“In light of the administration’s strong rejection of the Resolution of the United Nations Human Rights Council, which was carried through by the votes of a minority of the council members … all concerned officials are DIRECTED to suspend negotiations for and signing of loans and grant agreements with the governments of the countries that co-sponsored and/or voted in favour,” the memo said.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Monday there was no way to stop Chinese from fishing in his country’s exclusive economic zone and he would not risk losing Filipino forces in a clash in the disputed South China Sea. “When Xi says ‘I will fish,’ who can prevent him?” Rodrigo Duterte said as he defended his nonconfrontational approach to China over the territorial disputes in his annual state of the nation address before a joint session of Congress. He was referring to Chinese President Xi Jinping. “If I send my marines to drive away the Chinese fishermen, I guarantee you not one of them will come home alive,” Rodrigo Duterte said, adding that diplomatic talks with Beijing have allowed the return of Filipinos to disputed fishing grounds where Chinese forces previously shooed them away. Critics have repeatedly criticized Duterte, who has nurtured friendly ties with Beijing, for not standing up to China’s aggressive behavior in the disputed waters and deciding not to immediately seek Chinese compliance with an international arbitration ruling that invalidated Beijing historic claims to virtually the entire sea. China has refused to recognize the 2016 ruling. The decision also found that China had breached its duty to respect the traditional fishing rights of Filipinos when Chinese forces blocked them from the Scarborough Shoal off the northwestern Philippines in 2012. The Philippines, however, could also not deny Chinese fishermen access to Scarborough, according to the ruling. But the decision did not specify any traditional fishing areas within the Philippines’
Facing a U.N. human rights investigation into its bloody war on drugs, the Philippines presented a new death toll on Thursday to counter much higher numbers given by critics. But rights groups accused the government of using partial data to mislead and said that even the official figure of more than 5,500 police killings in drug operations was far too high and there must be accountability for every death. President Rodrigo Duterte’s administration has challenged activists’ death tolls of the three-year-old drug war that rise as high as 27,000. Under the banner of #TheRealNumbersPH, officials told a news conference that 5,526 “drug personalities” had died in anti-drug operations between July 1, 2016, and June 30, 2019. That was below a previous police figure of more than 6,700 dead. “The Real Numbers are the validated figures,” Marie Rafael, a presidency official, told reporters. The drug war faces new scrutiny since the U.N. Human Rights Council adopted a resolution a week ago to investigate the killings. The government rejects accusations of systematic abuses including executions, planted evidence and falsified reports. Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. human rights chief, said last month that even the official number would be “a matter of most serious concern for any country”. “Getting the real figure is very difficult,” said Carlos Conde, Philippines researcher for Human Rights Watch. “Outside the police, there’s no one entity doing the tracking. There are NGOs that are trying but they can only do it based on media reports.” Some of the higher
The Philippines’ top diplomat said Thursday he has filed a diplomatic protest after an anchored fishing boat was hit by a suspected Chinese vessel which then abandoned the 22 Filipino fishermen as the boat sank in the disputed South China Sea. Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. said he filed the protest Wednesday. He disclosed the move in a tweet in response to a suggestion by opposition Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV that an independent investigation be conducted by the International Maritime Organization, a U.N. agency. Another opposition senator, Risa Hontiveros, called on President Rodrigo Duterte to recall the Philippine ambassador and consuls in China to pressure Beijing to identify and punish the Chinese crewmen allegedly involved in the incident. China condemned the incident but did not immediately confirm or deny that a Chinese vessel was involved. The sinking is a delicate development in the long-contested South China Sea, which is seen as a potential flashpoint in Asian relations. Tensions escalated after China converted seven disputed reefs into islands which can serve as forward military bases and intimidate rival claimant states in the strategic waterway, where U.S. forces undertake “freedom of navigation” patrols. Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana disclosed on Wednesday that a boat, identified as F/B Gimver 1, was carrying 22 Filipino fishermen and sank Sunday night after being hit by the suspected Chinese vessel at Reed Bank off the western Philippine province of Palawan. Lorenzana strongly condemned the crew of the vessel, which he said was identified by the Filipinos as
During Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s first two years in office, his daughter Sara had barely any interest in politics. One year on, she is front and centre in a midterm election that she isn’t even running in, playing kingmaker for candidates allied with her father in what’s being widely seen as a not-so-subtle trial balloon for her own presidential run in 2022.
Monday’s elections are to a great extent a referendum on the Duterte administration, testing his popularity and giving him a chance to tighten his grip on power by retaining his Congressional majority, and keeping the opposition on the fringes of the all-important Senate for the remainder of his term.
Sara Duterte opted out of running for the Senate, choosing instead to manage the campaign of some of her father’s loyalists, which experts say will boost her political capital and build alliances that could come in handy ahead of the next presidential election.
“She’s projecting herself as a national personality. What’s happening today is her testing the water,” said Ramon Casiple, who heads the Institute for Political and Electoral Reform.