White House says Defense Secretary Esper still in post

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Updated 03 June 2020

White House says Defense Secretary Esper still in post

  • Esper said he did not support invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty forces to quell civil unrest for now

WASHINGTON: White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany said US Defense Secretary Mark Esper was still in his post on Wednesday as speculation swirled that President Donald Trump wanted to remove the Pentagon chief over his comments on nationwide protests.
“As of right now, Secretary Esper is still Secretary Esper and should the president lose faith we will all learn about that in the future,” McEnany said at a press briefing.
Earlier on Wednesday, Esper said he did not support invoking the Insurrection Act to deploy active-duty forces to quell civil unrest for now. He also said he was unaware he would be a part of Trump’s politically-charged photo opportunity on Monday in front of a partly burned church across the street from the White House.
McEnany said people protesting the police killing of George Floyd were moved from in front of the historic church before Trump, cabinet members and top aides, including McEnany, walked over because Attorney General William Barr had ordered the security perimeter around the White House be widened earlier in the day.
“It was early afternoon. He noticed that it hadn’t been cleared, gave the order for it to be cleared, and that action took place,” McEnany said.
Trump has said he did not ask for protesters to be moved and the US Park Police has said they used pepper balls and smoke canisters to respond to protesters throwing things.


New Filipino military chief vows to enforce controversial anti-terror law

Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay. (Supplied)
Updated 03 August 2020

New Filipino military chief vows to enforce controversial anti-terror law

  • Gapay said his priority would be to bring an end to the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, based primarily in rural areas

MANILA: The new chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), Lt. Gen. Gilbert Gapay, on Monday assumed office with a vow to enforce the country’s recently enacted anti-terrorism law.
The controversial legislation took effect last month, despite legal challenges at the Supreme Court to stop its implementation.
It criminalizes acts that incite terrorism “by means of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners, or other representations.” The new law also grants authorities broad powers to wiretap and tag individuals and groups as terrorists and detain them without charge for up to 24 days.
“We will capitalize on this very good anti-terror law. It is comprehensive, it is proactive, and it is geared to prevent occurrence of terroristic acts,” Gapay said in his first speech as army chief.
He called on Filipinos to support the military because beside dealing with terrorism and communist insurgency, the country now faced an unseen enemy in the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic.
The army, he said, was helping the government contain the deadly virus which had infected more than 100,000 people in the Philippines and claimed at least 2,100 lives.

We will capitalize on this very good anti-terror law. It is comprehensive, it is proactive, and it is geared to prevent occurrence of terroristic acts.

Lieutenant General Gilbert I. Gapay, Commanding general, Philippine Army

Gapay said his priority would be to bring an end to the New People’s Army (NPA) — the armed wing of the Communist Party of the Philippines, based primarily in rural areas — and local terrorist groups — Abu Sayyaf, the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF), and factions of the Daulah Islamiyah — that operate mainly in the country’s south.
“There will be no let up as we continue to be at the forefront confronting all these threats. We are trained for this but still we need the support of other agencies; we need the support of our fellow Filipinos,” Gapay added.
He said the army would continue to collaborate with partner agencies and foreign counterparts in addressing domestic and regional threats, adding that it would suggest provisions to the rules and regulations of the new law to enhance intelligence sharing and strengthen maritime security to deter foreign terrorists from entering the country through its porous sea borders.
Prior to his appointment, Gapay, who replaces the retiring Gen. Felimon T. Santos, Jr., served as the 61st army commander.