Duterte asks why critical ex-police officer ‘is still alive’

In this Oct. 9, 2018, file photo, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte addresses congressmen and Government officials during the presentation of Republic Act bills in a ceremony at the Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines. (AP)
Updated 27 March 2019
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Duterte asks why critical ex-police officer ‘is still alive’

  • More than 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in what police say were gunbattles that ensued during drug raids under Duterte’s crackdown, alarming Western governments and human rights groups

MANILA, Philippines: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday accused a dismissed police colonel, who had publicly criticized him and his deadly anti-drug campaign, of criminal involvement and said he wanted to know why the former officer “is still alive.”
In a late-night televised speech, Duterte condemned dismissed Senior Superintendent Eduardo Acierto, who told reporters over the weekend that the president had been repeatedly photographed with two Chinese men involved in drug trafficking.
Duterte defended one of the two Chinese men, saying he had accompanied China’s premier on a visit to the Philippines and was a businessman who traveled to the country in 1999 to sell Chinese-made cellphones.
Acierto, a veteran anti-narcotics officer before his dismissal by an anti-graft agency last year, said he submitted a report to top police officials and Duterte’s office about the two Chinese to warn the president of their background. But he said he was never informed if the two were ever investigated.
“In my investigation, I discovered that our president ... is often accompanied by two people deeply involved in illegal drugs,” Acierto told a news conference late Sunday in Manila, adding that he was later accused by authorities in a criminal complaint of involvement in drug smuggling instead of the Chinese men.
Duterte said Acierto was the only police official who has made the allegations against the two men. He said Acierto was an “idiot” allegedly involved in corruption, drug smuggling, kidnappings of Chinese nationals and the killing of a South Korean man.
“Don’t ever believe specially this Acierto,” Duterte said in a speech in southern Koronadal city. “What if I ask the military and the police, ‘Why is this son of a bitch still alive?“
Acierto denied any wrongdoing.
The president mentioned Acierto while talking about his efforts to combat corruption, including corrupt policemen. He also criticized and ridiculed opposition senatorial candidates running in mid-term elections in May.
Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director General Aaron Aquino told The Associated Press on Monday that he received Acierto’s report and sent it to Duterte’s office, adding that both his office and that of the president took steps to validate the allegations against the two Chinese. He said the two were not on any list of drug suspects.
Aquino played down the photographs showing Duterte with the two Chinese men, saying officials often get approached by all sorts of people for group photographs without being able to rapidly check their background. He questioned the credibility of Acierto, who he accused of being linked to drug smuggling.
Profiles of the two Chinese provided by Acierto to reporters said they were involved in the “manufacturing, financing, the importation, transhipment and local distribution of meth or shabu,” referring to the local name for methamphetamine, a stimulant.
Acierto said he initially welcomed Duterte’s passion to combat illegal drugs. But he said he later realized that the president’s deadly crackdown took a wrong approach by targeting mostly poor drug suspects instead of going after powerful drug lords and traffickers.
More than 5,000 drug suspects have been killed in what police say were gunbattles that ensued during drug raids under Duterte’s crackdown, alarming Western governments and human rights groups.


Asian stocks rise on hopes for US-China trade talks

Updated 59 min 45 sec ago
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Asian stocks rise on hopes for US-China trade talks

  • Traders have focused on signs of movement toward a settlement of the US-China tariff war over Beijing’s technology ambitions
  • Beijing has said it supports nuclear nonproliferation efforts but rejects unilateral US sanctions

BEIJING: Asian stock markets rose Tuesday on optimism over possible new US-China talks despite concerns about rising Middle East tensions. Benchmarks in Shanghai, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Sydney all climbed.

Traders were encouraged by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin’s suggestion last week that trade envoys might meet in person following two rounds of phone conversations. Mnuchin gave no timeline, but his comments helped to temper anxiety over US-Iranian tensions.

Traders have focused on signs of movement toward a settlement of the US-China tariff war over Beijing’s technology ambitions.They were reassured by an agreement in June by Presidents Donald Trump and Xi Jinping to resume stalled talks. That is despite warnings the truce is likely to be fragile because the two sides are divided by the same array of disagreements that caused negotiations to collapse in May.

The Shanghai Composite Index rose 0.4% to 2,898.20 and Tokyo’s Nikkei 225 climbed 1% to 21,620.88. Hong Kong’s Hang Seng advanced 0.3% to 28,450.32 and Seoul’s Kospi was 0.4% higher at 2,101.45. India’s Sensex edged up 0.1% to 38,065.10.

Sydney’s S&P-ASX 200 gained 0.5% to 6,724.60. New Zealand and Taiwan climbed while Southeast Asian markets retreated. Investors also looked ahead to this week’s meeting of European Central Bank and the US Federal Reserve next week.

“Reports of the US and China resuming trade negotiations next week are positive for risk sentiment, but escalating tensions in the Middle East pushing oil higher are negative,” said ING in a report. “We anticipate wait and watch sentiment” ahead of the ECB and Fed meetings.

On Wall Street, the benchmark Standard & Poor’s 500 index rose 0.3% to 2,985.03. The index is back within 1% of its record, set a week earlier. The Dow Jones Industrial Average edged up 0.1% to 21,171.90. The Nasdaq composite rose 0.7% to 8,204.14.

Apple, Intel and several chip makers jumped more than 2% and technology stocks in the S&P 500 climbed 1.2%. But the other 10 sectors that make up the index were evenly split between gainers and losers, and none moved by more than 0.5%.

Earnings reports are due over the next two weeks from about three-fifths of S&P 500 companies. Expectations are generally modest. Slowing global economic growth and rising costs are weighing on companies. Many investors are more interested in what CEOs say about how Trump’s trade war will affect profits than in their results for the spring.

Markets also are watching tensions over Iran’s nuclear program. Washington announced sanctions this week on a Chinese oil company, Zhuhai Zhenrong, that it said violated controls on transporting Iranian crude. Beijing has said it supports nuclear nonproliferation efforts but rejects unilateral US sanctions.

“This simultaneously turns US pressure up on Iran and also stresses the already strained US-China relations,” Mizuho Bank said in a report. There is a “significant risk of a longer-term shift toward a more hawkish stance on the Iran issue” if Boris Johnson becomes the British prime minister as expected, Stephen Innes of Vanguard Markets said in a report.

“The US administration will waste little time pressuring the new UK PM to toe a stricter line on the nuclear accord.”
ENERGY: Benchmark US crude gained 20 cents to $56.42 per barrel in electronic trading on the New York Mercantile Exchange. The contract rose 46 cents on Wednesday to close at $56.22. Brent crude, used to price international oils, advanced 30 cents to $63.56 in London. It gained 79 cents the previous session to $63.26.

CURRENCY: The dollar gained to 108.16 yen from Wednesday’s 107.86 yen. The euro slipped to $1.1190 from $1.1209.