-called “narco-list” which supposedly contained the names of politicians and officials profiting off the trade of illegal substances.

However, there have been mistakes in the past, with no less than former Philippine National Police chief Ronald Dela Rosa admitting the existence of inaccuracies.

Carreon sought to assuage fears over the authenticity of the names and allegation, saying that the intelligence units of the police and the military and the Intelligence Coordinating Agency helped in the verification of the individuals.

Carreon added that charges against the to-be-named individuals would be forthcoming in the next few days.

The Commission on Human Rights and an opposition congressman both cautioned the government against its plan, saying PDEA should observe due process.

The CHR said that although it understood the reason behind PDEA’s impending release of documents the presumption of innocence and right to due process should not be compromised.

“People in the village know who’s involved in drugs. If your name is on the list, it’s just a confirmation. Let us leave the people in the village (to make the decision) because they really know their neighbors and if the list is accurate or not,” he said.

The international human rights watchdog Human Rights Watch meanwhile warned that the release of the list would result in more bloodshed.

Duterte and his government have been criticized local and internationally for their brutal crackdown on illegal drugs which has killed thousands of Filipinos most of whom belong to the country’s urban poor.

NARCO-LIST, RODRIGO DUTERTE, WAR ON DRUGS

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/27/1810010/release-narco-list-does-not-violate-human-rights-palace-says-despite-past-inaccuracies#RzI63dzgecPlGwjK.99

Foreign correspondents protest Philippine ‘strong actions’ vs press

April 27, 2018

 

The dynamism of the Philippine press has been challenged by President Rodrigo Duterte, who repeatedly hurled threats against journalists, Reporters Without Borders noted.
Foreign correspondents protest Philippine ‘strong actions’ vs press

Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) – April 27, 2018 – 4:46pm

MANILA, Philippines — The country’s organization of foreign correspondents on Friday expressed “alarm” over the government’s “strong actions” that violated the constitution’s guarantee of freedom of information.

In a statement, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines cited incidents in recent days that barred its members from covering press briefings of government officials and asking them questions.

“The Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) is deeply alarmed by the Philippine government’s strong actions that clearly violate Constitutional provisions on freedom of information,” the group said in a statement.

FOCAP said that the latest incident in which the government restricted access to information happened in Singapore after its members were stopped from covering a news conference on Friday by Department of Labor and Employment Secretary Silvestre Bello III who was part of the Philippine delegation in the summit of Southeast Asian leaders there.

FOCAP said that its members were barred from covering Bello’s media briefing even if its members were accredited by the government’s International Press Center.

This incident followed the restrictions FOCAP members faced in covering the media conference of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano also in Singapore.

“FOCAP members were blocked from a news conference given by Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano. They were subsequently allowed access, but were barred from asking questions during the press event,” the group said.

FOCAP said that these were not isolated events as its members also faced press restrictions in the coverage of the five-month battle for Marawi City and the closure of the popular tourist island of Boracay.

Just this week, the country’s press freedom ranking in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by the media watchdog Reporters Without Borders slipped from 127th to 133rd this year.

The watchdog said that the dynamism of the Philippine press was challenged by the tirades of President Rodrigo Duterte against it, a charge that his spokesman denied.

“Our record will stand for itself. We have taken steps to protect the lives of journalists. We have not sent any reporter to jail,” Presidential spokesman Roque said in a press conference in the palace on Thursday, adding that it was natural for the chief executive to answer “untrue” stories published by the media.

Roque said that this year’s ranking was still better than the Philippines’ 138th rank in 2016 and its 141st place in 2015.

Duterte has been criticized for his verbal, and some claim legal, attacks on critical media organizations in the Philippines.

FOCAP is also alarmed at reports that the House of Representatives has passed a rule threatening to revoke media accreditation of outfits whose reports “besmirch the reputation” of the body.

It said that this rule gave a “wide latitude” for interpretation and could be used to limit critical press.

The group said that in a meeting with Communications Assistant Secretary Queeni Rodulfo in November 207 she agreed to allow Filipinos working for foreign media outfits “unfettered access to the president’s media events as well as other international press events.”

“Government must clarify and spell out clear guidelines on media coverage so as to avoid similar incidents in the future,” it said.

ALAN PETER CAYETANO, ASSOCIATION OF SOUTHEAST ASIAN NATIONS, FOREIGN CORRESPONDENTS ASSOCIATION OF THE PHILIPPINES, PRESS FREEDOM, SILVESTRE BELLO III

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/27/1810016/foreign-correspondents-protest-philippine-strong-actions-vs-press#DZl68qJflI7Y80Yw.99

Philippines: Supreme Court justices accused of prejudice, bias against Chief Justice after Duterte says he is “her enemy” — Questions about neutrality and impartial judges, fairness of procedure

April 10, 2018
Five justices look ready to hang Chief Justice without hearing evidence after President says he is “her enemy”
Image result for fingers on the scales of justice

Kristine Joy Patag (philstar.com) – April 10, 2018 – 1:42pm

BAGUIO CITY, Philippines — The five Supreme Court justices accused of “prejudice” and “bias” against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno refused to take their hands off the ouster petition against her.

Last week, Sereno filed five separate motions for inhibition against Associate Justices Teresita De Castro, Diosdado Peralta, Lucas Bersamin, Francis Jardeleza and Noel Tijam to recuse from Solicitor General Jose Calida’s petition for quo warranto.

READ: Sereno seeks De Castro’s ‘mandatory’ inhibition from ouster petition

Shortly before the high court held its oral arguments on the case, Acting Chief Justice Antonio Carpio said: “All the motions for inhibition were denied for lack of merit.

Carpio said that the justices will “explain themselves” when they issue their respective resolutions.

Reasons for the motion

The five justices appeared as resource speakers at the House of Representatives justice panel’s hearing on the impeachment case against Sereno.

The chief justice, in her motions, cited several of her colleagues’ testimonies and accused them of bias and prejudice. She said that the justices “cannot decide the quo warranto petition objectively and impartially.”

“Due process of law requires a hearing before an impartial and disinterested tribunal, and that every litigant is entitled to nothing less than the cold neutrality of an impartial judge,” she added.

The justices also participated at the so-called “Red Monday” at the SC. Reports citing unnamed sources said that employees and officials of the high court wore red on the SC’s flag raising ceremony—since Sereno’s leave from court—to call for her resignation.

On Monday, Sereno said in a public speech that De Castro told her: “I will never forgive you for accepting the chief justice-ship.”

Sereno and Calida will face off at 2:00 p.m. at the SC Session Hall in Baguio City for oral debates.

This is the first time Sereno will address allegations against her.

She is also facing a separate impeachment complaint filed by lawyer Lorenzo Gadon, that is pending for a vote in the House plenary.

On Monday, Sereno tagged President Rodrigo Duterte as the man behind the two ouster petitions against her.

The firebrand leader, shortly after Sereno made the remark, lashed out and warned the chief justice that he is “her enemy” now. The chief executive also “ordered” the leaders of the legislative branch to hasten the impeachment of Sereno, head of the judiciary.

The legislative and judiciary branches, under the Constitution, conduct the checks and balances on the executive branch of the government.

MARIA LOURDES SERENOQUO WARRANTO PETITIONSUPREME COURT

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/10/1804618/five-justices-refuse-inhibit-ouster-petition-against-sereno#wRQFL1JxKFSkdBqy.99

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Philippines says it still abides by rule of law

March 31, 2018

 

United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who has been labeled a terrorist by the Duterte administration, recently urged Italians to help stop what she described as “fascism” in the Philippines. AFP/File

Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) – April 1, 2018 – 12:01am

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday disputed the claim of United Nations Special Rapporteur for Indigenous Peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz that the Philippine government has become authoritarian, saying the rule of law still prevails in the country.

Corpuz, who has been labeled a terrorist by the Duterte administration, recently urged Italians to help stop what she described as “fascism” in the Philippines.

Speaking to delegates of the Human Rights Festival in Milan last March 25, Corpuz said the “authoritarian” government in the Philippines is controlling Congress and is going against institutions formed to balance the executive branch.

Corpuz cited the impeachment petition filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno and the arrest and detention of Sen. Leila de Lima, a vocal critic of President Duterte, on charges related to illegal drugs.

Those who want Sereno removed alleged that she failed to meet the 10-year requirement for the filing of statements of assets, liabilities and networth and misusing public funds, among other allegations.

In refuting Corpuz’s claims, Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea said her statements show “how detached she is with the realities happening in the Philippines.”

He insisted that the executive department does not interfere with the affairs of its co-equal branches – the judiciary and the legislature.

“Democracy in the Philippines is vibrant and strong. All the branches of the government are functioning and the rule of law thrives. The executive branch respects the separation of powers and the independence of the other co-equal branches and doesn’t meddle with their affairs,” Medialdea said in a statement.

Corpuz and about 600 other persons were tagged as terrorists by the government after President Duterte scrapped the peace negotiations with communist rebels, although the Department of Justice (DOJ) is still waiting for the Manila Regional Trial Court Branch 19 to declare them, as required by the Human Security Act of 2007, terrorists.

Under the law, the DOJ should file a petition asking the court to declare a person or a group as terrorist.

Also in the list were Communist Party of the Philippines founding chairman Jose Maria Sison, communist leaders Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, National Democratic Front of the Philippines consultant Rafael Baylosis, former peace panel chief Luis Jalandoni and former Bayan Muna party-list representative Satur Ocampo.

Waging war

Corpuz, in a commentary published in Financial Times last week, claimed that the Duterte administration is waging a war against messengers who report about human rights violations in the country, as she reiterated her criticism over her inclusion in the list of individuals that the government wants to tag as terrorists.

“I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers,” she wrote.

Corpuz, who repeatedly denied allegations of having links with the Communist Party of the Philippine and New Peoples’ Army, said her inclusion in the list made her fear for her safety.

“In lumping its critics together with criminals, the government seeks to make us all guilty by association and thus the next targets of the vigilantes and rogue police officers who have led President Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. Now, he has started a new war – with new targets,” she added.

A member of the Kankanaey Igorot tribe, Corpuz vowed to continue fighting for indigenous peoples’ rights in the Philippines and other parts of the world.

“I have spent my life peacefully advocating for the rights of my people and other indigenous peoples around the world. I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either,” she said.

Her next report to the UN, she added, would focus on the topic of indigenous criminalization in different parts of the world.

“As the government continues to press its case, I will have to include my own experience, even though it pales in comparison to what others have faced. If I am arrested, or personally attacked, this next UN report might be delayed, but I am only one of many messengers speaking out against the many violations of human rights,” she said.

“You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard,” added the UN rapporteur. – Janvic Mateo

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/04/01/1801666/rule-law-still-prevails-philippines-palace#qv7X4Gh777xW69p0.99

Related:

 (Includes FT Op-Ed)

No automatic alt text available.
China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.
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No automatic alt text available.
Above: Location of seven Chinese military bases in international waters or Philippine territorial waters — all near the Philippines.
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 (USS Mustin passage — Freedom of Navigation)

  (Xi Jinping’s first public address as “Ruler for Life”)

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All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?

Philippines President Duterte Unleashes New War on Filipina United Nations Expert — She called out vigilantes and rogue cops — Accused Duterte of “genocide”

March 31, 2018
Terrorism-accused UN expert: Duterte wages new war, with ‘new targets’

Ian Nicolas Cigaral (philstar.com) – March 31, 2018 – 12:58pm

MANILA, Philippines — As he leads a bloody war on drugs that has left scores dead, President Rodrigo Duterte has started a new battle, with “new targets,” a Filipina United Nations expert whom the government accused of terrorism said.

In a petition filed in a Manila court last month, the Department of Justice said it wants 600 people tagged as terrorists for their alleged links to the Communist Party of the Philippines and its armed wing, the New People’s Army.

The petition included UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, who had condemned alleged rights abuses in the restive southern island of Mindanao where troops are fighting an Islamic insurgency and Maoist rebels.

Image result for Victoria Tauli-Corpuz, photos
Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

The state’s move was strongly criticized by human rights watchdogs, with some describing the court petition as a “virtual hit list.”

In an opinion piece published on the Financial Times, dated March 29, Corpuz said those accused by the government of terrorism have become the “next targets” of vigilantes and rogue cops taking a frontline role in Duterte’s deadly drug war.

“My colleagues insist that my name is on the list in retaliation for speaking out on rights abuses against indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao,” Corpuz said.

“I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either,” she added.

The targeting of left-wing activists came on the heels of Duterte’s vow to eliminate the communist movement following the collapse of peace talks with rebels.

Aside from the UN advisor, activists like Joanna Patricia Kintanar Cariño, who helped found the Cordillera People’s Alliance in 1984 to fight for land rights, are also in the DOJ’s terror list.

Reacting to the case, UN rights chief Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein said “it makes one believe that the president of the Philippines needs to submit himself to some sort of psychiatric evaluation.”

‘The message will be heard’

Malacañang earlier defended the filing of the 600-person terror watchlist, saying it was not a witch-hunt on UN experts.

The Palace also maintained that based on “intelligence information,” Corpuz was connected to the underground left, adding that the DOJ would not have filed the petition without evidence.

“When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety. Then, I started to speak out. Again,” the Filipina special rapporteur wrote on the Financial Times.

“You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard,” she added.

Duterte’s order to declare the CPP-NPA as terrorist organizations has raised concerns among activists in the national democratic movement that legitimate organizations could be targeted as supporters of terrorism.

Membership in or support of a national democratic activist organization is not equivalent to affiliation with the communist movement.

By listing groups and individuals as terrorists, the state can freeze and forfeit their properties or funds, among other measures.

The Philippines recorded the highest number of killings related to land conflicts and struggles in 2017 amid a government crackdown on rural communities, according to advocacy group PAN Asia Pacific.

COMMUNIST PARTY OF THE PHILIPPINES-NEW PEOPLE’S ARMYTERRORISM PHILIPPINESUN RAPPORTEURS

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/03/31/1801516/terrorism-accused-un-expert-duterte-wages-new-war-new-targets#L8ookVu9K2jbzl3c.99

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Financial Times Op-Ed

By Victoria Tauli-Corpuz

A silent war is being waged on Philippine indigenous communities

Image may contain: 5 people, outdoor

When I learnt that the Philippine government had accused me of being a terrorist, my immediate reaction was to hug my grandkids, fearing for their safety. Then, I started to speak out. Again.

I am the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples. My mandate is to report when communities anywhere in the world are forced to relocate, their lands uprooted, their leaders either deemed criminals or killed. Not everyone wants to hear it, but the message needs to be spread. In the Philippines, they are shooting the messengers.

The country leads Asia in the number of murders of indigenous and environmental activists, with 41 people killed last year. The most recently reported assassination was that of indigenous leader Ricardo Mayumi; he was killed this month for insisting that indigenous communities lived where the government wanted to place a dam.

I am one of hundreds of people on a new government list of “terrorists”. This list, on a legal petition filed in a Manila court, includes many indigenous leaders and activists and their legal representatives as well as four paramilitary group members, who are wanted for the killing of an indigenous leader in 2012.

In lumping its critics together with criminals, the government seeks to make us all guilty by association and, thus, the next targets of the vigilantes and rogue police officers who have led President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war against drugs. Now, he has started a new war — with new targets.

This is not the first time I have had to worry about government-sponsored violence. As a teenager, and member of the Kankanaey Igorot people, I joined the movement protesting against the Chico River Dam Project, which would have flooded our ancestral domain and displaced 300,000 people. Our leader, Macliing Dulag, was assassinated and many others were detained and tortured. But we did not give up and eventually the project was cancelled.

Later, I worked to set up health programmes for communities who lacked basic government services. The Marcos dictatorship viewed this endeavour as a threat and sent the national army in response to raid my home.

I have spent my life peacefully advocating for the rights of my people and other indigenous peoples around the world. I am sad to see the Philippines once again slipping towards the fascism that too many other nations have embraced, but I am not ready to give up now, either.

The killings make news, but hidden behind these headlines is something even more insidious: the silencing of entire communities

My colleagues insist that my name is on the list in retaliation for speaking out on rights abuses against indigenous peoples on the island of Mindanao. The UN has been trying to draw attention to this crisis since 2003, as corporate interests have colluded with government officials to clear the lands of their inhabitants, avoid obtaining the free, prior and informed consent of indigenous peoples, and remove the most outspoken leaders.

Their lands hold an estimated $1tn worth of natural resources that is coveted by foreign interests — but the local people already live off of these resources, sustainably, without transforming the environment. Like the vast majority of indigenous peoples around the world, many in Mindanao do not have legal titles to the lands their ancestors have lived on and protected for generations. Overnight, governments may declare them squatters and if bulldozers will not compel them to move, deadly force is often the next step. The killers are rarely brought to justice.

I have reported on the impact of these killings, and the “criminalisation” that often precedes them, throughout my travels on behalf of the UN, to Honduras, Brazil, Mexico and many other countries. I have seen the scars left by bullets and the graves of murdered leaders. The killings make news, but hidden behind these headlines is something even more insidious: the silencing of entire communities.

My next report to the UN will focus on the topic of indigenous criminalisation. We are hearing testimony from indigenous and community leaders, human rights officials, and academic experts from more than two dozen countries, and will issue an official report later this year.

As the government continues to press its case, I will have to include my own experience, even though it pales in comparison to what others have faced. If I am arrested, or personally attacked, this next UN report might be delayed, but I am only one of many messengers speaking out against the many violations of human rights.

You can keep shooting the messenger, but you will run out of bullets before we run out of messengers and, at the end of the day, the message will be heard.

Victoria Tauli-Corpuz is the UN special rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples and an indigenous leader of the Kankanaey Igorot people of the Cordillera region in the Philippines

https://www.ft.com/content/4561c904-2dfb-11e8-97ec-4bd3494d5f14

Related:

No automatic alt text available.
China says it has sovereignty over all the South China Sea north of its “nine dash line.” On July 12, 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration  in The Hague said this claim by China was not valid. But China and the Philippine government then chose to ignore international law.
.
.

.
No automatic alt text available.
Above: Location of seven Chinese military bases in international waters or Philippine territorial waters — all near the Philippines.
.
.

 (USS Mustin passage — Freedom of Navigation)

  (Xi Jinping’s first public address as “Ruler for Life”)

.
.
.
.
.
.

All this makes one wonder: does the Philippines know what it is doing with China? In the South China Sea?  Benham Rise? Is Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, the ICC, and is Agnes Callamard  (Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions at the UN) correct in saying the Philippines is guilty of gross illegalities under international law? Is the Philippine government being run by people who don’t understand the law? Is the move for a “Federal form of Government” based upon any good thinking?