Posts Tagged ‘rule of law’

Nicaraguan Unrest Shakes U.S. Expat Community

July 20, 2018
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GRANADA, Nicaragua—After decades teaching social studies at a California high school, Noel Correa moved to Nicaragua, buying a home on the outskirts of this colonial city. Then, the country he chose as his retirement paradise began to unravel.

“We were just getting settled when the fighting broke out,” said Mr. Correa, 67, who arrived here with his wife in December. “Now we are in limbo.”

So are many other expats caught up in a three-month-old uprising against Nicaraguan President Daniel Ortega, whose crackdown in response has killed more than 300 people.

Noel Corea, an American school teacher, moved to the colonial city of Granada in December, months before an uprising began in response to the government’s violent crackdown on protests.
Noel Corea, an American school teacher, moved to the colonial city of Granada in December, months before an uprising began in response to the government’s violent crackdown on protests.

Attracted by a tropical climate, low crime rate and seeming stability, thousands of Americans and Europeans moved here the last 15 years. Many viewed this country of 6 million as a cheaper alternative to the burgeoning foreign retirement communities in neighboring Costa Rica and Panama.

Now, however, the sound of gunfire and homemade mortars interrupts their sleep. Roadblocks and marauding pro-government paramilitaries discourage them from leaving their homes. Muggings and lootings are on the rise.

“I think I am going to pack up and get out,” said an American who operates a small gold mine in eastern Nicaragua that he has been unable to visit because of roadblocks. “When you can’t travel and security is in question, it makes things very difficult.”

Downtown Granada was empty recently at dawn. The once abundant tourist trade has dried up amid the violence.
Downtown Granada was empty recently at dawn. The once abundant tourist trade has dried up amid the violence.

Expats, many of whom refuse to be quoted by name for fear of government reprisals, aren’t the only worried foreigners. Tourists also have mostly stopped coming. One-third of the country’s hotels and restaurants have closed and about half, or 60,000, tourism jobs have been lost, according to the Nicaragua Chamber of Tourism. Tourism is Nicaragua’s top foreign exchange earner.

The U.S. Embassy has ordered nonemergency personnel to leave and advised American tourists to avoid Nicaragua “due to crime, civil unrest, and limited health care availability.” At the Managua airport, international flights land mostly empty and take off full.

“As soon as the violence hit, the tourists began to flee,” said Lucy Valenti, who heads the tourism chamber. “I can’t even begin to predict how bad this is going to get.”

The unrest began in April, with Nicaraguans protesting social security tax hikes. But as police and paramilitaries attacked them with deadly force, the street marches swelled with outraged Nicaraguans. They are now demanding that the Ortega government call early elections.

Mr. Ortega, 72, a former Marxist guerrilla who in the 1980s headed Nicaragua’s Sandinista revolutionary government, was voted out of the presidency in 1990. Returning to office in 2006, he has since taken control of nearly all government institutions while winning two more five-year terms. He accuses his opponents of coup plotting and rules out leaving office before his current term expires in 2022.

Young rebels set up barricades in Granada’s Arroyo Carita neighborhood to guard against attacks by police and paramilitary forces.
Young rebels set up barricades in Granada’s Arroyo Carita neighborhood to guard against attacks by police and paramilitary forces.

Calls to the office of Vice President Rosario Murillo, who is Mr. Ortega’s wife and handles press inquiries, weren’t returned.

As the crisis drags on, Nicaraguan towns and cities that depend on tourism and foreign retirees have been hit especially hard.

Chief among them is Granada, built in 1524 on the shores of Lake Nicaragua and no stranger to strife. Troops loyal to the American mercenary, William Walker, who had declared himself president of Nicaragua in 1856, set the city ablaze. The town—considered Nicaragua’s crown jewel for its Spanish colonial architecture, cobblestone streets and elegant central plaza—has been mostly peaceful since. Until recently.

When the current uprising began, several protesters in Granada were killed, and the city hall was burned down.

Now, Granada is a ghost town. Horse-drawn carriages sit idle at curbsides. Boat captains who used to ferry tourists to the islands in Lake Nicaragua say they haven’t had passengers for two months. The Hotel Plaza Colón, one of the city’s largest, is empty. Next door at a dance studio, salsa instructor José Obando said his American and European students have vanished.

Elizabeth Maltez Ramírez held a picture of her deceased brother José Antonio Maltez Ramírez. She said he was killed in June by paramilitary forces during clashes with anti-Ortega rebels in the Arrollo Carita neighborhood where he lived.
Elizabeth Maltez Ramírez held a picture of her deceased brother José Antonio Maltez Ramírez. She said he was killed in June by paramilitary forces during clashes with anti-Ortega rebels in the Arrollo Carita neighborhood where he lived.

“They all canceled and left the country,” he said.

Expats on Facebook groups speculate over road safety and the fate of the housing market. One recent posting asked: “Just to get an idea: Who left? Who stayed?”

But it turns out not everyone can afford—or wants—to leave.

A Florida native and retired music teacher said that she’s stuck here after plowing most of her savings into a home with a view of the nearby Mombacho volcano. She moved in last year with little sense of the brewing anger.

“I started hearing the word ‘dictatorship,’” she said. “I didn’t realize what Ortega had evolved into.”

A rebel showed a picture of a young man who was wounded by a bullet during the clashes with government forces. This house was used as an improvised medical clinic to help the injured.
A rebel showed a picture of a young man who was wounded by a bullet during the clashes with government forces. This house was used as an improvised medical clinic to help the injured.

Also caught off guard was a Houston lawyer who has spent the past 15 years snapping up property in Granada, including a small hotel.

“Real-estate values were going up,” the lawyer said, as he drank beer at one of the few bars still open. “I was going to start unloading some of my properties but then the government started shooting people.”

He and other foreigners are trying to adapt.

They walk or cycle to get around barricades. Happy hour has been moved up to 1:30 p.m. to avoid Granada’s nighttime curfew. Numerous expats insist on staying, content with the country’s slow pace of life and friendly people.

“Nicaragua puts a smile on my face just about every day,” said an American artist who moved here 13 years ago and gives painting classes. “Back in the U.S., people tell me that I should come home. But I tell them: ‘I am home.’”

Granada’s abandoned streets. One-third of the country’s hotels and restaurants have closed since the uprising began.
Granada’s abandoned streets. One-third of the country’s hotels and restaurants have closed since the uprising began.
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Philippines: ‘True state of the nation’ — Philippines worse since Duterte became president

July 20, 2018

Lawmaker says President Duterte is taking the Philippines in the wrong direction… Culture of violence and impunity…

Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo) said that the country had deteriorated since President Duterte assumed the presidency more than two years ago.

Combination Photo, File
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‘True state of the nation’: Philippines worse since Duterte became president, says Alejano
Audrey Morallo (philstar.com) – July 20, 2018 – 2:57pm

MANILA, Philippines — An opposition congressman on Friday slammed President Rodrigo Duterte who is set to deliver an annual national address on Monday, saying the Philippines has deteriorated since he won the presidency more than two years ago.

Vice President Leni Robredo and Sen. Paolo Benigno “Bam” Aquino IV, meanwhile urged the president to attend to the economic concerns especially of poor Filipinos, who have been burdened by the rising inflation in recent months.

Despite some “laudable efforts” in the past two years, Duterte’s leadership is marked by worsening poverty, increasing levels of insecurity and ceding of the country’s territory, according to Rep. Gary Alejano (Magdalo).

Alejano assailed Duterte for creating a culture of violence and impunity in the Philippines, especially in the conduct of his brutal crackdown on illegal drugs.

“He claims to be an advocate of peace and order, yet his senseless policy has allowed fear to envelop the streets. Killings have multiplied while the public’s sense of security has degraded,” the Magdalo representative said.

He also hit the president’s economic policy, under which the Philippines has experienced record inflation rates, plummeting value of the peso and worsening economic conditions.

Robredo said that she would like to hear the president present his plan for helping Filipinos, especially the poor, cope with rising prices and for arresting the climbing inflation.

The vice president said that Duterte’s State of the Nation Address this year should enumerate the achievements and failures of the past two years.

“I think all people should be interested in what the president says in his SONA,” Robredo said in an interview with reporters in Naga City.

Aquino, meanwhile, called on the chief executive to use his annual address to tell the nation what he would do to help poor Filipinos and not to pursue hiw war on drugs and plans to change the Constitution.

He also urged the president to support his pending measure at the Senate which would automatically suspend the excise tax on fuel if inflation for the past three months exceeded official targets.

“I hope the president discusses in his SONA the solution to the rising prices. Suspend the excise tax on petrol to give relief to those families drowning in high prices,” the Liberal Party senator said in a statement.

Duterte has also led an assault on the country’s democractic institutions and compromised the checks and balances among the branches of government, Alejano said.

He also criticized the president’s vaunted anti-corruption campaign, saying this is a “farce” as he simply reappoints sacked officials accused of graft.

“Respect for the rule of law, due process and human rights have also diminished with law enforcement personnel getting involved in extrajudicial killings under the war on drugs,” he said.

As he continues to hurt his fellow Filipinos, Duterte meanwhile has been very gullible in following the wishes of China and compromised the country’s national security and interest, according to Alejano, a former Marine officer.

He also condemned the president for setting a bad example for the youth through his uncouth remarks and expletive-laden public pronouncements, attacks on religious beliefs and demeaning comments on women.

Alejano advised the president to start uniting and caring for Filipinos and honoring their dignity as a race.

He said that Duterte should also preserve the country’s integrity, set a good example to the youth and start building a good image on the Philippines in the international community.

Duterte is set to deliver his annual SONA before a joint session of the Senate and the House of Representatives.

Traditionally, presidents use this occasion to enumerate their accomplishments in the past year and enumerate their legislative priorities.

DUTERTE SONA 2018GARY ALEJANOLENI ROBREDO, PAOLO BENIGNO AQUINO IV, RODRIGO DUTERTE, STATE OF THE NATION ADDRESS

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/20/1835227/true-state-nation-philippines-worse-duterte-became-president-says-alejano#pkArq1abQ7rsEOwG.99

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See also:

China won’t allow Philippines to fall into a ‘debt trap’: envoy

Tor:https://peoplestrusttoronto.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/china-wont-allow-philippines-to-fall-into-a-debt-trap-envoy/

and

Zhao: China’s loan to finance infrastructure projects will not make the Philippines fall into debt trap

https://durianburgdavao.wordpress.com/2018/07/17/chinese-loans-not-a-death-trap/

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FILE Photo — Nora Acielo, 47, lies dead after she was gunned down by unidentified men while she was escorting her two children to school in Manila, Philippines, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

U.S. Police Officers killed in the line of duty in 2018

July 20, 2018

Since the start of 2018, at least 49 law enforcement officers across the U.S. have died while on duty — with 30 of the deaths caused by gunfire.

Roughly 135 cops died in 2016, making it the deadliest year for police officers in at least five years, Fox News has found. While there were fewer deaths in 2017, the numbers weren’t much better: A total of 129 officers died last year. And 46 of those were caused by gunfire.

chesna

Weymouth police Officer Michael Chesna was killed one day before the sixth anniversary of his hiring by the department.  (Gary Higgins/The Quincy Patriot Ledger via AP)

Fox News has memorialized all the dead police officers here:

http://www.foxnews.com/us/2018/07/19/officers-killed-in-line-duty-in-2018.html

The Question is: Do we want America to be like this? Can we change it peacefully?

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Iran lodges complaint against US over renewed sanctions

July 17, 2018

Iran has lodged a complaint with the International Court of Justice against the United States’ reimposition of sanctions, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday.

The complaint was registered the previous day, spokesman Bahram Ghasemi said on the ministry’s website.

© AFP | Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif addresses economists in Tehran on July 16, 2018

The goal is “to hold US accountable for its unlawful re-imposition of unilateral sanctions,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif wrote on Twitter.

“Iran is committed to the rule of law in the face of US contempt for diplomacy and legal obligations. It’s imperative to counter its habit of violating (international) law,” he added.

The complaint came in response to Washington’s decision in May to abandon the 2015 nuclear deal and reimpose sanctions on Iran.

Tehran says the action violates international obligations, including the 1955 US-Iran Treaty of Amity — an agreement signed well before Iran’s 1979 revolution, but which is still invoked in ongoing legal battles.

Iran and the US have not had diplomatic relations since 1980 when American embassy officials were held hostage in Iran.

Nuclear-related sanctions will be reimposed by Washington in two phases in August and November, seeking to bar European and other foreign companies from doing business with Iran and blocking its oil sales abroad.

The ICJ is already due to hear a complaint on October 8 that Iran lodged two years ago against the United States for freezing around $2 billion (1.7 billion euros) of its assets held abroad.

AFP

More Philippines Political Figures Shot — Philippine Lawmakers Set To Review Charter Change

July 15, 2018
Barangay councilor killed, ex-vice mayor wounded in Batangas shootings

Arnell Ozaeta (philstar.com) – July 15, 2018 – 10:56am

BATANGAS — A barangay councilor was shot dead while a former vice mayor is in critical condition in separate shooting incidents in Batangas Saturday evening, police said.

Romel Luancing, councilor of Barangay Antipolo del Sur in Lipa City, was declared dead on the spot when he was shot by motorcycle-riding gunmen while talking to his co-councilor in their barangay around 6:30 p.m.

Meanwhile, Ferdinand Ramos, former vice mayor of Sto. Tomas, Batangas, was on his way home when he was ambushed in Barangay 2 in Sto. Tomas around 7:25 p.m.

Ramos was rushed to the nearest hospital after sustaining a bullet wound in his face.

He served as vice mayor of Sto. Tomas from 2013 to 2016.

Police have yet to determine the motive and personalities behind the shootings.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/nation/2018/07/15/1833735/barangay-councilor-killed-ex-vice-mayor-wounded-batangas-shootings#GueKkTUubizcSMQC.99

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The latest fatality is identified as 65-year old Santos Samoranos, barangay kagawad and a resident of Purok Lasuerte, Barangay Lapaz in Carmen town.

Barangay kagawad shot dead in Davao del Norte

Barangay kagawad shot dead in Davao del Norte

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Philippine Lawmakers Set To Review Charter Change

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, said the proceedings on Tuesday would also be a continuation of previous hearings on related bills.
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Senate set to tackle draft federal charter

Robertzon Ramirez (The Philippine Star) – July 15, 2018 – 12:00am

MANILA, Philippines — Now in possession of an official copy of the draft federal constitution, the Senate panel tasked to handle proposed charter amendments has set for Tuesday its first discussion on the document.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, chairman of the committee on constitutional amendments and revision of codes, said the proceedings on Tuesday would also be a continuation of previous hearings on related bills.

He said he hopes to find in the draft charter very specific and concrete proposals on the type of federalism the administration wants.

Pangilinan’s panel received its copy of the draft charter from the consultative committee (Concom) formed by President Duterte to review the 1987 Constitution.

In previous consultations held in Metro Manila, Cebu, Cotabato and Baguio City, Pangilinan said various versions of federalism had been proffered by different organizations and proponents of a federal system of government.

For Tuesday’s hearing, Pangilinan said Concom chairman and former chief justice Reynato Puno has confirmed his attendance, along with former Supreme Court associate justice Adolfo Azcuña and constitutional expert Christian Monsod. Former chief justice Hilario Davide Jr. has also been invited but has yet to confirm his attendance.

Pangilinan said survey outfits Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations (SWS) have also been invited to share insights on the sentiments of the public on the issue.

A survey released by SWS revealed that only one in four Filipinos were aware of federalism.

Pulse Asia, in its own survey, showed that 66 percent of Filipinos are opposed to a shift in the form of government from unitary to federal.

Pangilinan said this was an indication that the public is not too keen on amending the Constitution, as there are matters more pressing to the people like putting food on the table, finding jobs and increasing their take home pay.

He said the committee would not commit to any timetable for completing the consultations on charter change as there are a number of key questions that must first be resolved before going into the specifics of the proposals.

The question on whether there is a need to amend the Charter to begin with should be answered.

Furthermore, the motives of the proponents of Charter change should also be established, as there are indications the endeavor is intended to extend the term of some elected officials.

Pangilinan said statements coming from the leaders of the House of Representatives about a possible no-election scenario for 2019 have prompted some quarters to question the motive of people behind Charter change.

“The cat is now out of the bag,” said Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon in reaction to proposals that the mid-term elections next year be postponed to enable lawmakers to focus on the push for federalism.

He said there are over 80 members of the House who stand to benefit from a postponement of the elections because their terms are expiring next year.

There are also the legislators who are eligible for reelection, and thus would certainly benefit from the postponement of the elections.

Incumbent elected officials whose terms are ending next year and who cannot stay in a holdover capacity if the elections were postponed are likely to be appointed by the President. This, in effect, would be like having extended term for such officials.

He said the Supreme Court has upheld the power of the President to appoint officials when elections are postponed.

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri called for an end to “no-el” speculations, saying they’re hurting the country by scaring away investors.

“We should study the proposed amendments carefully first. There is no need to rush this,” Zubiri said.

Tenure cut short

Amid the emergence of the no-el scenario, Concom spokesman Conrado Generoso said at a forum in Quezon City the proposed federal constitution would effectively cut short the six-year term of office of President Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo.

At the same forum, former Senate president and Concom vice chairman Aquilino Pimentel Jr. said the envisioned federal charter explicitly prohibits Duterte from running again in 2022.

Generoso said the Concom revised its draft on Wednesday to provide for the election of a transition president and vice president after the ratification by the people of the proposed new constitution.

“The transition president and vice president will replace President Duterte and Vice President Robredo and will serve during the transition to the federal system,” he said.

Duterte has said he wanted the Concom to cut short his term and call for the election of a transition president to replace him.

He said if his replacement were elected next year, he would be happy to accept a shortened term.

However, he said he would not resign, since his resignation would mean giving way to an “incompetent” Robredo.

In response, Robredo said Duterte should just focus on fixing the economy, instead of hurling insults at her and the Catholic Church.

Under the proposed new Constitution, the transition to the envisioned federal system of government would last until 2022, when the first elections for federal officials would be held.

Pimentel said he does not see lawmakers approving the draft and submitting it to the people for approval in a plebiscite before the May 2019 elections.

“The schedule is too tight for that. 2020 or 2021 would be more like it. This means that next year’s elections would push through,” he said.

Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez earlier raised the possibility of postponing the elections to allow lawmakers to work on the proposed federal Constitution.

Alvarez also said he would advocate the removal of term limits under the new Charter to discourage the formation of political dynasties.

In the United States, he said lawma-kers and Supreme Court justices have no term limits.

Generoso said the proposed federal charter has a strict anti-political dynasty provisions.

Puno has said he would not support federalism if lawmakers water down such provisions.

Lifting of term limit backed

For a Concom member, there’s nothing wrong with Alvarez’s proposal regarding lifting of term limit.

“I have nothing against it. As he explained to us, it is the term limit that caused a bigger incident of political dynasties. After tatay, anak, asawa or kapatid (father, child, spouse or sibling)– it is a reasonable position,” Susan Ordinario told The STAR. “We can seriously consider that.”

Ordinario, a lawyer, is the only woman among the Concom members.

“Dumami talaga ang political dynasty (under the current charter), but I prefer that there would be term limits. It is something that we can discuss and look for a happy solution, but the interest of the people will not be sacrificed,” she clarified.

But Pimentel said that while he is glad that Alvarez has expressed his desire to retain the anti-political dynasty provision, he finds unacceptable the idea of removing term limits.

Pimentel said that the removal of politicians’ term limits is another form of political dynasty.

“They are preventing other people from serving their constituents, it’s like monopolizing the power, in effect it’s like political dynasty,” he added.

Pimentel said such setup might be applicable to other federal states but not in the Philippines.

“We are talking about the Philippines. In other countries, they may not need it (term limit), but here the person in power can repeatedly use his powers without limits,” he said.

He appealed to the Speaker to respect the term limit provision in the proposed constitution “for the sake of the wider participation of the people in determining what is best for them.”

Another Concom member, Eddie Alih, said he is opting for the retention of the anti-political dynasty provision. “Personally, I will not support the removal of term limit,” Alih told The STAR.

Alih’s Concom colleague Roan Libarios said that Alvarez’s proposal should be studied and discussed carefully and thoroughly.

Under the proposed charter, political dynasties are prohibited under Article 5, Section 8, “to prevent the concentration, consolidation or perpetuation of political power in persons related to one another.”

The proposed charter states that no person related to an incumbent official within the second degree of consanguinity or affinity can run for the same position immediately following elections. – With Jess Diaz, Marvin Sy

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/15/1833660/senate-set-tackle-draft-federal-charter#clVXKPTUBAbsHupm.99

 

Related:

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FILE Photo — Nora Acielo, 47, lies dead after she was gunned down by unidentified men while she was escorting her two children to school in Manila, Philippines, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

Philippines: Duterte’s Draft federal constitution elitist, anti-poor, former chief justice says — Undemocratic, Lethal Experiment

July 14, 2018

MANILA, Philippines — Former Chief Justice Hilario Davide  Jr. on Friday lambasted the draft federal constitution, which he said would create an “elitist democracy” that is “anti-poor” and “anti-Filipino.”

On Monday, President Rodrigo Duterte approved the draft federal charter that was crafted by a consultative committee, which he formed to review the present Constitution. He is expected to endorse the proposal to Congress.

In a speech before lawyers, Davide said the proposed charter’s provisions on regulations and control of political parties are “very narrow concepts of political dynasties, [and] would in fact be the prescriptions for political elitism.”

“The poor would remain under the clutches of politicians and democracy [would] only be a screen to cover up elitism,” the former top magistrate said, adding that the poor “would have no choice for political leadership against political parties” under the draft charter.

‘Lethal experiment’

The former chief magistrate also said it is “more elitist” for the draft constitution to require the tandem voting of the president and vice president, which he said would prevent independent candidates from running for the said positions.

Davide also said requiring candidates to be college graduates “would really be anti-poor,” arguing that presidents having college degrees does not guarantee good service.

“We have presidents who had college degrees, one was even a lawyer – a top-notcher of the bar examinations – but he was ousted and brought to Hawaii… We also had one who held a master’s degree in economics but you know very well what happened,” he said, apparently referring to late dictator Ferdinand Marcos and former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo.

In hundreds of hours of speeches, Duterte has declared the Philippines must overhaul the 1987 Constitution and shift to a federal system of government to address the country’s widening wealth gap and empower regional governments.

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But for Davide, the shift to federalism is a “lethal experiment, a fatal leap, a plunge to death, a leap to hell.”

Under Section 5 Article V of the draft federal Constitution, the Federal Republic “shall take affirmative action so that marginalized and underrepresented sectors may organize themselves into genuine political parties with clear and detailed platforms of government and capable representatives.”

In the same speech on Friday, Davide stressed that the federal government’s structure, indissolubility and permanence as indicated in the draft constitution’s preamble are not democratic and “are more totalitarian, monarchy.”

“The most undemocratic yet however as proposed in the Constitution prepared by the committee is the perpetual ban on amendments or revisions of the Constitution in respect of the democratic and republican,” he added. — Philstar intern Ali Ian Marcelino Biong

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/14/1833220/former-chief-justice-davide-draft-federal-constitution-elitist-anti-poor#cJe7GS2Zrv9Goghe.99

India’s social media monitoring plan worries Supreme Court

July 13, 2018

A government plan to monitor social media could turn India into a “surveillance state”, the Supreme Court was cited as saying on Friday as it asked the government to respond to such worries within two weeks, a lawyer involved in the case said.

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Supreme Court in New Delhi 

The government wants social media users monitored and fake news identified and the Information and Broadcasting Ministry in April invited bids from companies to do that.

But a member of parliament challenged the plan, following which a three-judge bench of the Supreme Court began hearing the matter.

“Tracking and regulating social media content will transform us into a surveillance state,” one of the three judges observed, according to the petitioner’s lawyer, who declined to be identified.

Indian media also reported that the Supreme Court raised concerns about the plan to track social media.

The Information and Broadcasting Ministry did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Highlighting the danger of so-called fake news in India, a series of hoaxes posted on social media has led to a spate of lynchings recently.

Facebook Inc’s WhatsApp messaging platform on Tuesday published advertisements in Indian newspapers aimed at tackling the spread of misinformation.

Reuters

Writing by Sankalp Phartiyal; Editing by Robert Birsel

Philippines now ‘willing victim’ in South China Sea — “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China”

July 12, 2018

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Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) – July 12, 2018 – 10:55am

MANILA, Philippines — Two years after a United Nations-backed tribunal handed down its ruling on the arbitration case on the South China Sea, the positions of both the Philippines and China remain “less than acceptable.”

Former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario on Thursday lamented that the Philippines had set aside the landmark ruling.

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Activists protest Chinese reclamation work in the South China Sea, part of which Manila claims and calls the West Philippine Sea. Credit KJ Rosales, file

“The Philippines had two years to take advantage of its position to develop and obtain the support of many countries whose principles are aligned with our own and with whom our own voice could be magnified. Sadly, however, this was not made to happen,” Del Rosario said in a forum organized by independent think tank Stratbase ADR Institute.

Del Rosario, who led the Philippines in its arbitration case against China, stressed that the ruling was also beneficial to other countries relying on the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea.

The  arbitration ruling was also beneficial to all states determined to maintain peaceful relations by committing to international law.

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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.

“In this light, we must as well consider our own country’s character since we have once been a reliable advocate for international law,” Del Rosario said.

READ: DFA urged to bare 100 protests filed vs China

The Philippines has become “a willing victim” and “an abettor” for its current policy in the disputed waters, he added.

“What may we call one that acquiesces to the abuses against it? Answer: a willing victim,” Del Rosario said.

“What may we call one that defends an aggressor at every opportunity? Answer: an abettor,” he added.

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Del Rosario

‘China, a grand larcenist’

China, meanwhile, is a “grand larcenist” and “international outlaw” for unlawfully taking the property of others and refusing the rule of law.

Moving forward, Del Rosario noted that the Philippines still has opportunities to promote rule of law, whether through multilateralism with the UN or ASEAN or through bilateral engagements.

“To close, we reiterate our position that coercive diplomacy has no place in a rules-based international order,” Del Rosario said.

He reiterated that Filipinos should urge the government to raise the country’s indignation against China.

“Finally, we need a of our friends in the community of nations who believe in the rule of law to help us. But before we can hope for help, we must first demonstrate that we are worth helping,” he said.

The July 12, 2016 ruling effectively invalidated Beijing’s nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea.

The Chinese government, however, refused to acknowledge the arbitration and has since installed anti-ship cruise missiles, surface-to-air missile systems and electronic jammers on its outposts in the contested waterway.

As It Happens
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LATEST UPDATE: July 12, 2018 – 3:25pm

Social media users, including former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, are reporting seeing banners saying “Welcome to the Philippines, Province of China” hanging from overpasses in parts of Metro Manila.

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The sightings coincide with the second anniversary of an arbitral tribunal ruling that China’s sweeping nine-dash line claim over the South China Sea has no legal basis. The Philippines has opted to play down the ruling and focus on nurturing better political and economic relations with China.

It is unclear who put up the banners, which are a possible reference to a “joke” that President Rodrigo Duterte told Chinese-Filipino business leaders in February.

“He (Xi) is a man of honor. They can even make us ‘Philippines, province of China,” we will even avail of services for free,” Duterte said in apparent jest. “If China were a woman, I’d woo her.”

The Palace said the remark was meant to impress the audience, who were Filipino citizens of Chinese descent.

July 12, 2018 – 3:25pm

Presidential spokesperson Harry Roque, in response to criticism from former Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert Del Rosario of the Duterte administration’s handling of issues in the West Philippine Sea, says: “We do not agree with those who lost control of territory by their confrontational hubris.”

He says President Rodrigo Duterte has instead “forged friendship which has obtained benefits for our people, boosted investment and trade for our economy, reduced the threat of conflict, and opened the door to confidence-building talks between ASEAN and China.”

He says issues with China are handled through a dialogue between friends and not as an argument between adversaries.

“All this time, we are building up our capabilities to eventually assert our sovereign rights and interests. That is the policy that works for our nation,” he says.

July 12, 2018 – 12:18pm

The Quezon City government has ordered its Public Safety personnel to remove tarpaulins that refer to the Philippines as a province of China.

In a Palace briefing earlier Thursday, presidential spokesperson Harry Roque said “enemies of the government” are behind the banners.

Read more at https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/07/12/1832874/philippines-now-willing-victim-south-china-sea-dispute-del-rosario-laments#jvoii1mgWC03iLXP.99

Related:

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Some of China’s military bases in the South China Sea

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China has seven military bases near te Philippines

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Reuters

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Chinese bombers

Rights group urges release of Chinese activist jailed for 13 years for subversion

July 12, 2018

New York-based Human Rights Watch on Thursday called for the unconditional release of a veteran Chinese rights activist after he was jailed for 13 years for subversion, one of the longest sentences handed down in a multi-year crackdown.

President Xi Jinping has overseen a sweeping crackdown on all forms of dissent, jailing dozens of rights lawyers in what rights groups call one of the most severe attacks on pro-democratic activism since 1989.

News of the activist’s jailing came a day after China allowed Liu Xia, the widow of dissident and Nobel Peace laureate Liu Xiaobo, to travel to Germany, after holding her in effective house arrest since 2010.

The activist, Qin Yongmin, founded the “Rose Group” of grassroots rights activists in 2014, then ran it and published essays and articles urging democratic reform in China.

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Qin Yongmin. Photo: China Change.

Qin, 64, had previously been jailed and sent to China’s “re-education through labour” camps on charges of “disrupting social order” after he called for redress for victims of the military crackdown on 1989’s pro-democracy Tiananmen protests.

“Having spent over two decades in prison, Qin Yongmin has already paid an astronomical price for exercising his basic rights to advocate peacefully for political reforms,” said Sophie Richardson, the China director of Human Rights Watch.

“The Chinese government should reverse the latest judgment and release him immediately,” she said in a statement.

The sentence was announced on Tuesday on the website of a court in the central city of Wuhan, following a closed-door trial Qin’s family had been barred from attending, a Hong Kong-based group, Chinese Human Rights Defenders, said.

Reuters’ telephone calls to the courthouse went unanswered on Thursday.

Qin’s group is one of a number of volunteer-run websites and activist collectives targeted by authorities in recent years, in what rights groups say is a bid to cut off coordination efforts.

Liu Xiaobo died of liver cancer in July 2017 while in custody, having been jailed in 2009 on charges of inciting subversion after helping to write a petition known as “Charter 08” that called for democratic reform and greater freedoms.

Reuters

Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Clarence Fernandez

See also:

Chinese democracy activist Qin Yongmin sentenced to 13 years for ‘subversion’

https://www.hongkongfp.com/2018/07/11/chinese-democracy-activist-qin-yongmin-sentenced-13-years-subversion/

Philippines: Latest in Series of Local Leaders Gunned Down: Tawi-Tawi Vice Mayor Al Rashid Mohammad Alih Lipae shot dead

July 11, 2018

ZAMBOANGA CITY— Vice Mayor Al Rashid Mohammad Alih Lipae of Sapa-sapa, Tawi-Tawi was killed on Wednesday in an ambush in this city.

The ambush took place at around 5 p.m. near La Merced Memorial Homes on Governor Alvarez Avenue in this city.

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FILE Photo — Nora Acielo, 47, lies dead after she was gunned down by unidentified men while she was escorting her two children to school in Manila, Philippines, December 8, 2016. REUTERS/Erik De Castro

As of this writing, the Zamboanga City Police Office has not released more details of the incident.

Alih’s killing came days after Vice Mayor Alexander Lugiban of Trece Martires City in Cavite was gunned down on July 7.  /atm

Read more: http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1009461/tawi-tawi-town-vice-mayor-killed-in-ambush#ixzz5KwuX9ede
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