Displaying items by tag: Politics

Narco politicians backing IS – PNP

By Emmanuel Tupas (The Philippine Star) | Updated

The Philippine National Police is conducting a case buildup against narco-politicians who are reportedly helping the Maute group occupy Marawi City, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said yesterday. AP/Bullit Marquez, File
Rody: IS planned Marawi attack, Mindanao takeover

MANILA, Philippines - The Philippine National Police is conducting a case buildup against narco-politicians who are reportedly helping the Maute group occupy Marawi City, PNP chief Director General Ronald dela Rosa said yesterday.

Dela Rosa revealed the matter when asked by journalists whether the PNP has information on politicians who have been supporting the Islamic State (IS)-inspired terror group.

“We will not divulge those details for the meantime because our work is ongoing. We are doing a case buildup, that’s all,” Dela Rosa said in an interview at Camp Crame.

The PNP chief earlier backed a statement of President Duterte that politicians involved in illegal drugs are supporting the Maute group.

He said some drug lords from Metro Manila, Luzon and the Visayas held a drug summit in Marawi last year.

Some of these politicians are no longer in power but others are incumbent, he said.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte gestures during his speech at the swearing in of municiple at the Malacanang presidential palace in Manila, Philippines on Thursday, June 1, 2017. Duterte declared martial law in the Mindanao region, the southern third of the Philippines, and poured in troops backed by airstrikes, artillery fire and tanks to crush the urban insurrection. AP/Aaron Favila

Dela Rosa did not provide a specific number, but he said these personalities are local chief executives based in Mindanao – “not only in Marawi; some are from Maguindanao and other provinces.”

Some of these politicians reportedly even engaged Maute fighters in shooting competitions, Dela Rosa said, adding that this could be one of the ways the terrorists obtained ammunition.

With the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus suspended in Mindanao because of martial law, Dela Rosa said the PNP would take advantage of the situation to arrest politicians with links to the Maute.

“This is our chance to hunt down and arrest these narco-politicians,” he said over dzMM radio.

Three police officers have been killed, three were wounded and six remain missing since the Marawi crisis broke out on May 23.

Dela Rosa said the six police non-commissioned officers are believed trapped in downtown Marawi, where the fighting is still intense.

“They are trapped and could not come out because of the presence of the enemy.”

Nearly 900 policemen are deployed in Marawi and fighting alongside the military against the rebels. Police public safety forces from other regions are on standby and ready for deployment in the event additional forces are needed.

No vacation

Vacation leaves of all police officers nationwide are put on hold as part of security preparations in the ongoing Marawi crisis, according to Interior and Local Government officer-in-charge Catalino Cuy.

The PNP has been on full alert since the attack on a night market in Davao City in September last year.

The explosion prompted Duterte to place the country in a state of lawlessness.

“Since the PNP is on full alert, all vacation leaves of police officers are suspended. We ensure the safety and welfare of troops deployed in Marawi,” Cuy told The STAR.

Dela Rosa has ordered other police units in the country to be ready for deployment to Marawi City.

He clarified there is no need to send more troops in Mindanao.

He said police forces from the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao, Central Mindanao and Northern Mindanao sent to Marawi City are enough.
At present, Dela Rosa said Special Action Force (SAF) commandos and members of the Regional Public Safety Battalion are handling the situation well, noting they are the elite units well trained in counterinsurgency and counterterrorism.

“Most of the operating battalions of SAF are there in Marawi and our force is strong. If they turn out insufficient, we have to pull out units from other regions,” Dela Rosa said.
He placed on standby all elite police forces across the country in anticipation of the escalation of clashes between government forces and the Maute group.
“I advised the regional police offices to prepare their public safety forces. Right now, they are ready, waiting for my instructions to reinforce Marawi.”

IS long planned attack

President Duterte said yesterday that ISIS or IS had long planned to infiltrate and attack Marawi City in a bid to control Mindanao as he ordered the military troops to wipe out terrorists in the region.

The recent confluence of events, starting from the time that Abu Sayyaf leader Isnilon Hapilon was anointed as “emir” of IS and then his group’s fusion with the local Maute terror group, already sounded the alarm bells about IS-backed plans in Mindanao.

“Well, anyway, let me just run you through what’s really happening. You know the rebellion now in Mindanao, it’s not Maute, it’s purely ISIS with different branch since they started it,” Duterte declared while speaking before local officials, newly appointed justices and special envoys in Malacañang.

Noting the background of the Maute brothers, one of whom went to Libya, Duterte said the Islamic groups’ control of Marawi had been long-planned.

Maute fighters, combined with Abu Sayyaf terrorists, were forced to jumpstart their plan after the military overran their secret operations while they were about to arrest Isnilon last week.

“This Marawi (attack) has long been planned. It could not be just a decision (saying), ‘let’s go to Mindanao.’ All of these are planned,” said Duterte, who declared martial law in Mindanao on May 23. Along with the proclamation, he also suspended the privilege of the writ of habeas corpus.

“And it’s a long time. So, I, as a student of you know what, history and maybe, (I knew that) when Hapilon was sent to Central Mindanao and he was anointed as the emir, that’s when I thought that something terribly wrong is going to happen,” Duterte added.

For him, the report already indicated a red flag.

Defense Secretary Delfin Lorenzana, also the administrator of martial law, pointed out how Hapilon, a member of the Yakan indigenous tribe in Sulu, was able to penetrate Marawi City – a known bailiwick of the Maranaos – even when the two groups do not mix culturally.

“Yes, Isnilon particularly, we heard from our intelligence that he has received several million dollars worth of funds from the Middle East… Culturally or whatever, these tribes do not mix. And there is only one reason there is – that he has a lot of money to distribute and buy loyalties,” he said.

Authorities believed that the Maute fighters have reached about 500, although this has been reduced by about 100 from the 10 days of fighting. Lorenzana calculated the Maute group has about 260 members with them while Hapilon provided about 100. The rest came from the local groups that joined them.

“So we were able to kill already close to 100. We don’t know yet how many more are unaccounted for,” Lorenzana added.

Duterte said yesterday he has directed the military troops to “wipe out” all the enemies.

“When I say, wipe them out, better. If you shoot him in the head, shoot it again in the heart to be sure. Otherwise, they will capture you if they would suddenly escape,” Duterte said.

About 35 soldiers have been killed while over a hundred military personnel have been injured during the operations. Over 90 Maute members, including eight foreigners, were killed in the clashes. — With Cecille Suerte Felipe, Christina Mendez


Pro and anti-Trump protesters descend on Portland as police brace for violence at competing rallies

  • Published in U.S.

Jaweed Kaleem

Demonstrators began gathering Sunday in downtown Portland for a pro-President Trump free-speech rally and a pair of counter-demonstrations that city officials feared could turn violent after a white supremacist killed two men in stabbings on a city train.

Trump supporters held signs aloft saying, “Don’t tread on me,” “God, guns and Trump” and “Make America Great Again,” as they faced off in heated arguments with black-clad counter-protesters holding signs that said “Black Lives Matter” and “Portland stands against hate.”

Similar rallies in Portland and around the country have become entangled in brawls in recent months, including ones in Berkeley in April.

Officials from the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security said they were monitoring Sunday’s events, which will take place in part at a federal plaza. As of early Sunday afternoon, there had been four arrests, the Portland Police Bureau said.

There has been growing tension over the protests since 35-year-old Jeremy Joseph Christian was accused of killing the two men by slashing their throats on a city train when they tried to defend two teenagers from his anti-Muslim insults and racists taunts on May 26. A third man was injured in the confrontation.

The pro-Trump March for Free Speech drew the ire of many Portlanders after images went viral showing Christian attending a similar protest in April led by local video blogger Joey Gibson, who also organized Sunday’s demonstration.

As Christian was arraigned Tuesday on charges of murder and attempted murder, he shouted a stream of threats. “Free speech or die, Portland,” he said. “You got no safe place. This is America. Get out if you don’t like free speech.”

Portland braces for violence at pro-Trump rally this weekend after white supremacist is charged with murder
Portland Mayor Ted Wheeler tried and failed to get a federal permit for Gibson’s rally revoked, saying its participants “peddle a message of hatred and bigotry.” He backed down after facing heavy criticism, including from the American Civil Liberties Union, for attempting to quash a demonstration.

In a message to residents last week, Wheeler urged “everyone participating to reject violence.”

“Our city has seen enough,” he said.

Gibson, who has denounced the killings, said he would kick any white supremacists out of his rally, which he said was aimed at promoting “free speech, small government and Christianity.” But he acknowledged in an interview with the Los Angeles Times that he “can’t control everyone.”

Some of those who assembled Sunday at the federal plaza were wearing clothing or holding signs with racist and militia-related insignia.

Among those expected to attend — some from as far away as Southern California and Montana — were figures from the “alt-right,” a loose-knit movement founded by white nationalists, as well as the Oath Keepers, a militia group that civil rights groups describe as “anti-government extremists.”

Members of the Proud Boys, a far-right men’s fraternity whose members call themselves “Western chauvinists,” also attended, along with Republicans and Libertarians.

Spotted among them was Kyle Chapman, a San Francisco Bay Area resident who has developed an online following using the moniker “Based Stickman.” Images of Chapman, who carries a stick and shield during protests and wears a motorcycle helmet, went viral after he clashed with protesters at Berkeley this year.

On Thursday, he turned to Facebook and Twitter to urge his followers to “smash on sight” in an “open season on antifa,” shorthand for “anti-fascists.”

Even before the train killings, Portland was embroiled in conflicts over hate and racism
Members of a left-wing group called Rose City Antifa assembled Sunday in a park across the street from the pro-Trump protesters, saying they were there to stand against “neo-Nazis, hateful preachers” and “violent bigots.”

Both sides said they were ready to use violence in self-defense. Some skirmishes broke out Sunday afternoon.

“We are unapologetic about the reality that fighting fascism at points requires physical militancy,” Rose City Antifa said in a recent statement. “We cannot emphasize enough that a diverse range of other forms of resistance are also crucial,” the statement added.

Some of those who attend anti-fascist rallies are known to show up dressed all in black and wear bandannas, gas masks or helmets to avoid being identified and to protect themselves. Others dress as clowns and other costumes to mock their political opponents.

Each side accuses the other of using intimidation and provocation to lure them into fights.

Keith Campbell, who drove to Portland from El Cerrito, in the Bay Area, to attend the pro-Trump rally and livestream it, said he was tired of being labeled a violent extremist.

“Not everyone who is on the Trump side is in the extreme right or neo-Nazis,” said Campbell, 53, who is a member of the Oath Keepers. “There are probably a few people like that, [but] there are a lot of people who are normal, good conservative people.”

While members of his group are known to bring weapons to such events, he said he was not armed and just wanted to “be able to go somewhere and talk and tell our views without being shut down by either violence or threats of violence.”

“We don't get to be heard,” he said. “Or if we get to be heard, people are told that we are spewing hate speech, and basically hate speech is anything one side doesn’t agree with.”

Organizers of a third rally, Portland Stands United Against Hate and Violence, gathered outside City Hall, within sight of the other protests. That rally, which came together in response to the growing tension in the city over hate crimes and Sunday’s dueling demonstrations, was endorsed by more than 70 groups, including religious congregations, civil rights organization and labor unions.

“The plan is to make sure there’s a peaceful event, a peaceful message,” said Seemab Hussaini, a member of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. “We don’t want ourselves to be swayed by anyone.”

Margaret Jacobsen, who helped organize Portland’s Women’s March in January, said she was protesting against what she sees as a rising tide of racism and hate crimes in the country.

“Lives can end if you cross the wrong person,” said Jacobsen, who set up a table with food, water and medical supplies for Sunday’s demonstrators. “I don’t think this is just because of who is in office, but it is what it means to be black or brown in America.”

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Jaweed Kaleem is The Times' national race and justice correspondent.


Preparing to cross the line

President Rodrigo Duterte’s pronouncement that he will defy the Supreme Court if the high tribunal does not toe his line in relation to his declaration of martial law last week is the clearest indication that he will perpetuate himself in power, even if he is fully aware that he does not have too many good years left.
Very likely, he plans to follow in the footsteps of the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, but at a different pace. Where the former strongman first set the stage for the imposition of martial law by first suspending the writ of habeas corpus, Mr. Duterte didn’t even bother to prepare the people for the worst.
What he did was to declare martial law in all of Mindanao, but immediately followed this up with a statement that he was prepared to place the entire country under his one-man rule on the vague condition that he will take the draconian measure if terrorists enter the Visayas and Luzon.
Under the current regime where fake news proliferates, it will come as no surprise if fake terrorists are spotted in Metro Manila, who will then commit some unspeakable act of terrorism and voila! The regime has a perfect excuse to declare martial law nationwide.
This was done before by Marcos, who had then Defense Secretary Juan Ponce Enrile fake an assassination attempt just before Presidential Decree 1081 placing the Philippines under martial rule was signed. Enrile himself admitted that the supposed assassination attempt on his person was faked.
The way Mr. Duterte has been acting, it will not be impossible or even improbable for his regime to dictate to Congress to legitimize his version of 1081, and to switch from legitimately elected Philippine president to illegitimate dictator for life.
He can then do one of two things: prepare his anointed successor during this period, which can either be his daughter Sarah, or worst, defeated vice presidential bet Bongbong Marcos.
Being a lawyer but nowhere near possessing the admitted brilliant legal mind of the older Marcos, Mr. Duterte will have to have his subordinates legally justify the soon-to-be permanent state of martial law in the country. Unfortunately, the lawyers in his Cabinet are a most unimpressive bunch.
And with an independent-minded Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the person of Lourdes Sereno, the Duterte legal cabal are overmatched. It is for this reason that the president said he would defy the SC if it rules against his martial law, or any of the acts committed by the administration related thereto.
For Marcos, his justification was to “save the republic and reform society,” which was later the basis for his ridiculous New Society.
Mr. Duterte is more blunt. He says he will declare marital law nationwide “to save the people,” whatever that means. The only people who need saving are the unfortunate poor suspected of using drugs who continue to be killed extrajudicially on a daily basis.
As expected, Mr.Duterte’s apologists tried to tone down his “I will defy the Supreme Court” stance by saying he did not exactly mean what he said. 
Yeah, right.
Just like his telling the Armed Forces that he would “allow” soldiers to rape up to three, but never four or more women while doing their duty. At least this is better than Ferdinand Marcos’s martial law, when soldiers and even policemen could do as they wish. Literally tens of thousands of Filipinos were raped and/or killed.
By perpetuating himself in power, Mr. Duterte is setting the stage not only for a repeat of the rampant abuses during the Marcos martial law period, he all but guarantees that the situation will be much, much worse. The country’s economy which was left in good shape by former President Noynoy Aquino will be the first victim. Foreign investments will disappear, while those who are part of the Duterte regime will commit brazen acts of plunder from the highest to the lowest levels.
In 1986, the Philippines found a savior in a small group of reform-minded officers of the Armed Forces who inspired millions of Filipinos to force the Marcoses and their cronies out of the country. Perhaps it is within the same Armed Forces of the Philippines that another group of young officers will recognize the evil that is martial law and take whatever measure is necessary to end it and restore the country’s democratic institutions.
It must begin with the head of state unconditionally accepting that the chief justice of the Supreme Court is his co-equal, and not his subordinate.
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