Philippines burns cocaine, meth as drug ‘flood’ continues

Armed agents of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency stand guard next to seized illegal drugs including bricks of cocaine prior to destroying them on July 4, 2019. (AFP)
Updated 04 July 2019

Philippines burns cocaine, meth as drug ‘flood’ continues

  • Philippine police say they are now targeting higher-level traffickers
  • Cache burned Thursday accounted for just over a fifth of all dangerous drugs seized by police in the past three years

TRECE MARTIRES: The Philippines burned 1.4 tons (over 3,000 pounds) of seized narcotics on Thursday as police warned the nation still faces a “flood” of illegal drugs despite President Rodrigo Duterte’s deadly crackdown.
Cellophane wrapped bricks of cocaine and methamphetamine were packed into a massive incinerator in Trece Martires City under armed guard in a carefully staged event before TV cameras.
Police said they are now targeting higher-level traffickers despite an anti-drug crackdown that has officially killed over 5,300 alleged users and dealers — a number of rights groups say could be three times higher.
“We have shifted to supply reduction because the flood of illegal drugs continues despite our intensified campaign ... on the street level,” national police spokesman Bernard Banac told reporters.
Despite a campaign pledge to rid the nation of drugs within months of taking office in 2016, in March Duterte said “things have worsened.”
Campaigners say the drug war killings could amount to crimes against humanity.
Though the Philippines has pulled out of the International Criminal Court, the war crimes body is pushing ahead with a preliminary examination of the crackdown.
Police said the cache burned Thursday accounted for just over a fifth of all dangerous drugs seized by police in the past three years.
“All of the drugs seized... will be burned and will not be recycled,” said Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency chief Aaron Aquino, referring to the practice whereby corrupt police sell seized narcotics.


Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

Updated 19 October 2019

Afghan poll body misses announcing crucial presidential initial vote

  • The chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons for missing the timetable
  • She said the results would be announced “as soon as possible”

KABUL: Afghanistan’s election commission conceded its failure to release initial presidential poll results set for Saturday and gave no new deadline for the vote which was marred by Taliban attacks and irregularities.
The presidential poll on Sept. 28 saw the lowest turnout of any elections in Afghanistan since the Taliban’s ousting.
Hawa Alam Nuristani, the chief of the country’s Independent Election Commission (IEC), blamed technical reasons, particularly slowness in entering data on to the server, for missing the timetable.
“Regrettably, the commission due to technical issues and for the sake of transparency could not announce the presidential election initial poll results,” she said in a brief announcement.
Without naming any camp, Nuristani also said: “A number of observers of election sides (camps) illegally are disrupting the process of elections.” She did not elaborate.
Nuristani said the results would be announced “as soon as possible,” while earlier in the day two IEC members said privately that the delay would take up to a week.
The delay is another blow for the vote that has been twice delayed due to the government’s mismanagement and meetings between the US and the Taliban, which eventually collapsed last month after President Donald Trump declared the talks “dead.”
It further adds to political instability in Afghanistan, which has seen decades of conflict and foreign intervention and faced ethnic divides in recent years.
Both front-runners, President Ashraf Ghani and the country’s chief executive, Dr. Abdullah Abdullah, have said that they expect to win.
The pair have been sharing power in Afghanistan as part of a US-brokered deal following the fraudulent polls of 2014.
The IEC has invalidated more than 500,000 votes because they were not conducted through biometric devices, bought for the vote from overseas to minimize the level of cheating in last month’s polls.
Officials of the commission said that nearly 1.8 million votes were considered clean and it was not clear what sort of impact the turnout would have on the legitimacy of the polls and the future government, whose main task will be to resume stalled peace talks with the Taliban.
They said that the slowness of data entry on to the server was one of the technical reasons for the delay in releasing initial poll results.
Yousuf Rashid, a senior official from an election watchdog group, described the delay as a “weakness of mismanagement,” while several lawmakers chided IEC for poor performance.
Abdul Satar Saadat, a former senior leader of an electoral body, told Arab News: “The delay showed IEC’s focus was on transparency” and that should be regarded as a sign that it took the issue of discarding fraudulent votes seriously.