US ambassador to Panama resigns, says cannot serve Trump

U.S. Deputy Chief of Mission John Feeley in Mexico speaks during a ceremony at a hangar of the Secretariat of National Defense in Mexico City, Mexico, in this November 8, 2010 file photo. (REUTERS)
Updated 13 January 2018
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US ambassador to Panama resigns, says cannot serve Trump

WASHINGTON: US Ambassador to Panama John Feeley, a career diplomat and former Marine Corps helicopter pilot, has resigned, saying he no longer felt able to serve President Donald Trump.
Feeley’s departure had been communicated to State Department officials on Dec. 27 and was not a response to Trump’s alleged use of the word “shithole” to describe Haiti and African countries at a meeting on Thursday, US officials said.
Trump denies using the term.
Feeley, one of the department’s Latin America specialists and among its senior most officers, made clear that he had come to a place where he no longer felt able to serve under Trump.
“As a junior foreign service officer, I signed an oath to serve faithfully the president and his administration in an apolitical fashion, even when I might not agree with certain policies,” Feeley said, according to an excerpt of a resignation letter read to Reuters on Friday.
“My instructors made clear that if I believed I could not do that, I would be honor bound to resign. That time has come.”
A State Department spokeswoman confirmed Feeley’s departure, saying that he “has informed the White House, the Department of State, and the Government of Panama of his decision to retire for personal reasons, as of March 9 of this year.”
Speaking to reporters, Under Secretary of State Steve Goldstein said he was aware of Feeley’s planned departure on Thursday morning, before Trump’s alleged use of the vulgar term, and said the ambassador was leaving for “personal reasons.”
“Everyone has a line that they will not cross,” “Goldstein told reporters at the State Department. “If the ambassador feels that he can no longer serve ... then he has made the right decision for himself and we respect that.”
US officials declined to discuss Feeley’s reasons for leaving the department after a long career, much of which was spent working on Latin American issues.
Some of Trump’s policies have been widely regarded within the region as hostile to Latin America.
The Trump administration has taken a tougher stance on immigration from Latin America, most notably with moves to expel hundreds of thousands of immigrants from El Salvador, Haiti and Nicaragua who benefited from temporary protection status after natural disasters. Feeley’s career included serving as the No. 2 official in the State Department bureau that deals with Latin America, as deputy chief of mission at the US embassy in Mexico City and as director for Central American affairs in Washington.


Police in Philippine town on the rack for anti-rape advice

Updated 1 min 27 sec ago
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Police in Philippine town on the rack for anti-rape advice

MANILA: Police in a Philippine town have told women to shun skimpy clothing to avoid rape, sparking outrage in a country that prides itself as an early Asian adopter of liberal Western cultural values.
Women’s groups demanded that police take down Tuesday’s “victim-blaming” anti-rape advice. But it remained on a police social media site Wednesday, with the national police chief calling it “brotherly advice.”
“Don’t wear skimpy clothing,” warned the 10-point posting on the official Facebook page of the police force of Angono, a town on Manila’s outskirts.
“When on a date, don’t drink alcohol,” read the list, which also urged women to learn self-defense, carry tear gas or pepper spray and not to walk alone in the dark.
“Clothes don’t cause rape, rapists do,” Senator Risa Hontiveros said in a statement.
“Instead of ‘teaching’ women how to dress ‘appropriately’ and limit our choices, our police force should help in educating the public, especially men,” she added.
The mainly Catholic Philippines, a former US colony, prides itself on its culture of promoting gender equality.
But critics allege it took a step backward by electing President Rodrigo Duterte, known for his inflammatory remarks about women.
During the 2016 election campaign Duterte joked during a speech that he “should have been first” while recalling the rape and murder of an Australian female lay minister in a 1989 prison riot.
Early this year Duterte said he would tell soldiers to shoot female communist rebels in their private parts because “if there is no vagina, (the woman) has no use.”
Philippine police chief Oscar Albayalde sought to play down the rape advice controversy.
“They (women) can have it their own way, they just have to make precautions and probably you should dress in accordance with the place, with the occasion,” he told reporters.
“I think that’s what our policemen are trying to say, just brotherly advice,” said Albayalde.
He said nationwide rape cases were down 29 percent from a year earlier in the first three months of 2018 but did not give figures.