Ousted strongman’s son a front-runner as Filipinos elect next leader

Ousted strongman’s son a front-runner as Filipinos elect next leader
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Presidential aspirant Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. casts his vote in the 2022 national elections at in Batac, Ilocos Norte, Philippines, on May 9, 2022. (REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez)
Ousted strongman’s son a front-runner as Filipinos elect next leader
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Filipinos queue on the street in Manila's Tondo district to vote as the Philippines' national elections opened on May 9, 2022. (REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan)
Ousted strongman’s son a front-runner as Filipinos elect next leader
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People vote at a polling station during the presidential election at an elementary school in Manila on May 9, 2022. (Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP)
People vote at a polling station during the presidential election at an elementary school in Manila on May 9, 2022. (Chaideer Mahyuddin / AFP)
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A man looks for his name on a voter registration list at a polling precinct in Quezon City on May 9, 2022. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)
Ousted strongman’s son a front-runner as Filipinos elect next leader
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People take part in a rally calling for a honest election in Manila on May 6, 2022, ahead of the May 9 presidential election. (Photo by CHAIDEER MAHYUDDIN / AFP)
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Updated 09 May 2022

Ousted strongman’s son a front-runner as Filipinos elect next leader

Ousted strongman’s son a front-runner as Filipinos elect next leader
  • Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known by the initials BBM, has led pre-election surveys with a seemingly insurmountable lead
  • But support for his closest challenger, VP Leonor Robredo, has steadily swelled as the campaign period progressed

MANILA: Filipinos were voting for a new president Monday, with the son of an ousted dictator and a champion of reforms and human rights as top contenders in a tenuous moment in a deeply divided Asian democracy.

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son and namesake of the strongman ousted in a 1986 army-backed “People Power” uprising, has led pre-election surveys with a seemingly insurmountable lead. But his closest challenger, Vice President Leni Robredo, has tapped into shock and outrage over the prospect of another Marcos recapturing the seat of power and harnessed an army of campaign volunteers to underpin her candidacy.

Eight other candidates, including former boxing star Manny Pacquiao, Manila Mayor Isko Moreno and former national police chief Sen. Panfilo Lacson have lagged far behind in voter-preference surveys.
Long lines of voters turned up early across most of the country without any major incident. But in southern Maguindanao province, a security hotspot, unidentified men fired at least three grenades Sunday night in the vicinity of the Datu Unsay town hall compound, wounding nine villagers who traveled there in advance from far-flung villages to be able to vote Monday. Two other grenades exploded shortly after in nearby Shariff Aguak town but caused no injuries, police said.




Filipinos queue on the street in Manila's Tondo district to vote as the Philippines' national elections  opened on May 9, 2022. (REUTERS/Willy Kurniawan)

The winner will take office on June 30 for a single, six-year term as leader of a Southeast Asian nation hit hard by two years of COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.
Still more challenging problems include a sagging economy, deeper poverty and unemployment, decades-long Muslim and communist insurgencies. There will likely also be questions over how to deal with calls demanding the prosecution of outgoing populist leader Rodrigo Duterte, whose anti-drug crackdown has left thousands of mostly petty suspects dead and sparked an investigation by the International Criminal Court.
Duterte’s daughter, southern Davao city Mayor Sara Duterte, has topped surveys as Marcos Jr.’s vice presidential running mate in an alliance of the scions of two authoritarian leaders who concern human rights groups. The tie-up has combined the voting power of their separate northern and southern political strongholds, boosting their chances but compounding worries of human rights activists.
“History may repeat itself if they win,” said Myles Sanchez, a 42-year-old human rights worker. “There may be a repeat of martial law and the drug killings that happened under their parents.”
Sanchez said the violence and abuses that marked the martial-law era under Marcos and Duterte’s drug war more than three decades later victimized loved ones from two generations of her family. Her grandmother was sexually abused and her grandfather tortured by counterinsurgency troops under Marcos in the early 1980s in their impoverished farming village in Southern Leyte province.




A man looks for his name on a voter registration list at a polling precinct in Quezon City on May 9, 2022. (Ted Aljibe / AFP)

Under Duterte’s crackdown, Sanchez’s brother, a sister and a sister-in-law were wrongfully linked to illegal drugs and separately killed, she told The Associated Press in an interview. She described the killings of her siblings as “a nightmare that has caused unspeakable pain.”
She begged Filipinos not to vote for politicians who either openly defended the widespread killings or conveniently looked away.
Marcos Jr. and Sara Duterte have stayed away from such volatile issues in the three-month campaign and steadfastly stuck instead to a battle cry of national unity, even though the presidencies of their fathers had opened some of the most turbulent divisions in the country’s history.
“I have learned in our campaign not to retaliate,” Sara Duterte told followers Saturday night in the final day of campaigning, where she and Marcos Jr. thanked a huge crowd in a night of rap music, dance shows and fireworks near Manila Bay.
In a separate rally, Robredo thanked her supporters who jammed her star-studded sorties and waged a house-to-house battle to endorse her brand of clean and hands-on politics. She asked them to fight for patriotic ideals beyond the elections.




Philippine Vice President and presidential candidate Leni Robredo and her three daughters attend her final campaign rally in Makati City, Metro Manila, on May 7, 2022. (REUTERS/Lisa Marie David)

“We’ve learned that those who have awoken will never close their eyes again,” Robredo told a crowd that filled the main avenue in the capital’s Makati financial district. “It’s our right to have a future with dignity and it’s our responsibility to fight for it.”
Aside from the presidency, more than 18,000 government posts are contested, including half of the 24-member Senate, more than 300 seats in the House of Representatives, as well as provincial and local offices across the archipelago of more than 109 million Filipinos.
About 67 million have registered to cast their ballot during the 13-hour voting, an hour longer than the midterm elections in 2019 to compensate for the expected slower queues due to social distancing and other coronavirus safeguards.
Thousands of police and military personnel were deployed to secure election precincts, especially in rural regions with a history of violent political rivalries and where communist and Muslim rebels are active.
In 2009, gunmen deployed by the family of southern Maguindanao province’s then-governor massacred 58 people, including 32 journalists, in an attack on an election convoy that shocked the world.


Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral
Updated 22 sec ago

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

Gulf, Arab delegations attend former Japan PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Prince Faisal bin Farhan Al-Saud attended Japan’s former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s state funeral on Tuesday.

During the funeral ceremony, Prince Faisal conveyed the condolences of Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman to Japanese Prime Minister Fumio Kishida.

The UAE’s Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, a member of Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, also attended the funeral. He conveyed the condolences of Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, President of the UAE, and Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to the Japanese government.

Sheikh Khalid met with the widow Aki Abe and a number of family members to also offer his condolences.

Bahraini Crown Prince and Prime Minister Prince Salman bin Hamad Al-Khalifa also attended Abe’s state funeral. 

Prince Salman bin Hamad was accompanied by the Minister of Foreign Affairs, Dr. Abdullatif bin Rashid Al-Zayani, and several senior officials.

The crown prince praised the late Abe’s role in strengthening Bahrain-Japan relations. He also emphasized Bahrain’s commitment to further strengthening the bilateral relations between the two countries.

Other Arab leaders were present at the state funeral including Jordan’s King Abdullah II and Qatar’s Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani.


Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe
Updated 27 September 2022

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe

Jordan King Abdullah II meets Japan PM, mourns late Abe
  • The two leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure long-term stability and peace in the Middle East region

DUBAI: Jordan’s King Abdullah II paid his respects to former Japanese Prime Minister ABE Shinzo during a summit meeting with current Prime Minister KISHIDA Fumio on Tuesday.

According to Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, King Abdullah II, who attended the state funeral, said that Abe was a great friend of not only Jordan but also the region and shared the hope to develop the bilateral relationship based on his legacy.

Kishida expressed his hope to hold discussions to further develop the diplomatic legacy inherited from the late Abe.

The two leaders exchanged views on the regional situation including the Middle East Peace. Kishida expressed his concern about the impact of the price hike of food and fuel on Jordan, which is hosting a large number of Palestinian refugees, and stated that Japan would continue its support for Jordan, including its support to United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA.)

Kishida also congratulated King Abdullah II Crown Prince Hussein’s engagement and expressed his wish for the long-lasting prosperity of the Jordanian Royal Family and further development of friendly relations with Japan’s Imperial Family.

The two leaders agreed to continue working together to ensure long-term stability and peace in the Middle East region.

This article was originally published on Arab News Japan. 


Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61
Updated 27 September 2022

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61

Bangladesh pilgrim boat tragedy death toll hits 61
  • Incident on Sunday near the northern town of Boda the deadliest in years
  • Mobile phone footage showed the overcrowded boat suddenly flipping over

BODA, Bangladesh: Rescuers and navy divers recovered 10 bodies Tuesday after a boat overloaded with religious pilgrims capsized in Bangladesh, police said, taking the death toll to 61 as anxious relatives waited for news of several people who were still missing.
The incident on Sunday near the northern town of Boda was the deadliest in years in the South Asian country, which is crisscrossed by rivers where overcrowding on aged vessels is common.
Seventeen of those killed were children, authorities said, with video footage suggesting some were as young as around four years old.
The small vessel on its way to a popular temple flipped over in a river as onlookers screamed from the shore, in horrific scenes captured on cellphones.
Boda police chief Sujay Kumar Roy said rescue workers including firefighters, navy divers and villagers were searching for miles downstream on the Karotoa River, where the tragedy occurred.
The boat was carrying around 90 people, of whom around 50 were pilgrims on their way to the centuries-old Hindu temple for a major festival, according to police.
“We resumed the search this morning and rescuers found a few more bodies downstream and also under the water... Still a few more people are missing,” Roy said.
Abdur Razzaque, a police inspector, said at least 30 of the dead were women.
“A committee has been formed to probe the incident,” he said.
Dozens of relatives of the missing people were still crowding the riverbank on Tuesday, although most had left after authorities handed over their family members’ bodies.
“Three women of my family were missing since the boat capsized,” said one distraught relative, Bikash Chandra, late on Monday.
“We found one in the morning around 10:00 am, who was rescued earlier. But I couldn’t find the other two yet.”
District police chief Sirajul Huda said Monday the boat was carrying three times its permitted capacity.
“The boatman asked some people to disembark in an effort to ease the weight-load. But no one listened,” he said.
Mobile phone footage aired by TV station Channel 24 showed the overcrowded boat suddenly flipping over, spilling the passengers into the muddy brown river.
Dozens of people watching from the shore started shouting and screaming. The weather was calm at the time.
Thousands of Hindus in Muslim-majority Bangladesh visit the famous Bodeshwari Temple every year.
Sunday marked the start of Durga Puja, a major Hindu festival drawing large crowds at the temple.
Last December, around 40 people perished when a packed three-story ferry caught fire in southern Bangladesh.
A ferry sank in Dhaka in June 2020 after a collision with another vessel, killing at least 32 people.
And at least 78 people perished in 2015 when an overcrowded ship collided with a cargo vessel in a river west of the capital.


Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term

Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term
Updated 27 September 2022

Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term

Ukrainians involved in Russian-backed referendums face treason charges, prison term
  • Ukrainians who were forced to vote would not be punished
  • Moscow hopes to annex the provinces of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia

KYIV, Ukraine: Ukrainians who help Russian-backed referendums to annex large swathes of the country will face treason charges and at least five years in jail, Ukraine’s presidential adviser said, as voting in four regions entered its last day.
“We have lists of names of people who have been involved in some way,” presidential adviser Mikhailo Podolyak said in an interview with Swiss newspaper Blick.
“We are talking about hundreds of collaborators. They will be prosecuted for treason. They face prison sentences of at least five years.”
Podolyak said Ukrainians who were forced to vote would not be punished. Ukrainians officials have reported ballot boxes being taken door to door and residents being coerced into voting in front of Russian-backed security.
Moscow hopes to annex the provinces of Kherson, Luhansk, Donetsk and Zaporizhzhia, in the east and south, which make up about 15 percent of Ukraine.
None of the provinces are fully under Moscow’s control and fighting has been under way along the entire front line, with Ukrainian forces reporting more advances since they routed Russian troops in a fifth province, Kharkiv, earlier this month.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has issued a veiled threat to use nuclear weapons to protect Russian soil, which would include the four provinces if annexed.
Voting on whether to join Russia began on Friday in the regions and is due to end on Tuesday, with the Russian parliament possibly approving the annexation within days.
The British Ministry of Defense said on Tuesday that Putin is likely to announce the accession of the occupied regions of Ukraine to the Russian Federation during his address to parliament on Sept. 30.
Kyiv and the West have dismissed the referendums as a sham and pledged not to recognize the results.


Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway

Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway
Updated 27 September 2022

Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway

Japan ex-PM Shinzo Abe’s state funeral underway
  • More than 700 foreign guests and over 40 state leaders are expected at the state funeral today

DUBAI/TOKYO: Japan began a controversial state funeral for assassinated former prime minister Shinzo Abe on Tuesday, with his widow Akie carrying his ashes into a Tokyo hall where thousands of mourners gathered.

Dressed in a black kimono, Akie carried the ashes in a box covered with a decorative fabric into the Budokan venue as a 19-gun salute sounded in honour of the slain ex-premier.

More than 700 foreign guests and over 40 state leaders were expected at the state funeral today. 

Dignitaries include Jordan’s King Abdullah II, US Vice President Kamala Harris, India’s PM Narendra Modi, Singapore’s PM Lee Hsien Loong, Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese, Vietnamese President Nguyen Xuan Phuc, South Korean Prime Minister Han Duck-soo, Philippines Vice President Sara Duterte-Carpio, Indonesia Vice President Ma’ruf Amin, and European Council President Charles Michel.

The streets of Budokan where the state funeral will take place have been closed since early morning, and according to sources, many police officers from other parts of Japan are present. 

Mourners have already started queuing pay their respects to Abe, at a sectioned area that has been set up near the Budokan funeral hall venue for members of the public to leave flowers and tributes.

The funeral is stated to have cost 1.65 billion yen (or about $11.4 million) with many Japanese opposed to the state event.

On Monday, around 10,000 protestors marched through the streets of Tokyo demanding the funeral be called off.

– with AFP

This article originally appeared on Arab Jews Japan.