UK PM Johnson to submit Brexit grand bargain but Ireland skeptical

Prime Minister Boris Johnson wants to get rid of the hotly contested element of the Brexit divorce agreement — the Irish border backstop. (Reuters)
Updated 01 October 2019

UK PM Johnson to submit Brexit grand bargain but Ireland skeptical

  • The UK is heading toward an Oct. 31 exit date without a clear understanding of what happens next
  • ‘What we want to do is to get rid of the backstop, that is the most important thing’

MANCHESTER, England: Prime Minister Boris Johnson will shortly present the European Union with proposals for an amended Brexit agreement, including new ideas that remove the contested insurance policy for the Irish border that Britain previously signed up to.
More than three years since the 2016 referendum, the United Kingdom is heading toward an Oct. 31 exit date without a clear understanding of whether it will leave with a deal, without a deal or even leave by that deadline.
Even before the proposals were formally made, Ireland dismissed the ideas that had been previously floated with Foreign Minister Simon Coveney quipping: “Non-Starter.”
“We’ve made a very good offer, we’re going to make a very good offer, we’re going to be tabling it formally very soon,” Johnson, a Brexiter who helped lead the Out campaign in the referendum, told the BBC.
“We do think there’s a good way forward, we do think there’s a good solution. I very much hope that our European, EU friends in Brussels, in Dublin, in Germany as well will want to take it forward.”
Johnson said he wanted to get rid of the hotly contested element of the Brexit divorce agreement — the Irish border backstop — and that there was no point in leaving the EU if one stayed locked in an EU customs union.
“What we want to do is to get rid of the backstop, that is the most important thing,” Johnson said.
“Getting rid of the backstop is a fantastic thing because what that does is it enables the UK genuinely to take back control of our regulatory framework, our tariffs, our customs and commercial policy and it allows us to go forward with a new and exciting relationship, not just with the EU but also with the rest of the world,” he said.
The backstop is an insurance policy to prevent the return of border infrastructure between the British province of Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
Johnson brushed away criticism of leaked plans to manage the Irish border after Brexit, saying comments from Brussels and Dublin were not aimed at Britain’s final proposals.
“As far as I can make out from what I’ve seen from the response from Brussels and I think Dublin, they’re not talking about the proposals that we’re actually going to be taking, they’re talking about some stuff that went in previously,” Johnson told the BBC.


Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

Updated 29 May 2020

Philippines cracks down on clandestine COVID-19 clinics

  • Intelligence, immigration officials investigating illegal facilities that catered mostly to foreigners

MANILA: The Philippines has intensified its crackdown on uncertified medical facilities offering treatment to people, particularly foreigners, with COVID-19 symptoms.
Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra on Thursday ordered the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) and the Bureau of Immigration (BI) to help the Philippine National Police (PNP) track down foreign nationals behind the illegal clinics.
“It seems that clandestine medical clinics catering mostly to foreign nationals have sprouted and have been operating without proper authority,” Guevarra told reporters.
He said the facilities could have compromised the health of those who had undergone treatment.
“I’ll therefore ask the NBI and the BI to help the police in locating other similar underground clinics and the people running them, and if warranted, to file the appropriate charges against them,” he added.
Guevarra issued the order following a raid on Tuesday on an illegal clinic catering to Chinese patients in Makati City. Arrested in the operation were Chinese nationals Dr. David Lai, 49, and Liao Bruce, 41.
The clinic was reportedly operating without a permit, while the arrested did not have a license to practice medicine in the country.
Seized from the site were swab sticks, vials, syringes and boxes of medicine with Chinese labels — believed to be unregistered with the Food and Drug Administration.
Last week, law enforcers also swooped on a makeshift hospital for Chinese patients in the Fontana Leisure Park in Clark, Pampanga province.
The raid came after police received information that a COVID-19 patient was “undergoing medical attention” in a Fontana villa.
Arrested during the raid were Chinese nationals Liu Wei, who reportedly supervised the facility, and Hu Shiling, allegedly a pharmacist. Both were released on the same day without charge.
Immigration officials on Thursday said the duo had been placed on their watch list to prevent them from leaving the country while an investigation is underway.
BI Commissioner Jaime Morente said intelligence operatives will trace four of the patients, and are looking into the case of the Chinese nationals arrested in Makati.
“I’ve instructed our intelligence division to investigate if these alleged Chinese doctors are legally staying in the country,” he said.
“Should we find they violated our immigration laws, they’ll be charged with deportation cases before our law and investigation division,” he added.
“Even if no criminal charges were filed against them, they can be charged for immigration law violations if we can establish that they violated the conditions of their stay in the country.”
If criminal charges are filed, however, the BI will only deport them after their cases have been resolved or they have served their sentences, if convicted.
Opposition Sen. Risa Hontiveros called for the “immediate deportation and blacklisting” of the Chinese nationals because of their “blatant disregard of our laws.”
She added that while the Philippines is working hard to protect its people from the virus, “these criminals freely roam and pose a danger to public health.”