Posts Tagged ‘rule of law’

How Did Duterte Come To Power in the Philippines? Fentanyl and his mental condition were not as yet factors…

October 18, 2017

By  – @inquirerdotnet

 / 05:06 AM October 16, 2017

How did the demagoguery begin? With the morbidity of the killings hitting the poor’s hovels, we begin to ruminate perplexed at how this catastrophe will end.

It will end as how it began.

The campaign canonized him on the impetus of anger with elitist politics, a signal of discontent with the status quo. An outsider to Manila-centric politics was seen as the antidote to the nation’s skewed power dynamics. This proved its greatest irony: In fact, this was a candidate traditionally elitist to the core. What caused the ignorance?

Rodrigo Duterte was invincible in Davao City as local autocrats are in their own turfs. No semblance of public furor, an important democratic institution, has been seen in Davao directly against him in his 20 years of power. Supporters used this as a fundamental reference of his “popularity.”

In 2007, a National Bureau of Investigation report identified Paolo Duterte and a business partner as “members of a big-time syndicate engaged in smuggling high-end cars, used clothing, rice and sugar.” The contraband, said to be concealed in container vans, entered Davao without the necessary import permits, the report said, because the alleged operators “enjoyed the protection of some corrupt Customs officials and members of the Philippine National Police.” A subsequent report by the Presidential Anti-Smuggling Group echoed: “These activities were undertaken without any arrest or apprehension by concerned government agencies due to the alleged power and influence of Davao City Mayor Duterte.”

In 2012, a Commission on Audit report said that Davao City Hall hired 11,000 individuals for six months, including 110 consultants, costing P677 million. The sample audit conducted found city hall “could provide only a master list of those hired, their fixed wages, positions and the funding source but not official contracts or accomplishment reports.” Only 59 casuals showed up for the audit. City hall claimed the rest were out on field work “but there were no pass slips as proof, no deployment plan.”

How did these impact the Davao public, accustomed to talk sub rosa? Media sources explain that these reports “get written; whether they are pursued is another matter.” The common answer given was: “Jun Pala’s murder was instructive. The Dutertes take political issues personally. Davao media is monitored.” (Note: Pala, radio commentator highly critical of the Dutertes, was fatally shot by riding tandem gunmen on Sept. 6, 2003.)

The Filipino electorate had also seriously skimmed over what was supposed to be a red flag: the fat Duterte dynasty, four members in power (total of five, counting the President’s brother, who was city councilor). Provincial politics is a replica of Manila, with the same detritus that litters Manila. He was no outsider to the system.

“The nation was so desperate for change that it was seduced by the Pied Piper,” writes Cesar Polvorosa, professor and writer based in Canada. At the outset, the vitriolic rhetoric was a novelty, fun even. It wore out as a broken record (including his jokes on the late Justice Arsenio Solidum). The loquaciousness exposed his flip-flopping common to traditional politicians, an apparent accommodation of interests. The public saw “heightened expectations that are not actualized,” writes Jose Ma. Montelibano. Mr. Duterte was indecisive as his predecessor was who protected his own kith and kin.

So-called “narco lists” remain unverified, having once included a Calbayog city judge long dead. And take note, Fentanyl and his mental condition were not as yet factors of reckoning during the campaign.

The disguise worked in Davao. In the national level, he is stripped of all disguises. The popularity was ampao: puffed
and empty.

Local autocrats cannot be scaled up to the national level. Being First Family is not all pomp and power; there is also fair game under a magnifying glass.

The final arbiter will be how they measure up to accountability and commit to transparency, matters alien to an intimidated public and media in Davao. Signing the waiver is for love of country.

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Top international lawyers say Hong Kong rule of law under threat — the independence of the judiciary risks becoming a “charade”

October 16, 2017

By Anne Marie Roantree

HONG KONG (Reuters) – The jailing of three Hong Kong democracy activists this year is a serious threat to the city’s rule of law, a group of senior international lawyers said on Monday, adding the independence of the judiciary risks becoming a “charade”.

Image may contain: 4 people, people standing and eyeglasses

FILE PHOTO: Student leaders Lester Shum, Alex Chow, Joshua Wong and Nathan Law hold hands as they walk into the High Court to face verdict on charges relating to the 2014 pro-democracy Umbrella Movement, also known as Occupy Central protests, in Hong Kong, China August 17, 2017. REUTERS/Tyrone Siu

Joshua Wong, Alex Chow and Nathan Law were sentenced to community service last year for unlawful assembly but were dealt harsher punishments of jail in August after a government appeal.

Hong Kong, a former British colony, returned to Chinese rule in 1997 under a “one country, two systems” formula that promises it a high degree of autonomy and freedoms not enjoyed on the mainland, including an independent judiciary.

In an open letter, 12 lawyers including former lord chancellor Charles Falconer criticized the imprisonment of the trio, who were among the leaders of the democracy protests in late 2014 that drew hundreds of thousands at their peak.

“The independence of the judiciary, a pillar of Hong Kong, risks becoming a charade, at the beck and call of the Chinese Communist Party,” the lawyers said.

“Hong Kong’s rule of law and basic freedoms, at the heart of the principle of ”one country, two systems“, now face grave threats.”

They described the 2014 democracy demonstrations as “one of the most peaceful public protests the world has seen”.

A series of court cases against about 100 young democracy activists has, however, shaken confidence in the city’s vaunted rule of law and critics fear a watering down of its freedoms and creeping interference by Communist Party rulers in Beijing.

The lawyers’ letter comes amid heightened criticism of mainland Chinese authorities over what some Hong Kong and international observers see as increased meddling by Beijing in the former British colony’s affairs.

Among the letter’s signatories were Geoffrey Nice, former chief prosecutor in the trial of Serbia’s Slobodan Milosevic, human rights lawyer Jared Genser who represented Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo and Kirsty Brimelow, chairwoman of the Bar Human Rights Committee of England and Wales.

The letter comes days after British activist Benedict Rogers, who has been critical of Hong Kong’s rights record, was barred entry to the territory, prompting demands for an explanation from British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson.

Hong Kong has, on occasion, barred entry to dissidents, including former leaders of the 1989 Tiananmen Square protests in Beijing and a Dutch sculptor who made a Tiananmen sculpture, though other Tiananmen activists have been allowed in for short visits.

China said after Benedict was denied entry that it had the right to bar people from Hong Kong and that it had complained to Britain after it demanded an explanation.

Reporting By Anne Marie Roantree; Editing by Michael Perry

Philippines: The State of the Nation — Police Killings With Impunity

October 15, 2017

Image result for Eduardo Serino Sr., photos, zamboanga

The last time Eduardo Serino Sr. was seen alive was with these policemen accosting him

The Philippine Inquirer

The case of farmer Eduardo Serino Sr., last seen alive being held by policemen on Sept. 30 and brought dead two hours later to a hospital, deserves the full attention of the government and the public at large. It is a classic reflection of the plight of poor folk, those without influence and therefore without power, prey to a cop’s sly grin.

In an ideal world, there’s a basic premise in being taken in by policemen: You are safely in their custody while due process runs its course.

But that is not what happened in Serino’s case. According to a report by the Inquirer’s Julie Alipala, from the account of Rosherl Lumpapac, the employer of Serino’s wife, the farmer from Sibuco, Zamboanga del Norte, had traveled to Zamboanga City to bring money to pay for his young son’s hospital bill.

He was probably on his way to the bus terminal and back to Sibuco when he lost his way and wound up walking on RT Lim Boulevard. It was there that cops stopped him and demanded that he open his backpack. He refused.

What happened next is obvious from a photograph that went viral online: Serino is sitting on the sidewalk with his hands behind his back, likely cuffed. His forehead is bloodied; he is wincing. He is being held down by a policeman with a stick. Three other cops are standing around him.

In a post (since deleted) on the Facebook page of the Zamboanga City police office, Senior Insp. Edwin Duco said Serino had resisted the cops and managed to get free of the handcuffs.

The photo, the last image of the farmer alive, was posted by Lumpapac, who described the Serinos as “kindhearted, hardworking and very respectful people.” She added: “I felt bad about the way cops treated manong (Serino). This man has never been violent.”

From the police station on Old Mercado Street, Serino’s bruised corpse was brought by cops to the Zamboanga City Medical Center. Duco claimed that the bruises were caused, not by policemen beating Serino, but by Serino “hurting himself” in the police station. This is why Serino died, Duco claimed.

But he refused to show reporters the police blotter report, citing “guidelines from Camp Crame.” He also would not release the medical report, citing the alleged refusal of hospital authorities.

The Commission on Human Rights is now looking into the case.

At the other end of the country last Oct. 10, a scene of power and influence played out with the arrival at Naia Terminal 1 of Ralph Trangia, a suspect in the hazing death of law freshman Horacio “Atio” Castillo III.

Trangia and his mother, who flew to Chicago in the United States through Taiwan two days after news of the hazing death broke, were well covered by at least three lawyers and one police officer, Chief Insp. Rommel Anicete, said to be a family friend.

For good measure, agents of the Manila Police District and the National Bureau of Investigation were on hand to provide security for the suspect and his mother if needed, reporters were told.

One of the lawyers present denied what had been on almost everyone’s mind: that the Trangias were on the lam; he presented as proof the fact that mother and son had bought return tickets.

A photograph of the future lawyer showed a healthy, bespectacled young man with his whole life ahead of him — not far removed, the attentive observer would note, from the other young man, Atio Castillo, before his life was snuffed out in a night of unspeakable violence.

There is no warrant for Trangia’s arrest, “so he will be treated as an ordinary citizen,” Bureau of Immigration-Naia chief Marc Mariñas told reporters.

As though to complete the arrival scene, Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre issued a statement welcoming Trangia’s return and hoping that it is “covered in good intentions to clear his name and to tell the truth.”

“I encourage Mr. Trangia and his family to fully cooperate, to tell the truth and, as a future lawyer, to work for justice,” Aguirre said, adding that “depending on what he will tell our investigators, he could be a potential witness” under the  government’s witness protection program.

Not entirely apropos of nothing, the attentive observer musing on the state of the nation will recall that 6 out of 10 Filipinos surveyed by the Social Weather Stations believed that drug suspects who had surrendered were still killed by raiding cops, and that, per the reckoning of the police force, there was only one extrajudicial killing in the administration’s war on drugs. (Later it said there was none.)

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Philippine DEA being ‘demonized’ by Amnesty International — Duterte Administration Says

October 14, 2017
Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said AI simply wanted to “demonize” the PDEA after President Duterte tasked the agency to take over the government’s flagship campaign from the Philippine National Police (PNP). File

MANILA, Philippines — Malacañang yesterday decried the vilification campaign against the Duterte administration by Amnesty International (AI) in undermining the capabilities of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) to lead the war against illegal drugs.

Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said AI simply wanted to “demonize” the PDEA after President Duterte tasked the agency to take over the government’s flagship campaign from the Philippine National Police (PNP).

“While Amnesty International is known to be disparaging of the frontline role of the PNP in the anti-illegal drug campaign, now it sees the relief of the agency as a mere public relations stunt,” Abella lamented.

“PDEA is the new object of AI’s, and similar groups’ ire and vilification. Nevertheless, the government will proceed in its drive to make the Philippines a crime-, corruption- and illegal drug-free nation,” he said.

Abella said Malacañang remains “hopeful” that PDEA operations “will not be jeopardized by the interference of outside agencies that fail to appreciate our desire, not for a drug-tolerant but drug-free nation.”

Duterte on Thursday ordered the PNP to pull out from the war against drugs and tasked the PDEA to take the lead in the anti-drug campaign.

The PNP’s “Oplan Tokhang,” the flagship campaign against illegal drugs, was halted along with “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded” and other anti-illegal drug operations in the field.

Duterte signed a memorandum on Wednesday directing the PNP, along with the National Bureau of Investigation, Armed Forces of the Philippines as well as the Bureau of Customs and all other agencies to refrain from spearheading drug operations.

The order also covers all ad hoc anti-drug task forces.

Duterte had said his order was to “satisfy” the call of rights groups and the international community to tone down his brutal campaign against drugs.

AI, however, said Duterte’s decision to shift the responsibility of pursuing the campaign against drugs could be just a “short term” public relations stunt to appease the growing criticism.

James Gomez, the watchdog’s international director for Southeast Asia and the Pacific, said putting PDEA in charge was just meant to squelch public furor over the mounting number of dead people, most of whom are poor and young.

Gomez said Duterte had done this before when the police were temporarily ordered to cease conducting anti-drugs raids following the outrage over the killing of a South Korean businessman inside the PNP headquarters.

No reforms were done and Duterte immediately reinstated the PNP to the drug war under “Oplan Double Barrel Reloaded.”

Gomez said the government should end the brutal war and adopt a policy that would respect and protect human rights.

Duterte on Friday said he would maintain a hands-off policy in the campaign against illegal drugs since he has already tasked PDEA to lead the campaign.

He added critics and human rights advocates who were noisy about the killings will be “winning” in his decision to pull out the PNP from the drug war.

Duterte said he gave the authority to PDEA in a bid to shield the PNP and law enforcement agencies from the accusations of summary killings of drug suspects.

In a television interview on Friday night, Duterte admitted his decision would have serious consequences on the drug problem. He did not elaborate.

More money for PDEA

On the other hand, a party-list congressman proposed giving more support and budget to the PDEA.

“Congress should give PDEA between P10 billion and P15 billion so it can hire more agents and personnel to be more effective in the anti-drug war,” Buhay Rep. Lito Atienza said.

“They need it because they are undermanned, underequipped. If they are not given the necessary funding support, they will fail,” he said.

Atienza said the P900-million funding for next year for the anti-drug campaign of the PNP should be realigned to augment PDEA’s P2.6-billion budget.

“Since the PNP has been directed to stop conducting anti-drug operations, necessarily, that fund should be transferred to PDEA,” he added.

Atienza supported the President’s decision to transfer the lead role on the anti-drug war from the PNP to PDEA.

“We should all rally around President Duterte’s decision to give the PDEA this job. After all, the PDEA is the primary agency tasked with the government’s anti-drug effort. The police, on the other hand, should concentrate on apprehending criminals roaming the country today,” he said.  – With Jess Diaz


Philippines: Time for Dutertismo To Change Course

October 14, 2017


President Rodrigo Duterte addresses delegates at the closing ceremony of the 50th ASEAN Foreign Ministers Meeting and its 50th Grand Celebration, Tuesday Aug. 8, 2017, at the Philippine International Convention Center in Manila, Philippines. AP/Bullit Marquez

(First published on October 13) The sharp decline in public satisfaction with and trust in President Rodrigo Duterte may reflect the end of his “honeymoon period,” as the general public begins to critically reexamine their expectations for this administration and juxtapose them with its actual performance. Based on the third quarter survey of Social Weather Stations (SWS), 67 percent of adult Filipinos were satisfied with the president’s performance, while 14 percent were undecided and 19 percent were dissatisfied. This leads to Duterte gaining a net rating (satisfied minus dissatisfied) rating of +48, a whopping 18-point drop from his +66 rating during the second quarter. The same survey indicates that 73 percent of Filipinos continue to trust Duterte, while 15 percent remain undecided and 12 percent give him little trust. This gives him a net trust rating of +60 (very good), down from +75 in June.

The release of the survey results was exceptionally timely, as the Stratbase ADR Institute had organized a roundtable discussion on Tuesday that aimed to flesh out the successes and shortfalls of Duterte’s first year in office. Featuring Richard Javad Heydarian, non-resident fellow and author of the Special Study titled “Duterte’s First Year in Office: Assessing the Balance Sheet,” the roundtable provided critical avenue for select leaders in the political-diplomatic field, business community, and civil society to exchange ideas and insights as to why Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings suddenly plunged, and what the Duterte administration can do in order to reverse the downward trend and win back public support for its security, governance and development agendas.

Major policy ruptures and political risk

During his presentation, Heydarian cited major ruptures in policy and causes of political risk which, in varying degrees, could have had detrimental impact on Duterte’s satisfaction and trust ratings. The most controversial of which is the War on Drugs, which has not only experienced growing criticism at home but has also raised alarm within the greater international community. Based on the latest report of the Philippine National Police on the anti-illegal drugs campaign, there were already 6,225 drug-related deaths between July 1, 2016 and Sept. 16, 2017. Of these, 3,850 individuals died in police operations, 2,290 individuals died due to drug-related deaths and 85 government personnel (82 policemen, 3 soldiers) were killed in action.

According to Heydarian, the problem with the war on drugs is that it has been inextricably linked with the erosion of basic human rights and civil liberties, owing to the increase in extrajudicial killings and lack of accountability of law enforcement agencies and other unknown perpetrators of criminal violence. This prompted legislators from the United States and European Union, as well as legal luminaries of the International Criminal Court, to voice out their concern over the ballooning casualties which, if left unaddressed, may incur reputational and economic costs for the Philippines through expulsion from the United Nations Human Rights Council and imposition of economic sanctions, respectively.

Aside from the war on drugs, Heydarian identified “debt trap” Dutertenomics and fiscal or tax reforms as two other major causes of political risk that need judicious evaluation and effective implementation. Citing the Pulse Asia survey dated March 2017, Heydarian recounted that the three most urgent national concerns are economic in nature: improving/increasing the pay of workers (43 percent), controlling inflation (41 percent), and creating more jobs (39 percent). While Duterte deserves credit for his determination to advance his two signature initiatives, Build, Build, Build, Infrastructure Project and the tax reform, in order to level the economic playing field, improve the domestic investment climate, and render economic growth more inclusive, concerns over the sustainability of projects, the progressive leftist-technocratic divide within his Cabinet, and policy predictability, among others remain. In addition, overreliance on Official Development Assistance (ODA) with high interest rates from prospective donor countries such as China may lead to another wave of ballooning of the country’s foreign debt.

Opportunities for positive change

On the brighter side, Heydarian noted that the Philippine government has also made progress on some national issues. First, Duterte ought to be credited for pushing for a more inclusive and comprehensive peace negotiations with the Moro National Liberation Front and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, as well as keeping Malacañang’s gates open for the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army-National Democratic Front.

Should Duterte succeed in brokering enduring peace agreements both with the Moro and Communist insurgents, the Philippine defense and security establishment will be able to stave off the advance of Islamic State in Mindanao, facilitate agrarian reform and rural development in Communist-infested areas, and devote much of its energy on external defense, especially in light of China’s growing assertiveness in the West Philippine Sea. Second, Duterte’s unwavering support for the anti-trust regulation and the passage of key constitutional amendments, such as the relaxation of restrictions on foreign investments, would contribute to creating a more stable policy environment which, in turn, would usher the democratization of the domestic economy and improvement of the country’s business and investment climate.

Echoing Heydarian, it is imperative for Duterte to focus less on exacting political vendetta and focus more on state-building. In other words, he ought to address the issues closest to the gut of ordinary Juan, namely: preservation of law and order, generation of economic opportunities and strengthening of local institutions of governance.

Dindo Manhit is the president of think tank Stratbase Albert del Rosario Institute, a partner of

Philippines: Amnesty International Says Changes to Duterte’s Drug War are Only a “PR” Move — Rearranging the deck chairs on the Titanic

October 13, 2017
The recent decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to designate the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the lead office to conduct the war on drugs could just be a “PR” move by the government, according to Amenesty International. Daniel Berehulak for The New York Times/World Press Photo via AP, File

MANILA, Philippines — Amnesty International said on Friday that the recent decision of President Rodrigo Duterte to shift the responsibility of pursuing his ferocious campaign to eradicate narcotics to the country’s anti-drugs agency could just be a “short-term” public relations move meant to appease the growing opposition to it.

Duterte this week signed an order designating the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the main office in pursuing drug operations and relegated the Philippine National Police to a supporting role.

READ:  FLAG chair: Order for PDEA to lead drug war confusing

James Gomez, the watchdog’s international director of southeast Asia and the Pacific, said that the decision to put PDEA in charge of the government war on drugs was just meant to squelch public furor over the mounting number of dead people most of whom are poor and young.

The AI official said that the president had done this before when the police were temporarily ordered to cease conducting anti-drugs raids following the outrage over the discovery that cops belonging to the PNP’s anti-drugs unit were involved in the kidnapping, extortion and killing of a South Korean businessman inside its national headquarters in Camp Crame.

He added that the announcement would have little “meaningful” impact  and urged the president to discard altogether “the government’s fundamental policy of supporting extrajudicial executions of drug suspects.”

“President Duterte has pulled police off drug operations once before, in January this year, only to reinstate them a few weeks later,” Gomez said in a statement reacting to the Philippine leader’s announcement.

“We are concerned that this too may be nothing but a short-term PR move in response to growing public outrage about the drug war’s many victims, which are overwhelmingly poor, and include children,” he added.

Based on the latest survey of polling firm SWS, the president’s approval ratings plunged by 18 points in September.

The president’s office said that this plunge was because the survey was conducted just days after Duterte declared a national day of protest to allow Filipinos to air their grievances against the government.

Another survey by rival Pulse Asia however demonstrated that Duterte had maintained trust and approval ratings of 80 percent.

The announcement of the president also came in the wake of a string of police killings of teenagers in August sparked a widespread public condemnation of brutality and disrespect for due process, something that the 15-month-old administration of the former Davao City mayor had never seen.

Gomez said that what the government should do was to end its “murderous ‘war on drugs'” and adopt a policy that would respect and protect human rights.

“It is also crucial that there is accountability for the thousands of killings carried out already, many by police officers, and that those responsible are held to account,” he said.

READ:  Opposition senators: Change of lead agency not enough; shift drug policy, too

The AI official warned that the killings, which may constitute a crime against humanity, would continue as shooters just happened to be doning different uniforms.

The AI and Human Rights Watch, a New York-based rights campaigner, have both released early this year excoriating reports on the government’s war on drugs that detailed police shortcuts and payments to kill drug suspects.

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Duterte in response blasted these international groups and governments for what he saw as “interference.”

On Thursday, he mistakenly blasted the European Union and threatened to cut diplomatic ties to its member-states over statements by a group parliamentarians warning the government that it risked losing preferential trade arrangements if it would continue with the campaign.

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


Philippines’ Duterte hopes drugs war shift will satisfy ‘bleeding hearts’

October 12, 2017

By Manuel MogatoNeil Jerome Morales


MANILA (Reuters) – Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Thursday he hoped a shift to target big networks in his war on drugs would satisfy “bleeding hearts” and interfering Western states fixated on the high death toll in his brutal crackdown.

In a televised speech, Duterte read a memorandum that removes police from the drugs war and places the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) in charge, then launched a curse-laden tirade at foreign critics of a campaign that has killed thousands of Filipinos.

Duterte took aim at a group of European parliamentarians and civil society groups, some of whom this week reportedly warned the Philippines risked losing trade privileges because of unchecked abuses by police during his signature campaign.

“I am not interested anymore in using any other (agency), just let PDEA,” he said.

“They seem to want it, I want, as a last word, maybe this would suffice for the stupid European Union guys. They were all focused on how many deaths.”

It was unclear whether the decision to change tactics was influenced by Western pressure.

The administration on Thursday said the shift was to target “big fish”, moving away from street level operations to go after big networks and suppliers.

Police disbanded all 18 regional anti-drugs units on Thursday. Presidential spokesman Ernesto Abella said the new aim was for PDEA to target “higher echelons of the syndicates, as well as their protectors in government.”

That message will sound familiar, with similar announcements a year ago when a new phase of the drugs war was launched to catch producers and suppliers.

Critics say that never happened and small-time dealers and users and the urban poor continued to bear the brunt of the 3,900 killings by police. Police say armed suspects resisted arrest in every one of those cases and they deny allegations victims were executed.

Duterte was furious on Thursday and appeared to suggest the European lawmakers had warned the Philippines could lose its U.N. membership.


Duterte lashed out at Western powers who colonized countries, started wars, “stole” oil from the Middle East, and said they had import terrorism to their own shores.

He dared them to cut ties with the Philippines and have their ambassadors leave within 24 hours. He said his new alliances with Russia and China – U.N. Security Council permanent members – would keep the Philippines in the United Nations.

“We will be excluded in the U.N.? You son of a bitch. Go ahead. You are interfering in our affairs because we are poor. You give money and then you start to orchestrate what things should be done,” he said.

“You bullshit. We are past the colonization stage. Don’t fuck with us.”

The strategic shift in his war on drugs comes at a difficult time for Duterte, who though still hugely popular, saw a sharp decline in ratings according to a poll released on Sunday.

It also followed an anti-Duterte protest last month by thousands of people and rare public outrage over the killing by police of a teenager. Several surveys released recently show doubts among Filipinos about the validity of police accounts, and whether victims were all drug dealers.

With only a fraction of the manpower and budget of the police, PDEA will have a challenge to keep up the intensity of the crackdown.

Duterte placed PDEA in charge in January and suspended police from anti-drugs operations. But he reinstated them a few week later, arguing drugs had returned to the streets.

PDEA spokesman Derrick Carreon said the agency was up to the task.

“We are ready, we can do it,” Carreon said.

“We will target the source, the so-called big fish. Removing these high-value targets will also eliminate the street level distribution and disrupt the entire network.”

Duterte acknowledged the death toll in PDEA’s operations was smaller than that of police, and said human rights groups and the media should be happy.

“Let’s go there. No death, no encounter. So better for the bleeding hearts and media. I hope I will satisfy you,” he said.

Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Nick Macfie


Philippine President Removes Overall Control of War on Drugs from Philippine National Police

October 11, 2017
President Rodrigo Duterte orders the police officers facing various charges to be detailed in Basilan for two years during their presentation to the President in Malacañang on February 7, 2017. The President gave the errant police officers 15 days to decide whether to resign or accept their re-assignment in Basilan. Marcelino Pascua/Presidential Photo

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has designated the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency as the “sole agency” in charge of the war on drugs amid simmering public outrage over alleged police abuse in the continuing crackdown.

Duterte issued the order a few days after his latest net satisfaction score suffered from its biggest fall since he became president. Among the events in the news when the survey was conducted was the death of a minor in the hands of Caloocan City cops that triggered rare street protests.

The memorandum also comes on the heels of Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa calling out critics of the drug war for being ingrates. He has since apologized for the remarks.

Image result for Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa, photos

Philippine National Police Director General Ronald Dela Rosa

READ: Duterte sees 18-point drop in satisfaction rating

In a memorandum dated Oct. 10, Duterte ordered the Philippine National Police, the National Bureau of Investigation, the Armed Forces of the Philippines, the Bureau of Customs, the Philippine Postal Office and other “ad hoc anti-drug task force” to leave the implementation of the drug war to the PDEA.

Duterte cited Republic Act No. 9165, or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drugs Act of 2002, in his new memorandum.

In the document, Duterte said all information obtained in the course of the enforcement of the anti-narcotics campaign must be “relayed, delivered, or brought to the attention of the PDEA for its appropriate action.”

Despite sidelining the police from the drug war, Duterte, nonetheless, directed the PNP to maintain its visibility “at all times” as a “deterrent to illegal drug activities.”

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.

Early this year, Duterte was forced to suspend Oplan Tokhang—a portmanteau of two words meaning to “knock” and “plead”—following the kidnapping and killing of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo in the hands of some policemen.

At that time, Duterte stripped the PNP and the NBI of the authority to conduct anti-illegal drug operations and designated the PDEA—backed by the Army— to continue the campaign. He also abolished the anti-drug units of PNP and vowed to cleanse the police force of scalawags.

Citing lack of manpower in the anti-narcotics operations, the firebrand leader later decided to tap the police again in the war against illegal drugs as he stressed that only the qualified ones would be allowed to join the crackdown.

READ: Duterte brings back police into war on drugs