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DEC. 8, 2018

PHILIPPINE NEWS

Rights Group Slams Duterte Marijuana Joke

MANILA, Philippines — International group Human Rights Watch (HRW) yesterday slammed President Duterte for “joking” about his use of marijuana amid the rising number of victims of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) in connection with his administration’s war on drugs.

Duterte blamed media over its spin on his marijuana joke.

“If it’s too ridiculous, it’s a joke,” he said during the awarding rites for child-friendly municipalities and cities at Malacañang last night.

“Duterte’s supposed joke is not funny: since his ‘war on drugs’ began in June 2016, the police and unidentified assailants have summarily killed more than 12,000 people, mostly underemployed young men,” HRW Asia director Brad Adams said in a post on the HRW website.

“Police put the figure at 5,000 deaths in what they claim were legitimate anti-drug operations. And while most victims of Duterte’s drug war allegedly used shabu, many used or sold marijuana,” he added.

In a speech to government officials last week, Duterte complained about his hectic schedule, particularly during the recent ASEAN Summit held in Singapore.

“It’s a killing activity and I think the – my age, I’m not affected that much because I use marijuana to stay awake,” Duterte said.

But a few hours later after his speech, Duterte told reporters that he was only joking about marijuana use.

“Marijuana is illegal in the Philippines, and Duterte’s admission of using it – whether in jest or not – undermines the rationale for his drug war and exposes its murderous hypocrisy. It adds cruel insult to injury for the victims and their families,” Adams said. (www.philstar.com)

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House to Approve Martial Law Extension; Senate Divided

MANILA, Philippines — The House of Representatives will approve a request from President Duterte to again extend martial law in Mindanao.

“If the President will ask for it, then chances are it shall be given. The concurrence will be expedited if the military and the police will renew their commitment to respect the constitutional rights of every individual in the territory covered by the declaration,” Majority Leader Rolando Andaya Jr. said yesterday.

“The inputs and views of congressmen from Mindanao, who represent the people directly affected, will carry much weight during the deliberations,” Andaya said.

Senators, however, are divided on the proposal to extend martial law for another year.

Sen. Joseph Victor Ejercito said he was in favor of extending martial law as it limited the movement of private armies and has somehow addressed the proliferation of loose firearms in Mindanao.

Sen. Sonny Angara said he was open to the proposal but sought an extensive briefing from security officials before making a firm decision on the matter.

Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon thumbed down the plan, saying a second extension of martial law is unconstitutional. “There is no basis for a second extension of martial law as there was no ground that necessitated the first extension,” Drilon said.

Sen. Francis Pangilinan said the military should justify its request for martial law extension with “hard and justifiable facts.”

Pangilinan also warned the country is heading toward the midterm elections in May next year, and the extension could be used to harass opposition candidates in Mindanao.

The lawmakers were commenting on reports that the military and the police were recommending the extension of martial law in Mindanao for another year.

President Duterte is reportedly considering the recommendation.

He declared martial law in the south in early 2017. Congress first extended his declaration up to the end of last year and then up to the end of this year.

Duterte on Monday said Mindanao remains a troubled land, which is why martial law must be extended for another year.

“We are facing a revolutionary front, one that is motivated by territorial, land and the other is driven by the extremist, the ISIS (Islamic State). And it is still in Mindanao, it remains to be a troubled land for everybody. And Mindanao will always be a pain in the… government,” the President said. (www.philstar.com)

 

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