Items filtered by date: Saturday, 06 May 2017

‘Rody ICC case dead, thanks to Callamard’

MANILA, Philippines - “Dead as a door nail.”

This is the fate of the complaint filed with the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Duterte, according to Philippine ambassador to the United Nations Teodoro Locsin Jr.

The complaint was in connection with allegations of extrajudicial killings ordered or abetted by the Duterte administration in the pursuit of his war on drugs.

“Thank you, Agnes. The ICC case is dead. Trust me on this. Dead as a door nail,” Locsin said in a Twitter post, referring to UN special rapporteur for extrajudicial executions Agnes Callamard, who is in the Philippines to attend a drug policy conference.

Locsin did not offer an explanation for his claim but it was apparently a follow-up to his tweets criticizing Callamard. He accused her of abusing her position when she visited the country to attend a conference on drug policy.

“She says to attend an academic conference but she effectively disqualified herself from any further official role investigating the drug war,” Locsin said.

“She just abused her UN position and that disqualifies her from any further official role in a UN investigation,” he added.

In another tweet, Locsin called the rapporteur a “conceited fool” ignorant of the drug situation in the Philippines.

“I don’t think she is. She is a stand-alone conceited fool and totally ignorant of the drug problem,” he replied to one tweet that attempted to tie her to the Liberal Party.

He said Callamard’s role as a UN rapporteur was affected when she acknowledged having informed the Philippine government about her trip.

“(She) did in one day what Jose Rizal used his whole life including his death to pull off: give Filipinos a sense of their country,” said Locsin.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) said country representatives from Kenya, Paraguay and Switzerland were to serve as rapporteurs for the Universal Period Review (UPR) of the human rights record of the Philippines tomorrow in Geneva.

Special rapporteurs such as Callamard will not be part of the review as it only involves official delegates of governments sitting in the council.

The Philippine delegation is composed of deputy executive secretary for legal affairs Menardo Guevarra, Sen. Alan Peter Cayetano and Undersecretary Severo Catura of the Presidential Human Rights Committee.

The Duterte administration’s war against illegal drugs and the alleged extrajudicial killings in the country will be among the issues that will be raised during the UPR.

Other issues to be raised include the proliferation of private armies and vigilante groups, combatting torture, tackling impunity; addressing cases of harassment, disappearance, threats and killings of human rights defenders and members of the media; the age of criminal responsibility, addressing prison overcrowding and poverty reduction.

The Philippine delegation will also be asked about land reform, mining-related human rights violations, discrimination, human trafficking and exploitation of children for sex tourism and providing assistance to migrant workers and other Filipinos overseas.

Also expected to be covered are matters involving the rights of indigenous peoples, birth registration and the right to nationality, access to education, child labor, prohibition of corporal punishment and the protection of children in armed conflict.

The Philippines will undergo the third cycle of the UPR before the UN Human Rights Comission. It was reviewed in 2008 and 2012.

Defense of war on drugs

During the UPR, governments are expected to spell out steps they have taken to implement recommendations posed during previous reviews as well as highlight recent human rights developments in their respective countries.

The delegation is expected to defend the Duterte administration from criticisms that thousands had been killed in the conduct of his war on drugs.

The government earlier disputed the alleged “bloated” reporting of the casualties in police operations, saying only 2,692 suspected drug offenders died in more than 52,000 operations since July 2016.

Official data said the more than 9,000 deaths are considered as homicides under investigation. Of the number, 1,847 were found to be drug-related, while 1,894 are non-drug related. The rest are still under investigation.

The Philippines had submitted its advance report on the human rights situation in the country.

The 23-page document, uploaded on the UN HRC website, contained the government’s actions with regard to recommendations made in the previous review.

“This report demonstrates the progress (the government) has proudly made since the last review. While much has been achieved, (the government) acknowledges that there is still much to be done,” it read.

“The new administration desires to replicate the successes of Davao City and its multi-awarded programs on governance, peace and order, gender-sensitivity and women’s and children’s rights,” the report said, adding that the government “welcomes the scrutiny of its record in an open and constructive dialogue offered by the UPR process.”

Also cited in the report was the commitment of President Duterte to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of the citizens, especially the poor, the marginalized and the vulnerable.

“This administration shall implement a rights-based approach to development and governance, as we improve our people’s welfare in the areas of health, education, adequate food and water, housing, environmental preservation and respect for culture,” read the report.

It defended the campaign against illegal drugs, noting that the government is determined to prioritize human security to prevent anarchy and the destruction of the Filipino family.

“Data shows that since the inception of the law enforcement campaign against illegal drugs on 1 July 2016, 30 percent of total focused crimes went down, showing a correlation between drug use and crime rate,” it added.

CHR execs to Geneva

Commission on Human Rights (CHR) chairman Chito Gascon also flew to Geneva to lead the delegation that will monitor the UPR.

Joining him are commissioners Gwendolyn Pimentel-Gana and Roberto Cadiz.

Gascon earlier said that their team would not be a part of the official Philippine delegation that would defend the country’s human rights record before the UN body.

“(The members of the delegation) must be responsible officials with direct mandate from the government of President Duterte,” the CHR chief said.

Although not part of the Philippine delegation, Gascon said the CHR has submitted to the HRC a parallel report of its observations of the Philippines’ human rights record since the last periodic review during the administration of former president Benigno Aquino III.

Other human rights groups have also submitted their respective positions to the human rights body regarding the situation in the Philippines.

Meanwhile, President Duterte said he would pardon himself if found guilty by the courts of ordering or tolerating extrajudicial killings.

He also assured law enforcers of absolute pardon with promotions in case they are dragged to court for following his orders to kill drug users who resist arrest.

“After conviction, all has been done legally, it is mine to do my legal thing. Why? Well, there is a residual power of the President. What is it? Pardon,” he said in recent remarks in Davao City.

“It does not even say, ‘can pardon a criminal except himself.’ There is no exception. Does not… If it’s indicated ‘except to himself,’ then I cannot pardon myself. But since it’s a blanket authority before I leave Malacañan, pardon is hereby given to Rodrigo Duterte. Signed, Rodrigo Duterte,” he said, eliciting laughter from the audience.

Duterte, a lawyer, said he just needed to use the powers vested upon him under the Constitution.

“I don’t need to tinker with the law. Hindi na kailangang bastusin ‘yung batas. Wala na ‘yan (I don’t need to mess with the law. No need). Follow your dream. Convict if you want. Don’t make it hard for everybody,” he said.

As president, Duterte is immune from suits during his six-year term.

He maintained he had not killed any drug suspect or directly ordered the killing of one.

He stressed the drug problem has been put under control since he assumed office some 10 months ago.

“Drugs are a little bit controlled now. Many died along the way because they refused to give up,” the President said.

He said people should not believe stories about his supposedly having killed people even when they were begging for their lives.

“How can you kill a person kneeling down?” he said. “There were deaths caused by encounters because my message to the police and military is very simple: ‘Arrest them if it is possible, still if it’s no longer possible, then if they confront you with a violent resistance and you feel that you’d lose your life in the process, kill them’,” Duterte said.

“Iyon lang ang inutos ko (That’s my only order), which is really the rule, the criminal law of all lands. That when your life is in danger, especially if you are a peace officer, that’s self-preservation. Self-defense,” he said.
By – Christina Mendez, Janvic Mateo (The Philippine Star)


French election: Hollande vows 'response' to Macron hack attack

He gave no further details but said he knew of the risks of such attacks because they had "happened elsewhere".
The French media and public have been warned that spreading details of the attack would breach strict election rules and could bring criminal charges.
The centrist Mr Macron faces far-right candidate Marine Le Pen on Sunday.
A trove of documents - said to mix genuine files with fake ones - was released online shortly before campaigning ended on Friday.
Mr Hollande told Agence France-Presse on a visit to a cultural centre in Paris: "We knew that there were these risks during the presidential campaign because it happened elsewhere. Nothing will go without a response."
He did not elaborate, but Mr Macron's team has already been the victim of attacks which it blames on groups based in Russia and Ukraine, and last year's US election campaign was also the subject of hacking attacks targeting the Democratic Party.
Mr Hollande added that he could not say whether the attack was an attempt to destabilise the election.
The BBC's Hugh Schofield in Paris says the impact of the hacking attack on the vote is unlikely to be significant, as Mr Macron enjoyed a wide lead in opinion polls that were taken before campaigning ended.
Why is there a ban on spreading the data?
It is part of the restrictions that came into force at midnight local time on Friday.
No campaigning or media coverage of it that could sway the election is allowed until polls close at 20:00 local time (18:00 GMT) on Sunday. Some overseas French territories have already begun voting.
The election commission warned it could be a criminal offence to republish the leaked data.
Politicians and media are forbidden from giving details of, or commenting on, the leak.
The election commission said in a statement on Saturday: "On the eve of the most important election for our institutions, the commission calls on everyone present on internet sites and social networks, primarily the media, but also all citizens, to show responsibility and not to pass on this content, so as not to distort the sincerity of the ballot."
Can a ban work?
Analysts say that, given the open flow of social media content, policing this could be impossible.
The French daily Liberation covered the leak by publishing a general Q&A with a journalist.
Le Monde said it would "not publish the contents before the second round". It said it would vet and publish relevant material but "respecting our journalistic and ethical rules". It also carried a general Q&A of the leaks.
Florian Philippot, deputy leader of Ms Le Pen's National Front party, got a tweet in before the rules came in, saying: "Will Macronleaks teach us something that investigative journalism has deliberately kept silent?"
What data was released?
The documents were leaked on a file sharing website late on Friday. About nine gigabytes of data were posted by an anonymous user.
Mr Macron's En Marche movement said internal campaign documents, including emails and financial data, had been taken in an "act of massive, co-ordinated hacking".
"The leaked files were obtained several weeks ago by hacking personal and professional email accounts of several officials of the movement," it said in a statement.
Where Le Pen and Macron stand on key issues
How did the leaks spread?
The hashtag #MacronLeaks appeared on Twitter on an account used by a US alt-right figure on Friday afternoon - and was reportedly retweeted 87 times in the first five minutes, suggesting the use of automated bots to spread the information faster.
Within 90 minutes, the information had caught the attention of prominent supporters of Marine Le Pen and was further spread by bots.
Some three-and-a-half hours after the initial tweet, #MacronLeaks had been used some 47,000 times and the prominent Wikileaks account played a key role in publicising the hashtag.
What we learned from TV debate
Who might be responsible?
Unclear. The Macron camp has not blamed any specific party but said the hack clearly aimed to damage it and undermine French democracy,
It compared it to the leak of Democratic Party emails in last year's US presidential election that was blamed on Russian hackers.
Wikileaks, which published those emails, posted a link to the Macron documents on Twitter but implied it was not responsible.
Last updated April 25, 2017

*Polling results up to this date show how people said they would vote on 7 May, if Macron and Le Pen reached the second round
About the polling average line
The polling average line looks at the five most recent national polls and takes the median value, ie, the value between the two figures that are higher and two figures that are lower.

See individual polls

Is this unprecedented?
Macron campaign servers went down for several minutes in February after attacks apparently originating in Ukraine.
And last month, security experts from the company Trend Micro said that Russian hackers were targeting Mr Macron's campaign, using phishing emails, malware and fake net domains in an attempt to grab login names, passwords and other credentials of campaign staff
Mr Macron's team said it suspected the Kremlin of wanting to help Ms Le Pen, who supports a pro-Moscow foreign policy.
Russia has denied that it is behind attacks aimed at Mr Macron.
Five things the French election has told us
What is at stake on Sunday?
France's voters have rejected the two big political parties - the Socialists and the Republicans - that have governed for decades.
Voters will be making a decision on France's future direction and on its place at the heart of the European Union.
If they opt for liberal Emmanuel Macron, they will be backing a candidate who seeks EU reform as well as deeper European integration, in the form of a eurozone budget and eurozone finance ministers.
If instead they choose far-right Marine Le Pen she promises quite the opposite. She wants a Europe of nations to replace the EU.
What are the battleground issues?
One of the overriding issues is unemployment, which stands at almost 10% and is the eighth highest among the 28 EU member states. One in four under-25s is unemployed.
The French economy has made a slow recovery from the 2008 financial crisis and all the leading candidates say deep changes are needed.
Economic challenges facing next president
Marine Le Pen wants the pension age cut to 60 and to "renationalise French debt", which she argues is largely held by foreigners.
Emmanuel Macron wants to cut 120,000 public-sector jobs, reduce public spending by €60bn (£50bn; $65bn), plough billions into investment and reduce unemployment to below 7%.

BBC News

  • Published in World

Stephen Fry faces blasphemy probe after God comments

Officers are understood to be examining whether the British comedian committed a criminal offence under the Defamation Act when he appeared on RTE in 2015.
Fry had asked why he should "respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world.... full of injustice".
He later said he was not "offensive towards any particular religion".
According to a report in the Irish Independent newspaper, no publicised cases of blasphemy have been brought before the courts since the law was introduced in 2009 and a source said it was "highly unlikely" that a prosecution against Fry would take place.
25,000 euros fine
Appearing on The Meaning of Life, hosted by Gay Byrne, in February 2015, Fry had been asked what he might say to God at the gates of heaven.
Fry said: "How dare you create a world in which there is such misery? It's not our fault? It's not right. It's utterly, utterly evil. Why should I respect a capricious, mean-minded, stupid god who creates a world which is so full of injustice and pain?"
He went on to say that Greek gods "didn't present themselves as being all seeing, all wise, all beneficent", adding "the god who created this universe, if it was created by god, is quite clearly a maniac, an utter maniac, totally selfish".
The Irish Independent reported a member of the public made a complaint to police in Ennis in the same month the programme was broadcast. He was recently contacted by a detective to say they were looking into his complaint.
The viewer was not said to be offended himself but believed Fry's comments qualified as blasphemy under the law, which carries a maximum penalty of a fine of 25,000 euros (£22,000).
The law prohibits people from publishing or uttering "matter that is grossly abusive or insulting in relation to matters held sacred by any religion, thereby causing outrage among a substantial number of the adherents of that religion".
The government said at the time it was needed because the republic's 1937 constitution gives only Christians legal protection of their beliefs.
'Absolutely astonished'
Fry's representatives have been contacted for a comment.
Speaking to the BBC in 2015, Fry said he had been "absolutely astonished" by some of the reaction on social media to what he had said on the show.
He said: "I don't think I mentioned once any particular religion and I certainly didn't intend, and in fact I know I didn't say anything offensive towards any particular religion."
A police spokeswoman told the BBC: "We are not commenting on an ongoing investigation."


BBC News

  • Published in World

Several dead as gov't troops, Abu Sayyaf clash in Basilan

Four soldiers were killed in clashes with Abu Sayyaf bandits in Sumisip, Basilan Saturday night
Two suspected members of the bandit group were also killed.
Capt Jo-ann Petinglay, spokesperson of the Western Mindanao Command said four soldiers died in two related encounters against the bandits in Sumisip.
Basilan Gov. Jim Salimman also confirmed this Sunday.
Salimman said government troops established checkpoints in several areas in Sumisip which were identified as possible exit points of Abu Sayyaf fighters.
He said an encounter with armed men ensued in one of the checkpoints, which left two suspected bandits dead.
The military however said it is still confirming reports that Abu Sayyaf bandits were killed in encounters with government troops.
Petinglay said, the military has been pursuing the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan in a bid to crush the terrorist group within six months.
They also set up a food blockade in several areas in Basilan to limit food supply to the hideouts of the bandit group.

RJ Rosalado, ABS-CBN News


Lopez tells Cayetano, Lacson: Read PH Constitution

MANILA (UPDATED) - Former Environment Secretary Gina Lopez on Friday urged Senators Alan Peter Cayetano and Panfilo Lacson to read the Philippine Constitution, as she argued that the basic laws of the country back her mining crackdown.
“I request Cayetano and Lacson to please read the Philippine Constitution…They’re telling me I’m not fit, maybe they’re not fit,” she said in an interview on DZMM Friday.
Lopez, who was rejected by the Commission on Appointments (CA) Wednesday cited several provisions of the Constitution to prove her point.
“The country is ruled by the Philippine constitution… Mining is a social justice issue,” she said.
“A constitution is not just a piece of paper. It’s breathing, it’s the rule. It’s the soul of our country,” she added.
Cayetano, in a statement on Friday, said he did not vote for Lopez because she is unwilling to comply with institutional processes.
"Unfortunately, the Secretary was adamant in defending her illegal actions. She is not fit to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources," he said.
"She would have embarrassed the President in no time."
However, Cayetano said he hopes the President will appoint another secretary like Lopez.
"I hope that the President will appoint another Ms. Lopez with the same zeal, yet still mindful of the requisite that one must be faithful to the mandate and dictates of our laws and processes," he said.
Lacson, meanwhile, said he did not confirm Lopez because the environment advocate was not fit for the job.
“[S]he admittedly arrogated unto herself the authority which is not prescribed under the existing laws of the land. That makes her potentially dangerous as a department head,” Lacson said.
Lopez, however, argued that existing mining laws of the country were not beneficial both to the government and the poor.
"I’d like to say that the current laws on mining are not advantageous to the government or to the Filipino in terms of fiscal regime because the money all goes to the miners," she said.
"Who is not fit for the job if they (lawmakers) think for the mining industry and not for the poor, why are they there? Why are they there?" she said, adding in jest that senators should also go through appointment process.



DLSU Lady Spikers defeat Ateneo Lady Eagles, retain UAAP title

The DLSU Lady Spikers climbed out of a 2-1 deficit to defend their UAAP Women's Volleyball title, 19-25 25-14 18-25 25-18 15-10, in a packed Araneta Coliseum on Saturday.
The Lady Spikers forced a fifth and deciding set before racing to take a huge lead in the race to 15.
Kim Dy proved to be clutch anew, scoring 19 points off 15 kills and three blocls. Tin Tiamzon added 16 markers off 13 attack points, while Desiree Cheng tallied 12. Season MVP Majoy Baron added 10 markers, while graduating team captain Kim Fajardo scored six.
What La Salle gave up on attack points (56-52) and blocks (9-5), it recovered in aces (12-6).
It was also a total team effort for Ateneo, who was led by Michelle Morente with 16 points. Bea De Leon and Jho Maraguinot scored 14 points apiece, while Ana Gopico had 10.
The Lady Spikers' Desiree Cheng has been declared as most valuable player of the 79th UAAP women's volleyball. —ALG, GMA News

  • Published in Sports

Another oil price rollback seen next week —DOE

Oil firms are expected to implement another round of rollback in the prices of petroleum products next week, the Department of Energy (DOE) said on Saturday.
"There will a rollback... 70 to 90 centavos for gasoline, diesel, and kerosene," Energy Undersecretary Felix Fuentebella said in a text message.
Estimated downward adjustments in pump prices may still change on Monday upon the completion of the whole week assestment of oil trading, Fuentebella noted.
He said the rollback is due to oversupply.
Latest data from the DOE show diesel prices in the country currently range from P27.75 to P32.96 per liter, and gasoline from P38.25 to P50.40 per liter. —ALG, GMA News


'WE NEED TO SEE ACTION FASTER' Fil-Am chef Angela Dimayuga demands Ivanka Trump to walk the talk

Mission Chinese Food’s Filipina-American executive chef Angela Dimayuga is standing by her decision to decline a feature for the website of US President Donald Trump's daughter Ivanka.
Dimayuga made the snub public via Instagram, posting her response to the offer in full. The chef wrote plainly that she is "for women who actually empower other women."
As it bears the Trump name, Dimayuga discredited the sender's claim that Ivanka's website is "non-political."
She further wrote in her response, "As a queer person of color and daughter of immigrant parents, I am not interested in being profiled as an aspirational figure for those that support a brand and President that slyly disparages female empowerment."
In an interview with the online arm of New York Magazine, Dimayuga firmly stated, "If she (Ivanka) is trying to move in a positive direction, we need to see action faster."
"As a woman, as a queer Filipino with immigrant parents, all the things within my personal politics are important to me: women’s rights, immigrant rights, gay rights," Dimayuga added.
Ivanka Trump has been attending events as an advocate of women's rights, but has been met with jeers in light of her father's personal actions and endorsement of questionable policies.
The first daughter was recently parodied in sketch comedy show "Saturday Night Love" in a skit called "Complicit" — a reference to her passive response to her father's behavior. —ALG, GMA News

  • Published in U.S.

Malacañang after Quiapo twin blasts: Stay alert, report suspicious movements

Malacañang on Sunday called on the public to stay alert and be cautious in sharing information, following the twin explosions in Quiapo, Manila, that killed two persons and injured six others.
“While investigation is now ongoing, we ask the public to remain alert and immediately report to authorities any suspicious activity or movement,” presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“Also, we urge our people to refrain from forwarding news from unverified sources that may cause undue alarm and panic,” he added.
Two persons were killed and six others, including two policemen, were injured in the explosions, which took place on Norzagaray Street, near the Manila Golden Mosque.
The first explosion took place before 6 p.m., killing two persons and injureding four others.
The two policemen were injured in the second plast, which happened at past 8:30 p.m. as they were processing the site of the first blast.
Norgazaray Street remained on lockdown on Sunday as forensic and ordnance police teams continue to secure and process blast sites.
Abella said they were “saddened by the loss of lives brought by yesterday’s night explosions,” and “likewise wish for the immediate recovery of those who were wounded.”
National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) chief Director Oscar Albayalde said a suspect has been arrested by the Manila police, and the bomb attack was again suspected to be related to a clan war.
The twin explosions came a week after another bomb attack in Quiapo, where 14 people were hurt.
That incident happened as the Philippines was hosting the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations Summit. —Rose-An Jessica Dioquino/ALG, GMA News


Over 1k Pinoys in Saudi Arabia’s western region receive exit visa

JEDDAH – More than one thousand undocumented overseas Filipinos in the western region of Saudi Arabia have already claimed their their exit visa, over a month after the Saudi government launched an amnesty program for undocumented foreign workers.
Consul RJ Sumague said more than a hundred of those who received earlier their exit visa have already returned home with their air fares shouldered by the Philippine government.
As of last Thursday, Sumague said some 2,500 OFWs who had sought the Philippine Consulate's assistance have been endorsed to the deportation center.
He said the endorsement has helped speed up the processing of the exit visa.
Late last week the Consulate endorsed another 280 undocumented Filipinos for visa processing, bringing to 800 the total number of those being endorsed for visa processing.
Sumague reminds those who are applying for amnesty to keep their mobile phone open all the time for consulate calls regarding their endorsement for deportation.
“Sayang ang slot 'pag hindi sumisipot ang mga tinatawagan, dapat sinasamantala natin ang pagkakataong ito,” Said Sumague
Sumague calls on all undocumented Filipinos in the Kingdom to avail of the 90-day amnesty program that began on March 29.
The Amnesty program aims to clear the statuses of undocumented foreign workers in the Kingdom as requirement for exit visa. —LBG, GMA News

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