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US Expands Global Drone War To Philippines

By Jason Ditz for Anti-War - Pentagon officials say a discussion is ongoing about the possibility of granting US forces in the Philippine authority to conduct airstrikes against the nation’s ISIS affiliate, and that the announcement and naming of the new operation could happen within the next 24 hours. ISIS affiliates have been active in the southern Philippines in recent months, seizing the city of Marawi and leading to a protracted battle with the Philippine military, which the US has been participating in in a limited role. The US is always keen for deeper military involvement in the Philippines, especially as President Duterte was until very recently talking about his interest in getting the US military out of his country entirely. This could be just the pretext to get the US dug in even deeper. Philippines military officials were quick to deny the reports, saying that the Pentagon hadn’t spoken to them about it at all. While that hardly disproves the US discussions, they did note the agreement with the US would only allow such airstrikes in the case of a foreign invasion. Duterte had been courting ties with Russia and China, but now seems to be committed to the US, greeting Secretary of State Rex Tillerson by declaring himself to be America’s “humble friend in Southeast Asia.”

Duterte Says Children Killed In Philippines Drug War Are ‘Collateral Damage’

By Oliver Holmes for The Guardian - Rodrigo Duterte, the president of the Philippines, has referred to innocent people and children as “collateral damage” in his war on drugs because police use automatic weapons when confronting criminals. Asked in an interview with al-Jazeera about minors caught up in the violence, Duterte said those cases would be investigated but added that police can kill hundreds of civilians without criminal liability.

Philippines Factory Fire: 72 Workers Need Not Have Died

By Irene Pietropaoli in The Guardian - The factory was required to have a raft of permits from different bodies including a business permit from the local authority, a fire permit from the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) and a certificate of compliance from the Department of Labour and Employment (DOLE). It should also have had a special permit for the welding that caused the fire. But the factory either ignored or was allowed to circumvent many of the safety procedures. Regarding the welding permit, Kentex’s lawyer says the work was done by a third party and “we relied on their manifestation of being experts and authorities in their line of work, we already assumed that they would secure all necessary permits and requirements for them to do their jobs and execute the agreement to fix our shutter doors”.

Filipino Human Rights Advocates Testify In Congress

Convened by the Ecumenical Advocacy Network of the Philippines (EANP), the briefing comes eight years after the 2007 US Senate hearing on the Philippines that led to a historic Senate decision to cut the US military aid package to the Philippine government, based on the Philippine military’s culpability in committing gross human rights abuses. As a result, restrictions were placed in the annual foreign military financing package until such time the Philippine government could prove compliance with human rights conditions, including holding the Philippine military accountable for human rights abuses. The Aquino and Obama governments are pushing to have the restrictions to aid lifted, despite the former not having met the requirements set in 2007.

Former ‘Comfort Women’ Protest Philippines-Japan Military Ties

By Ronron Calunsod in Japan Times - Victims of Japanese military wartime sex abuses in the Philippines and leftist groups protested in front of the Japanese Embassy in Manila last week to denounce growing military ties between the Philippines and Japan as the two nations held naval drills in the South China Sea. “We are worried that what happened during World War II will be repeated this time — women being snatched, locked up and then raped,” Hilaria Bustamante, an 89-year-old former “comfort woman,” said during their demonstration. The term “comfort women” is a euphemism to describe those who were forced to work in Japanese military brothels before and during World War II.

The U.S. Military Just Plunged Philippine Politics Into Crisis

Early in the morning of January 25, commandos belonging to the Special Action Force of the Philippine National Police crept into the southern town of Mamasapano — a stronghold of the separatist Moro Islamic Liberation Front. The elite Seaborne Unit had come for Zulkifli Abdhir, a Malaysian bomb maker better known as “Marwan.” By the end of the morning, dozens lay dead. The episode has severely discredited the administration of Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, jeopardized decades of progress on peace talks with Moro separatists, and underlined the perils for developing world governments that put themselves at the beck and call of Washington.

Why Is Yeb Sano Not At The UN Climate Talks In Lima?

Barring Yeb Sano in the Philippine Delegation at this crucial stage of the climate negotiations is injustice to developing nations like the Philippines that demand for climate justice and to the world climate movement who have lost a staunch fighter in this battle against climate change. We are in a war against climate change. In our battles, we want leaders who can walk their talk and not lame politicians who will render lip service. We want public servants who will fight with us till the last breath. We want #YebinLima because the Filipino people deserve a representative that speaks for the voiceless and powerless marginalized sectors whose lives are being affected by the impacts of climate change.

Philippine Activists Call For US To Leave After Civilian Killed By Marine

The United States will keep custody of a Marine suspected in the murder of a transgender Filipino he met in a bar, the head of the Philippine military said on Tuesday, and U.S. officials said a number of U.S. warships would remain in the country. "Under the Visiting Forces Agreement, the custody of the erring soldier stays with the Americans," General Gregorio Catapang said after a meeting with Admiral Samuel Locklear, head of the U.S. Pacific Command. Chuck Little, a spokesman for U.S. Marines in the Pacific, said Locklear had told all U.S. warships remotely related to the incident to stay pending an investigation into the killing of Jeffrey Laude, 26, who was found strangled on Saturday in Olongapo City.
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