Noninterference policy: Duterte tells West to stop meddling

 

 

President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday stressed the importance of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations’ (Asean) time-honored tradition of noninterference in each other’s internal affairs to foster fruitful relations, calling on the regional bloc to value the supremacy of law and the peaceful resolution of disputes.

He also urged the country’s neighbors to be more forthright in pushing for the region’s interests on the international stage, as the Asean held its 30th summit and marked its 50th year.

Mr. Duterte, who has often bristled at comments and concerns from international groups and other countries about his bloody drug war, asked his regional neighbors to work together to fight the narcotics scourge and bring about a drug-free Asean.


But in an oblique swipe at Western governments which have lashed out at his tough anticrime policy, Mr. Duterte asked them not to meddle in the affairs of countries in the region even as his speech was couched in a formal, diplomatic tone.

He said ties could become stronger and more productive “if we learn to respect each other’s independence and treat each other as sovereign equals,” Mr. Duterte said. “Relations bear fruit when they are based on mutual respect and benefit.”

Mr. Duterte also cited the need for the 10-nation bloc to address security issues, including terrorism and piracy, but made no mention of touchy South China Sea territorial rifts, which China did not want to be highlighted in the daylong talks.

The long-simmering disputes, along with alarm over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and intensifying standoff with the United States, have taken attention away from the more benign topics of regional economic integration.

The summit is the first major international event Mr. Duterte has hosted since taking office 10 months ago.

Drugs

Mr. Duterte again went back to his favorite topic, and warned that the drug problem threatens the gains of community-building and destroys lives, especially of the youth, he said.

“The illegal drug trade apparatus is massive. But it is not impregnable. With political will and cooperation, it can be dismantled, it can be destroyed before it destroys our societies,” he said.

In opening the summit, Mr. Duterte noted that the regional bloc was founded on the concepts of unity, solidarity and cooperation.

“The cornerstones form part of time-honored principles of international law: Mutual respect for the independence, sovereignty, equality, territorial integrity, and national identity of all nations and noninterference in the internal affairs of one another,” he added.

Asean’s relationship with its dialogue partners, which includes the United States and the European Union, could be stronger if they respected each other’s independence and treated each other as equals, he said.

“Our engagement with dialogue partners allowed us to set the table for meaningful discussions on maintaining peace and stability, the pursuit of development goals, the peaceful resolution of disputes, and the promotion of our peoples’ welfare,” he said.

“Let me say again, relations bear fruit when they are based on mutual respect and benefit. Dialogue relations can be made more productive and constructive if the valued principle of noninterference in the internal affairs of Asean member-states is observed,” he added.

Law should reign supreme

Mr. Duterte also said the law must reign supreme in the region and disputes must be resolved peacefully. He did not directly mention conflicting claims of China, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia, Vietnam and Taiwan over the South China Sea.

“Relations also remain solid if all stakeholders learn to respect and value the peaceful resolution of disputes. In an era where there can be much uncertainty, we must faithfully adhere to the supremacy of the law and rely on the primacy of rules as responsible members of the international community,” he said.

He made the call even after earlier nixing a proposal to bring up during the summit the ruling of the Permanent Court of Arbitration that had invalidated Beijing’s claim to nearly the whole of the South China Sea. The ruling, he had said, was a nonissue in the Asean and was just between China and the Philippines.

Security issues

He said yesterday that both traditional and nontraditional security issues hinder efforts to promote peace, stability,security and prosperity in our the region.

He also sought continued vigilance to address security threats, including piracy, armed robbery, terrorism and violent extremism.

“Eternal vigilance is the price that we must pay to keep our citizens safe. We can only achieve this through advancing cooperation at the bilateral, regional and multilateral levels,” he said.

The Philippines’ priorities as it chairs the Asean this year include promoting the bloc as a model for regionalism and as a global player.

It must be more forceful in pushing for its interests, Mr. Duterte said.

“History will judge us on how we are able to help our people and our region become even better and stronger based on the values and heritage we hold dear. In this milestone year, the time is ripe—and indeed it is right—to make our decisions count. It is time for Asean to finally assert, with conviction, its position in the international arena,” he said.

Under the Philippine chairmanship, the Asean will continue to work toward becoming a “proactive, relevant and transformative” bloc, he said.

The other priorities of the group this year are building a people-oriented and people-centered Asean, maintaining a peaceful and stable region, cooperating in maritime security, advancing inclusive and innovative-led growth, and promoting the region’s resiliency.

Mr. Duterte said citizens of Asean members have the same aspirations, which is that their rights and welfare as a people are protected and promoted. They also want a stable source of livelihood, shelter, quality education, affordable healthcare, a peaceful and stable government and a dynamic economy.

The Asean must do all it can to provide these for them, he said.

Mr. Duterte kicked off the opening of the Asean summit after welcoming the bloc’s leaders and spouses at the Philippine International Convention Center.

Among the guests at the event were former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, former first lady and Ilocos Norte Rep. Imelda Marcos, Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno, United States Ambassador Sung Kim and Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua.

Following a cultural presentation, Mr. Duterte posed for the traditional family photo with the Asean leaders. —

 

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Exhausted Duterte jokes: No more 'summit summit'

MANILA – Toward the end of perhaps one of his busiest days as head of state, President Rodrigo Duterte plodded up the steps to the stage, wiped his nose with the back of his hand, scratched his nape, stood on the rostrum and declared: no more summits.
The Philippine president faced the press Saturday night in a briefing to conclude the 30th Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Summit, appearing exhausted over his debut hosting.
“Anak ka ng… Kung ganito lang ang summit, kanselado na ‘yung sa November (If summits are like this, then let’s just cancel the one in November),” Duterte said in jest, the top of his barong unbuttoned, his sleeves rolled up.
The Philippines is scheduled to again serve as the venue for the ASEAN Summit in November. And 72-year-old Duterte, the oldest to ever be elected Philippine president, is again due to play host.
“’Yung sa Foreign Affairs, Sir, ‘wag ka nang mag-summit summit dito (To the Foreign Affairs [Secretary], do not hold any more summits here),” joked Duterte, referring to acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo.
Throughout the day, Duterte had shown restraint of the playful ways he usually exhibits in public, as if keenly aware that he was in the company of other ASEAN leaders.
He stuck to prepared speeches, his words measured, in stark contrast to lengthy impromptu remarks in his public outings.
But after a full day restricted by protocol, Duterte let loose in meeting the press Saturday night, even joking that the media should have been invited to the gala dinner with ASEAN leaders and other dignitaries.
“Sabi nang ‘wag kayong mag-summit-summit kung wala kayong pera (I told you not to host summits if you don’t have a budget),” Duterte said, drawing chuckles from those in the room.
At one point, when an officer approached to remind him it was time for the gala dinner, Duterte said: “They (ASEAN leaders) can start dinner.”
He eventually obliged and excused himself from the media: “I do not want to…[but] somebody would need to eat now.”

But before leaving the stage, Duterte called on the women, saying the ladies would usually ask for photos with him in his press engagements.
“I am not trying to be a show-off, but I’ve noticed that after every conference, a lot of mostly women would want to have a picture with me. Women, come up and we’ll have the pictures,” said the President.
He took a few minutes taking selfies and group photos before heading to his dinner hosting.

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Leni to graduates: Take leap of faith when necessary

TANAUAN CITY, Batangas - Vice President Leni Robredo visited Tanauan City on Saturday for the 13th commencement exercises of the First Asia Institute of Technology and Humanities.
In her speech, Robredo shared her experience before, during and after college.
Before she went to college, she said that she was very sure that she wanted to become a lawyer and follow the footsteps of her father who was a judge in their hometown.
But everything changed when she studied at the University of the Philippines (UP), taking up Economics during martial law.
Robredo said, "Before I went to UP, I shied away from all political discussions."
While in college, she said she realized the need to get involved due to the "abuses, plunder and worsening poverty" under the Marcos dictatorship.
"That's when I realized I needed to get involved and fight the oppressive regime," she said.
After the EDSA revolution overthrew the Marcos regime, Robredo said that was when she realized she could not go straight to law school as she had planned.
She said she wanted to "go straight to public service" to help Filipinos get a better life.
Although she was afraid of what his father might tell her, the Vice President said she took the leap of faith.
This is what she also asked from the new graduates: to take the leap of faith when necessary - but always remember that when facing such a phase of life, ask if it's right thing to do.
"Always ask yourself, 'Am I doing the right thing?' Ask yourself, 'How will my decision affect others?" she said.

Fay Virrey, ABS-CBN News

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Labor group says Duterte breaking Labor Day tradition, promises

A labor group on Saturday expressed dismay at President Rodrigo Duterte for "breaking tradition" and his supposed failure to fulfill his promises ahead of the celebration of Labor Day on Monday.
"Breaking tradition, President Duterte will celebrate this year's Labor Day at a public park in Davao City instead of Malacañan Palace where labor leaders used to be treated to a breakfast, a dialogue or a gift-giving ceremony," Lakas Manggawa Labor Center (LMLC) vice chairman Dave Diwa said in a forum held in Quezon City.
In an invitation letter shared by Diwa to GMA News Online, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) invited LMLC members to the Labor Day assembly with the Duterte on May 1 at the People's Park in Davao City.
Diwa said that almost 50 labor group leaders from Metro Manila were invited by DOLE to attend the Labor Day event in Davao City.
Instead of flying to Davao City, Diwa said groups will hold protests and join Labor Day events in Metro Manila on Monday.
"NAGKAISA, a broad coalition of some 47 labor federations will march from Welcome Rotunda to Mendiola in fron tof Malacañang. In the afternoon, the Kilusang Mayo Uno (KMU) will assemble at the Liwasang Bonifacio and by four o'clock will also march to Mendiola in Malacanan," he said.
"TUCP-ITUC (Trade Union Congress of the Philippines - International Trade Union Confederation) will join the government's "job fairs" in Quezon City. Other labor groups will celebrate Labor Day by conducting indoor memebership meetings and assemblies," he added.
Financial package
Diwa said that Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III had said that Duterte will unveil a "surprise financial package" during the Davao City event.
However, Diwa said that workers "cannot be appeased by dole outs."
"Barely 10 months in the office, we do not expect Duterte to grant many of the things denied to us over the years. But we expect him at least, to fulfil the promises he has made so far,"' he added.
Diwa also raised his concern over the increase in the contribution rate for Social Security System (SSS) members.
"President Duterte promised to give P2,000 additional pension to our workers who have retired from work in the private sector. He gave P1,000 but raised the contribution of SSS members from 11 percent to 16 percent in five years," he said.
Duterte in January approved a hike of P1,000 for the pension of some two million retired SSS members. Another P1,000 pension hike increase will be implemented in 2022.
The pension hike, however, comes with an increase of 1.5 percent in premiums of active members by May, which will increase the contribution rate from 11 percent to 12.5 percent to be shared by employer and employee.
SSS Chairman Amado Valdez said that the contribution rate could be increased annually until it reaches the target of 17 percent from the current rate over six years.
No real 'endo'
Diwa, meanwhile, said that DOLE's Department Order 174 was a "joke."
"He (Duterte) promised to cut by half the number of contractual employees by 2016. This is a joke. He promised to end contractualization this year, 2017, but the government issued Department Order No. 174 that further legitimizes contracting and sub-contracting of labor," Diwa said.
The DOLE order prohibits the repeated hiring of employees under an employment contract that falls short of the mandated six months to qualify for regularization.
"President Duterte has made his mark for millions of our workers today. He broke tradition; he did not fulfill two promises he made when he ran for office now that he is President," Diwa said.

By MARLLY ROME C. BONDOC, GMA News

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Duterte calls for respect for independence in debut as Asean host

(Updated, 12:32 p.m.) President Rodrigo Duterte on Saturday called on the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) leaders to respect each countries’ independence in the region and find their place in the international arena.
Duterte debuted as host of the Association of Southeast Asian Nation (Asean) summit here in Manila, the first test of his diplomacy as host.
He made the statement of independence and mutual respect among the Asean nations amid growing criticisms from the United States and the European Union on his administration’s brutal war on drugs, which reportedly claimed over 7,000 lives. The police, however, have said that only 2,600 deaths of drug pushers and users could be attributed to the intensified narcotics crackdown.
“Let me say again: relations bear fruit when they are based on mutual respect and benefit,” Duterte said.
Duterte also vouched for the non-interference principle of the Asean region, a principle the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights criticized as an excuse by Asean governments in blocking human rights protections under international law.
READ: Tackle ‘growing human rights crisis’ in the region, Asean urged
Facing mounting outcry from human rights groups hitting his campaign against drugs, Duterte has bristled at criticisms from the West on his brutal narcotics war, even cursing then US President Barack Obama for interfering in the country’s affairs.
“Dialogue relationship shall be made more productive, constructive if the valued principle of non-interference in the internal affairs of the Asean member states is observed,” Duterte said.
READ: Facing backlash on killings, Duterte to find solace in Asean
Duterte said it is time for the Asean region to find its place in the international arena.
“It is time, and the time is right, to finally assert with conviction its position in the international arena,” Duterte said.

Duterte led the Asean leaders at the Philippine International Convention Center (PICC), the main venue for the 30th Asean summit in Manila.
The Asean leaders in attendance were Myanmar state counselor Aung San Suu Kyi, Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong, Thailand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-ocha, Vietnam President Tran Dai Quang, Laos Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith, Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodia Prime Minister Hun Sen, Indonesia President Joko Widodo, and Malaysia Prime Minister Najib Razak.
Duterte also broadly raised the growing concern of disputes in the Asean region which he said must be settled through peaceful means under international rules.
Duterte did not specifically mention the maritime disputes in the South China Sea, where the Philippines and other Asean members Brunei, Malaysia and Vietnam have overlapping claims with China.
Duterte has cozied up The Philippines’ relations with China amid a bonanza of loans and investments, even saying that he would not raise during the summit the Permanent Court of Arbitration ruling favoring the Philippines’ maritime claims over the West Philippine Sea and invalidating China’s nine-dash line claiming most of the disputed waters.
READ: Duterte: Arbitral ruling not an issue for Asean
The Asean leaders, however, are expected to tackle the crafting of a Code of Conduct to govern the actions of Asean member states and China in the resource-rich waters.
“The region remains solid if all stakeholders learn to respect and value the peaceful resolution of disputes… We must adhere to the supremacy of the law, and the life of the primacy of rules as responsible members of the international community,” Duterte said.
Duterte likewise mentioned the menace in the region of illegal drugs, sharing with fellow Asean leaders his experience at seeing how the scourge of illegal substance destroy Filipinos’ lives, especially the youth.
Duterte won the elections in a campaign to eliminate the drug trade during his administration. While calling for the death of drug addicts, he has denied ordering the killings of drug suspects, saying that those who were killed resisted arrest.
“The scourge of illegal drugs threatens community building. I have seen how illegal drugs have ended the hopes, dreams and future, and even the lives of countless people, especially the youth,” Duterte said.
“The illegal drug trade apparatus is massive.. With political will and cooperation, it can be dismantled, it can be destroyed, before it destroys our society,” Duterte said.
Duterte also cited the need for the Asean to end the threat of terrorism, piracy, armed robbery, and violent extremism which destroy regional growth.
“Equally important, we must not waver to eliminate security threats to regional growth and development,” he added.
Duterte also took the opportunity to thank his Asean counterparts for the help they extended when Supertyphoon Yolanda (International name: Haiyan) flattened towns and cities in the country in 2013.
“Our region is one of the most vulnerable when it comes to natural disasters. Typhoon Haiyan turned some provinces and cities into wastelands. Thousands of lives were lost. Amid the desolation and destruction, I saw the resilience of our people to pick up pieces of their lives and start again,” Duterte said.
“This indomitable spirit of the Filipino people allows us to surpass the challenges that come our way. This is also why we are focused on becoming more prepared. The Philippines will never forget timely assistance from fellow Asean countries during our time of greatest need,” he added.
In his speech during the Asean Leadership Forum in Manila Hotel Friday, Duterte earlier underscored the need for Asean regional integration in the face of cultural differences and amid the threats of terrorism, violent extremism and criminality such as the illegal drug trade.
“We need to cultivate the sense of ownership by putting Asean in their consciousness… Let them feel they are a part of efforts to achieve common aspiration,” Duterte then said.
The Asean leaders will release the chairman’s statement at the end of the summit to sum up the points of consensus on issues.
The Asean leaders are also expected to sign the Declaration on the Role of the Civil Service as A Catalyst for Achieving ASEAN Community Vision 2025.
READ: Asean meet is Duterte’s debut as summit host
The Asean leaders are also expected this afternoon to have an interface with the Asean parliamentarians and lawmakers, as well as the Asean youth.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez as chairperson of the Asean Inter-parliamentary Assembly will deliver the draft message of the parliamentarians’ group to the Asean leaders.
The Asean parliamentarians and lawmakers are expected to stress the importance of the Asean work plan against illicit drugs and the declaration of a Code of Conduct on the South China Sea.

National Youth Commission chairperson Aiza Seguerra will deliver the statement during the interface between the Asean leaders and the Asean youth, where she is set to appeal for support from the leaders on issues relating to climate change, youth voluntarism, and Asean awareness.
READ: Aiza Seguerra closes meetings of Asean youth representatives
The Philippines is host of the 30th Asean Summit from April 26 to 29 in Manila. Duterte would chair first of two annual meetings of Asean leaders. The next meeting is in November.
Duterte will also host a gala dinner at Sofitel Manila for the Asean leaders, who will be garbed with Rajo Laurel barongs showcasing the fabric of Mindanao ethnolinguistic tribes. Meanwhile, the spouses will wear gowns designed by Rhett Eala.
The Asean leaders will also be serenaded after dinner with ethnic musical numbers and cultural dances.
Under the theme “Partnering for Change, Engaging the World,” the Asean leaders will discuss progress in the implementation of the Asean Vision 2025, as well as Asean’s external relations and its future direction. IDL

By: Marc Jayson Cayabyab - Reporter / @MJcayabyabINQINQUIRER.net

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Death penalty bill already 'dead' in Senate – Drilon

MANILA, Philippines – The death penalty bill is already "dead" in the Senate.
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon said on Wednesday, April 26, that at least 13 senators are expected to vote against the measure seeking to restore capital punishment in the country.
“By my own estimate, there are at least 13 senators who will block the passage of the death penalty bill, including the 6-member minority group and 7 from the majority block,” Drilon said in a statement on Wednesday.
“It’s dead and the chances of resurrecting it before we even bring it to a vote are very slim, if not zero, at least in this [17th] Congress,” Drilon added.
Aside from Drilon, the Senate minority bloc includes Liberal Party Senators Drilon, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Francis Pangilinan, and Leila de Lima; and Senators Antonio Trillanes IV and Risa Hontiveros.
“Personally, I shudder at the thought that an imperfect justice system is confronted with a situation where the death penalty would have to be imposed. You cannot correct once it’s imposed,” Drilon, a former justice secretary, said in a news conference.
Drilon said that even the lone LP in the majority bloc, Senate President Pro-Tempore Ralph Recto, is also against the controversial measure. Senators Francis Escudero, Richard Gordon, and Juan Miguel Zubiri earlier expressed opposition on the bill.
“We are ready to lead the fight against the death penalty bill. We believe that a death penalty law was not and will never be an effective deterrence against crime,” he said.
“It will be detrimental to the poor who will be made victims of this cruel and inhumane punishment due to the inefficiencies of our judicial system,” he added. (READ: Why the death penalty is unnecessary, anti-poor, error-prone)
Drilon said there are only 5 senators who have so far openly expressed support for the bill – Senate Majority Leader Vicente Sotto III and Senators Manny Pacquiao, Joseph Victor Ejercito, Sherwin Gatchalian, and Cynthia Villar.
“It does not appear to have the votes it needed. It is the end of the road for the proposal,” Drilon said.
But Sotto earlier said there would be more senators voting for the measure if the version passed is limited to high-level drug trafficking.
The death penalty bill is one of the priority measures of President Rodrigo Duterte. The House of Representatives earlier passed the bill on third and final reading in March. – Rappler.com

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Will Ombudsman's Davao Death Squad probe affect ICC complaint?

MANILA, Philippines – The ongoing investigation of the Office of the Ombudsman on the claims of self-confessed "Davao Death Squad" (DDS) hitman Edgar Matobato may render moot a similar complaint filed before the International Criminal Court (ICC).
This was the assessment of Ombudsman Conchita Carpio-Morales on Tuesday, April 25, during a news conference.
"The ICC can only complement Philippine laws, so if they believe that the Philippine government is doing something to control or act upon the complaint, or the subject of the complaint of Matobato, then probably the ICC will not move because it's supposed to complement only," Morales said.
Morales was asked whether a report, or findings coming from them, can be taken as proof of the Philippines' "willingness to investigate" the complaint, and be taken as reason to take the ICC out of the picture.
By principle, the ICC will act only when it believes that the country of origin has ignored a complaint and that chances of an investigation, more so a prosecution, are nil.
In a Rappler IQ piece by law professor Perfecto Caparas, he said that the "ICC can step in, pursuant to the principle of complementarity, if the Philippines is shown to be unwilling or unable to investigate, prosecute, and try in good faith."
Morales, however, clarified that it's still the discretion of the ICC whether or not to proceed with the complaint lodged before it.
"It's up to the ICC to determine if the requirements for filing a case to the ICC have been met. It's up to them to determine," Morales said.
Matobato's complaint, filed in December before the Ombudsman, seeks to charge President Rodrigo Duterte with murder, kidnapping, torture, and crimes against humanity in connection with alleged summary killings in Davao City when Duterte was still mayor.
"Matobato, I think, has been summoned and he had showed up in the office. So his testimony has been recorded. It's still pending investigation," Morales said.
It was unclear when Matobato went to the Ombudsman. He was ordered arrested last March by a Manila court and consequently posted a P200,000-bail.
On Monday, April 24, Matobato's laywer Jude Sabio submitted his complaint to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda.
Before Matobato's complaint in December, the Ombudsman had once terminated investigations into the alleged existence of the DDS.
In 2012, the Commission on Human Rights (CHR) issued a resolution which found "probable cause" and referred to the Ombudsman the investigation into Duterte's possible liabilities.
Rappler's investigative team obtained a letter sent to the CHR by the Ombudsman dated January 15, 2016, which said the investigation had been "closed and terminated."
Overall Deputy Ombudsman Melchor Arthur Carandang said then that "no evidence was gathered to support the killings attributed or attributable to the DDS." – Rappler.com

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Calida wants Sabio disbarred over ICC complaint

MANILA – Solicitor General Jose Calida wants lawyer Jude Sabio disbarred for filing "baseless suits" before the International Criminal Court (ICC) against President Rodrigo Duterte and other administration officials.
"Solicitor General Jose C. Calida, the government’s top lawyer, today said he will initiate the filing of a disbarment charge against Jude Jose Sabio, the lawyer for self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato, for filing baseless suits," the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) said in a statement issued on Wednesday, April 26.
Calida, who is among those named in the complaint, noted that Sabio was once sanctioned by the Supreme Court (SC) for filing a bribery complaint against a trial court judge which the SC found as baseless.
The High Court fined Sabio in 2008 and warned him that "a repetition of the same or similar questioned act will be dealt with more severely."
For Calida, Sabio's complaint is another baseless suit that violates the SC's warning and therefore, a ground for disbarment.
“It appears that this lawyer is in the business of maliciously filing baseless suits based only on hearsays and unfounded suspicions,” Calida said.
Calida is one of the 11 individuals named by Sabio in his ICC complaint as liable for supposedly enabling Duterte's "mass murders" in the government's war on drugs.
Sabio is the lawyer of self-confessed hitman Edgar Matobato.

'See you in court'
In his 78-page complaint submitted to ICC prosecutor Fatou Bensouda, Sabio said Calida must also be held accountable for "promising to defend policemen accused of summary killings if the killings were committed as part of the war on drugs, knowing fully well that the duty of the Office of the Solicitor General (OSG) to defend public officials begins at the appellate level, and not at the local courts."
Calida said that his statements were taken out of context and that he merely promised the Philippine National Police (PNP) that he will defend them before the Senate if the investigation in the upper chamber turns out to be "not in aid of legislation."
Calida has always reiterated that as "tribune of the people," he can "defend whoever I want to defend."
He said his inclusion in the ICC complaint was malicious and gave a stern warning to Sabio: "We will see you in court."
He described the lawyer as a "compliant stooge of the yellow cult" and linked the move to an alleged ouster plot against Duterte.
Calida said that following the principle of complementarity, the ICC does not have jurisdiction over the complaint because "there are adequate laws and remedies available in the Philippines to address the issue of alleged extrajudicial killings." (READ: Things to know about Duterte's pet peeve ICC)
Ombudsman Conchita Carpio Morales has the same assessment although she clarified that it will be the ICC that will decide whether Sabio's complaint merits the attention of the international court. – Rappler.com

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Intel ops ongoing to locate foreign sympathizers of PH terror groups

MANILA –Efforts are ongoing to detect foreigners or Arab-looking personalities out to support local terrorists groups in Lanao Del Sur and other parts of the country.
This was the response of Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) chief-of-staff Gen. Eduardo Año when asked if there are any sightings of Arab personalities in areas where lawless bands like the Maute Group are known to operate.
"Yes, there are some sightings of Arab personalities, but as I said before there are Arabs going there on the pretext of building foundation or to teach religious teaching so we are not really sure (if they are really sympathizers or not) but of course, it is part of the intelligence tasking to look for foreigners who are inclined to support or to be affiliated with our local terror groups even including those of (Abu Sayyaf commander Isnilon) Hapilon," he added in Filipino.
Earlier, Año said that around 37 Maute Group members, including three Indonesian and one Malaysian, were reported killed during military operations in Lanao Del Sur last April 21 to 24.
These operations are designed to degrade the capability of the Maute Group.
The AFP chief said that of the 37 killed, 14 were already identified and the remaining fatalities still unidentified as of this posting. –PNA

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Aguirre meets FilAms to defend Duterte’s human rights record

By RenePastor

NEW YORK CITY – Philippine Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre strenuously sought to explain that a potent critic of his boss, PresidentRodrigo Duterte, is not a political prisoner and that rogue police officers are being charged in court for murdering a mayor and a Korean businessman.
In a briefing at the Philippine consulate on 5th Avenue in New YorkCity, Aguirre said that Senator Leila de Lima, a former justice secretary in the previous administration jailed on drug charges, will not suffer the same fate as a mayor who was killed while in jail.
His answers were given in an unemotional tone.
"I really couldn’t believe what I heard because the Filipinos like her who is educated would believe the falsity in the reporting of the media," Aguirre said with some irritation of questions he got from one Filipina-American worried about the fate of de Lima.
Pointedly, the Fil-Am wanted to know whether de Lima "would be killed inside" her jail cell.
While the justice secretary seemed to have offered some offense at the notion, the possibility cannot just be waved aside given the two incidents where the government failed to secure the safety of its prisoners.
Rolando Espinosa, the mayor of Albuera, Leyte accused by Duterte of being a drug lord, was killed inside his jail by police whose claim that the mayor shot them was met invited ridicule in and outside the Philippines.
Aguirre insisted the investigation proceeded and the 19 officers involved were charged with murder.
He said Duterte vowed he will not interfere in the case and Aguirre saidthe president has been true to his word.
Aguirre also insisted that the scandalous murder of South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo wason its way to resolution. A gang of police abducted, strangled and then triedto extort money from the family on the pretense that he was still alive.
What made the whole thing worse was that the Korean was murdered in the headquarters of the Philippine National Police in Camp Crame, drawing a shocked howl from Seoul.
An investigation showed "the police and even members of theNational Bureau of Investigation, the agency attached to the DOJ, were indicted," Aguirre said, adding though that "murder charges were filed versus the policemen, (but) those filed versus the NBI were dismissed because of lack of evidence."
The implications though are staggering and monstrous. The police are basically out of control, especially since Duterte promised to shield them from prosecution in his anti-drug campaign.
The justice official insisted that the Philippine government is not inany way backing the wave of vigilante-style executions of mostly poor Filipinos caught up in the wave of extra-judicial killings which have swept the country.
He then proceeded to "appeal" to Filipino journalists in the US that they should treat the anti-drug campaign of Duterte with respect.
Aguirre said Manila has the resources to investigate and prosecute the still unsolved killings of 7,000 to 8,000 Filipinos in the drug war.
"All 7,000 cases happened or were filed in different national prosecution services. As of today, we have the capacity to decide on these," he said.
Given the creaky nature of the Philippine justice system where many cases take years to resolve, if ever, Aguirre insisted the Justice Department has the capacity to solve those killings.
In the same breath though, he said there are vacancies "in theDepartment of Justice in excess of more than 1,000 prosecutors."
And then there is the need to get more prosecutors "to resolve the12,000 to 14,000 back log cases which we have inherited from the previous administration," he added.
"There is no state-sponsored killing in the Philippines,"Aguirre declared. – Rappler.com

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