Marcos to leverage Filipino presence in Gulf countries for investment

Special Marcos to leverage Filipino presence in Gulf countries for investment
Ferdinand Marcos Jr., Ursula von der Leyen and Swiss President Alain Berset during the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos, Switzerland, Jan. 17, 2023. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 18 January 2023

Marcos to leverage Filipino presence in Gulf countries for investment

Marcos to leverage Filipino presence in Gulf countries for investment
  • Philippines seeks more foreign investors to aid economic recovery
  • Saudi Arabia, UAE are top destinations for nation’s migrant workers

MANILA: The Philippines is going to tap into the presence of Filipino workers in the Middle East to attract investment from Gulf countries, the office of President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said on Wednesday after his session at the World Economic Forum.

In 2021, about half of Filipinos working abroad were in Middle Eastern countries, including Saudi Arabia and the UAE, which are the top two destinations for overseas Filipino workers.

Marcos, who was attending the WEF in Davos, Switzerland, was positive that Filipino workers in the Middle East would play a role in drawing more investors as the Southeast Asian country sought to boost foreign investment as part of its post-pandemic economic recovery strategy.

“President Ferdinand R. Marcos Jr. expressed optimism Tuesday that the Philippines could leverage on the strong presence of overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) in the Middle East to corner investments from Arab countries looking eastward for new investment destinations,” the presidential office said in a statement.

“The Philippines, Marcos said, has a very good foundation with regard to the relationship with Gulf countries because of the huge concentration of OFWs in the Middle East.”

Kuwait and Qatar — aside from Saudi Arabia and the UAE — are also popular destinations among OFWs, according to latest official data.

In Davos, Marcos was on a mission to promote the Philippines “as leader and driver of growth, and a gateway to the Asia-Pacific region.”

The Philippine president was the only leader from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, or ASEAN, attending the WEF this year. He was accompanied by a delegation of Philippine business leaders and officials, including Trade and Industry Secretary Fred Pascual.

“We have met with several business executives and presented our country as an ideal investment destination in Asia,” Pascual said in a statement issued by his office.

“Similarly, we shared with them our improved business climate, which was fueled by the recent economic policy reforms that facilitate ease of doing business.”

“We see (the) WEF as an opportunity to gather more FDIs that will complement our country’s economic recovery initiatives.”

Blast in mosque in Pakistan’s Peshawar, 70 injured

Updated 14 sec ago

Blast in mosque in Pakistan’s Peshawar, 70 injured

Blast in mosque in Pakistan’s Peshawar, 70 injured
  • Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar says they received 70 injured, some of them in critical condition
PESHAWAR: An explosion took place at a mosque, where a large number of people had gathered for prayer, in the northwestern city of Peshawar in Pakistan on Monday, a police official told Reuters.
“A portion of the building had collapsed and several people are believed to be under it,” police official Sikandar Khan said.
Mohammad Asim, a spokesman for the Lady Reading Hospital in Peshawar, said they had received 70 injured, some of them in critical condition.

Ukraine calls for faster weapons supplies as Russia presses eastern offensive

Ukraine calls for faster weapons supplies as Russia presses eastern offensive
Updated 30 January 2023

Ukraine calls for faster weapons supplies as Russia presses eastern offensive

Ukraine calls for faster weapons supplies as Russia presses eastern offensive
  • Three killed in Russian strikes on Kherson, says governor
  • Zelensky presses Macron to ban Russia from Paris Games

KYIV, Ukraine: Russian missile strikes killed three people in the southern Ukrainian city of Kherson while fighting raged in the eastern Donetsk region where Russia again shelled the key town of Vuhledar, Ukrainian officials said.
President Volodymyr Zelensky said Ukraine was facing a difficult situation in Donetsk and needed faster weapons supplies and new types of weaponry, just days after allies agreed to provide Kyiv with heavy battle tanks.
“The situation is very tough. Bakhmut, Vuhledar and other sectors in Donetsk region — there are constant Russian attacks,” Zelensky said in a video address late on Sunday.
“Russia wants the war to drag on and exhaust our forces. So we have to make time our weapon. We have to speed up events, speed up supplies and open up new weapons options for Ukraine.”
Three people were killed and six injured on Sunday by Russian strikes on Kherson that damaged a hospital and a school, the regional administration said.
Russian troops had occupied Kherson shortly after Moscow’s invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, and held the city until Ukrainian forces recaptured it in November. Since its liberation, the city has regularly been shelled from Russian positions across the Dnipro river.

A view of an apartment building severely damaged by a Russian missile in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on January 30, 2023. (REUTERS)

Later on Sunday a missile struck an apartment building in the northeastern town of Kharkiv, killing an elderly woman, regional Governor Oleh Synehubov said.
A Reuters picture from the scene showed fire engulfing part of a residential building in the country’s second most-populous city.
Russia on Saturday accused the Ukrainian military of deliberately striking a hospital in a Russian-held area of eastern Ukraine, killing 14 people. There was no response to the allegations from Ukraine.
Ukraine’s General Staff said in a statement late on Sunday that Russian forces had shelled Bakhmut, the focus of Moscow’s offensive in the eastern Donetsk region, as well as Vuhledar to the southwest where fighting has intensified in recent days.
Ukrainian military analyst and colonel, Mykola Salamakha, told Ukrainian Radio NV that Russian troops were mounting waves of attacks on Vuhledar.
“From this location we control practically the entire rail system used by the Russians for logistics ... The town is on an upland and an extremely strong defensive hub has been created there,” he said.
“This is a repetition of the situation in Bakhmut — one wave of Russian troops after another crushed by the Ukrainian armed forces.”
Reuters was unable to verify the battlefield reports.

Sunday’s civilian casualties came three days after at least 11 people were killed in missile strikes which were seen in Kyiv as the Kremlin’s response to pledges from Ukraine’s allies to supply battle tanks.
After weeks of wrangling, Germany and the United States last week said they would send Ukraine dozens of tanks to help push back Russian forces, opening the way for other countries to follow suit.
While a total of 321 heavy tanks had been promised to Ukraine by several countries, according to Kyiv’s ambassador to France, they could take months to appear on the battlefield.

Ukraine is keen to speed up the delivery of heavy weapons as both sides in the war are expected to launch spring offensives in the coming weeks.
Talks were also under way between Kyiv and its allies about Ukraine’s requests for long-range missiles, a top aide to Zelensky said on Saturday. Ukraine has also asked for US F16 fighter jets.

Zelensky said he had sent a letter to French President Emmanuel Macron as part of his campaign to keep Russian athletes out of the Paris Olympic Games.
He said that allowing Russia to compete at the 2024 Paris Games would be tantamount to showing that “terror is somehow acceptable.”
“Attempts by the International Olympic Committee to bring Russian athletes back into the Olympic Games are attempts to tell the whole world that terror is somehow acceptable,” Zelensky said in his nightly video address.

Referring to the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin when the Nazis were in power, he said: “The Olympic movement and terrorist states definitely should not cross paths.”
Russia, he said, must not be allowed to “use (the Games) or any other sport event as propaganda for its aggression or its state chauvinism.”
The International Olympic Committee said last week that it welcomed a proposal from the Olympic Council of Asia for Russian and Belarusian athletes to be given the chance to compete in Asia.
Russia says it launched its “special military operation” in Ukraine to fend off a hostile West and “denazify” the country. Ukraine and its allies say the invasion was an unprovoked act of aggression.

Tyre Nichols case revives calls for change in US police culture

Tyre Nichols case revives calls for change in US police culture
Updated 30 January 2023

Tyre Nichols case revives calls for change in US police culture

Tyre Nichols case revives calls for change in US police culture
  • The unarmed black man's fatal encounter with police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, was recorded in video made public Friday
  • The five Black officers are now fired and charged with murder and other crimes in the Jan. 10 death of FedEx worker Nichols

MEMPHIS, Tennessee: An unarmed Black man dies after a videotaped beating by police. The officers involved are fired. After a thorough review of the evidence, criminal charges are swiftly filed against the offending officers.
Investigation, accountability and charges.
This is often the most Black citizens can hope for as the deaths continue. Nationwide, police have killed roughly three people per day consistently since 2020, according to academics and advocates for police reform who track such deaths.
Tyre Nichols’ fatal encounter with police officers in Memphis, Tennessee, recorded in video made public Friday night, is a glaring reminder that efforts to reform policing have failed to prevent more flashpoints in an intractable epidemic of brutality.
Nearly 32 years ago, Rodney King’s savage beating by police in Los Angeles prompted heartfelt calls for change. They’ve been repeated in a ceaseless rhythm ever since, punctuated by the deaths of Amadou Diallo in New York, Oscar Grant in Oakland, California, Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, and so many others.
George Floyd’s murder in Minneapolis in 2020 was so agonizing to watch, it summoned a national reckoning that featured federal legislation proposed in his name and shows of solidarity by corporations and sports leagues. All fell short of the shift in law enforcement culture Black people in America have called for — a culture that promotes freedom from fear, trust in police and mutual respect.
“We need public safety, right? We need law enforcement to combat pervasive crime,” said Jason Turner, senior pastor of Mississippi Boulevard Christian Church in Memphis. “Also, we don’t want the people who are sworn to protect and serve us brutalizing us for a simple traffic stop, or any offense.”
The five Black officers are now fired and charged with murder and other crimes in the Jan. 10 death of Nichols, a 29-year-old skateboarder, FedEx worker and father to a 4-year-old boy.


From police brass and the district attorney’s office to the White House, officials said Nichols’ killing points to a need for bolder reforms that go beyond simply diversifying the ranks, changing use-of-force rules and encouraging citizens to file complaints.
“The world is watching us,” Shelby County District Attorney Steve Mulroy said. “If there is any silver lining to be drawn from this very dark cloud, it’s that perhaps this incident can open a broader conversation about the need for police reform.”
President Joe Biden joined national civil rights leaders in similar calls to action.
“To deliver real change, we must have accountability when law enforcement officers violate their oaths, and we need to build lasting trust between law enforcement, the vast majority of whom wear the badge honorably, and the communities they are sworn to serve and protect,” the president said.
But Memphis, whose 628,000 residents celebrate barbecue and blues music and lament being the place where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated, has seen this before. The city took steps advocates called for in a “Reimagine Policing” initiative in 2021, and mirrored a set of policy changes reformers want all departments to implement immediately, known as “8 Can’t Wait.”
De-escalation training is now required. Officers are told to limit uses of force, exhaust all alternatives before resorting to deadly force and report all uses of force. Tennessee also took action: State law now requires officers to intervene to stop abuse and report excessive force by their colleagues.
Showing unusual transparency for a police department, the MPD now publishes accountability reports that include the race of people subjected to use of force each year. They show Black men and women were overwhelmingly targeted for rougher treatment in 2019, 2020 and 2021. They were subject to nearly 86 percent of the recorded uses of guns, batons, pepper spray, physical beatings and other force in 2021, the total nearly doubling that year to 1,700 cases.
Seven uses of force by Memphis police ended in death during these three years.
“I don’t know how much more cumulative Black death our community should have to pay to convince elected officials that the policing system isn’t broken — it’s working exactly as it was designed to, at the expense of Black life,” said Ash-Lee Woodard Henderson, co-executive director of the Highlander Research and Education Center, a Tennessee-based civil rights leadership training school.
The Nichols case — just one of the brutality cases to make national news this month — exposes an uncomfortable truth: More than two years since the deaths of Floyd, Breonna Taylor and Rayshard Brooks touched off protests, policing reforms have not significantly reduced such killings.
States approved nearly 300 police reform bills after Floyd’s murder, creating civilian oversight of police, more anti-bias training, stricter use-of-force limits and alternatives to arrests in cases involving people with mental illnesses, according to a recent analysis by the Howard Center for Investigative Journalism at the University of Maryland.
Despite calls to “defund the police,” an Associated Press review of police funding nationwide found only modest cuts, driven largely by shrinking revenue related to the coronavirus pandemic. Budgets increased and more officers were hired for some large departments, including New York City’s.
Still stuck in Congress is the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, which would prohibit racial profiling, ban chokeholds and no-knock warrants, limit the transfer of military equipment to police departments, and make it easier to bring charges against offending officers. Biden said he told Nichols’ mother that he would be “making a case” to Congress to pass the Floyd Act “to get this under control.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton said his eulogy at Nichols’ funeral on Wednesday will include a call for new laws. NAACP President Derrick Johnson also took Congress to task.
“By failing to write a piece of legislation, you’re writing another obituary,” Johnson said. “Tell us what you’re going to do to honor Tyre Nichols. … We can name all the victims of police violence, but we can’t name a single law you have passed to address it.”

Advocates want state and federal legislation because local changes vary widely in scope and effect and can be undone by a single election after years of grassroots activism. But some say strict regulations are just the start — and the video of Nichols’ agony proves it.
“Changing a rule doesn’t change a behavior,” said Katie Ryan, chief of staff for Campaign Zero, a group of academics, policing experts and activists working to end police violence. “The culture of a police department has to shift into actually implementing the policies, not just saying there’s a rule in place.”
The five officers charged — Tadarrius Bean, Demetrius Haley, Desmond Mills Jr., Emmitt Martin III and Justin Smith — were part of the so-called Scorpion unit. Scorpion stands for Street Crimes Operations to Restore Peace in our Neighborhoods.
The Memphis police chief, Cerelyn “CJ” Davis, disbanded the unit on Saturday.
“It is in the best interest of all to permanently deactivate the Scorpion unit,” she said in a statement.
Prior to the move by Davis, Memphis Mayor Jim Strickland said it was clear that the officers involved in the attack on Nichols violated the department’s policies and training.
“I want to assure you we are doing everything we can to prevent this from happening again,” Strickland said in a statement. “We are initiating an outside, independent review of the training, policies and operations of our specialized units.”
The Memphis police union extended condolences to Nichols’ family, saying it “is committed to the administration of justice and NEVER condones the mistreatment of ANY citizen nor ANY abuse of power.” The statement also expressed faith that the justice system would reveal “the totality of circumstances” in the case.
Patrick Yoes, national president of the Fraternal Order of Police, pushed back against the conclusion that policing must change. This was not “legitimate police work or a traffic stop gone wrong,” Yoes said. “This is a criminal assault under the pretext of law.”
Protesters turned out again Friday night after the city released the video footage. Turner, the Memphis pastor, called the images “further proof that our city’s and our nation’s criminal justice systems are in dire need of change.”
“It’s not like we’re short on concrete, reasonable recommendations,” said the Rev. Earle Fisher, senior pastor of the Abyssinian Baptist Church. “What we’re short on is the political will and the commitment to making the structural changes.”

Putin threatened to kill me with missile attack: Boris Johnson

Putin threatened to kill me with missile attack: Boris Johnson
Updated 30 January 2023

Putin threatened to kill me with missile attack: Boris Johnson

Putin threatened to kill me with missile attack: Boris Johnson
  • Johnson emerged as one of the most impassioned Western backers of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky

LONDON: President Vladimir Putin threatened to personally target Boris Johnson with a missile attack just before ordering Russian forces into Ukraine, the former UK prime minister has claimed.
The apparent threat came in a phone call just ahead of the invasion on February 24, according to a new BBC documentary to be broadcast on Monday.
Johnson and other Western leaders had been hurrying to Kyiv to show support for Ukraine and try to deter a Russian attack.
“He sort of threatened me at one point and said, ‘Boris, I don’t want to hurt you, but with a missile, it would only take a minute’, or something like that,” Johnson quoted Putin as saying.
Johnson emerged as one of the most impassioned Western backers of Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky.
But prior to the invasion, he says he was at pains to tell Putin that there was no imminent prospect of Ukraine joining NATO, while warning him that any invasion would mean “more NATO, not less NATO” on Russia’s borders.
“He said, ‘Boris, you say that Ukraine is not going to join NATO any time soon.
“’What is any time soon?’ And I said, ‘well it’s not going to join NATO for the foreseeable future. You know that perfectly well’.”
On the missile threat, Johnson added: “I think from the very relaxed tone that he was taking, the sort of air of detachment that he seemed to have, he was just playing along with my attempts to get him to negotiate.”
The BBC documentary charts the growing divide between the Russian leader and the West in the years before the invasion of Ukraine.
It also features Zelensky reflecting on his thwarted ambitions to join NATO prior to Russia’s attack.
“If you know that tomorrow Russia will occupy Ukraine, why don’t you give me something today I can stop it with?” he says.
“Or if you can’t give it to me, then stop it yourself.”


UK vows to deport foreign criminals under slavery overhaul

UK vows to deport foreign criminals under slavery overhaul
Updated 30 January 2023

UK vows to deport foreign criminals under slavery overhaul

UK vows to deport foreign criminals under slavery overhaul
  • The measures taking effect under a new Nationality and Borders Act mean that Home Office caseworkers can in future demand evidence of modern slavery, rather than taking a victim’s word

LONDON: Britain’s government Monday enacted new measures to accelerate the deportation of foreign criminals, clamping down on some who have claimed protection under UK law as purported victims of “modern slavery.”
It cited the case of one convicted rapist who appealed against a decision by the Home Office (interior ministry) to expel him from Britain, by claiming he was a victim of criminal gangs engaged in human trafficking.
He was bailed pending the appeal, committed another rape, and remains in the UK, the Home Office said.
“It is totally unfair that genuine victims of modern slavery may be left waiting longer to receive the protections they need due to the flagrant abuse of the system,” Home Secretary Suella Braverman said in a statement.
“The changes coming into force will mean if you’ve committed an offense, we have the power to refuse your protections and kick you out of our country,” she said.
The measures taking effect under a new Nationality and Borders Act mean that Home Office caseworkers can in future demand evidence of modern slavery, rather than taking a victim’s word.
That could include evidence from a charity worker or police officer who has helped rescue the victim.
But the changes have been criticized by rights groups for undermining protections for genuine victims. One Braverman initiative — to fly cross-Channel migrants to Rwanda for permanent resettlement — has already been blocked in the courts.
Britain’s National Crime Agency reported in November that Albanian crime groups in particular were manipulating the National Referral Mechanism (NRM), which is being reformed under the new act.
Established in 2009 to help protect human trafficking victims, the NRM is used to identify and refer them to UK government agencies to ensure they receive appropriate support.
If caught working in cannabis farms or other criminal enterprises, Albanian migrants have been coached to claim they are victims of modern-day slavery and apply to the NRM, the crime agency’s report said.
In December, Prime Minister Rishi Sunak announced a new deal with Albania to stem the flow of migrants from the country crossing the Channel on small boats from mainland Europe.
The agreement only came about after the government in Tirana demanded an apology for an anti-migrant “campaign” in UK media, following some incendiary rhetoric from Braverman.
But the minister has maintained a hard line, to the delight of Conservative right-wingers keen to show that Britain can control its borders after Brexit, and the clampdown is one of five priorities promised by Sunak for this year.
“We must stop people exploiting our immigration and asylum laws,” Braverman said in Monday’s statement.
“And I am personally determined to crack down on those abusing the generosity of the British public and taking our country for a ride.”