By Lilybeth G. Ison, Philippine News Agency
Photo: The Lapanday Foods Corp. box plant in Mandug, Davao City burning after an attack by the NPA. (file photo from Kilab Multimedia)
MANILA, Philippines — Davao traders are backing Senator Panfilo Lacson’s call to put off peace talks between the government and the National Democratic Front of the Philippines until the insurgents prove their sincerity.
Davao City Chamber of Commerce and Industry Inc. president Ronald Go and Pilipino Banana Growers and Exporters Association president Alexander Valoria, in a joint statement on Friday, appealed to the government to heed Lacson’s call and take into account the damage inflicted by the rebels on Mindanao’s businesses.
“We agree with Senator Lacson and join his call for the government to scrap its peace negotiations with the NDF. Unless the NDF and its armed group on the ground can show that it is sincere in pursuing genuine peace, it would be useless and futile to keep on talking,” said Valoria.
“Treachery and betrayal have no place on the peace table,” Go said. “The continuing atrocities of the NPA prove that there is no central communist leadership that is capable of pursuing genuine peace with the government.”
“If that is the case then Senator Lacson is right to advise the government to hold off negotiations with the NDF,” he added.
Lacson made his suggestion following the June 18 NPA raid on the police station of Massin town in Iloilo, from which rebels seized several firearms without firing a shot.
The raid happened as the government and NDFP issued statements on their willingness to observe a truce in Mindanao to allow the military to focus on ending the crisis in Marawi City.
While the NPA raid did not happen was not in Mindanao, Malacanang described it as “opportunistic in nature.”
Valoria also asked government to review a recent directive for security agencies to surrender their high-powered firearms to the Philippine National Police.
“We are respectfully appealing to authorities to review this recent directive as we are left at the mercy of the NPA and other lawless elements which, in most cases, are now able to carry out their attacks using high-powered guns,” he said.
Valoria said PBGEA members operate banana and pineapple farms in areas that are infested with NPA insurgents “and it is precisely the presence of our high powered firearms that deter the NPA from attacking us.”
“This has been proven in the past. The NPA will laugh at our shotguns and pistols as they can now easily overrun our facilities. Without a chance to defend ourselves, many may see that there is no other choice but to pay the NPAs revolutionary tax,” he lamented.
He also welcomed other government initiatives such as the training of militia units to augment security forces.
Photo: A balloon chain in rainbow colours is seen in front of the Reichstag building housing the German parliament as activists of the LGBT movement demonstrate against homophobia. Photo: 17 May 2017Image copyrightDPA
The reform would give gay men and lesbians full marital rights
German MPs are expected to vote to legalise same-sex marriage, days after Chancellor Angela Merkel dropped her opposition to the idea.
The reform would give gay men and lesbians full marital rights, and allow them to adopt children.
At present, German same-sex couples are limited to civil unions.
On Monday Mrs Merkel, who previously opposed a vote on gay marriage, said she would allow MPs from her CDU party to "follow their conscience".
How did Merkel prompt the vote?
During her 2013 election campaign, Angela Merkel argued against gay marriage on the grounds of "children's welfare," and admitted that she had a "hard time" with the issue.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel. Photo: 29 June 2017Image copyrightGETTY IMAGES
Mrs Merkel says she had a "life-changing experience" when she met a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children
But at an event hosted by the women's magazine "Brigitte" on 26 June, she shocked the German media by announcing on stage that she had noted other parties' support for it, and would allow a free vote in the future.
The usually-cautious chancellor said she had had a "life-changing experience" in her home constituency, where she had dinner with a lesbian couple who cared for eight foster children together.
As the news spread on Twitter, supporters rallied under the hashtag #EheFuerAlle (MarriageForAll) - and started calling for a vote as soon as possible.
Will the vote pass?
Yes, with strong cross-party support it is expected to.
A recent survey by the government's anti-discrimination agency found that 83% of Germans are in favour of marriage equality.
The day after the Republic of Ireland voted to legalise gay marriage in May 2015, almost every German newspaper splashed a rainbow across its front page.
"It's time, Mrs Merkel" Green party leader Katrin Goering-Eckhart exclaimed then. "The Merkel faction cannot just sit out the debate on marriage for everyone."
Why is this happening now?
Because of an upcoming general election.
Germans go to the polls on 24 September, and the sudden Merkel turnaround will deprive her opponents of a campaign issue.
The Greens, the far-left Linke, and the pro-business Free Democrats all back same-sex marriage. In fact, they have refused to enter a future coalition deal unless reform is agreed on.
Mrs Merkel's current coalition partners - the centre-left Social Democrats (SPD) - have done the same.
The right-wing Alternative for Germany (AfD) is now the only party to oppose same-sex marriage.
Conservatives within Mrs Merkel's party, the Christian Democrats (CDU), are against a change in the law, however.
They have argued that a gay marriage bill would require a change to the constitution, and that marriage between a man and a woman should enjoy special protection.
The CDU's Bavarian sister party, the Christian Social Union (CSU), has also expressed opposition.
Its members champion "traditional" families - and pragmatist Mrs Merkel needs their votes in the September election.
Commentators say this partly explains why she has rejected a vote on marriage equality until now.
How did Merkel's opponents react?
Amid a groundswell of public support for a vote, Mrs Merkel's rivals have moved to capitalise politically.
A day after her comments, the SDP's candidate for the chancellorship Martin Schulz declared - "we will take her at her word," and called for an immediate vote.
The Greens and Linke promptly backed the prospect.
The CDU responded by condemning the SDP, its coalition partner, for its "breach of trust" after four years of joint rule.
The angry exchange came just days after Mr Schulz angered conservatives by accusing Mrs Merkel of an "attack on democracy", saying she was deliberately making politics boring so that opposition supporters wouldn't bother to vote.
Has the vote been politicised?
On Wednesday, Mrs Merkel branded the political dispute "totally unnecessary" in an interview with business weekly Wirtschafts Woche (in German)..
"This isn't about some legislative footnote, but... a decision that touches on people's deepest convictions and on marriage, a cornerstone of our society", she said.
Die Welt, a German national daily agreed.
"This could have been a great moment for Germany's parliament. But the CDU/CSU have been forced into a corner and all the joy has been drained," it wrote.
Where else in Europe has same-sex marriage?
A host of European countries have beaten Germany to a same-sex marriage law.
Civil marriages are legally recognised in Norway, Sweden, Denmark (excluding the Faroe Islands), Finland, Iceland, the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg, France, the UK (except Northern Ireland and Jersey), and the Republic of Ireland.
But in Austria and Italy - as in Germany - gay couples are restricted to civil partnerships.-BBC
Photo: President Rodrigo Duterte speaks to the Filipino community in Singapore on Friday, Dec. 16, 2016.AP FILE PHOTO
With abusive tirades against critics and light-hearted comments about rape, Rodrigo Duterte cemented himself as one of the world’s most outspoken leaders during his first year as Philippine president.
As Duterte marks one year in office on Friday, here are some of his more memorable remarks:
“Hitler massacred three million Jews. Now there are three million drug addicts (in the Philippines). I’d be happy to slaughter them.”
Duterte in full roar over his quest to end illegal drugs in society. His crackdown led to police and unknown assailants killing thousands of alleged drug users and addicts. Rights groups warned he may be overseeing a crime against humanity.
After criticism from Jewish groups, Duterte apologized for referring to Nazi leader Adolf Hitler but said he was “emphatic” about wanting to kill millions of addicts.
READ: Duterte ‘Hitler’ talk reaps international censure
“You must be respectful. Do not just throw away questions and statements. You son of a whore, I will curse you at that forum.”
Duterte warns then-US president Barack Obama not to criticize his drug war at a regional summit in Laos that they were about to attend.
America has lost
“In this shifting of political and cultural thing, America has lost it. I mean, I realigned myself in your (China’s) ideological flow and maybe I will also go to Russia to talk to (Russian President Vladimir) Putin and tell him that there are three of us against the world: China, Philippines and Russia.”
On a trip to Beijing, Duterte articulates his disdain for the United States — the Philippines’ mutual defense partner — and fondness for China and Russia.
READ: Duterte announces military, economic split with US
“It is your karma when your churches got destroyed. You know why God destroys the churches? To show you that you are not deserving of his mercy.”
Referring to centuries-old Catholic churches in the central Philippines that were damaged in a powerful earthquake in 2013. It was one of many attacks by Duterte on the dominant Roman Catholic Church, which openly criticized the drug war killings.
More bad karma
“Look how they slant it! I don’t know how but someday, I am not trying to frighten you but someday, karma will come for you.”
Duterte threatens the owners of a major newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which had critically reported on his anti-drug campaign.
READ: Inquirer reacts to Duterte’s accusation of ‘slanted’ reports
Before becoming president, Duterte said some corrupt journalists deserved to die.
I’ll eat your liver
“Give me vinegar and salt and I’ll eat you. It’s true. Make me angry, give me a terrorist, give me salt and vinegar and I’ll eat your liver.”
Duterte warns Islamist militants that he can exceed them in savagery.
“Leave it to me. I will be imprisoned for you. If you rape three (women), I will say I did it.”
Part of a speech to soldiers to boost their morale after imposing martial law across the southern third of the Philippines in an effort to contain rampaging Islamic militants.
Duterte later said his rape remark was “sarcasm”, not a joke.
How do you feel?
“When your father, the president of the United States, was screwing Lewinsky and the girls in the White House, how did you feel? Did you slam your father?”
Duterte responds to Chelsea Clinton, daughter of former US president Bill Clinton after she criticized his rape remark. Duterte made his reference to Clinton’s acknowledged affair with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky, during a nationally televised speech to naval officers and their children.