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Posts tagged ‘Islands of Greenglade Prime’

Philippine city mayor gunned down during flag-raising event

July 02, 2018

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — A Philippine provincial city mayor known for parading drug suspects in public but also alleged to have drug ties himself was shot and killed Monday during a flag-raising ceremony in front of horrified employees.

Mayor Antonio Halili of Tanauan city in Batangas province south of Manila was shot by a still-unidentified attacker and died while being brought to a hospital, Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde said. The gunman escaped.

“They did not see anybody approach him. They just heard a gunshot so the assumption or allegation was it could have been a sniper shot,” Albayalde said in a news conference, adding that an investigation was underway.

Dozens of employees and officials scrambled to safety when the gunfire rang out as they were singing the national anthem outside city hall. The bullet hit a cellphone in Halili’s coat pocket then pierced his chest, police said.

Police were scouring a nearby elevated grassy area, where the gunman may have fired the shot. Halili became controversial two years ago when he ordered drug suspects to be paraded in public in Tanauan, a small city about 70 kilometers (43 miles) south of Manila, in a campaign that was dubbed “walks of shame.” The suspects were forced to wear cardboard signs that read “I’m a pusher, don’t emulate me” in a campaign that alarmed human rights officials.

Police officials, however, also linked Halili to illegal drugs, an allegation he strongly denied. He said at the time that he would resign and would be willing to be publicly paraded as a drug suspect if police could come up with evidence to support the allegation.

Albayalde said investigators would try to determine if the killing was connected to Halili’s anti-drug campaign. Halili’s unusual campaign drew attention at a time of growing alarm over the rising number of killings of drug suspects under President Rodrigo Duterte. Since Duterte took office in 2016, more than 4,200 drug suspects had been killed in clashes with police, alarming human rights groups, Western governments and U.N. rights watchdogs.

Human rights groups have reported much higher death tolls, although Duterte and his officials have questioned the accuracy of those reports. They said the suspects died because they opened fire and sparked gunbattles with authorities although human rights groups have accused police of extrajudicial killings.

Halili’s killing came a few weeks after a Catholic priest was shot and killed while preparing to celebrate Mass in a village chapel in northern Nueva Ecija province. Sen. Panfilo Lacson, a former national police chief, urged the police to impose stricter firearms control in light of the killings.

“The killing of priests, prosecutors, and former and incumbent local officials in broad daylight and in full view of the public may be suggestive of the impunity and brazenness of those responsible for such acts,” Lacson said.

“The Philippine National Police should feel challenged, if not taunted,” he said. “And they must immediately consider stricter firearms control strategies before similar killings could reach ubiquitous levels.”

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Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to visit Australia, Fiji

June 11, 2018

LONDON (AP) — Kensington Palace says Prince Harry, and his wife, the former actress Meghan Markle, will be touring Australia, Fiji, the Kingdom of Tonga and New Zealand this fall. The royal couple, now known as the Duke and Duchess of Sussex, will be making the tour around the time of the Invictus Games in Sydney, which is set for Oct. 20-27.

Harry, a British military veteran who served in Afghanistan, created the Paralympic-style games as a way to inspire wounded soldiers toward recovery. About 550 competitors from 17 countries competed in 12 sports during the event in Canada last year.

The couple joined the pageantry Saturday of the annual Trooping the Color ceremony in London for the first time since their wedding three weeks ago. The event celebrates Queen Elizabeth II’s official birthday.

Philippine leader calls for abandoning Int’l Criminal Court

March 18, 2018

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte asked governments on Sunday to abandon the International Criminal Court, saying the world tribunal — where he is facing a possible complaint for the thousands of killings of drug suspects under his crackdown — is “rude.”

Although the Philippine Senate has ratified the Rome Statute that established the ICC, Duterte said in a speech that the treaty was never enforced in the country because it was not published in the government journal, the official gazette, as required by law.

Due to what he said was that flaw, Duterte said the international court can never have jurisdiction over him, “not in a million years.” Last month, an ICC prosecutor announced she was opening a preliminary examination into a complaint by a Filipino lawyer of suspected extrajudicial killings under Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, which could amount to crimes against humanity.

The move angered Duterte, who announced Wednesday that he was withdrawing the Philippine ratification of the Rome Statute “effective immediately,” citing “a concerted effort” by ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda and U.N. human rights officials “to paint me as a ruthless and heartless violator of human rights.”

“You know, if it’s not published, there is no law,” Duterte said Sunday in a speech before the annual graduation of cadets at the Philippine Military Academy in northern Baguio city. There was no reason to withdraw from “something which is not existing,” Duterte said, adding that he announced the withdrawal from the ICC treaty to draw the world’s attention to the issue he had with the international court.

“I will convince everybody now who are under the treaty at ICC: ‘Get out, get out, it’s rude,'” the brash-talking president said. Duterte’s action came under fire from human rights groups, which said that the president was trying to evade accountability by backing out of the ICC. Critics say Duterte can’t withdraw from the court by himself and may need the approval of the Senate, which ratified the Rome Statute in 2011.

Commission on Human Rights chief Chito Gascon said that the Philippines has historically been at the forefront of the fight for international justice, but that Duterte’s decision “constitutes a reversal that will be viewed as encouraging impunity to continue.”

More than 120 countries have ratified the treaty that established the court in 2002 in The Hague. The court can intervene only when a state is unable or unwilling to carry out an investigation and prosecute perpetrators of heinous crimes like crimes against humanity, genocide, aggression and war atrocities.

More than 4,000 mostly poor drug suspects have been killed under Duterte’s drug crackdown, according to the national police, although human rights groups have reported larger death tolls. Duterte argued Wednesday that the killings do not amount to crimes against humanity, genocide or similar atrocities.

Corsican nationalists protest ahead of French leader’s visit

February 03, 2018

CORSICA, France (AP) — Corsica’s nationalist leaders are demonstrating along with unions and students ahead of a visit next week by French President Emmanuel Macron. The newly elected leaders on the French Mediterranean island hope that Saturday’s march will spur on fresh talks with the French government about demands including equal status for the Corsican language and the release of Corsican prisoners held in mainland prisons.

In December, Corsican nationalists swept the election for a new regional assembly, crushing Macron’s young centrist movement and traditional parties. The nationalists want more autonomy from Paris but unlike some in Spain’s nearby Catalonia, they aren’t seeking full independence — yet.

They also want protections for locals buying real estate on the destination that the French refer to as the “Island of Beauty,” which is famed as Napoleon’s birthplace.

1 body recovered, 36 feared dead in Philippine mall fire

December 24, 2017

DAVAO, Philippines (AP) — Philippine firefighters recovered one body from a burning shopping mall Sunday and there was “zero” chances of survival for 36 other trapped people inside the four-story building in southern Davao city, an official said.

Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio said firefighters told distraught relatives of the 36 trapped employees of a business outsourcing company at the top floor of the NCCC Mall that nobody could survive the extreme heat and thick black smoke.

“They were told that the chances of survival are zero,” she said, adding that one of those trapped may be a Chinese or a South Korean, based on the name. It is unclear when firefighters can break into most areas of the mall, where the blaze was put under control Sunday morning although smoke continued to billow from the building. The firefighters won’t stop until all those reported missing are found, Duterte-Carpio said.

Investigators will determine the cause of the fire and the prospects of criminal lawsuits against the mall owners and officials would depend on the outcome of the investigation, said the mayor, who is the daughter of President Rodrigo Duterte.

Duterte, the mayor and Roman Catholic Church officials went to the site and met with relatives of the trapped office employees late Saturday and asked them to pray. The president was photographed wiping his eyes with a handkerchief, his head bowed, at an emotional moment with the relatives.

The mall’s marketing manager, Janna Abdullah Mutalib, said the fire started Saturday morning at the third floor where clothes, appliances and furniture are sold, after a storm hit Davao and flooded parts of the city. Except for a grocery at the ground floor and the business outsourcing company at the top floor, the shopping areas were still closed to the public when the fire started mid-morning, preventing a bigger tragedy amid the peak Christmas shopping season.

Duterte served as Davao mayor for many years before being elected to the presidency last year. It’s been a difficult year for the tough-talking, 72-year-old leader, who faced his most serious crisis when hundreds of pro-Islamic State group extremists laid siege on Marawi city, also in the southern third of the Philippines. He declared martial law in the south to deal with the insurrection, which troops crushed in October.

The storm that blew out of the southern Philippines Sunday reportedly left more than 120 people dead with 160 others still missing.

Associated Press writer Jim Gomez in Manila, Philippines contributed to this report.

Philippine Congress votes to extend martial law in south

December 13, 2017

MANILA, Philippines (AP) — The Philippine Congress voted overwhelmingly Wednesday to approve President Rodrigo Duterte’s request to extend martial law in the south by a year after the military warned that terrorist threats continue to lurk despite the defeat of a disastrous pro-Islamic State group siege.

A majority of the Senate and the House of Representatives — with 240 approving and 27 opposing — voted to extend martial law across the Mindanao region through the end of 2018. The vote followed warnings by Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana and other officials that pro-IS militants were trying to recover from their defeat in southern Marawi city and were plotting new attacks.

“The rebellion has not stopped, it has just moved to another place,” Lorenzana told the senators and House members in a joint session. Opponents argued that extending martial law in the south is unconstitutional and expressed fears that such a move can be a prelude for Duterte to declare martial law throughout the Philippines.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan, who heads the main opposition Liberal Party, rejected the martial law extension without a clear constitutional basis. “We will be in danger of becoming the monsters that we seek to defeat, those who have no regard for law, order or respect for the constitution,” he said.

The Marawi violence left more than 1,100 combatants and noncombatants dead, displaced about half a million people and turned mosque-studded Marawi’s central business and residential districts into a smoldering war zone.

The uprising, which began on May 23, prompted Duterte to declare martial law and reinforced fears that the Islamic State group was taking steps to gain a foothold in Asia and elsewhere as it faced battle setbacks in Syria and Iraq.

Some gunmen and commanders managed to escape during the fighting and are now recruiting new militants, while extremist groups in other southern provinces, including the brutal Abu Sayyaf group, continue to pose threats, according to the military.

Filipinos remain hypersensitive to threats to democracy and civil liberties more than three decades after they ousted dictator Ferdinand Marcos in a 1986 “people power” revolt that became a harbinger of change in authoritarian regimes worldwide.

Philippine President Vows to Correct Historical Injustice Against Muslims

Tuesday, 28 November, 2017

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed on Monday to correct “historical injustice” against minorities in his country as the government seeks to reestablish a peace process in the southern areas.

Muslims have been waging a rebellion seeking autonomy or independence in the mainly Catholic southern areas of Philippines, since the 1970’s. They regard the areas as their ancestral homeland, however the conflict resulted in the death of more than 120,000 persons in several areas of the southern region of Mindanao.

Duterte made the remarks at a gathering hosted by the country’s main Muslim guerrilla group, Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and attended by several Christians and Muslim factions and tribal groups.

Duterte takes pride in having Muslim ancestry and warned that the region could see worse violence if the issue is not resolved.

“What is at stake here is the preservation of the Filipino republic and to correct historical injustice,” Agence France-Presse (AFP) reported Duterte as saying.

In 2014, MILF, which includes 10,000 members, signed a peace deal that gave Muslim minority self-rule over parts of Mindanao, but the Filipino Congress didn’t approve the proposed law to implement the pact.

Duterte added that during the decades when the Philippines was under Spanish and then US colonial rule, Christian majority had taken control of vast parts of Mindanao, thus marginalizing native Muslims and other tribes.

He warned that the situation could aggravate if ISIS militants fled to the Philippines after losing their strongholds in the Middle East.

The President also indicated that he called the Congress to a special session where Muslim leaders could explain their plans to the legislators, adding that such a deal should include everyone and must be accepted by all groups in Mindanao.

MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim and Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) chairman Yusop Jikiri also attended the assembly, as well as archbishop of Cotabato and Mindanao’s highest Catholic Church official, Cardinal Orlando Quevedo.

In his speech, Murad said the government and the Moro groups must unite together to fight a common enemy, the violent extremists.

“We feel the obligation to assert for the enactment of the basic law not because it will win us votes but because it presents us a rare opportunity to be part of peacemaking,” Murad said.

Director of the government’s coordinating committee overseeing the peace accord Carlos Sol also said: “The importance here is that there is coexistence between Christians, Muslims and Lumads [tribal people]”.

Hundreds of thousands of people attended the gathering at the MILF headquarters.

MILF previously announced that half a million had registered to attend the assembly which was secured by unarmed MILF fighters accompanied by armed government soldiers and policemen.

Source: Asharq al-Awsat.

Link: https://aawsat.com/english/home/article/1097231/philippine-president-vows-correct-historical-injustice-against-muslims.

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