The American press duly notes Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s barbarous crackdown on alleged drug dealers, addicts and enablers — perhaps 5,800 summary executions by both his cops and vigilantes since early summer.
And it’s far worse than most media report.
Outlets of very different sensibilities — Foreign Policy and Al Jazeera — now take audiences far deeper into this horror. They include looks at the killers, the self-justifying police and the substantial public support for what’s playing out.
For starters, Filipina journalist Ana Santos profiles Ronald dela Rosa, director general of the Philippine National Police (PNP), who is Duterte’s chief executioner and, yes, “treated more like a rock star than a policeman.”
“Women sometimes scream or cry tears of joy when they see him; crowds flock to him in public, forcing his own men to huddle around him to protect him from adoring hands. A trail of fans follows him around the country.”
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said on Friday he was not severing ties with his country’s long-time ally the United States, but merely pursuing a more independent foreign policy by strengthening relations with China.
A day after he provoked fresh diplomatic alarm by announcing his “separation” from Washington, Duterte struck a more conciliatory tone as he arrived back in the Philippines after a four-day visit to Beijing.
“It is not severance of ties. When you say severance of ties, you cut diplomatic relations. I cannot do that,” the Philippine leader told reporters at a midnight news conference in his southern home city of Davao.
“It’s in the best interest of my countrymen to maintain that relationship.”
What was an embarrassing weekend for president Barack Obama, whose arrival at the G-20 summit in China was a case study in diplomatic humiliation, just turned even worse when on Monday, Philippine president Rodrigo Duterte warned the US president not to question him about extrajudicial killings, or “son of a bitch I will swear at you” when the two presidents meet at a summit in Laos in the coming days.
The topic of Duterte’s killing spree, supposedly involving mostly criminals and drug-traffickers, without due process has raised eyebrows most recently by the United Nations, which urged the Philippines to stop executing and killing people linked to drug business and threatened that “state actors” could be punished. As a result, two weeks ago Duterte lashed out at the UN and threatened that the country could leave the UN. “Maybe we’ll just have to decide to separate from the United Nations. If you’re that rude, son of a bitch, we’ll just leave you,” Duterte told reporters in Davao, quoted by Bloomberg. “I don’t give a shit about them,” he added. “They are the ones interfering. You do not just go out and give a shitting statement against a country.”
Fast forward to today when the outspoken president lobbed a preemptive warning at Obama, and before flying to Laos where the two heads of state are set to meet, said that he is a leader of a sovereign country and is answerable only to the Filipino people. He was answering a reporter’s question about how he intends to explain the extrajudicial killings to Obama. More than 2,000 suspected drug pushers and users have been killed since Duterte launched a war on drugs after taking office on June 30.
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has named several government officials, including judges, members of Congress and military officers accused of having links to the illegal drug trade, just hours after vowing to maintain his “shoot-to-kill” order against drug dealers.
In a televised national address early on Sunday morning, Duterte declared that the officials he accused would have their day in court, but quickly added while reading the list that “my mouth has no due process”.
He justified his reading of the list, saying he has a sworn duty to inform the public about the state of “narco-politics” in the country.
According to the news website Rappler, Duterte named a total of 158 officials, many of whom are police and military officers, but also include three members of Congress and seven judges.
- Duterte issues shoot-to-kill orders against politicians in drug war
- Philippine jails overcrowded since Duterte’s war on drugs, rights group says
- Dead or alive: Is the Philippines’ war on drugs out of control?
- Richard Branson says Duterte’s war on drugs bound to fail, calls for end to killings
- In Rodrigo Duterte’s Philippines, extrajudicial killings surge
[…] One month into Mr Duterte’s six-year presidency, around 500 drug suspects have been executed. Police are responsible for many of the killings.
One of the very few Filipinos prepared to speak out about the extra-judicial killings is Catholic priest Father Amado Picardal.
“I think there is more to come, because the reign of terror has started. The police are on a killing spree, and so are the vigilante groups,” he said.
Father Picardal worked in Davao City, where human rights groups say about 1,300 criminal suspects were executed by police and death squads over 20 years.
Father Picardal said the killing of suspects was “murder encouraged by the President”.
‘[…] So companies like Facebook and Twitter rely on an army of workers employed to soak up the worst of humanity in order to protect the rest of us. And there are legions of them—a vast, invisible pool of human labor. Hemanshu Nigam, the former chief security officer of MySpace who now runs online safety consultancy SSP Blue, estimates that the number of content moderators scrubbing the world’s social media sites, mobile apps, and cloud storage services runs to “well over 100,000”—that is, about twice the total head count of Google and nearly 14 times that of Facebook.
This work is increasingly done in the Philippines. A former US colony, the Philippines has maintained close cultural ties to the United States, which content moderation companies say helps Filipinos determine what Americans find offensive. And moderators in the Philippines can be hired for a fraction of American wages. Ryan Cardeno, a former contractor for Microsoft in the Philippines, told me that he made $500 per month by the end of his three-and-a-half-year tenure with outsourcing firm Sykes. Last year, Cardeno was offered $312 per month by another firm to moderate content for Facebook, paltry even by industry standards.’
‘China says its land reclamation work in the South China Sea is “totally justifiable” as it has “sovereignty” over the area. Its foreign affairs ministry spokesman Hua Chunying was responding to a BBC report which documented China’s construction work in disputed waters. The Philippines has accused China of illegal building in the area.
China is locked in a dispute with several countries over maritime claims in the South China Sea. The BBC report by Rupert Wingfield-Hayes said China was building new islands on five different reefs. He and his team documented Chinese work to dredge tonnes of rock and sand from the sea floor to pump into Johnson South reef in the Spratly islands, which are also claimed by Manila.’
- China’s Island Factory
- Philippines displays ancient maps to debunk China’s sea claims
- Singapore and the Sea of Discontent
- Remote, gas-rich islands on Indonesia’s South China Sea frontline
- Philippines Renews Arbitration Push in South China Seas Dispute
- U.S. to monitor South China Sea for de-escalation after China rebuff
- U.S. to press South China Sea freeze despite China rejection
- Manila urges unity for South East Asian nations in China sea dispute
- New Chinese map gives greater play to South China Sea claims
- China to build school in contested Paracel Islands
- China Building Dubai-Style Fake Islands in South China Sea
- China says Vietnam, Philippines’ mingling on disputed isle a ‘farce’
- China says Philippines stirring tensions after Aquino supports Japan
- Japan and the South China Sea Conflict
- 103 words that tie the U.S. military to barren rocks in the East China Sea
- China blames U.S. for stoking tensions in South China Sea
- Pepe Escobar: Obama makes South China waves
’23 years after the Philippines evicted US forces from their country, a new deal has been signed that is set to allow the US to “pre-position” forces in the nation and resume access to some of the bases. The Obama Administration has been hard-selling the deal for months as a chance for the Philippines to secure US military aid to “counter Chinese aggression” in the South China Sea.
The Philippines and China are just two of several nations with conflicting territorial claims in the South China Sea, and the US has promised military backing for the Philippines military to defend their claims against China. The US has made similar promises to virtually everyone else with a claim that is contrary to China’s own claims. The United States occupied the Philippines militarily after the Spanish-American War, and engaged in a brutal suppression of pro-independence rebels. The Philippines finally achieved full independence from the US in 1946, but US troops remained present in a big way until their 1991 expulsion.’
- US denies 10yr Philippines security pact aimed against China
- U.S., Philippines to sign 10-year defense agreement amid rising tensions
- 5 Philippine Bases Where the U.S. Military Will Look to Gain a Footing
- Toxic trail shadows US-Philippine bases deal
- Filipino police break up anti-Obama protest rally
- Philippine Leader Sounds Alarm on China
Catherine Traywick at Foreign Policy explains how the U.S. government and the (U.S.-backed) Philippines government exploited the U.S. military’s disaster response to the recent typhoon in order to justify more U.S. troops to be stationed at more U.S. bases in the Philippines.
Officials from both nations quickly framed the catastrophe as a justification for a broader U.S. military presence in the Philippines. Two weeks after Haiyan made landfall, Philippine Foreign Affairs Secretary Albert del Rosario said the disaster “demonstrated” the need for U.S. troops in the Philippines. Shortly after that, U.S. Ambassador to the Philippines Philip Goldberg argued that Haiyan underscored his top priority: to deepen the military relationship between countries. That argument riled some Filipino legislators. One leftist political advocacy group decried it “disaster opportunism at its finest.”
U.S. troops already have a small but significant footprint in the Philippines. U.S. special forces have spent the past 12 years in the southern part of the country to help Philippine troops carry out counterrorism missions against Abu Sayyaf and elements of Jemaah Islamiyah, two Islamic terrorist groups with links to al Qaeda. U.S. troops also participate in frequent military exercises with the Philippine military. Since President Barack Obama announced his so-called “pivot to Asia,” however, the United States has been pushing for greater access to Philippine bases and the right to build exclusive facilities on them — a politically contentious issue that caused negotiations to fall apart last October.
The following report is a translation from Chinese media. The views do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily Mail.
Relying on US support, the Philippines is so arrogant as to announce in the New Year that it will increase its navy and air force deployment at Zhongye Island, a Chinese island that it has illegally occupied for years.
It will be an intolerable insult to China
According to experts, the Chinese navy has drawn a detailed combat plan to seize the island and the battle will be restricted within the South China Sea.
The battle is aimed at recovery of the island stolen by the Philippines from China.
There will be no invasion into Filipino territories.
A report in the Philippines Star confirmed the Philippines military buildup on the island.
The swift US humanitarian response to the devastation of Super Typhoon Haiyan highlights the need to expand America’s military presence in the Philippines, Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario said Monday.
He said a proposed agreement to strengthen the US military presence, which was being negotiated as the storm struck on Nov. 8, would allow for the easier delivery of relief aid by US forces in the future.
[…] The proposed deal would allow more US troops, aircraft and ships to pass through the Philippines at a time when Washington is refocusing its attention on Asia.
It had also been seen as a counterweight to Chinese moves in the South China Sea, where Beijing has territorial disputes with US ally Manila.
Despite months of talks, the Philippine and US governments have failed to sign the agreement due to some differences in their respective positions.
However the United States, particularly its military, has burnished its image in the former US colony through its extensive relief work after the typhoon ravaged the central Philippine islands, leaving almost 7,000 dead or missing.
Kim Kardashian is auctioning off her clothes on eBay to raise money for victims of the deadly typhoon in the Philippines. She will give 10 percent of the sales to charity, an amount she has given repeatedly to goodwill efforts in the past.
Kardashian announced the eBay auction on her Celebuzz blog Thursday (Nov. 21), saying a portion of the proceeds will go to the International Medical Corps (IMC), a nonprofit helping those affected by the deadly disaster on the ground.
“The proceeds will go directly to the communities they’re serving in the Philippines and will help typhoon survivors get access to medical care and ultimately save lives,” she wrote. “My prayers and thoughts are with those affected by the typhoon. Check out my eBay auction here and support those who need our help in the Philippines.”
On Kardashian’s eBay page, clothes are being auctioned off by designers like Stella McCartney, Jimmy Choo, Prada, Louis Vuitton, Dolce & Gabbana, Alexander McQueen and L’Wren Scott. The highest priced item is a Chanel bag with a current bid of $1,225.
When a prospective buyer clicks on an item, a disclaimer appears on the screen highlighting that 10 percent of the final sale price will go to support the IMC.
Last week I wrote about the potential for the Obama administration’s Asia-Pivot strategy to inflame anti-colonialist sentiment. I lamented that Washington tries simply to get around this popular opposition to the military surge in East Asia instead of acknowledging that people don’t like to be occupied by foreign militaries.
Cynically, the U.S. has exploited the suffering of the typhoon in the Philippines in order to gain leverage in negotiations with Manila over increased U.S. military presence there. The relief operations performed by U.S. forces are seen as helping to “lubricate” the deal for basing rights, which are one piece of a broader plan to contain a rising China.
According to Robert Farley at The Diplomat, the process of “establishing forward U.S. bases in the Philippines…has moved slowly, largely because of domestic concerns in Manila about a military U.S. presence.”
“Fortunately for U.S. strategic interests (if not the victims of the storm),” Farley writes, “the U.S. Navy’s support in the aftermath of Typhoon Haiyan may win sufficient goodwill to overcome local opposition to a renewed U.S. military role.”
[…] For Washington and it’s helpful D.C. policy wonks, the task is not to acknowledge and respect the fact that foreign populations don’t want to be occupied by a non-native military. Instead, the task is to figure out how to get around this inconvenient obstruction.
This is why the humanitarian disaster following the Philippine typhoon is so politicized. Washington intends to give $20 million in relief and the U.S. military arrived quickly to assist in emergency relief operations. In contrast, China is sending less than $2 million in relief and has been much less visible. Washington is exploiting the humanitarian crisis in order to make U.S. military presence more palatable.
The American aircraft carrier George Washington has arrived, its 5,000 sailors and 80 aircraft already busy ferrying relief supplies to storm-battered survivors, and the United States has committed an initial $20 million in humanitarian assistance. Japan is dispatching a naval force of 1,000 troops, in what officials say is that country’s largest ever disaster-relief deployment. Also on the way: the Illustrious, a British aircraft carrier stocked with transport planes, medical experts and $32 million worth of aid.
The outpouring of foreign assistance for the hundreds of thousands left homeless and hungry by Typhoon Haiyan is shaping up to be a monumental show of international largess — and a not-so-subtle dose of one-upmanship directed at the region’s fastest-rising power, China.
China, which has its own newly commissioned aircraft carrier and ambitions of displacing the United States, the dominant naval power in the Pacific, has been notably penurious. Beijing increased its total contribution to the relief effort to $1.6 million on Thursday after its initial pledge of $100,000 was dismissed as stingy, even by some state-backed news media in the country.
The typhoon, described as the most devastating natural calamity to hit the Philippines in recent history, is emerging as a showcase for the soft-power contest in Asia. The geopolitical tensions have been stoked by China’s territorial claims in the South China Sea, and heightened by American efforts to reassert its influence in the region.
China has showered aid on countries it considers close friends, becoming the largest lender in Africa, rushing to help Pakistan after an earthquake in September and showing a more humanitarian side to its neighbors in Asia. But the typhoon struck hardest at the country China considers its biggest nemesis in the legal, diplomatic and sometimes military standoff over control of tiny but strategic islands in the South China Sea.
As many as 10,000 people are feared dead in one city alone after Super Typhoon Haiyan — one of the most powerful storms ever recorded — slammed into the central islands of the Philippines, officials said.
Regional police chief Elmer Soria said he was briefed by Leyte provincial Gov. Dominic Petilla late Saturday and told there were about 10,000 deaths on the island, mostly by drowning and from collapsed buildings. The governor’s figure was based on reports from village officials in areas where Typhoon Haiyan slammed Friday.
Tacloban city administrator Tecson Lim said that the death toll in the city “could go up to 10,000.” A mass burial was planned Sunday in Palo town near Tacloban.
Interior Secretary Mar Roxas said a massive rescue operation was underway. “We expect a very high number of fatalities as well as injured,” Roxas said after visiting Tacloban on Saturday.
Asia-Pacific currently undergoing ‘one of the biggest military build-ups in history’ (and more Asia Pivot news)
- The Real Reason Behind China’s Military Expansion (Oil Price)
- China warns U.S., Japan, Australia not to gang up in sea disputes (Reuters)
- Sino-Japanese Territorial Disputes Could Pull the US into War in Asia (Antiwar)
- Japan PM vows more active security role (Asia One)
- The U.S. Rebalance to Asia-Pacific and the U.S.-Japan-Taiwan alliance (China Policy Institute)
- China warns Japan over reported plan to shoot down drones (Global Clarity)
- US stages show of naval force in the South China Sea (WSWS)
- Amid Territorial Disputes, China’s Naval Drills Grow Larger (Epoch Times)
- China nuclear subs ‘gallop to depths of ocean’ (Global Geopolitics)
- South Korea Anxious Over US–Japan Security Moves (Epoch Times)
- North Korea Warns US of ‘Disastrous Consequences’ for Naval Buildup (Antiwar)
- Manila expects early U.N. ruling on sea dispute with Beijing (Reuters)
- China criticizes U.S. for giving tacit backing to Philippines in sea dispute (Reuters)
- ‘Credible’ threats of attacks in Philippines, US warns (Daily Times)
- Tony Abbott warns of conflict risk in South China Sea (Brisbane Times)
- Australians invest millions to upgrade military facilities for Marines (Marine Times)
- From 2011: Obama boosts U.S. military in Australia, reassures China (Reuters)
- Brunei is America’s East Pacific Cash Cow and Military Base (Strategic Culture Foundation)
One of the predictable consequences of Obama’s Asia-Pivot is that, by boosting support to all of China’s U.S.-allied neighbors, those countries are emboldened to stand up to China as an enemy and China is likewise emboldened to counter the onslaught. Needless to say, this makes conflict more likely.
[…] Throughout 2012, the U.S. increased its military and economic support for the Philippines government while at the same time expanding the American military presence in the country. This at a time when the Obama administration publicly pledges to support any U.S. ally that is threatened by China and vocally chastises Beijing for subtly staking claims to contested maritime territories. Undoubtedly, Manila got the right message.
Editor’s Note: The pretext for expansion is the perceived threat posed by China. Both the Philippines and China have disputed claims over islands in the South China Sea where there is believed to be oil. The Philippines government has also sought increased military deployment in the area viewing an eventual conflict over the unoccupied islands at some point in the future.
The United States is negotiating an agreement to allow it to position military equipment and rotate more personnel into the Philippines while avoiding the contentious issue of re-establishing American bases in the country, according to officials from both countries.
The negotiations for increased military access come amid simmering tensions between the Philippines and China over areas in the South China Sea claimed by both countries and moves by the United States to ensure it retains influence in the region even as China’s grows.
The Philippines, which has a small navy and air force, has been relying on support from the United States, a close ally, to modernize its military and upgrade its abilities. Part of this relationship has involved regular short-term visits by American military forces for joint training, humanitarian work and disaster response.
The arrangement under negotiation now would allow American forces to visit for longer periods and be stationed on Philippine military bases.
Armed Forces of the Philippines plans to build 30 Hectare Air, Naval bases ASAP in Subic for American Forces ~ Reuters
The Philippine military has revived plans to build new air and naval bases at Subic Bay, a former U.S. naval base that American forces could use to counter China’s creeping presence in the disputed South China Sea, senior navy officials said.
The proposed bases in the Philippines, a close U.S. ally, coincides with a resurgence of U.S. warships, planes and personnel in the region as Washington turns its attention to a newly assertive China and shifts its foreign, economic and security policy towards Asia.
The bases would allow the Philippines to station warships and fighter jets just 124 nautical miles from Scarborough Shoal, a contentious area of the South China Sea now controlled by China after a tense standoff last year.
by Jason Ditz
Obama Administration officials have hyped their planned “Asian pivot” for awhile, an effort to get more US combat troops deployed in nations across the Pacific Rim in spite of the US not actually being in any wars there. Today Marine Corps Commandant Gen. Jim Amos revealed his branch’s plans.
The US Marines currently have two battalions “permanently” deployed across the Pacific Rim, mostly Okinawa and Guam. This will be increased to add a third battalion, with an increase in troops in Okinawa, as well as Vietnam and Cambodia.