Philippines eyes greater regulation of Islamic schools

Philippine's Secretary of Defence Delfin Lorenzana speaks at the fourth plenary session during the 17th Asian Security Summit of the IISS Shangri-La Dialogue in Singapore on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 04 June 2018
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Philippines eyes greater regulation of Islamic schools

  • A five-month siege of the city of Marawi last year left more than 1,100 people dead and 200,000 displaced
  • Since last June, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have been patrolling an area bounded by Sabah and the southern Philippines

SINGAPORE: The Philippine defense secretary said Sunday that authorities there will standardize teaching in both public and private Islamic schools in the wake of a militant siege last year that raised fears of greater radicalization in the country.
Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana said the Philippines will implement an “institutionalized madrassa system” with standard curriculum and greater oversight from the Department of Education.
Lorenzana said some such schools were found to be run by people with extremist beliefs, making them funnels for the discreet funding of radical activities.
Lorenzana was addressing a security conference in Singapore attended by US Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, defense officials and academics from 43 countries.
He added that the results of patrols targeting Islamic militants in the Sulu Sea were encouraging. Since last June, the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia have been patrolling an area bounded by Sabah and the southern Philippines, where militants intended to establish a caliphate.
A five-month siege of the city of Marawi last year left more than 1,100 people dead and 200,000 displaced.


Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

Updated 26 June 2019
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Pompeo pledges close cooperation with India but trade, defense issues unresolved

  • But US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues
  • The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance

NEW DELHI: US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to reduce heightened trade tension with India on Wednesday, promising a renewed focus on negotiating improved trade and investment ties between the two nations.
But Pompeo, on a visit to India, gave few specifics of how they would overcome disputes on issues ranging from access to Indian markets for leading American companies to New Delhi’s demands for foreign firms to store Indian data in the country, and exports of steel and aluminum to the United States.
The two nations are “friends who can help each other all around the world,” Pompeo told a joint news conference with Indian Foreign Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar after they met.
The current differences were expressed “in the spirit of friendship,” he added.
The disputes have led to higher trade tariffs by the two countries and created unease over the depth of their security alliance.
In particular, the sudden introduction of new e-commerce rules for foreign investors in February angered the Americans because it showed New Delhi was prepared to move the goalposts to hurt two of the largest US companies, discount retailer Walmart, and Amazon.com Inc.
Walmart last year invested $16 billion to buy control of Indian e-commerce firm Flipkart.
Just days before Pompeo’s visit, India slapped higher retaliatory tariffs on 28 US products following Washington’s withdrawal of key trade privileges for New Delhi.
Jaishankar, a former Indian ambassador to the United States, played down the spat on Wednesday.
“If you trade with someone and they are your biggest trading partner, it is impossible you don’t have trade issues,” he said.
India’s ties with Russia and Iran, both now subject to US sanctions, are also a sore point.
US pressure has led India to stop buying oil from Iran, a top energy supplier. The United States has also stepped up pressure on India not to proceed with its purchase of S-400 surface-to-air missile systems from Russia.
The missile deal and Iranian oil were both discussed during their meeting, Jaishankar and Pompeo said, but mentioned no resolution of either at the news conference.
Earlier, Pompeo met Prime Minister Narendra Modi for talks at his official residence in the capital, New Delhi, and they exchanged handshakes in images broadcast on television.
“The Prime Minister expressed his strong commitment to achieve the full potential of bilateral relations in trade and economy, energy, defense, counterterrorism and people-to-people contacts,” the foreign ministry said in a statement, without elaborating.
Pompeo is expected to round off the trip with a policy speech hosted by the US embassy, before departing on Thursday for a summit of leaders of the Group of 20 nations in Japan.