Philippines’ Duterte publicly names 46 officials under drug investigation

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has publicly named 46 government officials, including three congressmen, he said are involved in illegal drugs, and added that criminal investigations against them are underway. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File)
Updated 15 March 2019
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Philippines’ Duterte publicly names 46 officials under drug investigation

  • Many of the officials, including 33 mayors, eight vice mayors and three members of the House of Representatives, are running in midterm elections in May
  • Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead

MANILA, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Thursday publicly named 46 government officials, including three congressmen, he said are involved in illegal drugs, and added that criminal investigations against them are underway.
Although critics have warned him against making such public announcements without solid evidence, Duterte said in a peace and order meeting shown on nationwide TV that he trusted the government agencies that provided the information.
“My decision to unmask these drug personalities was anchored on my trust in the government agencies who had vetted and validated the narco list,” Duterte said. He said the Department of Interior and Local Government has filed administrative complaints against the politicians.
The government’s Anti-Money Laundering Council and a presidential anti-corruption commission are both investigating the officials to build criminal cases against them, Duterte said. Many of the officials, including 33 mayors, eight vice mayors and three members of the House of Representatives, are running in midterm elections in May.
Duterte said he did not aim to undermine the politicians ahead of the May 13 elections but decided to identify them after their involvement in the drug trade was validated by authorities.
The officials named by Duterte did not immediately respond. Duterte said other officials were also involved but that he had decided not to name them until their complicity is ascertained.
“Those which have already been filed have somewhat been validated,” he said.
Duterte’s crackdown on illegal drugs has left thousands of mostly poor suspects dead and has alarmed Western governments and human rights groups.
The drug killings have sparked two complaints of mass murder to the International Criminal Court. A prosecutor there is looking into the complaints and is expected to announce soon whether to elevate the inquiry into an investigation.
Duterte took steps last year to withdraw the Philippines from the international court, an action that would take effect on March 17. He has often lashed out at the court and the prosecutor examining the allegations against him, saying the court will never acquire jurisdiction over him and threatening the prosecutor with arrest if she travels to the Philippines.

 


Indonesia palm oil growers threaten retaliation over EU ‘intimidation’

Updated 20 sec ago
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Indonesia palm oil growers threaten retaliation over EU ‘intimidation’

  • Earlier this week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, warned that if the EU implements a ban on palm oil imports, Indonesia would retaliate strongly with possible bans on European products
  • Indonesia and Malaysia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil

JAKARTA: Biofuel producers in Indonesia called on the Indonesian government and EU to find a “win-win solution” to a dispute over legislation that will phase out palm oil manufacturing in the region, risking jobs and billions of dollars in revenue.
Earlier this week, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs, Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan, warned that if the EU implements a ban on palm oil imports, Indonesia would retaliate strongly with possible bans on European products, including passengers jets, train coaches, and motor vehicles.
“We want a win-win solution. Retaliation is not a favorable option but, eventually, what else can we do? It could become necessary if we keep being intimidated,” said Master Parulian Tumanggor, chairman of the Indonesia’s Biodiesel Producers Association.
“If they stop biofuel, millions (of workers and farmers) will become unemployed. We don’t want that,” he added.
Pandjaitan said that with Indonesia’s aviation industry expected to expand threefold by 2034, the country will require about 2,500 aircraft in the next two decades — a big market for European companies.
Aircraft demand from Indonesia is worth more than $40 billion and it will create millions of jobs.
“It’s a matter of survival. If they treat us like this, we will retaliate strongly. We are not a poor country, we are a developing country and we have a big potential,” Pandjaitan said in a briefing with the EU ambassador to Indonesia, Vincent Guerend, and European investors.
Darmin Nasution, chief economic minister, said Indonesia is considering a challenge to the EU legislation via the World Trade Organization, and will seek support from the Council of Palm Oil Producing Countries and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.
Indonesia and Malaysia together produce about 85 percent of the world’s palm oil.
Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi spoke with her Malaysian counterpart, Saifuddin Abdullah, on the sidelines of Organization of Islamic Cooperation emergency meeting in Istanbul on Friday.
“We agreed to work together to fight against discrimination of palm oil in the EU,” she said via Twitter.
Nasution said palm oil contributed $17.89 billion to Indonesia’s economy in 2018 and almost 20 million workers depended on the plantations for their livelihood.
On March 13 the European Commission adopted new rules on biofuels based on sustainability criteria with a two-month scrutiny period. The EU said “best available scientific data” show palm oil plantations are a major cause of deforestation and climate change.
Palm oil plantations in Indonesia have resulted in massive deforestation on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Guerend acknowledged the importance of palm oil to Indonesia in terms of jobs, but said that there was some flexibility in the regulation.
“It will be further modified in a few years’ time. It’s not cast in stone forever as the industry is dynamic, expanding, and reforming, and we take that into account,” he said.
“Our invitation for everyone is to work on sustainability because it’s in everybody’s interest,” he added.