Philippines’ Duterte tells Muslims he will correct ‘historical injustice’

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, wearing a military uniform, gestures as he delivers a speech during the 67th founding anniversary of the First Scout Ranger regiment in San Miguel town, Bulacan province, north of Manila, Philippines on November 24, 2017. (REUTERS)
Updated 27 November 2017
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Philippines’ Duterte tells Muslims he will correct ‘historical injustice’

SULTAN KUDARAT, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte vowed to correct “historical injustice” in a speech to Filipino Muslim rebels on Monday as his government seeks to reignite a stalled peace process in the nation’s troubled south.
He made the remarks at a mammoth gathering hosted by the country’s main Muslim guerrilla group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but which has also brought together Christians, rival Muslim factions and tribal groups from the southern region of Mindanao.
Since the 1970s, Muslims have been seeking autonomy or independence in the southern areas of the mainly Catholic Philippines that they regard as their ancestral homeland.
The conflict has claimed more than 120,000 lives and left large areas of Mindanao in poverty.
Duterte, who boasts of having Muslim ancestry, warned that the region could see worse violence if the issue is not resolved.
“What is at stake here is the preservation of the Filipino republic and to correct historical injustice,” he said.
Duterte said that during the decades when the Philippines was under Spanish and then American colonial rule, the Christian majority had taken control of vast parts of Mindanao, leaving native Muslims and other tribes marginalized.
He also warned that the violence could be exacerbated if Islamic State followers flee to the Philippines after losing their bases in the Middle East.
Duterte’s warning came just a month after the foreign and local Daesh supporters who ravaged Mindanao’s main Muslim city Marawi were defeated in October, ending a five-month conflict which left about 1,100 people dead.
The 10,000-strong MILF signed a peace deal in 2014 that would give the nation’s Muslim minority self-rule over parts of Mindanao, but the proposed law to implement the pact has not managed to get through Congress.
The immediate objective of Monday’s rally was to build support for the proposed law.
Duterte said he would work for the law’s passage, even calling Congress to a special session where Muslim leaders could explain their plans to the legislators.
Such an agreement must be “inclusive” and acceptable to all groups in Mindanao, he added.
Speaking at the event, MILF chairman Murad Ebrahim recalled that many of those attending had fought in the Muslim guerrilla wars in decades past.
But he said they are now pushing for the autonomy law, stating “it presents us the rare opportunity to be part of the noble endeavor of peace-making.”
Hundreds of thousands of people attended the gathering at the main MILF base where a festive mood prevailed despite the history of conflict.
The MILF previously said half a million had registered to attend.
Unarmed MILF fighters accompanied by armed government soldiers and policemen secured the event, which was attended by Cardinal Orlando Quevedo — the archbishop of Cotabato and Mindanao’s highest Catholic Church official — as well as members of the MILF’s main rival, the Moro National Liberation Front.
“The importance here is that there is coexistence between Christians, Muslims and Lumads (tribal people),” said Carlos Sol, director of the government’s coordinating committee overseeing the peace accord.


Cosmonauts start spacewalk from ISS to examine mystery hole

Updated 11 December 2018
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Cosmonauts start spacewalk from ISS to examine mystery hole

  • Russian media reported the investigation was probing the possibility US astronauts deliberately drilled the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back home
  • So far astronauts have only been able to examine the hole from inside the spacecraft
MOSCOW: Russian cosmonauts began a spacewalk Tuesday to examine a mystery hole in a Soyuz spacecraft docked on the International Space Station that a Moscow official suggested could have been deliberate sabotage.
Roscosmos space agency said the aim would be to discover whether the “small but dangerous” hole had been made on Earth or in space.
The two-millimeter cavity on the Soyuz spaceship docked at the ISS caused an air leak detected in August, two months after the craft’s last voyage.
So far astronauts have only been able to examine the hole from inside the spacecraft.
Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin said in October that an investigation had ruled out a manufacturing error. He had said earlier that Russia did not exclude “deliberate interference in space.”
Russian media reported the investigation was probing the possibility US astronauts deliberately drilled the hole in order to get a sick colleague sent back home.
Russian officials later denied those reports.
The discovery of the hole was followed in October by the failure of a manned Soyuz launch, although the Russian and US astronauts returned safely to Earth.
Tuesday’s spacewalk began at 1559 GMT and was set to last more than six hours.
Veteran cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Sergei Prokopyev left the ISS and Prokopyev operated a boom to move Kononenko safely from the ISS to work on the Soyuz spacecraft.
Once in position Kononenko was to use a knife to rip open the insulation and the debris shield protecting the spacecraft to look at the hole and scrape off samples
The samples will then be sent to Earth to “get at the truth” of the cavity’s origins, the space agency said.
The cosmonaut was also to take photographs and film video, before putting new insulation over the area.
“It’s a challenge. Sergei and I are accepting it,” Kononenko said ahead of the spacewalk, which is his fourth and the second for Prokopyev.
Rogozin called the spacewalk “unprecedented in its complexity” on Twitter and Roscosmos said it would “enter the history of space exploration.”
What makes it especially hard is that the Soyuz spacecraft, unlike the ISS, was not designed to be repaired in spacewalks and has no outside railings for astronauts to hold onto.
“There’s nothing, that’s the problem,” Kononenko said.
The Soyuz spacecraft is used to ferry astronauts to and from the ISS. The hole is in a section that will not be used for the return journey to Earth on December 20.
The ISS is one of the few areas of Russia-US cooperation that remains unaffected by the slump in relations and Washington’s sanctions.