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(Mini Reads followed by Full Reports below)

SENATE HEARING ON EMERGENCY POWERS VS TRAFFIC WOES
[RELATED, DAY1: Senate holds first hearing to discuss emergency powers for Duterte]
[RELATED(2): Poe still unsure of special powers]


AUGUST 25
-Senate panel chair Sen. Grace Poe will lead the second day of inquiry scheduled 10 a.m. at the Senate Hall. File photo The Senate Committee on Public Services is set to resume its hearings on the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve traffic congestion. Senate panel chair Sen. Grace Poe will lead the second day of inquiry scheduled 10 a.m. at the Senate Hall. Poe earlier asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to present detailed plans and projects to solve the transportation crisis gripping the metropolis and other urban areas before the senators. DOTr, meanwhile, officially took over the traffic management last Tuesday. “The bottleneck will not be in the Senate because we will conduct hearings consistently. But when we asked the Department of Transportation—give us already, as early as now, while we are discussing the problems in the hearings—what your proposed projects are. There’s none yet. Kahit na [sana] di pa kumpleto [ang mga plano],” Poe told a forum in Manila. Aside from government agencies concerned, Poe also invited some commuters to share their sentiments before the Senate. FIRST HEARING WAS IN AUGUST 10 The first hearing on the proposed emergency powers was held last August 10 where the Senate committee chair stressed that the proposal must be Freedom of Information-compliant. WATCH VIA VIDEO...RELATED, Senate holds first hearing to discuss emergency powers for Duterte...RELATED(2),
Poe still unsure of special powers...

ALSO: Government, NDF forge deal for indefinite truce
[RELATED: DU30 offers Reds ‘power sharing’]
[
ALSO WANTS CPP STRICKEN OFF ENEMY OF STATE LIST]
[RELATED(2): CPP-NPA releases 4 more PNP members in Surigao]


AUGUST 27 -Luis Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front (right) shakes hands with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello following the signing an indefinite ceasefire deal yesterday. Looking on is Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Boerge Brende. AP
MANILA, Philippines - An indefinite ceasefire between the communist rebels and the government takes effect today after their representatives signed a joint declaration in Norway to stop armed hostilities in preparation for talks to end once and for all the decades-long rebellion. The declaration of the truce came almost simultaneously with the announcement of the release of three policemen by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels. The truce was contained in a joint declaration committing “to unilateral ceasefires with no time limit,” said Norway’s foreign ministry, which sponsored the talks. Norway said the joint declaration marks the resumption of formal negotiations between the Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front. The latest ceasefire was a continuation of an earlier one called by the government, but which expired today. Some 150,000 people have died in the conflict that began almost half a century ago. Both sides said they had made important progress in the talks in Oslo in advancing a peace process that has dragged on for decades. “The joint statement we are signing manifests the historic significance of what we have achieved,’’ said Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, before the signing of the joint declaration. Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza called the statement a “historic and unprecedented event” and gave credit to President Duterte. “Not only has President Duterte walked the extra mile. He has also taken a step back to give the NDF space under his democratic and inclusive government,” he said. “We will go home with a promise of a just and lasting peace and our soldiers and the combatants of the NDF finally coming to terms that the war must end,” he added. He stressed no acrimonious exchanges happened. The discussions were jovial even, he said, with off-the-cuff remarks and banter periodically triggering laughter in the room. “Yes, there were breaks in between but they were devoted to discussing the fine print of the documents and drafts that were passed and handed out across the table,” Dureza said. READ MORE...RELATED, DU30 offers Reds ‘power sharing’ [ALSO WANTS CPP STRICKEN OFF ENEMY OF STATE LIST]...RELATED(2), DAY AFTER PHL GOV'T, NDF SIGN TRUCE AGREEMENT CPP-NPA releases 4 more PNP members in Surigao...

ALSO: Filipinos seen backing Duterte despite rising drug killings
[RELATED By Marlen Ronquillo - Democracy needs bomb throwers to flourish]


AUGUST 27 -"Human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country." The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File photo
On the day he was sworn into office, President Rodrigo Duterte went to a Manila slum and exhorted residents who knew any drug addicts to "go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful." Two months later, nearly 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users lay dead as morgues continue to fill up. Faced with criticism of his actions by rights activists, international bodies and outspoken Filipinos, including the top judge, Duterte has stuck to his guns and threatened to declare martial law if the Supreme Court meddles in his work. According to a survey early last month, he has the support of nearly 91 percent of Filipinos. The independent poll was done during his first week in office, and no new surveys have come out since then. National police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a Senate hearing this week that police have recorded more than 1,900 dead, including 756 suspected drug dealers and users who were gunned down after they resisted arrest. More than 1,000 other deaths are under investigation, and some of them may not be drug-related, he said. Jayeel Cornelio, a doctor of sociology and director of Ateneo de Manila University's Development Studies Program, said he suspects only a few of Duterte's supporters are disillusioned by the killings and his rhetoric because voters trust his campaign promise to crush drug criminals. They also find resonance in his cursing and no-holds-barred comments. Duterte's death threats against criminals, his promise to battle corruption, his anti-establishment rhetoric and gutter humor have enamored Filipinos living on the margins of society. He overwhelmingly won the election, mirroring public exasperation over the social ills he condemns. Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has said the killings "may be a necessary evil in the pursuit of a greater good," a sentiment echoed by a deluge of comments by Duterte supporters in social media deriding his critics and defending the brutal war on drugs. "The killings are OK so there will be less criminals, drug pushers and drug addicts in our society," said Rex Alisoso, a 25-year-old cleaner in Manila. He said people have gotten used to the way Duterte talks and voted for him knowing his ways. Kim Labasan, a Manila shopkeeper, said she does not like Duterte's constant swearing, his "stepping on too many toes," and his decision to allow late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery. But she supports the anti-drug war despite the rising death toll because, she said, she has personally seen the effects of drugs. Addicts in her hometown north of Manila have ended up with "poisoned brains" and even robbed her family's home. READ MORE...RELATED, By Marlen Ronquillo - Democracy needs bomb throwers to flourish...RELATED(2) DFA clarifies PH stand on drug war, sea row to foreign envoys...

ALSO: Addict risks all in deadly Philippine drug war ..
[ALSO: QC MAYOR, Councilor accused over illegal drugs - Mayor Bistek responds to VACC raps]


AUGUST 28 -Philippine Scene of the Crime Operatives work at the site where two suspects were shot dead.
Pedicab driver Reyjin dives into a neighbor’s house for a quick meth fix, fearful of taking a bullet to the head in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs but unable to quit. More than 2,000 people have died violent deaths since Duterte took office two months ago and immediately implemented his scorched-earth plans to eradicate drugs in society, ordering police to shoot dead traffickers and urging ordinary citizens to kill addicts. The bloodbath has seen unknown assailants kill more than half the victims, according to police statistics, raising fears that security forces and hired assassins are roaming through communities and shooting dead anyone suspected of being involved in drugs. Armed police constantly circle in Reyjin’s Manila slum community, but he continues to snort the fumes of the highly addictive methamphetamine known as “shabu” that Duterte has warned is destroying the lives of millions of poor Filipinos. “It’s scary because I could be next,” said the gaunt, gap-toothed 28-year-old, speaking to AFP on the condition his identity not be revealed for security reasons. The father-of-three said two masked motorcycle gunmen riding in tandem on a motorcycle had shot dead a woman who sold small amounts of drugs to him and other residents. “She was sitting in the alley when she took two bullets to the head,” he said. Such riding-in-tandem murders are one of the most common forms of killings by the shadowy assassins.
‘Cardboard justice’ Often a piece of cardboard, with “drug peddler” or “drug addict” written on it, is placed on the corpse. This has led to the war on crime becoming known as “cardboard justice.” Meanwhile, police have reported killing 756 people they have branded drug suspects. National police chief Ronald dela Rosa has repeatedly defended his officers, insisting they only kill when their own lives are in danger. However two policemen have been charged with murder over the jailhouse deaths of a father and son, who autopsies showed to have been beaten so badly before being shot that their limbs were broken. The United Nations, the US government and human rights groups have expressed alarm at the bloodshed, with some critics warning the Philippines is in the midst of a reign of terror as authorities act with no regard for the law. Duterte and Dela Rosa have repeatedly insisted they are acting within the boundaries of the law, while accusing their critics of siding with the drug traffickers and ignoring the devastating consequences of what they describe as a national shabu crisis. READ MORE...RELATED, QC MAYOR, Councilor accused over illegal drugs - Mayor Bistek responds to VACC raps...

ALSO: Destroy Abu Sayyaf, Duterte orders gov’t security forces
[RELATED: ‘Terror suspects fled from Lanao Sur jail in 10 minutes’]


AUGUST 28 -ABS-CBN FILE Infuriated by the Abu Sayyaf Group’s (ASG) indiscriminate killing activities, President Duterte on Friday directed government security forces to destroy the bandit group now. The Abu Sayyaf is “out of control” and there is only one way to deal with them: For the government security forces to crush them, Duterte told soldiers at the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-Eastmincom) in Panacan, Davao City, last Friday.
“So my orders to the Armed Forces and to the police: Destroy them. Destroy them because they are criminals,” the President said. “We’ll never have peace in that area there… even if you grant them autonomy, and they maintain to be bandits. We will never have peace in that land,” he continued. With an indefinite truce with communist rebels, and the Muslim separatist groups – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – having also expressed their desire to talk, Duterte said that the government is now in the best position to confront the Abu Sayyaf threat. “So we have this time to concentrate on the front, sa drugs and extremism. So we have only two and they are just a few. Kaya natin yan pulbusin sa totoo lang,” Duterte told the soldiers. “I think this is one dividend we would like to see – for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to have its undivided attention on Abu Sayyaf,” Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said. “If we unleash really the firepower of the Armed Forces, ang problema lang it will also inflame passion there of the women and children. But kung talagang todasin natin yan, matapos ng isang linggo yan, to the last man,” he added. Recto said some AFP units tied up in checking New People’s Army (NPA) activities could now be redeployed to areas where the Abu Sayyaf has grassroots support or within the reach of “Abu Sayyaf’s long arm of terror.”  READ MORE...RELATED, ‘Terror suspects fled from Lanao Sur jail in 10 minutes’...


READ FULL MEDIA REPORTS HERE:

PHILSTAR LIVE: Senate hearing on emergency powers vs traffic woes – Day 2


Senate panel chair Sen. Grace Poe will lead the second day of inquiry scheduled 10 a.m. at the Senate Hall. File photo

MANILA, AUGUST 29, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By PhilstarLIVE August 25, 2016 - The Senate Committee on Public Services is set to resume its hearings on the proposed granting of emergency powers to President Rodrigo Duterte to resolve traffic congestion.

Senate panel chair Sen. Grace Poe will lead the second day of inquiry scheduled 10 a.m. at the Senate Hall.

Poe earlier asked the Department of Transportation (DOTr) to present detailed plans and projects to solve the transportation crisis gripping the metropolis and other urban areas before the senators. DOTr, meanwhile, officially took over the traffic management last Tuesday.

“The bottleneck will not be in the Senate because we will conduct hearings consistently. But when we asked the Department of Transportation—give us already, as early as now, while we are discussing the problems in the hearings—what your proposed projects are. There’s none yet. Kahit na [sana] di pa kumpleto [ang mga plano],” Poe told a forum in Manila.

Aside from government agencies concerned, Poe also invited some commuters to share their sentiments before the Senate.

FIRST HEARING WAS IN AUGUST 10

The first hearing on the proposed emergency powers was held last August 10 where the Senate committee chair stressed that the proposal must be Freedom of Information-compliant.

Watch the hearing LIVE starting 10 a.m. on Thursday, Aug. 25, 2016:

 
https://youtu.be/YkI7EzzQy3U
Senate of the Philippines Subscribe16,381 Add to Share More 5,177 views 21 3 Streamed live 11 hours ago Agenda: S. Nos. 11, 154, 999 and P.S. Res. No. 59 – Providing/granting emergency or special powers to the president to address the transportation crisis in Metro Manila and surrounding provinces

P.S. Res. No. 31 - Inquiry on the comprehensive traffic program of the government amid the worsening traffic gridlocks where precious resources and man-hours are wasted

P.S. Res. No. 33 - Mass Transit Roadmap of the Government

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DAY 1 SENATE HEARING FROM CNN PHILIPPINES

Senate holds first hearing to discuss emergency powers for Duterte By Cecille Lardizabal and VJ Bacungan, CNN Philippines Updated 12:23 PM PHT Thu, August 11, 2016
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Department of Transportation (DOTr) Secretary Arthur Tugade gives an overview of the traffic situation in Metro Manila and the many problems surrounding the transportation sector during a Senate hearing on the proposed emergency powers for President Rodrigo Duterte to address the traffic crisis in urban areas, Wednesday morning, August 10, 2016

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines) – Senators, Transportation Secretary Arthur Tugade and heads of various transport agencies met in a hearing Wednesday to discuss giving President Rodrigo Duterte emergency powers to address the country’s worsening transportation problems.

Senate Bills No. 11 and 154, filed respectively by Senate President Pro Tempore Franklin Drilon and Senator JV Ejercito, both grant the president the authority to go around standard bidding and procurement procedures under Section 10 of Republic Act 9184 or the "Government Procurement Reform Act." The proposed measures also prohibit restraining orders against transportation projects unless issued by the Supreme Court.

In her opening statement, Senate Committee on Public Services chair Grace Poe said that although emergency powers – which President Duterte requested from Congress in his State of the Nation Address last month – will allow the Executive branch to quickly implement much-needed transport solutions, these must be subject to very strict guidelines like Freedom of Information (FOI) regulations to prevent abuse.

Read: Emergency powers must be FOI-compliant

“The FOI rule must permeate and penetrate all activities, contracts, projects, biddings, documents, awards, payments made pursuant to the act of granting emergency powers,” she said.

Poe also said projects implemented through emergency powers must not only provide the best deal to the taxpayers, but also be specific and time-bound.

“There must be no hidden costs, or undeclared conditional debts that will be passed on to several generations,” she said. “We will not go for vague powers or blank checks. I assure you there will be elbow room and wide latitude given but not wide enough for thieves to sneak in.”

Temporary and transparent

Responding to Senator Poe, Tugade said he will ensure that all projects implemented through emergency powers will be completely transparent and will not last longer than two years.

"I give you my word, whatever we do, not only in relation to the emergency power, we shall be FOI compliant," he said. "I stand on the spirit of accountability and transparency. It shall be done."

Drilon meanwhile said under the Constitution, Congress could grant emergency powers for up to three years.

Beefing up public transport

Tugade said a synchronized and uniform traffic system managed by a single entity reporting solely to the president will help reduce conflicts between the national government and local-government units (LGU) in terms of implementing traffic rules.

In addition, DOTr Undersecretary for Roads and Infrastructure Anne Lontoc presented solutions to lessen traffic congestion in Metro Manila. These include:

•Prohibiting bus terminals along major thoroughfares
•Rationalizing public-utility-vehicle routes
•Encouraging car drivers to commute
•Developing an alternative transport system, which includes cable cars, double-decker buses, point-to-point buses and cargo rail transport

Lontoc also said emergency powers would allow them to fast-track the procurement of 6.7 million driver’s licenses and 5.4 million license plates in backlog, the latter of which are still subject to a temporary restraining order and a notice of disallowance by the Commission on Audit.

Decongesting NAIA

Both Tugade and DOTr Undersecretary for Air Sector Bobby Lim told the senators that emergency powers will be needed to redistribute flights out of Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), a move they said will greatly lessen congestion there.

Lim also said the powers would allow them to purchase much-needed aeronautical equipment at NAIA, as well as transfer general-aviation aircraft to other airports.

Better rail-sector supply chain

Finally, DOTr Undersecretary for Rail Noel Kintanar told senators how the regulations that only allow annual procurement has caused a very serious supply-chain problem in the rail sector, leading to a lack of spare parts that would keep trains running.

He said the emergency powers would allow them to establish a long-term supply-chain relationship with train manufacturers, thus allowing them stock up on spare parts early before the manufacturers phase the components out.

In addition, Kintanar said the powers would greatly help in reducing delays caused by temporary restraining orders from losing bidders and to plan ahead when building train depots by asserting government right-of-way.

Poe hopes to pass an emergency-powers law before they go on Christmas break in December by holding at least two sessions a week.

The next hearing will be on August 24, where the senators will talk to other government agencies like the National Economic Development Authority and the Department of Public Works and Highway, as well as members of the transport sector.

------------------------------

RELATED(2) FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

Poe still unsure of special powers posted August 26, 2016 at 12:01 am by
Macon Ramos-Araneta

SENATOR Grace Poe, chairman of the Senate Committee on public services, is not convinced President Rodrigo Duterte should be given emergency powers to solve the traffic problems gripping Metro Manila and other cities in the country.

“We still cannot say because they have not submitted what’s really their problem, their projects; so we cannot tell if we can already give [him the] emergency power,” she said Thursday after presiding over the hearing on the grant of emergency power, attended by officials of the Department of Transportation and Metro Manila Development Authority.

She noted that emergency powers should have specific time frame, clear and specific scope to ensure that it will not curtail-freedom.

She clarified that the Senate and the House of Representatives will also have the right to suspend the emergency powers of Duterte if it’s not properly implemented and will be used for other purposes.

According to Poe, they will need two weeks to prepare (a recommendation) as they still plan to invite mayors to know the impact on their constituencies.

But Poe believes emergency powers are needed in the acquisition of right of way to speed up the infrastructure projects that will improve the country’s transport system.

The Department of Transportation, the proponent of the emergency powers for President Duterte, said it needs a total P200 billion to cover infrastructure projects, of which P150 billion was intended for railway system that will decongest traffic in Metro Manila roads.

DOTr Undersecretary Anne Lontoc told the Senate panel it may take three years to resolve the alarming traffic situation in Metro Manila, even if emergency powers were given to the President.

She said improvements can be felt during the latter part of 2018 to 2019.

But DOTr officials also confirmed emergency powers will do away with the procurement process that tends to become tedious and causes delays on major road projects.

In her opening statement, Poe took a swipe at former Transportation Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya who said the traffic problem in the Metro is not fatal.

Poe said: “Perhaps he hadn’t thought that traffic causes health expenses related to pollution. Let (us) consider the commuters’ woes which start at dawn and sometimes end at midnight. They lack sleep, haven’t eaten yet, couldn’t go to the restroom, smell smoke, standing or sitting for so long due to traffic.

“It may not be fatal, but your life would surely shorten because of it. Plus, it is also fatal to the economy.”

She acknowledged that traffic plans do not materialize because of lack of consultation with stakeholders and commuters on the ground.

“Most often, transport plans fail, not because they are not good enough, but they suffer from the fatal handicap of (leaders) not consulting people on the ground,” she said.

JV EJERCITO

Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito himself has batted for long-term solutions to the “hellish” traffic conditions in Metro Manila and other population centers.

He cited the need to prioritize transportation projects like railways that would efficiently move goods and people while occupying less space.

“I have been vocal in sharing my advocacy of upgrading the railways across the country, particularly of the Philippine National Railways (PNR) in the last five years,” said Ejercito.

“Unfortunately, the same traffic and transport concerns that we had in 2010 when I was still a member of the House of Representatives remain unresolved up to this day, and the situation is much more aggravated,” he added. “

Now, traffic costs us at least P3 billion daily,” lamented Ejercito who, as vice chairperson of the Senate Public Services Committee, laid down recommendations on how to resolve the transportation crisis.

He said one of the earliest measures he filed is Senate Bill No. 154 which seeks to grant special powers to the President to address the transportation crisis.

He added he filed Senate Resolution No. 63 to probe air traffic congestion at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA), while pushing for measures like the Philippine National Railways (PNR) Modernization Act and the Train Protection Act.

Ejercito said his bill titled “Transportation Crisis Act of 2016” seeks to reform the country’s transportation sector in the long run through a comprehensive road map which shall reform national public transportation to ensure an efficient, sustainable, safe, clean and integrated air, land and sea transportation system.

“I believe there is no other way (better) than the railway system to address the traffic congestion and hasten the movement of goods and shipments in Metro Manila to other areas,” said Ejercito.

He cited Singapore’s success with its own railway system which he said he wants to see replicated in the Philippines.

Ejercito pointed out the pressing need to rehabilitate the trains, upgrade the service and operations, fix other infrastructures and facilities such as elevators, escalators and washrooms; and to provide for additional wagons for the MRT, LRT, and PNR.

“The new administration also needs to give priority over major infrastructure projects such as the North-South Railway Project and the Mindanao Railway Project,” he said.

The projects he cited would boost economic development by lowering the cost of movement of goods and people, and by reducing the cost of living, not just in major cities, but also in the countryside.

He also called for alternative modes of public transportation such as expanding and developing the current operation of Metro ferries, and the use of a Bus Rapid Transit or BRT, first introduced in Bogota, Colombia.

According to studies, a BRT along EDSA could have as much as one million passengers in one whole day.

This could be done if there are 96 BRTs traversing the highway, and having at least a 2-minute interval from each other.

“Our serious transport problems need serious solutions. It is high time we seriously developed our mass public transportation system and address our weakness in public infrastructure,” said Ejercito.

GATCHALIAN

Senator Win Gatchalian himself is pushing for a similar measure to address air traffic congestion in the skies above Metro Manila by filing Senate Bill No. 1067, or the Air Traffic Act.

The Air Traffic Act proposes a two-year grant of emergency powers which would empower the President to make drastic reforms in air transportation by consolidating air traffic regulatory and management authorities, while also streamlining procurement and eminent domain procedures for the speedy construction of key infrastructure, especially runways.

Gatchalian said: “At this point, the traffic in the skies is as bad as the traffic on our streets. Before, we only had road rage, but now we are seeing reports of ‘air rage’ as frustrated passengers lash out at our broken aviation sector.

“In the interest of passenger safety and sanity, we must give the President a free hand in bringing change to the dismal air traffic situation above Metro Manila.”

In the bill’s explanatory note, Gatchalian mentioned the existing runways at Ninoy Aquino International Airport can only accommodate an average of 36 takeoffs and landings per hour, while the overflowing schedule of commercial and general flights often require as many as 50 runway events per hour.

The strained capacity of NAIA’s runways has made flight delays and cancellations daily occurrences, causing the International Air Transport Association to declare NAIA as a high-risk airport due to unresolved safety issues and poor infrastructure.

Gatchalian said: “The magnitude of the air traffic situation is alarming. All efforts must be directed to expedite the improvement of existing facilities, building of new infrastructure, use of new hubs outside of Metro Manila, and other urgent measures to address the air traffic emergency.”

To ensure the proper and effective use of the emergency powers, the Air Traffic Act calls for the formation of an oversight committee composed of members of both houses of Congress, to whom the President will be required to submit a quarterly report on the actions taken under the provisions of the law.


PHILSTAR

Government, NDF forge deal for indefinite truce By Jose Rodel Clapano (The Philippine Star) | Updated August 27, 2016 - 12:00am 0 4 googleplus0 0


Luis Jalandoni of the National Democratic Front (right) shakes hands with Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello following the signing an indefinite ceasefire deal yesterday. Looking on is Norway’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Boerge Brende. AP

MANILA, Philippines - An indefinite ceasefire between the communist rebels and the government takes effect today after their representatives signed a joint declaration in Norway to stop armed hostilities in preparation for talks to end once and for all the decades-long rebellion.

The declaration of the truce came almost simultaneously with the announcement of the release of three policemen by New People’s Army (NPA) rebels.

The truce was contained in a joint declaration committing “to unilateral ceasefires with no time limit,” said Norway’s foreign ministry, which sponsored the talks.

Norway said the joint declaration marks the resumption of formal negotiations between the Duterte administration and the National Democratic Front.

The latest ceasefire was a continuation of an earlier one called by the government, but which expired today.

Some 150,000 people have died in the conflict that began almost half a century ago.

Both sides said they had made important progress in the talks in Oslo in advancing a peace process that has dragged on for decades.

“The joint statement we are signing manifests the historic significance of what we have achieved,’’ said Jose Maria Sison, founder of the Communist Party of the Philippines, before the signing of the joint declaration.

Presidential peace adviser Jesus Dureza called the statement a “historic and unprecedented event” and gave credit to President Duterte.

“Not only has President Duterte walked the extra mile. He has also taken a step back to give the NDF space under his democratic and inclusive government,” he said.

“We will go home with a promise of a just and lasting peace and our soldiers and the combatants of the NDF finally coming to terms that the war must end,” he added. He stressed no acrimonious exchanges happened.

The discussions were jovial even, he said, with off-the-cuff remarks and banter periodically triggering laughter in the room.

“Yes, there were breaks in between but they were devoted to discussing the fine print of the documents and drafts that were passed and handed out across the table,” Dureza said.

READ MORE...

They capped their discussions and exchange of notes with a boodle fight dinner Thursday evening.

President Duterte had promised to reopen talks and release all rebel leaders in detention during the election campaign period.

Duterte received two of the three freed policemen at the headquarters of the Armed Forces of the Philippines Eastern Mindanao Command in Davao Oriental.

Pacman accompanied freed cops

The two were Police Chief Inspector Arnold Ongachen of the Governor Generoso Municipal Police, and PO1 Michael Grande of Lupon, both in Davao Oriental.

The two arrived on a helicopter accompanied by Sen. Manny Pacquiao at around 3 p.m. and were kept away from the media pending the arrival of Duterte at the camp for the 10th anniversary celebration of the Eastern Mindanao Command. The third police captive, PO1 Richard Yu, was released in Tandag City.

An NDF statement said four more captive policemen are set to be released today in Surigao del Norte province. They are PO2 Caleb Sinaca, PO3 Jayroll Bagayas and non-uniformed personnel Rodrigo Angob of the Malimono Municipal Police Station and SPO3 Santiago Lamanilao of the Surigao City Police.

According to the NDF press statement, the four were arrested for involvement in illegal drugs and illegal gambling in Malimono and Surigao City.

In their statement, the two sides reaffirmed previous agreements and were set to discuss the release of detainees and who should get immunity to take part in the talks. Negotiators said they aim to complete the peace talks in nine to 12 months.

Although less numerous and less violent than Muslim separatist rebels in Mindanao, the Maoists have fought and outlived successive Philippine administrations for nearly 50 years, holding out against constant military and police offensives. They draw support from those dissatisfied with economic inequality, especially in the countryside, and the Philippines’ alliance with the US.

Norway has had a role as facilitator for the peace process since 2001. Fitful peace talks have been going on since 1986.

Duterte said he wants to end guerrilla wars with both communist and Muslim rebels that have been hampering economic development. The 3,000-strong New People’s Army is the armed wing of the CPP-NDF.

“I am happy to announce to our fellow Filipinos that the CPP-NPA-INDF agreed to declare that the unilateral ceasefire it has declared and is about to lapse tomorrow (Saturday) is now indefinite,” said Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello in Oslo.

NDF peace panel head Luis Jalandoni lauded Duterte’s show of determination to forge peace with the rebels.

Jalandoni said the release of 21 detained NDF consultants would be crucial to the progress of the peace negotiations.

The formal session – the first after five years – reaffirmed all previously signed agreements between the Philippine government and the NDF such as The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, the Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1996, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998. The documents were signed during the Ramos administration.

At Malacañang, presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said they are looking forward to the completion of the peace process and the implementation of a comprehensive agreement on socio-economic reforms (CASER) within six months.

“We’re happy that both parties have promised to complete the work,” Abella said in yesterday’s press briefing in Malacañang. He said Bello considers CASER as the heart and soul of the peace negotiations.

Earlier, the government released several top-rank communist representatives to allow them to join the talks, including couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon. Benito, chairman of the CPP-NPA, and Wilma, secretary-general, were caught in a military operation in Aloguinsan town in Cebu in March 2014.

Also released were Renante Gamara, Tirso Alcantara, Adelberto Silva, Concha Araneta-Bocala, Alan Jazmines, Ariel Arbitrario, Eddie Genelsa and Alfredo Mapano.

Sadyandi

Meanwhile, lumad groups expressed their support for the peace talks, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) said yesterday.

The Sadyandi, a lumad term, was joined by eight tribes and Moro groups which also voiced support for the peace negotiations.

Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo joined thousands of lumad and other tribal groups in Koronadal, South Cotabato, as they celebrated on Wednesday their Solidarity Festival through a “Sadyandi,” or unity pact.

“Specifically we are working with other government agencies such as the Department of Education to build more schools for lumad children and youth, and to ensure that the projects of the DSWD do not go against the welfare and culture of our lumad brothers and sisters. We support their struggle to recover and return to their ancestral lands,” Taguiwalo said.

“The peace talks between our government and the NDFP aim to bring to the table the substantive agenda for peace based on social justice. It is good that the lumad and other IP communities support the peace negotiations and that they themselves are issuing their calls to both parties,” she pointed out. With Edith Regalado, Ben Serrano, Van Nilles, Pia Lee-Brago

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RELATED FROM THE TRIBUNE

DU30 offers Reds ‘power sharing’
[ALSO WANTS CPP STRICKEN OFF ENEMY OF STATE LIST]
Written by Ted Tuvera Sunday, 28 August 2016 00:00 font size decrease font size increase font size Print 2 comments


PRESIDENT DUTERTE, CPP FOUNDER SISON

In another surprising statement, President Duterte said he is open to a sharing of power with the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), except for the military and the police force and that he would not consider the CPP as an enemy of the state.

Duterte revealed yesterday some of the details during a six-hour discussion with CPP members as peace negotiations with communist insurgents were launched last week in Oslo, Norway.

“About sharing of power I told them “you can have the mundane departments” (Department of Social Welfare and Development), Education... you can have it,” Duterte said narrating what he offered to the communist group at a meeting that he said lasted for six hours.

Speaking at the 10th anniversary of the Eastern Mindanao Command (EastMinCon) at the Naval Station Felix Apolinario in Davao City, Duterte bared a dialog he held recently with officials of the CPP but he did not disclose any names.

Duterte hinted that he might not consider the armed communist movement as an “enemy of the state.”

“We are in a best position now. There’s a window, it is not really very big but there is a window for us to take stock of everything. We are not fighting the communists, they have declared a truce,” Duterte said.

In Oslo, NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni attributed the “positive results” of the peace talks as a result of Duterte’s offer of a coalition government.

“We welcome his government’s offer to go into a coalition government. This is a big step for the national democratic movement and the people that has been fighting for a just and peaceful society,” Jalandoni said.


Luis Jalandoni, chief negotiator of the National Democratic Front

However, despite having an “indefinite ceasefire” with state forces, the CPP issued a statement indicating the possibility of cutting short the ceasefire agreement with the government.

This will happen, the CPP statement read, if the AFP continues to patrol in areas where the CPP’s armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA), operates.

“If the AFP will insist on maintaining its presence in communities and launching aggressive operations into the interior areas, armed skirmishes are bound to erupt despite the NPA’s effort to maintain the ceasefire,” the CPP Information Bureau said in a statement claiming that the military poses a threat to civilians.

“Economic activity is affected as peasants choose not to tend theirfields for fear of being questioned by soldiers,” they added.
The CPP identified provinces where it said military operations are ongoing which are Kalinga, Isabela, Abra, Aurora, Nueva Ecija, Batangas, Quezon, Camarines Norte, Camarines Sur, Albay, Sorsogon, Northern Samar, Western Samar, Negros Occidental, Agusan del Norte, Agusan del Sur, Surigao del Sur, Davao del Norte, Bukidnon and Compostela Valley.

The CPP also revealed that there were instances last week that could’ve ended the bilateral truce between their side and the military.
“Over the past week, NPA units across the country have reported that they were forced to carry out lateral and counter-encirclement maneuvers to avoid skirmishes with active and aggressive units of the AFP,” the CPP said.

Responding to the military’s calls for them to quit their zones, the CPP said the withdrawal should start with the Armed Forces of the Philippines.

“The AFP must also stop making the stupid counter-demand for the NPA to also withdraw from their communities. These are nothing but empty noise to drown the clamor for the (NPA’s) removal,” it said.

Duterte claimed the armed movement is already tired of fighting the government since the CPP’s founding in 1968, adding now that he’s willing to incorporate their ideology in running his government in the next six years.

“I sensed that they are really also maybe tired of fighting. Because, you know why? They have allowed the Left to join my government,” Duterte said.

Left-leaning officials appointed by Duterte included Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo, Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano, Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod and Anti-Poverty Secretary Liza Maza.

NDF, gov’t agrees on 6 points

Government peace panel chairman Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello III commended the CPP’ legal arm National Democratic Front (NDF) for its decision to extend indefinitely its one-week unilateral ceasefire to aid the peace process and achieve a deal within a year.

Closing the week-long peace talks in Oslo, Norway Friday, Bello said the resumption of the negotiations was “a leap of faith” after the last one in 2011.

“But no matter how difficult it was, we choose to believe and today, we start receiving the dividends of that faith. Our agreements reached during this round of talks should tell us how far can our faith bring us and what we can achieve together,” he said.

During the past week, both parties agreed on six, instead of five, major contentious issues that would propel the negotiations.

Aside from the NDF’s decision for an indefinite ceasefire, the panels also re-affirmed previously signed agreements, among them The Hague Joint Declaration in 1992, Joint Agreement on Safety and Immunity Guarantees (JASIG) in 1996, and the Comprehensive Agreement on Respect of Human Rights and International Humanitarian Law (CARHRIHL) in 1998.

The Philippine government (GPH) and NDF panels also agreed to reconstitute the JASIG list, which will be on an encrypted file and will contain photos and identities of NDF consultants who are still in hiding but will be immune to arrest as the negotiations are underway.

The JASIG list will contain the names and photos of 54 NDF “publicly known” consultants and 87 guerilla leaders who are known by their “assumed names.”

Also given a thumbs up during the meeting were the revitalization of the joint monitoring committee, the submission of a recommendation to President Rodrigo Duterte on the issuance of an Amnesty Proclamation, subject to concurrence with Congress, for the arrested, imprisoned and charged NDF members.

Bello said discussions were boosted by the participation of 16 NDF consultants who were given safe passes to travel overseas and join the meetings.

These consultants include couple Benito and Wilma Tiamzon, Chairman and Secretary-General, respectively, of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP), Tirzo Alcantara and Alan Jazmines.

Other NDF consultants who were present were NDF co-founder and former Bayan Muna Party-List Representative Satur Ocampo, Vicente Ladlad, Rafael Baylosis and Randall Echanis.

Both panels agreed to meet again on Oct. 8-12 in Oslo to discuss, among others, issues on socioeconomic reforms, which they agreed to finish in the next six months.

Both panels also agreed to activate the Reciprocal Working Committee on the Comprehensive Agreement on Socio-Economic Reforms (CASER), and the Reciprocal Working Groups (RWGs) on Political and Constitutional Reforms (PCR) and the End of Hostilities-Disposition of Forces (EOH-DOF).

The RCW meetings will be held in Oslo and those of RWGs in the Philippines.

“We conclude today our first round of talks with much vigor to accomplish the bigger tasks ahead in peace building,” Bello said.

“Let us be steadfast in our peace work until we have reached a logical conclusion of the armed conflict,” he added.

Aside from Bello, the government was represented in the meeting by Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process (PAPP) Jesus Duresa, former PAPP Rene Sarmiento, former agrarian reform secretary Hernani Braganza, Secretariat chief Carla Munsayac, and lawyer Sedfrey Candelaria, among others.

NDF chief negotiator Luis Jalandoni led the other party and was accompanied by CPP founder Jose Maria Sison and wife, Julie, NDF spokesperson Fidel Agcaoili, NDF peace panel member Coni Ledesma, and NDF Representative to the Nordic countries Asterio Palma, among others.

The meeting was facilitated by the Royal Norwegian Government.

AFP hails truce extension

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), meanwhile, lauded the decision of the National Democratic Front (NDF), the legal arm of the CPP, to extend indefinitely its week-long ceasefire in view of its peace talks with the government.

“The AFP have noted with elation and optimism this breakthrough in the peace negotiations,” AFP public affairs office chief Col. Edgard Arevalo said.

“It is a laudable move on the part of the CPP-NPA-NDF to respond positively to President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration of the reimposition of the ceasefire ‘for as a long as necessary’ to attain lasting peace in the land,” Arevalo said.

“The AFP under the leadership of Gen. Ricardo Visaya will continue to uphold the letter and spirit of the ceasefire declaration of the Commander-in-Chief. The nation can rely on every soldier, sailor, marine and airman to help provide an environment conducive to peace so that negotiators from both panels can work under the climate of trust and prospect of reconciliation,” he stressed.

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RELATED FROM GMA NEWS ONLINE

DAY AFTER PHL GOV'T, NDF SIGN TRUCE AGREEMENT CPP-NPA releases 4 more PNP members in Surigao Published August 27, 2016 6:13pm


The Communist Party of the Philippines-New People's Army (CPP-NPA) on Saturday released four members of the Philippine National Police, who were kidnapped in Surigao City last month.

Chief Inspector Charity Galvez of the Police Regional Office 13 (Caraga) said the release personnel were Senior Police Officer 3 Santiago Lamanilao, Police Officer 3 Jayroll Bagayas, Police Officer 2 Caleb Sinaca and civilian police employee Rodrigo Angub.

On Friday morning, the CPP-NPA also released Police Officer 1 Richard Yu in Tandag City, Surigao del Sur.

"Ang ating kapulisan ay nagpapasalamat sa Surigao Crisis Management Committee at sa 3rd party facilitators sa kanilang tulong upang mapalaya ang tatlong pulis at isang civilian employee ng PNP..." Galvez said in a statement.

She said the four PNP personnel are now undergoing medical checkups.

"Umaasa ang PNP na ang ganitong pag-kidnap sa ating kapulisan ay hindi na muling mangyayari pa sapagkat ang kidnapping ay labag sa batas at karapatang pantao lalong-lalo na sa mga pulis sa lokalidad na naglilingkod sa taong bayan," Galvez added.

The release came after the Philippine government and the National Democratic Front (NDF) signed an indefinite ceasefire agreement as formal talks ended in Oslo, Norway on Friday.

The peace panels of the Philippine government and the NDF are looking to craft mechanisms for their respective unilateral ceasefire declarations within the next 60 days.

Before the formal talks resumed in Oslo last August 22, the CPP-NPA announced that it will release the five PNP personnel.

Yu was kidnapped in Sugirao del Sur last July 5 while Sinaca, Bagayas, Angob and Lamanilao were taken by the rebels last July 24 in Surigao City.

The CPP-NPA had said that the five police personnel will be released as "goodwill" for the resumption of the formal peace talks in Oslo. —ALG, GMA News


PHILSTAR

Filipinos seen backing Duterte despite rising drug killings By Teresa Cerojano (Associated Press) | Updated August 27, 2016 - 4:17pm 42 1028 googleplus0 0


"Human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country." The STAR/Miguel de Guzman, File photo

MANILA, Philippines — On the day he was sworn into office, President Rodrigo Duterte went to a Manila slum and exhorted residents who knew any drug addicts to "go ahead and kill them yourself as getting their parents to do it would be too painful."

Two months later, nearly 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users lay dead as morgues continue to fill up. Faced with criticism of his actions by rights activists, international bodies and outspoken Filipinos, including the top judge, Duterte has stuck to his guns and threatened to declare martial law if the Supreme Court meddles in his work.

According to a survey early last month, he has the support of nearly 91 percent of Filipinos. The independent poll was done during his first week in office, and no new surveys have come out since then.

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa told a Senate hearing this week that police have recorded more than 1,900 dead, including 756 suspected drug dealers and users who were gunned down after they resisted arrest. More than 1,000 other deaths are under investigation, and some of them may not be drug-related, he said.

Jayeel Cornelio, a doctor of sociology and director of Ateneo de Manila University's Development Studies Program, said he suspects only a few of Duterte's supporters are disillusioned by the killings and his rhetoric because voters trust his campaign promise to crush drug criminals. They also find resonance in his cursing and no-holds-barred comments.

Duterte's death threats against criminals, his promise to battle corruption, his anti-establishment rhetoric and gutter humor have enamored Filipinos living on the margins of society. He overwhelmingly won the election, mirroring public exasperation over the social ills he condemns.

Economic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia has said the killings "may be a necessary evil in the pursuit of a greater good," a sentiment echoed by a deluge of comments by Duterte supporters in social media deriding his critics and defending the brutal war on drugs.

"The killings are OK so there will be less criminals, drug pushers and drug addicts in our society," said Rex Alisoso, a 25-year-old cleaner in Manila. He said people have gotten used to the way Duterte talks and voted for him knowing his ways.

Kim Labasan, a Manila shopkeeper, said she does not like Duterte's constant swearing, his "stepping on too many toes," and his decision to allow late dictator Ferdinand Marcos to be buried in the Heroes' Cemetery. But she supports the anti-drug war despite the rising death toll because, she said, she has personally seen the effects of drugs. Addicts in her hometown north of Manila have ended up with "poisoned brains" and even robbed her family's home.

READ MORE...

"A battle of moralities is being waged right now by this administration — before, if you were a human rights advocate you are a hero of the country, now you are seen as someone who can destroy the country," Cornelio said.

He said that Duterte fosters "penal populism" — identifying a particular enemy, a criminal, and then hunting him down to death. Because the results are visible, tangible and people feel it, "it becomes more important than many other things to the ordinary person."

Duterte has said drugs were destroying the country. In his State of the Nation Address last month, he said "human rights cannot be used as a shield or an excuse to destroy the country."

He also lashed out at U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg, calling him gay in derogatory terms, after he criticized Duterte's rape comments during the presidential campaign. He threatened to pull the Philippines out of the United Nations because of U.N. comments condemning extrajudicial killings, saying he did not "give a shit" about the consequences. The following day, Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay said the Philippines was not leaving the U.N. and Duterte made the comment only because he was tired, angry and frustrated.

Phelim Kine, Human Rights Watch's deputy Asia director, said Duterte "is streamrolling the rule of law and its advocates both at home and abroad." The killings suggest his aggressive rhetoric advocating extrajudicial solutions to criminality has found a receptive audience, Kine said.

"His supporters are cheering him on, but wait till one of them is killed," said Ferdie Monasterio, a driver of a ride-sharing company who doesn't support Duterte. "He is no different from Marcos and it looks like he wants to establish a dictatorship."

Cornelio said the death toll is not the clincher in turning public sentiment against Duterte, because a lot of people look at them as justified killings. He said that Dutere's first year in office will be crucial since he promised quick action.

"I think the threshold has to do with the delivery of the promises," he said. "Are changes going to happen sooner or later? If they don't then, people will start getting disillusioned."

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RELATED MANILA TIMES OPINION

Democracy needs bomb throwers to flourish BY MARLEN V. RONQUILLO ON AUGUST 28, 2016 ANALYSIS AND COMMENTARY


Marlen V. Ronquillo

From a personal realm, I admire Mr. Duterte. He defies tradition, shatters orthodoxies, and he wants to take the country to a path never taken before. Just to untangle the country from its old and deep ties with the liberal global order is an exciting — though risky — one. He has even upped the ante. Recently, in a state of pique, he threatened to pull the country out of the United Nations.

Frame his pull-out threat from this context: The country was a founding member of the UN and our own Carlos P. Romulo once presided over the UN General Assembly. Our ties to the UN has been one of the sacred givens of our international relationship.

Even non-believers of the UN want to be part of the UN, in part because their dictator-leaders want a backdoor way of acquiring a visa to the US, and perhaps shop (using illegally amassed dollars) at the Big Apple. Mr. Duterte will have none of that.

His admonition to the Senate against ratifying the Paris Accord on Climate Change, so as not to rein in his dream to make manufacturing viable, is one big proof that he does not really care about global comity when national interests is impaired by that comity.

Viewing his leadership through the prism of Mr. Aquino’s orthodoxy and the previous administration’s fixation with the usual GDP growth and credit upgrades, Mr. Duterte is also forcing the nation to take leadership decisions seriously. Ordinary Filipinos used to take their presidents for granted, given the relative orthodoxy of their governance. From Mrs. Aquino to Mr. Aquino, it was the same old, same old pursuit of growth and the dream to make it to “economic tiger status.”

This time, the president is different.


President Rodrigo Duterte. AFP PHOTO

Mr. Duterte has combined his unorthodox view of our global relationship with a domestic policy never tried before. Law and order issues are first and foremost, and eliminating criminals with extreme prejudice, drug lords first and foremost, is a natural part of that process.

From Mrs. Aquino to Mr. Aquino, economics was first and foremost and law and order was always in the back burners of policy priorities. Mr. Aquino, indeed, launched his own war, but it was a one-sided corruption campaign that primarily targeted his political enemies. The proliferation of vice lords — from narco to gambling lords –- never bothered Mr. Aquino a bit, and it was that opening, a nation tired of the chaos and anarchy, that the Duterte campaign deftly recognized and exploited.

And this is the best part — Mr. Duterte has high approval and appreciation ratings. The nation, on the whole, favors the governing principles of Mr. Duterte.

The heady mix of unorthodoxy, high approval ratings, and a fresh approach to governance has had the effect of muting all criticisms, partly because Establishment Politics does not know how to react to a president in the mold of Mr. Duterte. The main reason is political cowardice. No one wants to confront an unorthodox and popular president — even on the issue of extrajudicial killings.

But that should not be the case in a democracy. For democracy to flourish, bomb throwers and dissidents are a must.

Even the sainted Nelson Mandela had his staunch critics during his term as the post-apartheid leader of South Africa. Even the late Cory Aquino, during the euphoric years after EDSA 1, was not spared from criticisms.

Enter Senator Leila de Lima, an outspoken critic of Mr. Duterte dating back to his Davao City years. As the supposedly brave men of the two chambers of Congress gave Mr. Duterte full governing leeway, Ms. De Lima became the solitary voice in the mainstream political establishment to question aspects of Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs. MARLEN V. RONQUILLO

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RELATED(2) FROM THE INQUIRER

DFA clarifies PH stand on drug war, sea row to foreign envoys SHARES: 148 VIEW COMMENTS By: Estrella Torres @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer 06:14 PM August 27th, 2016

The Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) has raised the seriousness of the administration of President Rodrigo Duterte in addressing the drug menace in the country amid concerns from foreign envoys on the rising extrajudicial killings of drug suspects in the Philippines.

Foreign Affairs Undersecretary for Policy Enrique Manalo led the diplomatic briefing where the position of the Philippine government on pressing key issues was clarified such as the South China Sea disputes and implementation of arbitration ruling through peaceful means, deepening rift among Asean members on the sea disputes issue, nuclear tests in North Korea and the domestic problem on illegal drugs.

In a statement, the DFA briefed members of the diplomatic corps on the Philippine position raised in the recent Association of Southeast Asian Nations Foreign Ministers Meeting in Vientiane, Laos, and the meeting of Asean-China on the drafting of Code of Conduct in the South China Sea.

“The DFA officials underscored the advocacies advanced by the Philippines in the abovementioned meetings,” said the statement on Aug. 23, noting that among them was “the realization of a drug-free Asean.”

The DFA officials also said the Philippines was committed to pushing for the early conclusion of the Asean Instrument for the Protection of the Rights of Migrant Workers and the ratification of the Asean Center for Biodiversity.

READ MORE...

A diplomatic source who requested anonymity said several foreign envoys were concerned on the summary killings of drug suspects.

“There were several questions (by the ambassadors) that focused on the rising number of deaths related to drugs. They were very concerned about the situation,” said the source who was present at the diplomatic briefing on Aug. 19.

Pressed on who among the foreign ambassadors raised concerns on summary killings, the diplomatic source said they were representing Western countries.

A briefing is hosted by the DFA before members of the diplomatic corps to clarify the position of the Philippines in pressing international and regional issues such as South China Sea disputes, full denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the need for a strong regional cooperation to address terrorism and violent extremism.

Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. earlier issued a note verbale against China following statements of the President that it was one of the primary sources of illegal drugs in the country.

Earlier, foreign ministry spokesperson Lu Kang said China was willing to cooperate in the Philippines’ war against illegal drugs after the DFA summoned Ambassador Zhao Jianhua on the alleged Chinese link to drug syndicates in the Philippines.

He said the Chinese government was a staunch force in the international campaign against drug crimes.

“The Chinese side understands and supports the Duterte administration’s policy that prioritizes the fight against drug crimes, and stands ready to cooperate with the Philippines in this regard and make a joint working plan on that,” said Lu.


PHILSTAR

Addict risks all in deadly Philippine drug war SHARES: 3760 VIEW COMMENTS @inquirerdotnet Agence France-Presse 11:30 AM August 28th, 2016


Philippine Scene of the Crime Operatives work at the site where two suspects were shot dead

Pedicab driver Reyjin dives into a neighbor’s house for a quick meth fix, fearful of taking a bullet to the head in Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s brutal war on drugs but unable to quit.

More than 2,000 people have died violent deaths since Duterte took office two months ago and immediately implemented his scorched-earth plans to eradicate drugs in society, ordering police to shoot dead traffickers and urging ordinary citizens to kill addicts.

The bloodbath has seen unknown assailants kill more than half the victims, according to police statistics, raising fears that security forces and hired assassins are roaming through communities and shooting dead anyone suspected of being involved in drugs.

Armed police constantly circle in Reyjin’s Manila slum community, but he continues to snort the fumes of the highly addictive methamphetamine known as “shabu” that Duterte has warned is destroying the lives of millions of poor Filipinos.

“It’s scary because I could be next,” said the gaunt, gap-toothed 28-year-old, speaking to AFP on the condition his identity not be revealed for security reasons.

The father-of-three said two masked motorcycle gunmen riding in tandem on a motorcycle had shot dead a woman who sold small amounts of drugs to him and other residents.

“She was sitting in the alley when she took two bullets to the head,” he said.

Such riding-in-tandem murders are one of the most common forms of killings by the shadowy assassins.

‘Cardboard justice’

Often a piece of cardboard, with “drug peddler” or “drug addict” written on it, is placed on the corpse. This has led to the war on crime becoming known as “cardboard justice.”

Meanwhile, police have reported killing 756 people they have branded drug suspects.

National police chief Ronald dela Rosa has repeatedly defended his officers, insisting they only kill when their own lives are in danger.

However two policemen have been charged with murder over the jailhouse deaths of a father and son, who autopsies showed to have been beaten so badly before being shot that their limbs were broken.

The United Nations, the US government and human rights groups have expressed alarm at the bloodshed, with some critics warning the Philippines is in the midst of a reign of terror as authorities act with no regard for the law.

Duterte and Dela Rosa have repeatedly insisted they are acting within the boundaries of the law, while accusing their critics of siding with the drug traffickers and ignoring the devastating consequences of what they describe as a national shabu crisis.

READ MORE...

They say most of the unexplained deaths are being carried out by drug syndicates waging war on each other.

Yet on the day he was sworn into office, Duterte gave a speech to a crowd in a Manila slum in which he called on them to kill drug addicts in their own community.

READ: Dela Rosa to former drug users: ‘Burn down houses of drug lords’

And in an address to a group of drug addicts who had surrendered to police last week, Dela Rosa called on them to kill their suppliers and burn down their homes.

Dela Rosa later apologized for the comments, saying they were made because he was angry, but they nevertheless added to an atmosphere of a dramatic breakdown in the rule of law.

READ: Dela Rosa apologizes for remark on burning drug lords’ houses

Resilient drug trade

In Reyjin’s Manila slum, the violence and security presence has slowed the drug trade and made shabu more expensive.

But lots are still available, in what could be a worrying sign for Duterte who vowed during the election campaign that he could completely wipe out the trade within six months.

“If you want to buy, you just go stand there on the street and somebody will approach you,” said Reyjin, who took his first hit of shabu when he was 13.

“You hand over the money and he will tell you to wait and have somebody else deliver the drugs to you.”

Even the shabu “dens,” in which people rent out their huts for addicts to take a hit, are still operating, according to Reyjin.

Reyjin said he earned about 400 pesos a day, taking passengers on short pedicab trips and occasionally doing odd jobs.

He said he was spending about one quarter of his earnings on shabu. It used to be a 50-peso-a-day habit, but the price of shabu had doubled because of the drug war, according to Reyjin.

Neighbors told AFP the eldest of Reyjin’s three children, a grade-schooler, looked malnourished and often went to school hungry.

The two other siblings looked dirty and were forced to wear hand-me-down clothes in their one-room house, they added.

The neighbors said they also suspected him of stealing small items from their homes to fund his habit.

Reyjin said he was aware of the toll his habit took on his family.

But, even compounded by the threat of his children being orphaned in the drug war, he said he could not stop taking shabu.

“Sometime I tell myself I have to stop,” he said.

“But my body craves it.”/rga

RELATED STORIES

Drug war ‘spiraling out of control’

Silent grief as drug war rages

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ALSO FROM ABS-CBN

QC MAYOR, Councilor accused over illegal drugs - Mayor Bistek responds to VACC raps ABS-CBN News Posted at Aug 28 2016 05:45 PM


Herbert Bautista. File Photo

MANILA - Facing complaints for the proliferation of drugs in his turf, Quezon City Mayor Herbert "Bistek" Bautista insisted that he has been an anti-drug crusader ever when he was still in show business as a young actor.

At the same time, the mayor emphasized he had no say in the selection of two city police chiefs earlier tagged by President Rodrigo Duterte as drug coddlers.

"I am not and will never involve myself in the illegal drug trade. Antidrug is my advocacy since I was 17 years old,"Bautista said, as quoted by a Philippine Daily Inquirer report.

The Volunteers Against Crime and Corruption (VACC) on Friday sued Bautista and his brother, Councilor Hero Bautista, for failing to combat the illegal drug trade in Quezon City since he assumed office in 2010.

(READ: Raps filed vs Herbert, Hero over illegal drugs in QC)

VACC chairman Dante Jimenez also questioned why two former Quezon City Police District (QCPD) heads -- Chief Superintendents Edgardo Tinio and Joel Pagdilao -- were linked to illegal drug trade.

Mayor Bautista, however, stressed that he was not involved in choosing the district director of QCPD.

"Even if the law provides that local chief executives will have to choose from among three to five names from the list given by the (Philippine National Police), not a single list reached me," he said.

He added that even before he became mayor in 2010, it was already a practice to appoint the QCPD directors "without any consultation or 'courtesy'" to the mayor.

Bautista also addressed criticisms that vice of his brother Hero, who has recently admitted to being a "victim of the drug menace."

"When this controversy arose, many were asking why didn’t I bother to scold or proactively take action about my brother’s drug use," he said, as quoted by Inquirer.

"Hero is 48 years old, has his own family, is independent from us. We barely see or talk to each other because we, as individuals, have our own set of lives and concerns."

Bautista said he is also "proud" that his younger brother has taken responsibility and is now undergoing drug rehabilitation.

The mayor is currently in Oslo, Norway for the peace talks of the Philippine government with the National Democratic Front (NDF).


MANILA BULLETIN

Destroy Abu Sayyaf, Duterte orders gov’t security forces by Elena L. Aben August 28, 2016 Share1 Tweet0 Share0 Email0 Share14


AUGUST 28 -ABS-CBN FILE

Infuriated by the Abu Sayyaf Group’s (ASG) indiscriminate killing activities, President Duterte on Friday directed government security forces to destroy the bandit group now.

The Abu Sayyaf is “out of control” and there is only one way to deal with them: For the government security forces to crush them, Duterte told soldiers at the Armed Forces of the Philippines-Eastern Mindanao Command (AFP-Eastmincom) in Panacan, Davao City, last Friday.

“So my orders to the Armed Forces and to the police: Destroy them. Destroy them because they are criminals,” the President said.

“We’ll never have peace in that area there… even if you grant them autonomy, and they maintain to be bandits. We will never have peace in that land,” he continued.

With an indefinite truce with communist rebels, and the Muslim separatist groups – Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) and the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) – having also expressed their desire to talk, Duterte said that the government is now in the best position to confront the Abu Sayyaf threat.

“So we have this time to concentrate on the front, sa drugs and extremism. So we have only two and they are just a few. Kaya natin yan pulbusin sa totoo lang,” Duterte told the soldiers.

“I think this is one dividend we would like to see – for the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) to have its undivided attention on Abu Sayyaf,” Senate Minority Leader Ralph Recto said.

“If we unleash really the firepower of the Armed Forces, ang problema lang it will also inflame passion there of the women and children. But kung talagang todasin natin yan, matapos ng isang linggo yan, to the last man,” he added.

Recto said some AFP units tied up in checking New People’s Army (NPA) activities could now be redeployed to areas where the Abu Sayyaf has grassroots support or within the reach of “Abu Sayyaf’s long arm of terror.”

READ MORE...

During the senatorial campaign trail last summer, Recto called the “wiping out of the Abu Sayyaf” as the “Artikulo Uno” (Article One) of the urgent things the next president should do.

“Tuldukan na niya (Put an end to it). If he is drawing up a list of criminals who must be neutralized, then without doubt the Abu Sayyaf occupies the No. 1 spot,” Recto said.

“If they’re (ASG) listening now,.. nawala ang bilib ko sa inyo. Ako may respeto noon, you are fighting for freedom. Tama kayo, there was this historical injustice, committed against the Moro people,” Duterte said.

“But when you began to slaughter people in front of the camera and then now you kill an innocent boy, nawala ang respeto ko sa inyo,” he continued.

The President was referring to the latest kidnap victim beheaded by the ASG – 18-year-old Patrick Almodovar whose decapitated head was recovered by the police at KM2, Barangay Kajatian, Indanan, Sulu, last Thursday.

The ASG murdered Almodovar after the victim’s family failed to heed the bandit group’s ransom demand.

According to Duterte, there’s a segment of society such as the Tausug who want peace. “And here you are slaughtering people as if they are chickens in front of the public. Nawala ang respeto ko, nawala ang bilib ko sa inyo,” said Duterte.

“Kaya I would not hesitate to order the Armed Forces of the Philippines, kill them. Destroy them. Destroy,” he added. (With a report from Mario B. Casayuran)

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

‘Terror suspects fled from Lanao Sur jail in 10 minutes’ By: Richel V. Umel @inquirerdotnet
Inquirer Mindanao 08:55 PM August 28th, 2016


In this March 7, 2016 file photo, soldiers from the Philippine Marines capture a camp believed held by the local terror ISIS-inspired clan, the Maute Group, in Lanao del Sur (FILE PHOTO BY JEOFFREY MAITEM / INQUIRER MINDANAO)

MARAWI CITY – Gone in 10 minutes.

Prison guards at the Lanao del Sur provincial jail here said it took only 10 minutes for armed men to free 23 inmates, eight of whom were tagged as members of a local terror group.

The jail’s officer of the day, Johary Panaarag, in his written report said the raid started when two women arrived, claiming they were bringing food to inmates, at around 5 p.m. Saturday.

When the women were allowed inside the jail gates, at least 50 armed men suddenly showed up.

The armed men then ordered the jail guards to lie on the ground as they walked to the cells some 50 meters away.

“We were not able to fight back. Some of us were handcuffed. They threatened to kill us if we resisted,” prison guard Tongco Abdullah told the Philippine Daily Inquirer.

Abdullah said the suspects were brandishing high-powered firearms, including rocket-propelled grenade launchers.

Some of the 12 prison guards on duty during the raid were armed with M16 Armalite rifles.

Then, the suspects looked for their target– eight (five men and three women) suspected members of the Maute group. They then destroyed the cell’s padlocks and freed the inmates.

A prisoner, who asked not to be named, said the jail guards did not show resistance.

Along with the eight jailed members of the Maute group, 15 other inmates escaped.

But one inmate, Blah Masorong, said he decided not to escape from prison even if he had the chance.

“I did not join them because I am due for release,” Masorong told the Inquirer.

The armed men, along with the escapees and a prison guard they held hostage, moved toward Barangay Calocan near Lake Lanao onboard four get-away vehicles, including a truck owned by the Bureau of Jail Management and Penology (BJMP). There, they released the unidentified prison guard. The armed men then boarded motorboats and escaped, while the other prisoners fled on foot.

The eight prisoners are believed to be members of the Maute group, a local terrorist cell that has been styling itself as an ISIS affiliate. They were arrested at a military checkpoint in Lumbayanague town in Lanao del Sur on August 22.

The military said it confiscated from the eight suspects a firearm, a grenade, an 81mm mortar and bomb-making components.

On July 29, government soldiers also intercepted a vehicle loaded with improvised explosive devices and other bomb-making components. Based on the vehicle’s registration, it was owned by a member of the Maute family – whose other members were being hunted down because of involvement in various atrocities in Lanao del Sur, including the beheading of two sawmill workers in April in Butig town.

The group being led by Maute family members, which had reportedly pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, was also suspected of staging the July 27 attack on the headquarters of the Army’s 103rd Infantry Brigade in Marawi.

In Cagayan de Oro City, the regional police command in Northern Mindanao has ordered all police units to strengthen and intensify its intelligence monitoring following the escape of the 23 inmates.

“These escapees pose serious threat to public safety and must be prevented from sowing further terror,” said Chief Supt. Noel Constantino, regional police chief, said in a statement Sunday.

Constantino has instructed police on the ground to conduct checkpoints to constrict entry of terror groups in Northern Mindanao.

Constantino has reminded the public to be extra vigilant. (With a report from Jigger J. Jerusalem, Inquirer Mindanao) SFM


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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