Posts Tagged ‘President Rodrigo Duterte’

Philippines president Duterte says he could throw out EU diplomats ‘within 24 hours’ in expletive-filled tirade

October 12, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte

Firebrand Filipino President Rodrigo Duterte has warned the EU and UN that he could throw out their ambassadors within 24 hours if they continue to “interfere” in his brutal war against drugs.

“You think that we are a bunch of morons here… The ambassadors of those countries learn a lesson now. Because we can have the diplomatic channels cut tomorrow, you leave my country in 24 hours, all of you,” he said during an expletive-filled tirade against colonialism in the capital, Manila.

There has been rising international outrage over a vicious crackdown on drugs users and dealers, launched by Mr Duterte after his rise to power in June 2016.

More than 12,500 Filipinos have been killed in the last year, with almost 4,000 during police operations and many more by masked assassins.

Last month the UK joined 38 other countries at the UN Human Rights Council [UNHRC] in Geneva to urge the Philippines to end the killings and allow an international investigation into the deaths. It was slammed by Manila as a “politicised” move.

Duterte appears to have been riled further this week by a suggestion by Human Rights Watch Geneva director, John Fisher, that the Philippines could be kicked out of the UNHRC, and by a visiting mission of European parliamentarians who told him publicly to “stop the killings.”

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

“You are interfering in our affairs,” said Mr Duterte in a rambling address to a press conference on Thursday, switching between English, Filipino and Spanish. “We are past the colonisation stage. Don’t f*** with us,” he continued.

“You must have taken the Philippines for granted, saying that we could be excluded,” he said, although no government has called for the Philippines’ exclusion from the UN.

Mr Duterte said the Philippines was angry at the West for “stealing our resources” and denounced the US, UK and France in particular, suggesting that plundering the Middle East had led to modern day terrorism.

“You built your riches, you were ahead in the industrial race of planet earth because you stole the greatest resource of the Arabs – oil,”he said.

“You colonised there, then started to divide the Middle East – the United States, UK, France, and that is why you are paying heavily now with terrorism. May you end up happy for what you have done.”



Philippines President Duterte Tells EU Ambassadors: ‘You leave my country in 24 hours’

October 12, 2017
In this Sept. 26, 2017 photo, President Rodrigo Duterte reiterated that there would be no let-up in his fight against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality. On Thursday, October 12, Duterte slammed anew the European Union in his speech during the relaunching of the Press Briefing Room at the New Executive Building in Malacañan. Simeon Celi Jr./Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday launched another profanity-laced attack against the European Union for supposedly lobbying for the Philippines’ removal from the United Nations, this time, by asking the bloc’s ambassadors here to leave the country in 24 hours.

“Now the ambassadors of those countries listening now: tell me because we can have the diplomatic channel cut tomorrow. You leave my country in 24 hours. All of you. You must have taken the Filipino for granted,” an angry Duterte said in his speech in Malacañan.

“Do not come to this country again, we do not need you. You want to expel us? You try,” he added.

EU officials in the Philippines are yet to reply to‘s request for a comment on the president’s remarks as of this reporting.

Duterte, who easily won the race to Malacañang last year on a brutal law-and-order platform, has stoked international alarm for activating his deadly anti-drug campaign.

Human Rights Watch Geneva Advocacy Director John Fisher warned over the weekend that the Philippines might be removed from the UN Human Rights Council because Manila is “seeking to evade its international responsibilities” by rejecting recommendations to improve the human rights situation in the Philippines.

READ: Palace downplays ‘revocation’ of Philippine membership in UNHRC

Meanwhile, European parliamentarians early this week visited the country and cautioned that the Philippines risks losing the General System of Preference (GSP+)—a preferential trade deal that allows 6,200 of its products to enter the EU duty free—if it fails to immediately stop the killings and supposed political persecution of critics.

But Duterte was unfazed by the EU parliamentarians’ warning as he slammed Europe anew for supposedly interfering in Manila’s domestic affairs.

He also said the Philippines could let go any trade perks that EU has granted, adding that Southeast Asian countries and China could forge a free-trade agreement.

“You are interfering in our affairs kasi mahirap lang kami. Magbigay kayo ng pera then you start to orchestrate what things should be done and which should not happen in my country,” Duterte said.

“You bullshit. We are past the colonization stage. Don’t fuck with us. We ASEAN members can export to each other. We could also have tariff-free [trade],” he added.

EU overtook the United States and Japan as being the largest destination of exports from the Philippines in March, according to the Philippines Statistics Authority.

With $901 million of total exports, this makes the EU the biggest and fastest growing export market for Philippine goods.

The Philippines was granted beneficiary country status under the EU-GSP+ in December 2014, allowing it to export 6,274 eligible products duty-free to the EU market.

The alleged cases of extrajudicial killings in the country as part of Duterte’s drug war, however, has put at risk the country’s GSP+ privileges.

The country’s beneficiary status under the GSP+ necessitates the implementation of the 27 international treaties and conventions on human rights, labor rights, environment and governance.

Results of the latest GSP+ review is expected to come out in January next year.

READ: ‘No surprises’ for Philippines, EU says, as results of trade perks review loom

Early this year, the Philippine government announced that it would no longer accept grants from EU particularly those that would allow the bloc to interfere in Manila’s autonomy.

But Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia later said the decision to reject EU grants was “not a policy,” adding that Duterte, who is known to flip-flop on his statements, might “take back” his statement soon as this could only be driven by “reaction.”

READ: Philippines ends P13.8-B funding from European Union | Duterte may reverse decision to reject EU aid, Pernia says


Philippine lawyers ask Supreme Court to halt ‘illegal’ war on drugs that lets police kill and circumvent legal procedures

October 11, 2017


MANILA (Reuters) – A group of Philippine lawyers on Wednesday filed an injunction with the Supreme Court to try to stop President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, calling it as an illegal campaign that lets police kill and circumvent legal procedures.

Image result for Lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno from the Free Legal Assistance Group, photos

 Lawyer Jose Manuel Diokno from the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), speaks during a news conference in metro Manila, Philippines October 11, 2017. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

The government’s directive for the fierce 15-month-old crackdown permits police to “negate” and “neutralise” targets, effectively granting them a license to kill suspected users and dealers, without gathering evidence or building a case, the lawyers said.

A practice of compiling lists of “drug personalities” and encouraging citizens to anonymously provide names was tantamount to drawing up a hit list, the petition said. It called for judicial intervention in thousands of cases where Filipinos were killed by police.

 Image result for Jose Manuel Diokno, photos
Philippine National Police (PNP) Chief Ronald dela Rosa and Jose Manuel Diokno

“The present war on drugs being waged by the government is not going to stop illegal drugs, crime and corruption,” Jose Manuel Diokno, chairman of the Free Legal Assistance Group (FLAG), told a news conference.

“(It) will only result in the killing of more and more people especially the poor.”

The petition comes as public scrutiny intensifies on Duterte’s signature campaign, which he insists will not stop, regardless of the bloodshed. He says he is prepared to go to jail to protect Filipinos from crimes fueled by addiction.

Duterte rejects criticism that his notoriously bellicose public remarks have been interpreted by some police as veiled instructions to kill drug users, with impunity.

Philippine National Police (PNP) spokesman Dionardo Carlos said police “welcome the filing of the petition before the Supreme Court”. He did not elaborate.

Though Filipinos are largely supportive of Duterte’s iron-fisted approach, recent opinion polls indicate public doubts that his drugs war is above board and effective as the government says. Analysts say unease about the campaign has contributed to Duterte’s ratings decline.

PNP data shows 3,900 people have been killed in operations in which police say armed suspects violently resisted arrest. Duterte’s opponents and activists dispute that and say executions and cover-ups are commonplace, which police deny.

The petition by FLAG, which is comprised of around 200 pro-bono human rights lawyers, was filed on behalf of three people whose relatives were killed by police.

FLAG has also represented two men who testified before the Senate that they were part of an alleged “death squad” that killed drug dealers and criminals at Duterte’s behest when he was Davao City mayor, long before his presidency.

Duterte dismisses the allegation as nonsense.

The latest petition seeks to compel the PNP and the interior ministry to halt the campaign and wants killings to be examined by the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI), which would take charge of evidence, including guns that police say were used by victims.

It said house-to-house visits by anti-drugs police followed unverified tip-offs from unknown informants and were not based on evidence. It argues police had no intent to persuade suspects to surrender and would kill anyone who refused to cooperate or denied involvement.

“The government’s war on drugs is short-cutting the justice system by dispensing justice from the barrels of guns,” the petition said.

Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary: All suspects killed in police ops were drug dealers — ‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’ — Philippine Government seen as “not trustworthy” in Al Jazeera interview

October 7, 2017
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers. Screen grab from Al Jazeera’s YouTube video

MANILA, Philippines — Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano defended anew President Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war by making a sweeping claim that all 3,800 people killed under the deadly crackdown were all drug dealers, contradicting the Philippine National Police itself and several surveys.

Police data show 3,850 have “died in police operations,” suggesting these are drug suspects who engaged arresting officers in shootouts.

READ: PNP: 6,225 drug-related deaths, no extrajudicial killings

To be sure, the PNP uses the term “suspects” when referring to the fatalities. Under the Philippine law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

But when asked by British journalist Mehdi Hasan during a recent Al Jazeera interview if “every single one” of the 3,850 casualties in the drug war was a “criminal drug dealer,” Cayetano said: “Yes.”

Quizzed by Hasan about his basis for his claim considering Manila’s supposedly “not democratic way” of solving crime, Cayetano evaded the question and instead defended the police.

“You’re absolutely saying it as if you’re not on the ground,” Cayetano told Hasan, who, in turn, stressed that under normal procedures, drug suspects must be charged and tried first.

In response, Cayetano said: “So you mean in the US or in any country your show is shown, if someone pulls a gun on the police they have to bring them to court first before they fire back? The police are doing what they can.”

Duterte, who easily won the race to Malacañang last year on a brutal law-and-order platform, has stoked international alarm for activating his fierce anti-drug campaign.

Human rights watchdogs said most of the fatalities are extrajudicial killings committed by cops and unknown assailants—a claim that the government has vehemently denied by insisting that police are only killing in self-defense while gangsters are silencing potential witnesses.

But according to a latest Social Weather Stations poll, more than half of Filipinos believe that many of the victims killed by police in the government’s anti-drug campaign did not really put up armed resistance, contrary to the claims of authorities.

A separate SWS poll, meanwhile, revealed that seven out of 10 Filipinos are anxious that they, or anyone they know, might become victims of extrajudicial killings.

READ: SWS: Vast majority of Filipinos think drug suspects should be captured alive | SWS: Majority of Filipinos think ‘nanlaban’ victims didn’t really fight back

In the same interview with Al Jazeera, Cayetano maintained that there are no cases of summary executions in the country.

He also hit the supposed spread of wrong facts in the international community by human rights groups “associated” with the opposition and the Church.

“The point is Filipinos will not support human rights violations. We’re very spiritual people. Whether Muslim or Christian—Filipinos believe in the dignity of life,” he said.

Filipinos have mostly backed Duterte’s drug war even as critics condemned the alleged extrajudicial killings by cops. But the recent deaths of three teenagers in the country’s capital have triggered rare street protests and highlighted concerns about alleged police abuse.

READ: Child killings spark calls for UN probe — Human Rights Watch

‘Can we trust the Philippine police?’

Duterte early this year halted the drug operations nationwide, cussing the PNP as “corrupt to the core.”

He said 60 percent of the 160,000-force was rotten, needing retraining or booting out. A month-long lull followed, but the crackdown was later resumed.

READ: Bato suspends drug war for ‘internal cleansing’ of PNP | Duterte brings back police into war on drugs

Asked if the PNP can be trusted in carrying out the drug war considering the president’s previous diatribes against cops, Cayetano, in the same interview with Hasan, said Duterte was just using his colorful language.

“Last time I checked, hyperbole and figures of speech are allowed,” Cayetano told Hasan.

“We’re not saying we should trust them, we said we should follow the law which is presumption of regularity but investigate,” he added.

“The point is he’s (Duterte) trying to clean up the police and he admits that there is a problem.”

Asked by Hasan if all drug-related deaths are being investigated, Cayetano replied that “every single one” is under probe.

“Most independent observers have said they there have not been investigations of all those killings,” Hasan retorted.

“Independent investigators have seen the progress. It is the ideological and biased human rights groups,” Cayetano countered Hasan.

According to an updated police data, there are 2,290 “deaths under investigation,” which have already been determined to be “drug-related.”


Philippine National Police: 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017 — Only one extrajudicial killing — International human rights groups laugh, cry — More like 13,000 individuals killed

October 6, 2017
According to the Philippine National Police, there have been 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017. Despite this, the authorities claim that there has only been one extrajudicial victim under the current administration. AFP/Noel Celis

MANILA, Philippines — Filipinos should not be worried for their lives as there has only been one case of extrajudicial killing under the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippine National Police claimed.

“The PNP protects every individual’s right to life. To allay or remove their fear, let it be known that under the present administration, there is only one case of extrajudicial killing or EJK for the period July 1, 2016 to September 30, 2017,” PNP said in a statement.

PNP noted that the possibility of being an EJK victim is “very remote, if we based it on facts and not on impression or perception.”

The statement came as a response the results of the latest Social Weather Station survey, which revealed that seven out of 10 Filipinos are anxious that they, or anyone they know, might become EJK victims.

READSWS: Vast majority of Filipinos think drug suspects should be captured alive

The only extrajudicial killing the PNP recognizes is the death of Catanduanes-based journalist Larry Que.

Catanduanes Gov. Joseph Cua and cop Vincent Tacorda had been implicated in Que’s case.

Tacorda is the whistleblower who claimed he was ordered by his superiors to kill drug personalities. He, however, recanted his statement after “serious soul searching.”

Administrative Order 35

During the Universal Periodic Review of the Philippines at the UN Human Rights Council in May, Alan Peter Cayetano — then a senator — argued that only killings that are covered by Administrative Order 35. AO35, which was signed by President Benigno Aquino III in 2012, created the Inter-Agency Committee on Extra-legal Killings, Enforced Disappearances, Torture and Other Grave Violations of the Right to Life, Liberty and Security of Persons.

“Administrative Order 35 signed by then President Benigno Aquino III defined EJKs as the killing of the members or advocates of cause-oriented organizations like labor, environment or media activists resulting in very low number of supposed EJKs in the past administration,” Cayetano said after human rights groups and administration critics characterized drug-related killings as extrajudicial.

READ: Cayetano uses restrictive EJK definition, experts say

But Philippine Alliance of Human Rights Advocates said in May that the strict terminology in AO 35 specifically applies to the cases handled by the IAC, which was tasked to probe clear-cut EJK cases rampant that time.

PAHRA Secretary General Rose Trajano said that the government cannot quote AO 35 because “the general definition of EJKs, even at the international level, is any death sanctioned or with the acquiescence of the government outside the due process or the rule of law.”

“What was mentioned in the definition of AO 35 just represents a prioritization of extrajudicial killings that were happening at that time and right now we know that the situation has changed,” Human Rights Commissioner Karen Gomez Dumpit said in an interview at the time.

“Based on the press statement by Professor Philip Alston, UN special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions, during his mission to the DR Congo in 2009, the international law definition of extrajudicial execution ‘encompasses any killing by government forces as well as killings by any other groups or individuals which the government fails to investigate, prosecute and punish when it is in a position to do so,’”CHR spokesperson Jacqueline De Guia also said.

Also PNP: 6,225 drug-related deaths since July 2016

The SWS study also showed that nine out of 10 Filipinos believe it is important that authorities capture drug personalities alive.

As a response, PNP said “the drug suspects who surrendered and arrested alive comprise the approximate 99.98 percent results of the PNP campaign against illegal drugs.”

But PNP said there have been 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 2016 and September 2017.

The police said 3,850 have “died in police operations,” suggesting these are drug suspects who engaged arresting officers in shootouts; while the another 2,290 “deaths under investigation,” have already been determined to be “drug-related.”

READPNP: 6,225 drug-related deaths since July 2016

According to the #RealNumbersPH August 29 update, there were 3,811 drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations.

From July 1 to September 30, PNP conducted 71,393 anti-drug operations that resulted in the arrest of 109,090 drug offenders.

However, human rights groups estimate a higher death toll, with some estimates going as high as 13,000 individuals killed in the course of the administration’s anti-narcotics campaign.

“These actions proved that the PNP values the right to life of these unfortunate victims of illegal drug,” PNP said.

READ: SWS: Majority of Filipinos think ‘nanlaban’ victims didn’t really fight back

Philippines hails US as top ally, welcomes war games

October 5, 2017


© AFP | Philippine Defence Secretary Delfin Lorenzana tries a CQ-A5b (M4) rifle donated by the Chinese government during the ceremony at the military headquarters in Manila on October 5, 2017

MANILA (AFP) – The Philippines’ military chief hailed the United States as his nation’s “number one ally” and announced a return of regular war games, following President Rodrigo Duterte’s call for warmer ties.Duterte last week vowed to be “friendly” with the United States, signalling an end to relentless criticism that included a vow to end all joint military exercises and branding then US president Barack Obama a “son of a whore”.

Military chief General Eduardo Ano, returning from Hawaii where he met US Pacific Command chief Admiral Harry Harris last week, said Thursday the allies had agreed to increase joint military exercises for 2018 after they were scaled down this year.

“The president said: ‘I want to be friendlier to the US’. So we have a closer relationship and more exercises,” Ano told reporters in Manila.

“He (Duterte) said to continue engagement with the United States. They are still our number one ally.”

Ano said the joint exercises next year would focus on counter-terrorism, disaster response and even territorial defence.

As he sought to loosen his nation’s alliance with the United States, Duterte also looked to build warmer relations with China and Russia.

During a visit to Beijing a year ago he announced his nation’s “separation” from the United States.

He later explained he was angry at Obama for criticising his war on drugs, which has since seen thousands killed and led rights groups to warn Duterte may be orchestrating a crime against humanity.

Duterte said last week the dispute was “water under the bridge” as he thanked the United States for helping the Philippines fight Islamic militants who have occupied parts of the southern city of Marawi since May 23.

The US has provided intelligence, weapons and training to local forces trying to retake Marawi.

The fighting has claimed more than 900 lives and raised fears the Islamic State group is trying to establish a Southeast Asian base in the Philippines.

Ano said on Thursday the Philippines would still pursue closer defence ties with China.

Ano was speaking at a ceremony at which China turned over 3,000 assault rifles and ammunition worth 168 million pesos ($3.2 million) to the Philippine military for use in fighting terrorism.

“The US is not our enemy. China is not our enemy. Our utmost priority is the interest of the country,” Ano said.

Philippines: Official on Duterte bank records: There were millions

September 28, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte greets the citizens of Digos City in his speech during the 17th ArawngDigos Founding Anniversary celebration at the Digos City Gym in Davao del Sur on Sept. 8, 2017. PPD/Albert Alcain

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte respects a reported investigation being conducted by an anti-graft agency of allegations that he has undeclared wealth hidden in bank accounts, his spokesman said Wednesday, adding “the president has nothing to hide.”

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella issued the statement in reaction to news reports that the Ombudsman, a key government anti-graft agency, has been looking into the allegations against Duterte since last year and has obtained bank records showing large amounts of transactions in past years.

Duterte has denied any wrongdoing and publicly vowed to resign if anybody can prove he or any of his children were involved in corruption. He won the presidency last year with a large margin on a vow to eradicate crime and corruption.

The ABS-CBN TV network cited Deputy Ombudsman Arthur Carandang as saying that his agency has received Duterte’s bank records from before he became president from 2006 to 2016 and that they show millions of pesos (millions of dollars) being transacted in joint accounts with his children.

Duterte’s bank records were provided by the government’s Anti-Money Laundering Council, ABS-CBN quoted Carandang as saying.

“We can confirm that we received bank transactions from AMLC,” Carandang was quoted by ABS-CBN as saying. “There were P40 millions … P50 million … there were many.”

Abella said Duterte “respects the internal processes of the Office of the Ombudsman as an independent body and trusts its impartiality in the conduct of its fact-finding duty,” adding, “the president has nothing to hide.”

The news reports reignited calls by opposition groups and a lawmaker for Duterte to sign a bank secrecy waiver to allow investigators to look into his bank records.

Earlier this month, Duterte refused a demand by his most vocal critic, opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV, to publicly release details of his bank accounts. Duterte said, “You must be stupid. … Why would I give you the pleasure?”

Trillanes first alleged that Duterte had unexplained wealth during the presidential campaign last year. In February, he raised the issue again, saying Duterte had not yet revealed details of more than 2 billion pesos ($39 million) he allegedly kept in bank accounts as a former city mayor.

Duterte inadvertently brought the issue back into public focus recently when he alleged Trillanes has several undeclared joint bank accounts with unidentified Chinese men in Hong Kong, Malaysia, Australia and the United States. Trillanes denied it and signed about a dozen waivers for authorities to look into the alleged accounts and demanded that Duterte do the same.

Duterte launched a personal attack against Trillanes, a former navy officer once detained for a failed coup plot. He mocked Trillanes for losing the vice presidential race last year and alleged that the senator keeps funds in his bank accounts in amounts just below the level that could spark a Central Bank inquiry. — Associated Press

South China Sea: China Has A New Claim To Nibble More Land From Taiwan, Vietnam, the Philippines? “The Four Sha Claim”

September 27, 2017
Beijing’s “four sha” claim in the South China Sea includes the Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and the Macclesfield Bank area. Google Maps

MANILA, Philippines — Shifting away from its nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea, Beijing has forwarded a new sovereignty claim over the island groups in the disputed waters.

China’s “four sha” (Chinese for sand) claim covers sovereignty and maritime entitlements from four island groups in the South China Sea—the Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands and the Macclesfield Bank area—according to a report from The Washington Free Beacon.

The Pratas Islands are occupied by Taiwan while the Paracel Islands are being disputed by China, Taiwan and Vietnam. Parts of the Macclesfield Bank are being claimed by China and Taiwan.

Meanwhile, there is an ongoing territorial dispute between China, Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam over the ownership of the Spratly Islands.

According to the report, the Chinese Foreign Ministry has laid its new tactic to assert its claims over the disputed sea in a closed-door meeting with US State Department officials last month.

International law experts Julian Ku and Christopher Mirasola, however, said that China’s four sha claims are no more lawful than its nine-dash line claim.

“The challenge for critics of Chinese claims in the South China Sea, however, will be effectively explaining and articulating why this shift does not actually strengthen China’s legal claims in the South China Sea,” Ku and Mirasola said in an article published by Lawfare.

In July 2016, the United Nations-backed tribunal invalidated the nine-dash line claim and ruled that Beijing violated its commitment under the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS).

READ: The verdict: Philippines wins arbitration case vs China

The four sha claim is not new as Beijing had stated it in a 2016 white paper disputing the Philippines’ claims in the arbitration at The Hague-based tribunal.

“China has, based on Nanhai Zhudao [the “Four Sha”], internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf,” Beijing said in its 2016 white paper.

The 2016 tribunal award found that no feature in the Spratly Islands is large enough to generate a 12-nautical mile territorial sea. Beijing’s declaration of straight baselines around the Paracel Islands would be contrary to the UNCLOS as it does not qualify to the required ratio, the international law experts said.

Article 47 of the UNCLOS states that archipelagic baselines may only be drawn if they enclose a state’s “main islands and an area in which the ratio of the area of the water to the area of the land, including atolls, is between one to one and nine to one.”

Ku and Mirasola noted that China’s new legal strategy is weaker than the nine-dash line claim as it clearly violates the UNCLOS.

“Most Chinese defenses of the Nine Dash Line argued that the claim predated China’s accession to UNCLOS and therefore not governed by it,” the experts said.

Beijing, however, may still benefit from trading the nine-dash line which has become a diplomatic liability as it has made China an easy target for foreign criticism.

“Second, by adopting language more similar to that found in UNCLOS, China may be betting that it can tamp down criticism, and win potential partners in the region,” Ku and Mirasola said.

President Rodrigo Duterte’s willingness to work with Beijing would support this conclusion, the international law experts added.

“China’s legal justification for the Four Shas is just as weak, if not weaker, than its Nine-Dash Line claim. But explaining why the Four Shas is weak and lawless will require sophisticated legal analysis married with effective public messaging,” they said.

RELATED: US gov’t study: 9-dash line inconsistent with int’l law


The South China Sea and China’s “Four Sha” Claim: New Legal Theory, Same Bad Argument

By Julian KuChris Mirasola

Monday, September 25, 2017, 11:00 A

The Washington Free Beacon reports that China may be backing away from its most controversial legal justification in the South China Sea: the “Nine-Dash Line.” Officials from the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs advanced a new legal theory at a closed-door meeting with U.S. State Department officials last month that would rely upon China’s sovereignty claims over the “Four Sha” island groups in the South China Sea instead of the Nine-Dash Line.

According to the Beacon, Deputy Director General Ma Xinmin of the Foreign Ministry’s Department of Treaty and Law “assert[ed] sovereignty” and maritime entitlements extending from four island groups in the South China Sea – Dongsha, Xisha, Nansha, and Zhongsha. Collectively, these island groups are referred to as the “Four Sha” (四沙) (“sha” in this context meaning sand). In English, these areas are respectively referred to as the Pratas Islands, Paracel Islands, Spratly Islands, and the Macclesfield Bank area.

While dropping or even de-emphasizing China’s Nine-Dash Line claim in favor of the Four Shas has important diplomatic and political implications, the legal significance of such a shift is harder to assess. The constituent parts of China’s Four Sha claims have long been set forth publicly in Chinese domestic law and official statements. Based on what we know so far, these new Chinese legal justifications are no more lawful than China’s Nine-Dash Line claim. The challenge for critics of Chinese claims in the South China Sea, however, will be effectively explaining and articulating why this shift does not actually strengthen China’s legal claims in the South China Sea.

The Four Sha claim has a long pedigree in Chinese law and practice. China’s 1992 law on the territorial sea and contiguous zone, for example, declared that China’s land territory included the “Dongsha island group, Xisha island group, Zhongsha island group, [and] Nansha island group.” A 2016 white paper disputing the Philippines’ claims in the South China Sea arbitral process similarly claimed that:

China’s Nanhai Zhudao (the South China Sea Islands) consist of Dongsha Qundao (the Dongsha Islands), Xisha Qundao (the Xisha Islands), Zhongsha Qundao (the Zhongsha Islands) and Nansha Qundao (the Nansha Islands). These Islands include, among others, islands, reefs, shoals and cays of various numbers and sizes. 

Taken together, this history shows that the Four Sha are not new to China’s claims in the South China Sea. The key question, still largely unanswered, is what legal meaning China intends to impart to these island groups.

In a 2016 white paper, Beijing stated that, “China has, based on Nanhai Zhudao [the “Four Sha”], internal waters, territorial sea, contiguous zone, exclusive economic zone and continental shelf.” Neither the white paper nor the Beacon’s report explain how China derives these maritime zones from the four island groups. As China recognizes, each island group includes a variety of features, many of which would not independently generate maritime entitlements. The 2016 arbitral tribunal, for example, found that no feature in the Spratly (Nansha) island chain is large enough to generate more than a 12 nautical mile territorial sea. This means that China’s claims in the Spratlys (Nansha) would not generate more than a series of isolated 12 nm zones.

In 1996, China declared straight baselines around the Paracel (Xisha) Islands, treating them as a single geographical unit (likely as a means to maximize Beijing’s maritime claims). Rumors have persisted for at least a year that China may declare similar straight baselines around the Spratly (Nansha) Islands. Indeed, the Beacon’s report could be read to say China is preparing to declare straight baselines around all four “Sha” island groups. While such claims would not extend as broadly as the Nine Dash Line claim, it would still result in China claiming legal entitlements over most of the waters in the South China Sea.

Because China is not constituted “wholly by one or more archipelagos” (think Indonesia or the Philippines), the U.S. and most countries would view straight baselines around an island group as contrary to the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS). Indeed, Article 47 states that archipelagic baselines, such as those around the Paracels, may only be drawn if they enclose a state’s “main islands and an area in which the ratio of the area of the water to the area of the land, including atolls, is between 1 to 1 and 9 to 1.” China plainly does not qualify under this definition. China’s total land mass is vastly disproportionate to its maritime entitlements – far beyond UNCLOS’ 9:1 ratio.

For this reason, this new Chinese legal strategy is even weaker than the Nine-Dash Line given that it clearly violates UNCLOS (e.g., Articles 46 and 47). Most Chinese defenses of the Nine Dash Line argued that the claim predated China’s accession to UNCLOS and therefore not governed by it. Despite the legal weaknesses of its possible new strategy, China may still reap some benefits from trading the Nine-Dash Line for the Four Shas.

First, the Chinese leadership may have realized that the Nine Dash Line has become too much of a diplomatic liability. The Nine-Dash Line is completely sui generis and no other state has made a historic maritime claim anything like it. For this reason, the Nine-Dash Line makes China an easy target for foreign criticism in a way that straight baselines around island groups probably will not.

Second, by adopting language more similar to that found in UNCLOS, China may be betting that it can tamp down criticism, and win potential partners in the region. Philippine President Duterte’s continued willingness to work with Beijing despite their conflicting maritime claims would support such a conclusion.

Third, and most intriguingly, China may have concluded that it can better shape (or undermine, depending on your point of view) the law of the sea by adopting UNCLOS terminology. As a rising, revisionist power, China has an interest in reinterpreting the existing rules to better suit its interests. Winning support for straight baselines among international lawyers and governments may be easier than finding support for its Nine-Dash Line claim. China can count on a growing roster of Chinese international lawyers and scholars who could build support for this new approach in the global community. Some have called this strategy a form of “lawfare.”

So while we might be encouraged to see the Nine-Dash Line pass into the (legal) dustbins of history, we should be skeptical about whether the Four Shas herald a new more modest Chinese role in the South China Sea. China’s legal justification for the Four Shas is just as weak, if not weaker, than its Nine-Dash Line claim. But explaining why the Four Shas is weak and lawless will require sophisticated legal analysis married with effective public messaging. Whether the U.S. government can muster these tools to advance its South China Sea policy remains to be determined.
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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.



Philippine lawmakers do human rights backflip after outcry — Recent statements made by President Duterte showed “incoherence,” U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions says

September 21, 2017


© AFP/File | The initial move to cut the Commission on Human Rights’s budget was in response to its criticism of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, which has claimed thousands of lives

MANILA (AFP) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s congressional allies have restored the budget of the nation’s human rights commission following an outcry over their vote last week to slash its annual funding to just $20.The initial move to cut the Commission on Human Rights’s budget was in response to its criticism of Duterte’s controversial war on drugs, which has claimed thousands of lives, with the president also verbally targeting its chairman with abuse.

Opposition lawmakers and other critics of the drug war condemned the vote in the House of Representatives, saying it was part of a campaign by Duterte and his allies to silence dissent and impose authoritarian rule.

House leaders said Wednesday night’s decision to restore the commission’s funding to 623 million pesos ($12.2 million) was because they had extracted an agreement from the commission to look at issues other than the drug war.

“The CHR specifically agreed to look at ALL FORMS of human rights abuses involving civil and political rights, including those allegedly committed by (communists), Abu Sayyaf (militants) and other private armed groups,” House Majority Leader Rodolfo Farinas said in a text message to AFP on Thursday.

The commission is one of several independent government bodies set up by the Philippine constitution to check the power of government, including police and military forces.

The body has been investigating some of the deaths of the more than 3,800 people reported killed by police and other drug enforcement agencies in the drug war, as well as thousands of unexplained murders.

The commission’s chief, Jose Luis Gascon, confirmed to AFP on Thursday he had met house leaders the previous day to discuss the proposed budget cut.

But he did not confirm Farinas’s version of the outcome, and emphasised that the commission would require even more money if it was to begin investigating alleged abuses by groups outside of government.

“I clarified that we already have programmes for promoting the rights of all,” Gascon told AFP in a text message.

“If we were to significantly expand our investigation work beyond violations of state authorities, it will require more funds beyond that currently in (the proposed budget).”

The opposition Liberal Party said the restoration of the commission’s budget was a victory for the many groups that voiced outrage at the initial decision.

“It is a win for human rights, for collective action, and for truth and reason,” the party said.

Duterte on Saturday likened Gascon to a “paedophile” and called him a “son of a whore” for expressing concern over the police killing teenagers in the drug war.


Image may contain: 1 person, smiling, eyeglasses and closeup

Agnes Callamard, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial executions

Callamard: Kian’s death turning point in Duterte’s drug war

MANILA, Philippines — The death of 17-year-old Grade 11 student Kian Loyd delos Santos is a turning point in the Philippine government’s campaign against illegal drugs, according to United Nations special rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard.

In an interview with French newspaper Liberation last week, Callamard said Delos Santos’ death was another defining moment following intense criticisms against the campaign earlier this year with the death of a South Korean businessman at the hands of the police.

“All the evidence before the public tends to show that it was executed by the police: the position of the body, bullets in the back, in the neck, shot at pointblank range, witnesses, cameras,” Callamard said in French.

“We must investigate not only Kian’s case, but (also) all the murders. All this demonstrates the importance of the independent investigation. There was a click. The President went to see the family. He should do it for all victims,” she added.

In an interview with French newspaper Liberation last week, Callamard said Delos Santos’ death was another defining moment following intense criticisms against the campaign earlier this year with the death of a South Korean businessman at the hands of the police. United Nations/Loey Felipe, File

Callamard noted “incoherence” in the recent statements made by President Duterte, noting the change of his tone regarding his support for police officers who are simply doing their job.

“The presidential speech becomes less coherent. He acknowledged that officers acting outside self-defense were guilty of murder, that the war on drugs did not succeed but at the same time it had to be continued,” she said, adding that the Philippines seems to contravene its obligations for failing to investigate all cases of alleged summary executions.

“The lack of investigation constitutes a violation of the right to life. This right to life is the right not to be arbitrarily executed. The obligation of an independent inquiry is even stronger when it comes to murders committed by state officials,” she said.

Callamard also maintained that she does not want to be exploited by Duterte by adhering to the Philippine government’s demands that she swears to under oath and engage the President in a public debate.

“Under current conditions, a public debate in the Philippines would not be impartial. I would be in a situation of weakness, and with me the United Nations as a whole,” she said.

“His strategy was to use the media, social networks and some raw language to get closer to its electoral base. It is out of the question that I enter this communication policy. I do not want to be exploited by Mr. Duterte,” she added.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte called the “worst kind of president” who is on his way to declaring a “fascist dictatorship.”

September 15, 2017
Trishia Billones, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Sep 15 2017 10:25 AM

MANILA – Communist leader Jose Maria Sison on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte, describing him as the “worst kind of president” who is on his way to declaring a “fascist dictatorship.”

Sison, founding chairman of the Communist Party of the Philippines, said Duterte controls all branches of government and has drafted a “killing budget” that allocates only P1,000 for the Commission of Human Rights and millions of pesos to law enforcement in the campaign against illegal drugs.

“I think I have a lot of criticisms to make of previous presidents, but this is the worst kind of president,” Sison told ANC’s Early Edition.

“I would say that Duterte is very well on the way to proclaiming a fascist dictatorship. He’s preparing for martial law and to impose a fascist dictatorship in the Philippines,” he said.

Duterte’s control of the Supreme Court, he said, is manifested by the “quick acquittal of Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo as a way of paying for the support” the former president gave the incumbent.

The leftist leader also slammed the “glorification” of the late dictator, Ferdinand Marcos, whose remains were laid to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani with the high court’s nod.

“That Supreme Court has already given a blank check for proclaiming martial law nationwide,” Sison said.

“But the attack of Duterte on [Chief Justice] Sereno is meant to complete, to tighten complete control over the Supreme Court,” he added, referring to the impeachment complain filed against Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno.


Sison also denounced the Lower House’s move to allocate only P1,000 to the CHR, which supports his statement that Duterte is heading towards dictatorship.

“The way the budget is made, it’s a killing budget, a budget for killing people, and a budget for expressing contempt for human rights.”

“Reducing budget of the CHR to just P1,000 and then giving ‘tokhang’ this scheme of mass murder, 900 million plus other funds of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and a huge intelligence fund of Duterte—this is a budget for fascist dictatorship and for killing more people,” he said.

Sison claimed P50,000 is the “going price” for each head of drug users and street-level peddlers, while P100,000 is for each suspected communist rebel.

“They’re preparing for massacres in the Philippines,” he said.

“We are looking forward to despotic regime of widespread death and destruction. That is already well demonstrated in the destruction of Marawi,” he added.

Duterte earlier said he has decided to abandon peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front of the Philippines (NDFP), saying the fighting between government and communist rebels could go on for “another 50 years.”

He also claimed Sison has colon cancer, which the latter denied.