Duterte sacks all top Philippine customs officials over drugs

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has made the fight against drugs the centerpiece of his administration since he won a presidential election in 2016. (Reuters)
Updated 25 October 2018
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Duterte sacks all top Philippine customs officials over drugs

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte fired the head of the Bureau of Customs on Thursday and ordered all top bureau officials replaced after the agency failed to intercept more than a ton of drugs, the second such case in two years.
Duterte has made a bloody fight against drugs the centerpiece of his administration since he won a presidential election in 2016. Thousands of people have been killed in the crackdown.
Duterte said Customs Commissioner Isidro Lapena was being removed from his post and all his deputies and top officials would be transferred.
“The commissioners are out, the department heads are out,” Duterte said during a speech at a ceremony commemorating the founding of the coast guard.
He said he was appointing retired army general to take over the bureau and soldiers and members of the coast guard would help him.
Duterte said Lapena would be reassigned to a government training agency.
Lapena, who was at the ceremony, expressed surprise by his transfer and commented briefly to reporters to express his thanks to Duterte for his new posting. He was not available for comment later.
Lapena, a retired police general, has been under pressure since customs authorities failed to detect a shipment estimated at more than a ton of methamphetamines being smuggled into the country in July.
Drug enforcement agents later found traces of the drugs in the containers in which they were smuggled, but the drugs were gone.
Duterte did not refer to that case on Thursday.
The previous head of the customs bureau was removed after a huge amount of drugs were smuggled into the country in May last year.


Pakistani prime minister says time for dialogue to resolve all issues with India

Updated 23 March 2019
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Pakistani prime minister says time for dialogue to resolve all issues with India

  • Khan welcomes Indian prime minister Modi’s message to the people of Pakistan on Pakistan Day
  • Says time to forge a new relationship based on peace and prosperity

ISLAMABAD: Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday welcomed a message from Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi on the occasion of Pakistan Day and said it was time to begin a dialogue to resolve all issues.

Nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and India have fought three wars since gaining independence from British rule in 1947, two of them over Kashmir, a Muslim-majority region that both claim in full but govern in part.

Tensions between the arch-rivals rose sharply last month over a suicide attack in the Indian-controlled part of Kashmir in which at least 40 paramilitary troopers were killed. As India launched airstrikes in Pakistan and Pakistan retaliated with strikes of its own, the possibility of all-out war seemed all too real.

“I welcome PM Modi's message to our people,” Khan said in a Twitter post. “As we celebrate Pakistan Day I believe it is time to begin a comprehensive dialogue with India to address & resolve all issues, esp the central issue of Kashmir, & forge a new relationship based on peace & prosperity for all our people.”

In a separate post, Khan said he had received the following message from Modi on the occasion of Pakistan Day, celebrated across the country to mark the anniversary of a 1940 resolution calling for a separate homeland for Muslims in India:

"I extend my greetings & best wishes to the people of Pakistan on the National Day of Pakistan. It is time that ppl of Sub-continent work together for a democratic, peaceful, progressive & prosperous region, in an atmosphere free of terror and violence.”

Last year, soon after being elected as prime minister, Khan proposed talks to resolve the long-standing dispute over Kashmir and said Pakistan was ready to respond positively to any effort at dialogue.

“If India comes and takes one step toward us, we will take two,” Khan said after the July general election.

But in September, New Delhi called off a meeting between the Pakistani and Indian foreign ministers on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly, just a day after confirming it, citing “unclean intentions” on Pakistan’s side.

India has long accused Pakistan of backing militants fighting Indian rule in the Indian administered Kashmir. Pakistan denies this, saying it only provides diplomatic and moral support to people in Indian-held Kashmir fighting for self-determination.