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MILITARY CONFIRMS PRESENCE OF FOREIGN TERRORISTS IN MINDANAO
[RELATED: War on terror pushed: Singaporean leads I.S. expansion bid—Du30]

[RELATED(2): Duterte urges Abus, Reds to 'take a vacation' this Christmas]


DECEMBER 14 -The Abu Sayyaf in western Mindanao and the Maute in the central part of the southern island are among the local groups known for coddling foreign terrorists. Philstar.com/File  ZAMBOANGA CITY — The military confirmed Wednesday the presence of foreign terrorists being coddled by local militant groups in Mindanao. The Abu Sayyaf in western Mindanao and the Maute in the central part of the southern island are among the local groups known for coddling foreign terrorists. Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said their information is a product of continuous intelligence operations that came from a series of military offensives. However, Tan declined to give an exact number of foreign-based militant elements citing that any disclosure might affect their ongoing operations. “We cannot say the number due to operational condition but there are,” Tan said. READ MORE...RELATED,
War on terror pushed: Singaporean leads I.S. expansion bid—Du30... RELATED(2) Duterte urges Abus, Reds to 'take a vacation' this Christmas...

ALSO: PHL loses US Millennium grant over rights concerns
[RELATED: US defers Philippine grant amid rule of law, human rights issues]
[RELATED(2): Duterte threatens to scrap VFA after US-led MCC defers aid grant]


DECEMBER 16 -A United States aid agency has deferred the selection of the Philippines to receive a multi-million dollar development grant, citing concerns on “rule of law and civil liberties.” The Millennium Challenge Corporation last year announced that it had unanimously re-selected the Philippines to receive a second grant in recognition of the country’s continuing efforts to improve its policies on good overnance under then-President Benigno S. Aquino III. The formal re-selection of the Philippines by the MCC was supposed to succeed the first grant or compact of $434 million that expired at the end of May 2016. In a statement, however, the MCC Board said it had “deferred” a vote on the reselection of the Philippines for compact development, “subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.” Opportunity for dialog, says DFA  The Department of Foreign Affairs said the MCC’s decision is not yet final, saying “the development of the Second Compact continues until the next board meeting in March 2017.” READ MORE...RELATED, US defers Philippine grant amid rule of law, rights issues... RELATED(2) Duterte threatens to scrap VFA after US-led MCC defers aid grant...

ALSO: Reconsider withholding aid, US urged
[RELATED: US says it will work with Duterte after latest outburst, threat to end pact]


DECEMBER 17 -F
inance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez (lNQUIRER FILE PHOTO) Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Friday said he hoped the US aid agency Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) would reconsider its decision to put on hold funding for a second Philippine antipoverty program under the administration of incoming US President Donald Trump. Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. also said he hoped the MCC would reconsider the decision, but added that the United States should give the aid without conditions. The MCC, a US poverty reduction agency, on Thursday said on its website that its board had “deferred a vote on the reselection of the Philippines for compact development, subject to further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.” READ MORE...RELATED, US says it will work with Duterte after latest outburst...

ALSO
Rody: Phl won’t go hungry sans US aid
(“Filipinos were also satisfied with the way that democracy works, which... virtually reflected the people’s vote of confidence in the Duterte administration’s adherence to the rule of law and other democratic processes,” Finance Chief Dominguez said.)
[RELATED: US calls Duterte's killing boasts troubling]


DECEMBER 17 -The country can afford to “lose” a funding grant from the US-led Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), President Rodrigo Duterte declared yesterday as he again called on the Americans to “better start packing” as “we have China and Russia” anyway. PND/Toto Lozano
MANILA, Philippines - The country can afford to “lose” a funding grant from the US-led Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), President Duterte declared yesterday as he again called on the Americans to “better start packing” as “we have China and Russia” anyway. “We’ll be glad to lose it,” he said in an interview after addressing some 7,000 Filipinos at the Max Pavilion in Singapore Expo last night. “And may I suggest that they start packing, maybe six months or so. We will not go hungry without the American aid,” he said. “We are not that desperate, we can always get it from China and Russia.” READ MORE...RELATED,
US calls Duterte's killing boasts troubling...

ALSO: Duterte among ‘World’s Most Powerful People’ – Forbes [RELATED: Duterte on Forbes' power list: It's a shame]


DECEMBER 16 -President Rodrigo Duterte has been adjudged one of the most powerful people in the world by Forbes magazine, which cited his tough stance on illegal drugs and criminality and his “tendency to say what he thinks no matter how raw.” Presidential Photographers Division/Simon Celi, file
President Duterte has been adjudged one of the most powerful people in the world by Forbes magazine, which cited his tough stance on illegal drugs and criminality and his “tendency to say what he thinks no matter how raw.” The Philippine leader ranked 70th among 74 persons in the list. The ranking was according to the number of people those in the list influence, the financial resources they control, the extent of their power in multiple spheres and how active they are in using that power. Russian President Vladimir Putin, described by Duterte as his “idol,” ranked as the world’s most powerful person for the fourth consecutive year. US president-elect Donald Trump came in second, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping ranking third and fourth, respectively.Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, ranked fifth on the list. READ MORE...RELATED,
Duterte on Forbes' power list: It's a shame...

ALSO Yasay: UN special rapporteur should apologize for damaging statements on EJKs in PH
[RELATED: UN rapporteur says no to Duterte’s conditions for conduct of her probe]


DECEMBER 16 -Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay listens to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. AP/Ivan Sekretarev
MANILA, Philippines — Demanding an apology from United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard is necessary, the Philippines' top diplomat said. Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that Callamard had jumped into conclusions about the cases of extrajudicial killings in the country. "She has damaged the country tremendously by her statement. People had jumped into conclusions that EJKs have been perpetrated in the Philippines and that there is rampant violation, state-sponsored violation of human rights," Yasay said in Cambodia. Yasay added that Callamard's statement has been one of the basis of the United States on refocusing its assistance to the Philippines. READ MORE...RELATED, UN rapporteur says no to Duterte’s conditions...


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Military confirms presence of foreign terrorists in Mindanao


The Abu Sayyaf in western Mindanao and the Maute in the central part of the southern island are among the local groups known for coddling foreign terrorists. Philstar.com/File

ZAMBOANGA CITY, DECEMBER 19, 2016 (PHILSTAR) By Roel Pareño Updated December 14, 2016 - ZAMBOANGA CITY — The military confirmed Wednesday the presence of foreign terrorists being coddled by local militant groups in Mindanao.

The Abu Sayyaf in western Mindanao and the Maute in the central part of the southern island are among the local groups known for coddling foreign terrorists.

Maj. Filemon Tan Jr., spokesman of the Western Mindanao Command (Westmincom), said their information is a product of continuous intelligence operations that came from a series of military offensives.

However, Tan declined to give an exact number of foreign-based militant elements citing that any disclosure might affect their ongoing operations.

“We cannot say the number due to operational condition but there are,” Tan said.

READ MORE...

President Rodrigo Duterte recently warned that presence of foreign terrorists is inevitable as there are local hosts coddling them in Mindanao.

Tan said that ground forces are aware of the challenges they are confronting and assured the public that they are addressing the threat before it gets out of control.

He said that the Islamic State-inspired faction of Maute was flushed out from its control of Butig town in Lanao del Sur.

Tan said operations are ongoing in Sulu against the Abu Sayyaf to free at least 23 remaining hostages, including 18 foreigners and five locals.

Among the foreign captives are a Dutch, a German, a Korean, five Malaysians, four Indonesians and six Vietnamese.

Tan said the youngest Filipino captive is Ricson Romoc, 9, who was abducted along with his parents from Payao, Zamboanga Sibugay last August. His parents were freed separately after payment of ransom.

The Westmincom spokesman added that operations are also being conducted in Basilan to rid the province of the Abu Sayyaf.

Reports stated that the Abu Sayyaf in Basilan has taken in three foreign-based militants.

“The security operation efforts continued and were not ceasing. It doesn’t mean when there is encounter we stop. The encounter is just the result of the shaping of intelligence and civil-military operations,” Tan said.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA STANDARD

War on terror pushed: Singaporean leads I.S. expansion bid—Du30 posted December 13, 2016 at 10:01 pm by Francisco Tuyay and John Paolo Bencito


ANOTHER LIST. President Rodrigo Duterte, during a keynote address Monday before the Outstanding Filipinos 2016 awards ceremony at Malacañang, shows yet another list of government and police officials allegedly involved in the illegal drug trade in the Philippines.

PRESIDENT Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday ordered security forces to decimate “the forces of evil” in Mindanao, including the Abu Sayyaf and the Maute group, amid reports that a Singaporean has taken the lead in efforts to spread the influence of the terrorist Islamic State (ISIS) in Mindanao and Southeast Asia.

“There will be no letup, whether they are foreign terrorists or not,” National Security Adviser Hermogenes Esperon said, referring to the new phase in Duterte’s war on terrorism.

The renewed push against terrorists comes amid reports that 13 foreigners, including Syrians, Indonesians, and Malaysians, are in various parts of Mindanao training local militants in bomb making and urban terrorism techniques.

At the airport before flying to Cambodia and Singapore, Duterte said a Singaporean has taken over efforts to build up the ISIS presence in Sulu and in Southeast Asia.

“In Sulu now, there is a group… led by a Singaporean,” Duterte said.

“Countering terrorism, violent extremism and radicalization will be the key areas of discussion as well as the war on illegal drugs,” Duterte said of his upcoming meeting with Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

Duterte had earlier warned that the international terrorist organization ISIS has made inroads in the country, connecting with the local Maute group.

The Abu Sayyaf is also seeking recognition from ISIS, which is seeking to build a wilayat or province in Southeast Asia, as it comes under heavy attack in the Middle East.

At least 14 battalions have already been deployed in known terrorist havens in Basilan, Sulu and Tawi-Tawi, as parts of efforts to neutralize them.

The Army’s 35th Infantry Battalion clashed with 150 fully armed Abu Sayyaf fighters led by Radullan Sahiron in Sitio Dyundangan, Buhanginan village in Patikul, Sulu, killing 10 bandits while suffering four casualties on Saturday.

The Maute group, which has pledged allegiance to the Islamic State, lost 63 fighters when government forces attacked Butig town in Lanao del Sur last week.

Esperon said anti-terrorism efforts have been ongoing, but the massive campaign launched recently aims to finish the terrorists off.

Security was raised in Singapore last August amid reports that terrorists wre targeting one of Asia’s top financial centers.

Lee had called for increased vigilance amid the looming specter of terrorism “which can tear our society apart.”

Sources told the Manila Standard that when the Philippines assumes the chairmanship of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations next year, Manila will propose two documents to the 10-nation bloc, incuding a “Manila Declaration to Combat the Rise of Radicalization and Violent Extremism.”

FAILED US EMBASSY BOMBERS

Police on Tuesday said all four arrested suspects in the failed US Embassy bomb attack are ISIS supporters.

“All four suspects are members of the Sarangani-based Ansar al-Khilafah in the Philippines (AKP) which had earlier pledged allegiance to ISIS and its leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi,” said Manila Police District (MPD) director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel.

Citing a report submitted by Manila Police District (MPD) director Senior Supt. Joel Coronel, Manila Mayor Joseph Estrada on Monday identified the fourth suspect arrested as Elmer Romero, 36, alias Jamal, who admitted to being a conspirator in the bomb plot.

Coronel said intelligence units from the Armed Forces and the Philippine National Police (PNP) helped with Romero’s capture and debunked reports that the US Federal Bureau of Investigation took part in the operation.

With Romero’s arrest, Coronel said they are hunting down two more possible suspects, one of whom he said has already left Metro Manila.

Sarangani officials, meanwhile, have raised an additional bounty of P1 million for the arrest of the eader of a local armed group that had pledged support to ISIS.

Kiamba, Sarangani Mayor Raul Martinez said Tuesday the reward money is aimed at enhancing the manhunt operations against Mohamad Jaafar Maguid alias Tokboy, founder of the Ansar al-Khilafah Philippines group.

The group, which is operating in parts of South Cotabato, Sarangani and Sultan Kudarat provinces, has been blamed for a number of terrorist attacks in the area over the last few years.

Authorities tagged Maguid’s group as behind the planting of an improvised bomb late Saturday night at a Christmas display in front of the Kiamba municipal hall.

“We’ve had enough of him already. I hope that the reward money will expedite his arrest,” the mayor told reporters.

Martinez said he personally raised the P1 million bounty through donors in Kiamba and the neighboring municipalities of Maasim and Matium.

He said it will be given to anyone who would be able to provide information that will lead to Maguid’s arrest.

The reward money is on top of the standing P200,000 bounty for Maguid that was earlier set by the Department of the Interior and Local Government.

DISPLACED FAMILIES IN BASILAN

The International Committee of the Red Cross said Tuesday that nearly 7,000 people have been displaced for more than a month following armed clashes between government security forces and armed groups in Basilan province.

“These families left their homes and sources of livelihood after the hostilities started in November. The residents of six villages in the conflict-affected municipalities of Al-Barka and Tuburan chose to stay with relatives or in evacuation centers for fear of being caught in the crossfire. The ICRC’s distribution is in response to their basic needs for food,” said Nezar Tamine, deputy head of the ICRC sub-delegation in Mindanao.

To support their needs, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) provided food rations and hygiene items for the affected families in Al-Barka and Tuburan, with the support of the Philippine Red Cross (PRC) Basilan chapter.

Also recently, the ICRC arranged for 12 emergency health kits to be delivered to hospitals and rural health units in Sulu and Basilan provinces to support the medical needs of the affected civilians. These kits also contain dressing materials to treat the weapon-wounded. With Sandy Araneta, PNA

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RELATED(2)  FROM PHILSTAR

Duterte urges Abus, Reds to 'take a vacation' this Christmas By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated December 18, 2016 - 2:51pm 4 5 googleplus0 0


President Rodrigo Duterte urged armed groups to resume the fighting some other day for a peaceful Christmas. PPD/Ace Morandante, File

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has urged the Abu Sayyaf and other armed groups to take a break from fighting during the holiday season.

Duterte even said he is ready to treat members of the bandit group Abu Sayyaf to a dinner if they pass by his hometown Davao City.

“You can have a peaceful Christmas. I hope you, Abu Sayyaf, take a vacation. If you happen to pass by Davao, let me know I’ll treat you to a dinner. That’s true. Just call my daughter in law, my daughter in law is from Jolo, Lovely Sankola,” he told reporters in Zamboanga City on Saturday when asked to deliver a Christmas message.

“I urge everybody if we can we have peaceful Christmas. Maybe we can resume fighting some other day.”

Duterte also extended his holiday greetings to communist rebels and to Muslims.

“I’d like to greet everybody, the Filipino people, the law abiding (people) and of course if they find it in their hearts, this is not something for the Moros, this kind of events are closest to the hearts of Christians,” the president said.

“I’d like to greet everybody, the communists, the Abu Sayyaf, in behalf of the Filipinos, Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year for all.”

When asked for his holiday message for criminals, Duterte said: “I will give you one plate of shabu and ask you to eat it.”

ANGRY WITH CRIMINALS, NOT REVOLUTIONARIES

“I am angry with criminals, not with revolutionaries. They are driven by, you know, principles.”

Duterte, however, vowed to continue the campaign against the Maute group, whom he described as a “very dangerous group.”

“They are a very dangerous group because they… well, allegedly, swore allegiance to the ISIS (Islamic State). That we have to be very careful,” the president said during the birthday celebration of Sen. Manny Pacquiao in General Santos Saturday night.

“I said, I do not want to fight, I do not want to kill anybody, even those involved in drugs but if it would take up to the last day of my term, six years from now, fine. I’ll be glad to oblige you. Sons of b******, I’ll kill you all you’ll see.”


GMA NEWS NETWORK

PHL loses US Millennium grant over rights concerns Published December 15, 2016 5:49pm Updated December 15, 2016 7:17pm By MICHAELA DEL CALLAR

A United States aid agency has deferred the selection of the Philippines to receive a multi-million dollar development grant, citing concerns on “rule of law and civil liberties.”

The Millennium Challenge Corporation last year announced that it had unanimously re-selected the Philippines to receive a second grant in recognition of the country’s continuing efforts to improve its policies on good governance under then-President Benigno S. Aquino III.

The formal re-selection of the Philippines by the MCC was supposed to succeed the first grant or compact of $434 million that expired at the end of May 2016.

In a statement, however, the MCC Board said it had “deferred” a vote on the reselection of the Philippines for compact development, “subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.”

Opportunity for dialog, says DFA

The Department of Foreign Affairs said the MCC’s decision is not yet final, saying “the development of the Second Compact continues until the next board meeting in March 2017.”

READ MORE...

“The deferment allows us the opportunity to continue to dialogue with the MCC,” it said in a statement on Thursday as it assured the Washington-based agency that the Philippine government “remains committed to the goals to foster good governance and the rule of law in the country.”

It also said that it will continue to engage the MCC Board “to ensure that accurate and updated information on government policies and programs are provided to its members.”

“The MCC Board had a wide discussion on its engagement with the Philippines, including the very positive performance in the First MCC Compact and the FY 2017 Scorecard, as well as on the current developments in the country,” the DFA said.

The MCC is an independent American aid agency created by the US Congress in 2004.

‘Not rejected, only deferred’

US Embassy spokesperson Molly Koscina explained the MCC did not actually reject the Philippines as recipient of its grant.

“The Board did not vote on whether to reselect Philippines as eligible to continue developing a second compact at the December meeting. Rather, it decided to revisit the discussion on the Philippines’ eligibility at a future date,” Koscina said via e-mail.

But Koscina noted that the MCC’s decision reflects the Board’s significant concerns around rule of law and civil liberties in the Philippines.

“MCC will continue to monitor unfolding events in the Philippines and underscores that all country partners are expected to maintain eligibility, which includes not just a passing scorecard but also a demonstrated commitment to the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights,” Koscina said.

Past projects under Millennium aid

It supports developing countries address human rights, poverty and corruption through good governance.

Approved in 2010, the first grant provided the Philippines with $262 million for the Secondary National Roads Development Project to improve access to markets and services for farmers, fishermen and small businessmen.

It also gave $120 million for poverty reduction programs and $54.3 million for the computerization and streamlining of business processes of the Bureau of Internal Revenue and reduce corruption under the Revenue Administration Reform Project.

At its quarterly meeting on December 13, the Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) Board of Directors selected Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka and Tunisia for new MCC five-year compact grants to spur economic growth and reduce poverty.

For a country to be selected as eligible for assistance, the MCC said “it must demonstrate a commitment to just and democratic governance, investments in its people, and economic freedom, as measured by third-party policy indicators on MCC’s annual scorecard.”

MCC selected in 2015

The Philippines’ re-selection in 2015 came after the release of the MCC scorecard where the country passed 12 out of 20 indicators such as Trade Policy, Land Rights Access, Rule of Law and the “must-pass” indicators of Control of Corruption and Democratic Rights, both of which are considered “hard hurdles.”

The United States, a close ally of the Philippines, has long expressed concern on the wave of killings of drug suspects since President Rodrigo Duterte came into power on June 30 this year.

The US said it supports the country’s anti-illegal drugs campaign, but maintained that due process and human rights must be observed by Philippine authorities in carrying out its operations.

However, a defiant Duterte told the US and other critics, such as the United Nations and the European Union, to back off and not to meddle with his domestic policies as he vowed to step up his violent war on illegal drugs “until the last drug lord is killed.” — NB/RSJ, GMA News

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

US defers Philippine grant amid rule of law, rights issues By Prinz Magtulis (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 16, 2016 - 12:00am 3 65 googleplus0 0


Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia downplayed MCC’s decision, saying the Philippines has other development partners. PPD/Toto Lozano

MANILA, Philippines - The US-led Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) has suspended a funding grant for the Philippines over “concerns around rule of law and civil liberties” under the Duterte administration.

In a statement last Wednesday, the MCC said it has “deferred a vote on the re-selection” of the country for another compact grant, “subject to a further review.”

No other details about the Philippines were released. Meanwhile, Burkina Faso, Sri Lanka and Tunisia were granted compact aid for the first time.

In 2011, MCC gave the Philippines $434 million to finance three projects on boosting revenue collection efforts, strengthening poor communities and developing national roads.

Socioeconomic Planning Secretary Ernesto Pernia downplayed MCC’s decision, saying the Philippines has other development partners.

The Bureau of Internal Revenue, the Department of Social Welfare and Development and the Department of Public Works and Highways utilized the first grant.

Even before the program’s conclusion last May, the country was already rated as eligible to develop a new set of projects for a new grant, which MCC had said would focus on boosting agriculture and competitiveness.

“(The first) compact is a strong example of how the US and the Philippines worked together to unlock economic growth and lift people out of poverty,” the US embassy said last October.

“A second compact would try to invest and leverage resources for significant impact on a more focused scope,” it added. The deferred program was also targeted to run for five years.

MCC evaluates potential recipients of funding using separate metrics for economic freedom, investment of people and rule of law.

WASHINGTON A STAUNCH CRITIC OF DUTERTE DRUG WAR

Washington has criticized Duterte’s war on drugs, which has killed thousands and unleashed human rights violations, with victims mostly from the slums.

Duterte has repeatedly lambasted critics of his vicious war on drugs, including the United Nations, the European Union and even US President Barack Obama. He had threatened to sever ties with the US only to backtrack later.

The US is the country’s fourth biggest lender as of 2014, accounting for eight percent of the country’s total loans, according to data from the National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA).

LITTLE IMPACT

Pernia, who is also NEDA chief, said the MCC decision would have little impact on development efforts.

“There are many offers of assistance from other countries and development institutions like AIIB,” he told reporters yesterday, referring to the Beijing-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank.

The AIIB, regarded as the rival of the World Bank, has also promised greater speed and ease in obtaining financing for projects.

Pernia said countries like Japan, China and South Korea are scouting for projects to invest in.

“They are all searching for projects. They do not want to be left behind in terms of participating in this big push in the next six years,” he pointed out.

“I don’t think they would link their programming to whatever MCC would say,” he added.

P4 BILLION TO  AIIB IN 2017 BUDGET

Last week, the Senate ratified the agreement between the Philippines and the AIIB, paving the way for the country’s full membership in the funding institution.

Last Tuesday, national treasurer Roberto Tan said the government might seek up to $500 million in funding on its first year with AIIB to finance a rapid bus transit system and a flood control project in Manila.

“It’s really more symbolic in terms of the confidence of those behind the MCC rather than that thing having a real impact on the economy,” Pernia said of the MCC decision.

“It’s not going to be anything of significance. And given amounts of investments that many countries are interested in putting in, I would not lose sleep over that,” he said in a briefing yesterday.

“The (AIIB) resident was here the other day and he was trying to sell AIIB assistance, trying to say that they are going to be different from the World Bank and the ADB in terms of speed of approval,” Pernia revealed.

“He said that while the World Bank project will take three years to process, they can do it in six months or less than a year,” the NEDA chief said of the message relayed by the AIIB representative, whom he did not name.

“He was practically offering us on a silver platter the assistance that they provided at AIIB,” Pernia maintained.

The AIIB has 57 member-countries, 37 of which are in Asia. It was formally established in November 2014 when 22 Asian countries gathered in Beijing to sign a memorandum of understanding on the creation of the multilateral institution, which has an authorized capital stock of $100 billion.

It aims to boost lending for infrastructure projects in the Asia-Pacific region, including energy, urban construction, transportation and logistics as well as education and healthcare.

The government has set aside P4 billion in the proposed budget for 2017 as the Philippines’ initial contribution to the AIIB. – with Czeriza Valencia

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RELATED(2) FROM PHILSTAR

Duterte threatens to scrap VFA after US-led MCC defers aid grant By Alexis Romero (philstar.com) | Updated December 17, 2016 - 3:34pm 5 127 googleplus0 1


U.S. and Philippine military officers stand at attention during the entrance of the colors at the opening ceremony of the annual joint U.S.-Philippines military exercise dubbed Balikatan 2016 (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) Monday, April 4, 2016 at Camp Aguinaldo, in suburban Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines. AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, file

MANILA, Philippines — President Rodrigo Duterte has threatened to scrap the Philippines’ Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the US as he assailed Washington anew for supposedly treating Manila like “garbage.”

Duterte made the statement as he was reacting to the decision of the US-led Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) to defer a $433-million funding grant to the Philippines over “concerns around rule of law and civil liberties” under his administration.

“I understand that we have been stricken out of the Millennium Challenge, well good. I welcome it,” the president said.

“They (US) do not look at us kindly. We have this huge problem… Actually, we do not need it. We can survive without American money. But you know, America, you might also be put to notice. Prepare to leave the Philippines. Prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement,” he added.

Signed in 1998, the VFA allows American and Filipino troops to conduct joint trainings in Philippine soil.

The US has criticized Duterte’s brutal war on illegal drugs, which has left more than 4,000 suspected drug offenders dead. Critics said the anti-drug campaign effectively endorsed human rights violations and extrajudicial killings but Philippine officials have denied the allegation.

Angered by the criticisms on his narcotics crackdown, Duterte had said he would review all military agreements with the US and scrap joint drills that, he claimed, were only beneficial to Americans.

Duterte also declared that he would “separate” himself from the US but his subordinates explained later on that he was just stressing the need for a more independent foreign policy.

The MCC, which assesses potential recipients using indicators for economic freedom, investment of people and rule of law, deferred the giving of aid to the Philippines amid accusations that the government is setting aside due process to punish drug lords.

US TREATS PH LIKE A 'DORMAT'

Duterte said the US has been treating the Philippines like a “doormat” and “garbage” and has been using aid to impose its will on Filipinos.

“Huwag naman tayong babuyin ng ganun (They should not malign us that way). We have this four million (drug addicts) and you are treated as if you are garbage or a doormat,” the president said.

The president's estimate of 4 million drug addicts is not supported by official government data.

“And the Philippines historically is like a doormat because every time that they criticize us, it’s always tied to a statement na mawala ang indiong assistant (that the aid given to its assistant will be lost). Sons of b******. You picture us as if we are patay gutom (very hungry).”

Indio is a term used to refer to Filipinos during the Spanish colonial period.

Duterte said the US should just leave the Philippines if it thinks the country is too dangerous. He also chided the US for raising human rights issues while “turning a blind eye” on the Philippines’ drug problem.

“If you think that there is crime there because we execute people…So why don’t you just leave and if you think that there is extrajudicial killing here—it’s a prevalent one, it’s a virulent practice, you know. So why are you here? What is your purpose in this Visiting Forces Agreement?

'China, Russia willing to help'

“We will never be ready to fight with China. It is you who is egging a fight there. We will never fight with Russia. That’s too far away and besides, we are friends,” he added.

Duterte also cited the US State department’s move to halt the sale of some 26,000 rifles to the Philippine National Police because of alleged human rights violations under his watch. He said the Philippines can always source firearms from other sources like Russia and China.

“Russia came forth and said ‘no problem.’ As I use the word, buy one take one. China is actually, I’ll tell you now…China has been communicating with us everyday and I think I think I’ll send the Defense secretary. They said the guns are ready,” the president said.

He claimed that the military would oust him if he asks them to obey an illegal order.

Duterte is convinced that MCC’s decision to defer the giving of aid to the Philippines was a last ditch effort of the Obama administration to undermine him.

“Somebody gave me a document that was passed on to me in Hong Kong, it says about undermining Duterte. Maybe they would agitate, well you know, and I said, God says I am a president. God says you are only President for six months, fine, I’ll go,” he said.

Duterte noted that incoming US president Donald Trump was not hostile or antagonistic to him.

“He (Trump) said that you know, I know that we have a bad fix between our two nations. I said, ‘yes sir. And I’m sorry for that, but it is not really your institutions but people there in the Washington DC,’” Duterte said.

“He was very nice, very courteous, I could not sense any hostile drift, or even the manner he was saying it … I’ll just wait. I will let Obama fade away and if he disappears then I will begin to reassess.”

Duterte was all praises though for newly-appointed US Ambassador to the Philippines Sung Kim, whom he described as “a very good ambassador” and “very courteous.”

‘China has the kindest soul’

Duterte said he does not mind losing the MCC grant because China has pledged to provide the Philippines billions in aid.

“China communicated to us. They’re giving us 50 billion. So what do I need America for?” he said.

“We are glad that we are freed from proving anything to the United States. We do not need the money. China said they will provide… we will give you the money. So, bye-bye, America and work on the protocols that would eventually move you out from the Philippines.”

While he is not inclined to forge new military alliances, Duterte said he would send soldiers to Beijing for training on Chinese weapons.

The Philippines and China are embroiled in a territorial dispute over some areas in the South China Sea (West Philippine Sea), where about $5 trillion in trade passes through annually. China claims about 90 percent of the area but this is being contested by the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan.

SET-ASIDE UN RULING FOR NOW  BUT...

In 2013, the Philippines under President Benigno Aquino III challenged the legality of China’s sweeping maritime claim, calling it “exaggerated” and “excessive.”

An arbitral tribunal in the Hague ruled in favor of the Philippines last July and declared that China’s claim has no legal basis. China has refused to recognize the ruling, saying it was “illegal since Day One.”

Duterte had said he would set aside the arbitral ruling “in the meantime” but maintained that he would not bargain with China on the issue.


INQUIRER

Reconsider withholding aid, US urged By: Ben O. de Vera - @inquirerdotnet Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:39 AM December 17, 2016


F
inance Secretary Carlos G. Dominguez (lNQUIRER FILE PHOTO)

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III on Friday said he hoped the US aid agency Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC) would reconsider its decision to put on hold funding for a second Philippine antipoverty program under the administration of incoming US President Donald Trump.

Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. also said he hoped the MCC would reconsider the decision, but added that the United States should give the aid without conditions.

The MCC, a US poverty reduction agency, on Thursday said on its website that its board had “deferred a vote on the reselection of the Philippines for compact development, subject to further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties.”

READ MORE...

The decision came after President Duterte said in a speech to businessmen on Monday night that as mayor of Davao City, he would patrol on a big motorbike hunting for criminals to kill to set an example for police to follow.

‘Deeply troubling’

“Those comments are deeply troubling, and they certainly are at odds with the Philippine government’s stated commitment to due process and rule of law,” White House spokesperson Josh Ernest told reporters.

Ernest reiterated US concern about extrajudicial killings in Mr. Duterte’s brutal war on drugs, which has taken the lives of nearly 6,000 people in just six months.

In Manila, US Embassy press attaché Molly Koscina said on Thursday that the MCC would continue to monitor unfolding events in the Philippines, but like all country partners, it needed to demonstrate “commitment to the rule of law, due process and respect for human rights.”

The MCC’s first five-year $434-million compact with the Philippines closed in May.

The grant went to the modernization of the Bureau of Internal Revenue, expansion of a Department of Social Welfare and Development antipoverty project and rehabilitation of a major road network on Samar Island.

The Philippines had been slated for another aid package, but the almost-nightly killings in Mr. Duterte’s war on drugs and his cursing critics of the human rights violations got in the way of approval.

Committed to rule of law

“We have received the news about the MCC’s decision. We thank them for the grant that the Philippines received under the first compact as we reassure them and the rest of our development partners that the government continues to vigorously implement initiatives that reinforce the Duterte presidency’s commitment to good governance, peace and order and the rule of law,” Dominguez said in a statement on Friday.

Dominguez, head of Mr. Duterte’s economic team, said he found the MCC decision puzzling, pointing out that an MCC scorecard released just last month showed that the Philippines garnered passing scores in 13 of the 20 indicators, including control of corruption, rule of law and civil liberties—an improvement from last year’s performance, with the country clearing 12 indicators.

Dominguez, however, said he hoped the MCC board would clear the second grant to the Philippines when it meets in March under the Trump administration.

“When President Duterte recalled his recent phone conversation with US President-elect Donald Trump, the American leader wished Mr. Duterte well on his campaign against drugs and said he understood the way that Duterte was handling it,” Dominguez said.

Updated information

The Department of Foreign Affairs, responding on Thursday to the MCC’s move, said: “The government remains committed to the goals to foster good governance and the rule of law in the country, and will continue to engage the MCC board to ensure that accurate and updated information on government policies and programs are provided to its members.”

On Friday, Yasay told reporters while in Singapore accompanying Mr. Duterte on a visit to the tiny city-state, that the United States should not decide on the MCC grant on the basis of “alleged violations of human rights.”

“If they … really like to help us on the basis of our needs, they should … give it to us … without conditions,” Yasay said.

“But unfortunately … in recent months … they have raised concerns about … alleged violations of human rights that they have based simply on unverified reports,” he said.

“We would hope that America would try to reconsider this. This has always been our appeal to America. Treat us with mutual respect, and treat us as a sovereign equal,” he said.

Yasay said the Duterte administration was trying its best to tackle allegations of human rights violations in the war on drugs.

“But we would like to make sure that if this is merely a ploy, this is merely to bow down to their demands, we will not do it,” he said.

“If they don’t want to help us, we’ll accept that,” he said.

Can live with less aid

Mr. Duterte’s economic planning secretary, Ernesto Pernia, played down the MCC move, saying the government could live with less aid from the United States.

“It’s not going to be anything of significance. And given the amount of investments that many countries are interested in putting in, I would not lose sleep over that,” Pernia said on Thursday after news of the MCC move reached the administration.

He said the Duterte administration, which has pledged to raise infrastructure spending to help lift economic growth, could tap other sources of financing in the region, including the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB).

The Philippines could raise between $200 million and $500 million in loans annually from the AIIB to fund infrastructure projects, a senator said last week, after the Senate ratified the country’s membership of the China-backed institution. —WITH REPORTS FROM JEANNETTE I. ANDRADE AND THE WIRES

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RELATED FROM THE INQUIRER

US says it will work with Duterte after latest outburst Associated Press / 10:29 AM December 18, 2016


President Rodrigo Duterte addresses troops during change-of-command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City on Dec. 7, 2016. AP

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses troops during change-of-command ceremony at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon city, northeast of Manila, Philippines Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2016. Communist rebels warned President Duterte on Wednesday that they may be forced to end their months long cease-fire and resume fighting if he does not suspend the government's counterinsurgency program and withdraw troops from rebel-influenced areas. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

The United States said Sunday it will work with the Philippine president to address any concerns after he threatened to terminate a pact that allows U.S. troops to visit the Philippines.

President Rodrigo Duterte was enraged after a U.S. government aid agency deferred a vote on a renewal of a major development assistance package for the Philippines over concerns about extrajudicial killings in Duterte’s war on illegal drugs, which has left thousands dead.

Although no decision on the aid package has been taken, Duterte on Saturday launched an expletives-laden tirade, telling the U.S. to “prepare to leave the Philippines, prepare for the eventual repeal or the abrogation of the Visiting Forces Agreement.”

READ: Duterte to US over aid issue: ‘Bye-bye America’

He was referring to a 1998 accord that governs American forces visiting the Philippines for joint combat exercises. The pact has helped the Philippines contain a violent Muslim insurgency in the south and train and equip Filipino forces facing an assertive China in disputed South China Sea waters.

“You know, tit for tat … if you can do this, so (can) we. It ain’t a one-way traffic,” Duterte said, adding tauntingly, “Bye-bye America.”

The U.S. Embassy in Manila said in a statement overnight that Washington will work closely with the Duterte administration to address any concerns it may have. It did not elaborate.

The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment, but spokesman Josh Earnest has said previously that the White House would not react publicly each time Duterte made an offhand remark.

The 71-year-old Duterte, who describes himself as a left-wing politician, has made similar threats before and after taking office in June, but he and his officials have walked back on many of his public statements, causing confusion.

READ: Duterte to US: ‘You want bases here? Pay us’

While calling Americans “sons of bitches” and “hypocrites,” Duterte on Saturday praised China as having “the kindest soul of all” for offering what he said was significant financial assistance. “So, what do I need America for?” he asked.

He also said Russia can be a very important ally. “They do not insult people, they do not interfere,” he said.

The Philippines had been slated for another aid package after its previous five-year, $434 million poverty reduction program was successfully completed in May under Duterte’s predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.

A spokeswoman for the Millennium Challenge Corporation, Laura Allen, said Thursday that it would continue to monitor events in the Philippines before the next board review in March 2017.

The U.S. decision is among the first signs of how concerns about the rule of law and human rights under Duterte could entail economic costs.

“Maybe one, two three … I’m saying, maybe my bullets hit them, maybe not, but after the burumbumbumbum, they’re all dead,” Duterte said.

The U.S. government, along with European Union and U.N. officials, has raised concerns about Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs, which has left more than 2,000 suspected drug users and dealers dead in purported gunbattles with police. More than 3,000 other deaths are being investigated to determine if they were linked to illegal drugs.

In a news conference in his southern hometown of Davao, Duterte was pointedly asked how many crime suspects he has killed in the past when he was still a crime-busting city mayor amid his vague and contradicting accounts of his exploits. The former government prosecutor again gave contrasting replies.

“Maybe one, two three … I’m saying, maybe my bullets hit them, maybe not, but after the burumbumbumbum, they’re all dead,” Duterte said.

Replying to another question, he said that he indeed has killed, but did not provide details and tried to justify his act. “When I tell you now that I killed, do not term them as suspects because all of them died while they were fighting government people.”

He asked God for forgiveness in advance, saying he may not have time to pray if he’s assassinated. “God, forgive me for killing these idiots,” Duterte said, then blamed God for the presence of criminals. “You create a human monster so if you are God, why do you have to create these idiots? That’s why they die.” CBB


PHILSTAR

Rody: Phl won’t go hungry sans US aid By Christina Mendez and Rainier Allan Ronda (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 17, 2016 - 12:00am 0 0 googleplus0 0


The country can afford to “lose” a funding grant from the US-led Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), President Rodrigo Duterte declared yesterday as he again called on the Americans to “better start packing” as “we have China and Russia” anyway. PND/Toto Lozano

MANILA, Philippines - The country can afford to “lose” a funding grant from the US-led Millennium Challenge Corp. (MCC), President Duterte declared yesterday as he again called on the Americans to “better start packing” as “we have China and Russia” anyway.

“We’ll be glad to lose it,” he said in an interview after addressing some 7,000 Filipinos at the Max Pavilion in Singapore Expo last night.

“And may I suggest that they start packing, maybe six months or so. We will not go hungry without the American aid,” he said.

“We are not that desperate, we can always get it from China and Russia.”

READ MORE...

Duterte said the US was using development aid to force the Philippines and other countries into kowtowing to its wishes.

CONTINUE DIALOGUE

In Manila, the Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) said the suspension of the funding grant should provide an “opportunity” for the country to “continue dialogue” with the US-led institution.

In a statement, the DFA noted the MCC’s move was just a deferment of a vote on the “reselection” of the Philippines for a second round of grant.

“The development of the Second Compact continues until the next board meeting in March 2017,” the DFA statement read.

“The Philippine government remains committed to the goals to foster good governance and the rule of law in the country, and will continue to engage the MCC board to ensure that accurate and updated information on government policies and programs are provided to its members,” the DFA stressed.

The DFA said it has been advised by the Philippine embassy in Washington regarding the MCC board’s decision.

“The MCC board had a wide discussion on its engagement with the Philippines, including the very positive performance in the First MCC Compact and the FY 2017 Scorecard, as well as on the current developments in the country,” the DFA said.

In Singapore, Foreign Affairs Secretary Perfecto Yasay Jr. downplayed the effect of the MCC move on Philippine development.

“Now, according to our economic experts, the decision not to give us this assistance under the Millennium Challenge Corp. will not really have a great impact,” Yasay said.

He said the administration can always tap other countries for assistance, especially now that the Duterte administration has strengthened ties with its neighbors including China and Russia.

“But then again, this is what our economic experts say, we’re not really bothered by it, we will not be sleepless over this decision,” Yasay said.

He stressed the issues raised by the MCC in suspending the grant should be discussed objectively – including through diplomatic channels.

“I think in relating with countries, this matter can be best and effectively resolved if we talk without engaging propaganda or press prematurely in terms of trying to validate and verify these concerns,” he said.

“We have diplomatic post, the United States has very good assets and information gathering in the Philippines, insofar as verifying and validating these reports,” he said.

“They cannot just simply come up with decisions in the grant or non-grant of these assistance, on the basis of these unverified reports,” Yasay pointed out.

“And this is precisely the beef which we are taking against the United States, especially so that this has come soon immediately after we said we were going to realign our concept of an independent foreign policy where the paramount national interest will always be pursued,” he emphasized.

He maintained the Philippines would not be coerced into kowtowing to US position.

“But we would like to make sure that if this is a merely ploy, this is merely a tack, to be cowed out, bow down to their demands, we will not do so. If they don’t want to help us, then we’ll accept that,” he said.

“But we feel very strongly that as friends, this is not the tack that should be adopted,” the DFA chief stated.

“If they would really like to help us on the basis of our need, they should not impose this and give it to us rather, without any conditions,” he added.

“Unfortunately, especially in recent months, when the President has taken over as president, they had raised concerns about not granting because of alleged concerns with respect to again alleged violations of human rights, that they have based simply on unverified reports,” Yasay added.

He also said the MCC should reconsider its decision. “And we would hope that America would try to reconsider this. This has always been our appeal to America. Treat us with mutual respect and treat us a sovereign equal,” he said.

He stressed the Philippines remains sincere in looking into concerns of human rights, but under its own terms.

“We understand America’s concern about violation of human rights, as we are very deeply concerned about allegations of violation of human rights and we are trying to address it in the best way we can,” he said.

‘Tough decisions’

Finance Secretary Carlos Dominguez III, for his part, said the Duterte administration continues to adhere to the rule of law even as it has to make “tough decisions” in the pursuit of its goals.

“We reassure them and the rest of our development partners that the government continues to vigorously implement initiatives that reinforce the Duterte presidency’s commitment to good governance, peace and order and the rule of law,” the finance chief said in a statement.

In the process, the six-month-old government targets to reduce poverty and make the country more “law-abiding” and “at peace with itself and its neighbors.”

“In realizing these three priority goals, the government has to make tough decisions which will not please everybody,” Dominguez said.

The first aid ran from 2011 to May 2016 and financed projects that boosted revenue collection efforts, empowered poor communities and resulted in the construction of national roads.

A follow-up package aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and competitiveness would have marked the second compact under the Duterte administration until 2022.

Dominguez said even MCC itself took note of the Philippines’ better performance on 13 of 20 metrics used in determining aid recipients, slightly up from 12 last year.

“Insofar as the Filipino people are concerned, an overwhelming majority of them believe the Duterte administration has been doing a very good job in restoring peace and order,” Dominguez said.

He cited two recent surveys by the Social Weather Stations that showed a “very good” +63 net satisfaction rating for Duterte as well as an “excellent” rating for his drug war.

The economy also continues to be an “outperformer,” he said, citing “above six-percent” growth projections from institutions such as the World Bank, which just hiked its outlook last Thursday.

With US president-elect Donald Trump taking over by January, Dominguez expressed confidence the MCC would grant the Philippines a second compact during its next evaluation in March.

Duterte himself had said that Trump voiced support for his anti-drug campaign during a recent phone conversation.

In contrast, the President had repeatedly criticized outgoing US President Barack Obama for the latter’s expressing concern over rising cases of human rights violations in the Philippines.

“Filipinos were also satisfied with the way that democracy works, which... virtually reflected the people’s vote of confidence in the Duterte administration’s adherence to the rule of law and other democratic processes,” Dominguez said. – With Prinz Magtulis

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RELATED FROM PHILSTAR

US calls Duterte's killing boasts troubling (Associated Press) | Updated December 16, 2016 - 11:46am 2 153 googleplus1 0


White House press secretary Josh Earnest speaks during the daily news briefing at the White House in Washington, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2016. Earnest discussed the Obama administration's work to fight climate change and other topics. AP/Carolyn Kaster

WASHINGTON — After the United States deferred a decision on a major aid package to the Philippines, the White House said it is deeply troubled by a boast from the nation's leader that he used to drive around looking for criminals to kill.

It's the latest sign of strain in U.S.-Philippine relations since President Rodrigo Duterte launched a crackdown on illegal drugs has led to thousands of deaths in police gunbattles.

READ: US agency defers grant to Philippines over rule of law issues

Courting new controversy, Duterte said in a speech Monday that as a former mayor he'd patrol on a motorcycle hunting for criminals to kill to set an example for police to follow. Duterte said he was "really looking for an encounter to be able to kill."

READ MORE...

White House spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, "Those comments are deeply troubling, and they certainly are at odds with the Philippine government's stated commitment to due process and rule of law."

Earnest reiterated U.S. concern about extrajudicial killings by or at the behest of Philippine government authorities - criticism that has angered Duterte, who has taken a hostile stance toward the U.S. and reached out to China and Russia since taking office in June.

The U.S.-government aid agency, the Millennium Challenge Corporation, said that its board this week deferred a vote on a renewal of development assistance package for the Philippines, "subject to a further review of concerns around rule of law and civil liberties."

The Philippines has been slated for another aid package after its previous five-year, $434 million poverty reduction program was completed in May.

The agency's spokeswoman, Laura Allen, said Thursday it will continue to monitor events in the Philippines. The next board review is in March 2017.

 
"I used to do it personally," Duterte says... by philstarnews


PHILSTAR

Duterte among ‘World’s Most Powerful People’ – Forbes By Alexis Romero (The Philippine Star) | Updated December 16, 2016 - 12:00am 0 37 googleplus0 1


President Rodrigo Duterte has been adjudged one of the most powerful people in the world by Forbes magazine, which cited his tough stance on illegal drugs and criminality and his “tendency to say what he thinks no matter how raw.” Presidential Photographers Division/Simon Celi, file

MANILA, Philippines - President Duterte has been adjudged one of the most powerful people in the world by Forbes magazine, which cited his tough stance on illegal drugs and criminality and his “tendency to say what he thinks no matter how raw.”

The Philippine leader ranked 70th among 74 persons in the list. The ranking was according to the number of people those in the list influence, the financial resources they control, the extent of their power in multiple spheres and how active they are in using that power.

Russian President Vladimir Putin, described by Duterte as his “idol,” ranked as the world’s most powerful person for the fourth consecutive year. US president-elect Donald Trump came in second, with German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Chinese President Xi Jinping ranking third and fourth, respectively.

READ: WORLD'S MOST POWERFUL PEOPLE 2016-2917

Pope Francis, the leader of the world’s 1.2 billion Roman Catholics, ranked fifth on the list.

READ MORE...

Duterte was one of 11 new names in this year’s list. Others include British Prime Minister Theresa May (13th), Uber chief executive officer Travis Kalanick (64th), Walt Disney Co. CEO Bob Iger (67th), US vice president-elect Mike Pence (69th) and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson (72nd).

Malacañang welcomed Duterte’s inclusion in the list and assured the public that he would continue to use his power for the good of the country.

“President Duterte was a reluctant presidential candidate who won the May 2016 elections by a landslide. As president, he has used the immense powers vested in him by the Constitution with utmost responsibility to promote the well-being of the people,” Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar said in a statement.

“This brings to mind what Abraham Lincoln once said, ‘Nearly all men can stand adversity; but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power’,” Andanar said.

“Much has been done in the first six months and much more will be done in the succeeding months and years. After all, the President’s heart is in the right place, and he has only the interests of the Filipino people and the nation in his mind first and foremost,” he added.

Forbes noted that Duterte’s promise to put an end to the Philippines’ drug menace enabled him win the presidential race.

“The former mayor of Davao City was elected president of the Philippines in May 2016 on the strength of a campaign that promised the swift execution of drug users and other criminals, and his war on crime has already resulted in the killing of thousands of people,” Forbes said.

“Duterte’s tendency to say what he thinks, no matter how raw, also keeps him in the headlines.”

Forbes cited Duterte’s pronouncement that he would “separate” from the US, a statement that his officials would later on claim to be a mere reiteration of his desire to adopt an independent foreign policy.

The magazine also mentioned Duterte’s badmouthing outgoing US President Barack Obama. Duterte would later claim he was not attacking Obama personally when he made the remark.

Forbes said Duterte “used homophobic slurs to describe political opponents,” apparently referring to the instance when he called former US ambassador Philip Goldberg “gay.” Duterte got angry with Goldberg after the envoy reacted negatively to his supposed joke about the rape and murder of an Australian missionary in Davao City in 1989.

Goldberg said any statement that trivializes murder or rape should not be condoned, a remark that Duterte viewed as an attempt to meddle in Philippine politics.

Forbes also cited the resignation of Vice President Leni Robredo from the Duterte Cabinet due to “major differences in principles and values” with the President.

Robredo quit as housing chief early this month after Duterte asked her to “desist” from attending Cabinet meetings. With Christina Mendez

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RELATED FROM ABS-CBN

Duterte on Forbes' power list: It's a shame ABS-CBN News Posted at Dec 17 2016 02:46 AM



President Rodrigo Duterte said on Saturday he would consider it a shame to have landed on Forbes Magazine's Most Powerful People of 2016, if the ranking was based on his bloody war on drugs.

"If it's because of 5,000 people killed, that's a shame, I do not accept the title. What's the basis, killing people?

You think I enjoy killing Filipinos?" he said in press conference in Davao City after arriving from a state visit to Singapore.

Duterte also belied being a powerful leader, saying the Philippines is not even a strong nation.

"I'm not powerful. We're an emerging country, nakokornihan ako. (I find the label corny.) I don't even impose my leadership on the people," he said.

Duterte ranked 70th in Forbes' list of 74 men and women who "make the world turn."

To compile the list, the magazine identified one person out of every 100 million whose actions mean by measuring their power along four dimensions: whether the candidates have power over lots of people, the financial resources they control, the extent of their influence across multiple spheres, and whether they actively used their power.
In its description of the 71-year-old Duterte, Forbes cited the president's war on drugs.

"The former mayor of Davao City was elected president of the Philippines in May 2016 on the strength of a campaign that promised the swift execution of drug users and other criminals, and his war on crime has resulted in the killing of thousands of people.

"In October, Duterte announced a separation from a century-long alliance with the United States, and has plans to realign the Philippines with China."

Russian President Vladimir Putin, whom Duterte considers his "idol," was hailed the most powerful person for the fourth consecutive year.

Trailing Putin were:
- US President-elect Donald Trump;
- German chancellor Angela Merkel;
- Chinese President Xi Jinping;
- Pope Francis;
- American economist Janet Yellen;
- Bill Gates, the world's richest man;
- Larry Page, CEO of Alphabet, the recently created parent of Google;
- Indian Prime Minister Narenda Modi; and,
- Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg.

Aside from Duterte, 11 other new candidates landed on this year's list, including UK Prime Minister Theresa May, Uber CEO Travis Kalanick, Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger, US Vice President-elect Mike Pence and Las Vegas Sands CEO Sheldon Adelson. -- with a report from Jamaine Punzalan, ABS-CBN News


PHILSTAR

Yasay: UN special rapporteur should apologize By Patricia Lourdes Viray (philstar.com) | Updated December 16, 2016 - 3:19pm 1 0 googleplus0 0


Philippine Foreign Minister Perfecto Yasay listens to his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov during their meeting in Moscow, Russia, on Monday, Dec. 5, 2016. AP/Ivan Sekretarev

MANILA, Philippines — Demanding an apology from United Nations (UN) Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial killings Agnes Callamard is necessary, the Philippines' top diplomat said.

Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay Jr. said that Callamard had jumped into conclusions about the cases of extrajudicial killings in the country.

"She has damaged the country tremendously by her statement. People had jumped into conclusions that EJKs have been perpetrated in the Philippines and that there is rampant violation, state-sponsored violation of human rights," Yasay said in Cambodia.

Yasay added that Callamard's statement has been one of the basis of the United States on refocusing its assistance to the Philippines.

READ MORE...

The US government shifted its assistance away from law enforcement since the start of President Rodrigo Duterte's war on drugs. It also recently deferred a significant grant to the Philippines after citing concerns over rule of law and human rights.

READ: US moves aid away from Duterte's drug war

"The damage that she has wrought on basis of irresponsibility is so great it demands no less than an apology," Yasay said.

Callamard also broke UN protocol for issuing arbitrary findings which were not verified, according to Yasay.

"She simply decided to come over here on the basis of the invitation of the president subject to conditions if she is not amenable to this condition then she goes back to the protocol that is available under the UN," the Foreign Affairs chief said.

Yasay said that Duterte's invitation for Callamard to visit the country and investigate was separate from the existing protocols of the UN for fact-finding missions.

The invitation was made on the condition that she make her findings and declarations under oath, Yasay added.

"It is so hypocritical for her to say now that she’d like to come to the Philippines and investigate and preserve the confidentiality when she arrived at conclusions... based simply on media reports that were not verified," Yasay said.

DE LIMA

Meanwhile, Sen. Leila de Lima said that Callamard's visit to the country, which is UN-sanctioned, is governed by the Terms of Reference for Fact-Finding Missions and Human Rights Special Procedures.

READ: Rapporteur visit to Philippines based on UN terms

Such inquiries into drug-related killings are for monitoring and reporting purposes only, the senator said.

"It is imperative that Dr. Callamard and her delegation be allowed to discharge their duties effectively and unhampered to show to the world that we are still a nation that observes the rule of law, honors the dignity of life, respects the basic human rights, and remains committed to the democratic values of transparency and accountability," De Lima said in a statement.

De Lima added that the UN special rapporteur's scheduled visit has become urgent due to doubts on the conduct of the president's war on drugs.

"The President would often repeat that we should have no fear if we do nothing wrong. The same can be said to him. If indeed his so-called “war on drugs” is pursued within the bounds of the law and international standards, then his administration should have nothing to be afraid of," De Lima said.

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RELATED FROM THE MANILA BULLETIN

UN rapporteur says no to Duterte’s conditions Agnes Callamard insists UN rapporteurs are not bound by government instructions 59 SHARES Share it! Published December 16, 2016, 3:38 PM By MB Online

The United Nations’ special rapporteur Agnes Callamard has rejected the conditions set by President Rodrigo Duterte for the conduct of her probe on the supposed extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.


(Photo courtesy of @AgnesCallamard Twitter account | Manila Bulletin)

In an exclusive interview by CNN Philippines Friday, December 16, the French special rapporteur said she cannot adhere to Duterte’s three conditions:

Publicized debate between Callamard and Duterte before the media Duterte having the chance to ask her questions Callamard having to take an oath Callamard, in the TV interview, insisted the results of the U.N. investigation must be highly confidential and that acceding to Duterte’s set of requirements runs counter with the code of conduct for special rapporteurs.

“I cannot build trust, including with the police or with the government, if there is a threat of public debate at the end of the mission,” said Callamard, who was appointed special rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions last August 1.

She also noted the sensitive nature of the probe as it would examine the deaths of alleged victims and perpetrators. “There is the necessity of respect. Respect for the life, respect for the loss of life. Respect for the victims, respect for the police, respect for the family.”

“I have highlighted in particular the principles of independence and confidentiality, which should guide my mission, and the necessity of building and maintaining trust with all stakeholders, precluding any public debates,” Callamard wrote earlier in a separate response to reporters.

Callamard also stressed in her letter to the Philippine government Article 3.f of their Code of Conduct that states that she will “not seek or accept any instructions from any Government or other actor.”

She suggested instead for the Philippine officials to have a private debriefing with Duterte and hold a press conference—during which the president can rejoin—after the preliminary findings were released after a weeklong probe.

“This press briefing would be an opportunity for me to introduce briefly my preliminary findings and for the president to offer his own analysis, reply or rebuttal,” Callamard wrote.

“Such a format would exclude debate between us, but allow the president to make immediately public his initial reactions to my preliminary findings should he so choose, and for me to uphold the principles that must guide my mission.”

She urged the Philippine government to reconsider the three conditions.

Speaking to CNN Philippines, assistant foreign affairs secretary Charles Jose responded: “Our position is it is up to Dr. Callamard to accept our conditions. If she’s saying now that she cannot accept then as I said earlier, the visit may not push through.”


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