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

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.

 


Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

Updated 16 September 2019

Johnson the Brexit ‘Hulk’ finally meets EU’s Juncker

  • Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union

LUXEMBOURG: British Prime Minister Boris Johnson met EU chief Jean-Claude Juncker for talks Monday insisting a Brexit deal is possible, despite deep skepticism from European capitals with just six weeks to go before departure day.
After a weekend in which he compared himself to comic book super-smasher Hulk, the British leader will enjoy a genteel working lunch of snails and salmon in Luxembourg with the EU Commission president.
Downing Street has confidently billed the Luxembourg visit as part of efforts to negotiate an orderly divorce from the union before an October 17 EU summit.
A UK spokesman said Johnson would tell Juncker that “progress has been made, given that before the summer recess many said reopening talks would not be possible.
“The UK needs to enact the referendum result and avoid another delay; the UK wants to deliver Brexit and move on to other priorities, and EU member states’ leaders want to renegotiate an orderly Brexit.”
But Brussels has played down talk of a breakthrough, insisting Johnson has yet to suggest any “legally operable” proposal to revise a previous withdrawal accord.
As he shook hands with Johnson, Juncker declared himself “cautiously optimistic” and insisted that “Europe never loses patience” despite the tortuous Brexit saga dragging on over three years.
Finland’s European affairs minister, Tytti Tuppurainen, who was chairing an EU ministerial meeting in Brussels, gave a more downbeat assessment, repeating the bloc’s long-standing complaint that London has simply not come up with detailed ideas for replacing the so-called “Irish backstop” section of the divorce deal.
“The European Union is always ready to negotiate when a proper proposal from the UK side is presented,” Tuppurainen said.
“So far I haven’t seen any proposal that would compensate the backstop.”
The EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, who joined the leaders for their talks in Juncker’s native Grand Duchy, said last week he has “no reason to be optimistic.”
The European Parliament will this week vote on a resolution rejecting Johnson’s demand that the backstop clause be stripped from the deal.
Johnson insists this measure, which temporarily keeps the UK in the EU customs union, has to go if he is to bring the agreement back to the House of Commons.
But the accord will also have to win the support of the other 27 EU leaders and the European Parliament if Britain is not to crash out with no deal on October 31 — a scenario that businesses warn would bring economic chaos.
Johnson, in turn, boasts that he would rather be “dead in a ditch” than ask his European counterparts to postpone Brexit for a third time.
“Be in no doubt that if we cannot get a deal — the right deal for both sides — then the UK will come out anyway,” Johnson said, writing in the Daily Telegraph on Monday.
A UK spokesman said that Britain would refuse an extension even if one were offered.
It is difficult, then, to see what might come from the lunch. There is no plan for a joint statement, but Barnier will meet Britain’s Brexit minister Stephen Barclay for separate discussions.
Speaking to the BBC on Sunday, Barclay indicated that any post-Brexit transition period could be extended past 2020 in order to resolve issues with the border.
Johnson, meanwhile, compared himself to Marvel comics hero Hulk, the rampaging mutant alter-ego of a mild-mannered nuclear scientist.
“The madder Hulk gets, the stronger Hulk gets and he always escaped, no matter how tightly bound in he seemed to be,” Johnson told the Mail on Sunday.
Johnson’s strategy faces resistance at home, where rebel and opposition MPs have passed a law aimed at forcing him to seek a Brexit delay.
Britain’s Supreme Court will rule this week on a bid to overturn Johnson’s decision to suspend parliament and limit time to debate the crisis.
Barnier will address the European Parliament session in Strasbourg on Wednesday as MEPs vote to reaffirm and reinforce the EU Brexit stance — and insist that the backstop must stay.
After his lunch with Juncker, Johnson is due to meet Luxembourg’s Prime Minister Xavier Bettel. The pair will hold a joint news conference.