Philippines’ Duterte to VP Robredo: keep state secrets or lose your ‘drugs tsar’ post

Vice president Leni Robredo, a political rival of the popular president Rodrigo Duterte, accepted a lead role in his brutal war on drugs. (AFP)
Updated 17 November 2019

Philippines’ Duterte to VP Robredo: keep state secrets or lose your ‘drugs tsar’ post

  • ‘Revealing State secrets to foreign individuals and entities as well as welcoming those who have trampled the country’s sovereignty would be damaging to the welfare of the Filipino people’

MANILA: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte threatened to remove the vice president from her “drugs tsar” post if she shared state secrets with foreign individuals and entities.
The warning, which the president made in a television interview, came a few days after he offered Leni Robredo a lead role in his brutal war on drugs, which she later accepted to reassess a campaign she said was fraught with senseless killings.
Robredo, a political rival of the popular Duterte, told Reuters on Oct. 23 that international help, including from the United Nations and International Criminal Court (ICC), should be sought if the government refused to change tack and stop abusive police.
“Revealing State secrets to foreign individuals and entities as well as welcoming those who have trampled the country’s sovereignty would be damaging to the welfare of the Filipino people,” presidential spokesman Salvador Panelo said in a statement on Sunday.
“She may not realize it but she could be treading on dangerous ground. It could be an overreach of the granted authority, hence the reminder,” Panelo said.
Duterte has reacted with fury to a resolution by the UN Human Rights Council to investigate the killings and responded to a preliminary examination by the ICC by pulling the Philippines out of the organization.
Human rights experts at home and abroad are incensed by thousands of deaths in what police say were sting operations that resulted in shootouts.
Activists dispute those accounts and accuse police of executing suspects based on weak intelligence. Police reject that.
In an interview with GMA News aired on Saturday, Duterte said he would fire Robredo as co-chair of an inter-agency on drugs if she shared classified information because certain matters should be kept with the government.
Robredo met with the officials from United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), community-based advocacy groups and US Embassy last week to discuss the drug problem, which she has said must be tackled from a health and social perspective, including prevention and treatment rather than a largely police-centered approach.
Robredo, who was elected separately to Duterte, has long been a critic of his flagship campaign, arguing that thousands of urban poor have been killed, with no sign of progress toward dismantling major drugs networks. She had no immediate comment on Duterte’s remarks.
Robredo, 54, accepted the offer to co-lead the drugs crackdown that has prompted activists to call for international intervention, even though she suspected her rival’s administration would try to thwart her progress.
But Panelo dismissed those concerns as baseless and said the president’s latest remarks were meant to remind Robredo of the “imperatives as well as the limits” of her role.
“Other pessimists contend...the president had begun clipping her wings so as not to fulfill her mandate. Such speculations are unfounded and they are unproductive as well,” Panelo said.


Greece plans floating border barrier to stop migrants

Updated 29 January 2020

Greece plans floating border barrier to stop migrants

  • The Defense Ministry has invited private contractors to bid on supplying a 2.7-kilometer-long floating fence
  • Greece’s six-month old center-right government has promised to take a tougher line on the migration crisis

ATHENS: The government in Greece wants to use a floating barrier to help stop migrants from reaching the Greek islands from the nearby coast of Turkey.
The Defense Ministry has invited private contractors to bid on supplying a 2.7-kilometer-long (1.7 miles) floating fence within three months, according to information available on a government procurement website Wednesday. No details were given on when the barrier might be installed.
A resurgence in the number of migrants and refugees arriving by sea to Lesbos and other eastern Greek islands has caused severe overcrowding at refugee camps.
The netted barrier would rise 50 centimeters (20 inches) above water and be designed to hold flashing lights, the submission said. The Defense Ministry estimates the project will cost 500,000 euros ($550,000), which includes four years of maintenance.
The government’s description says the “floating barrier system” needs to be built “with non-military specifications” and “specific features for carrying out the mission of (maritime agencies) in managing the refugee crisis.”
“This contract process will be executed by the Defense Ministry but is for civilian use — a process similar to that used for the supply of other equipment for (camps) housing refugees and migrants,” a government official told The Associated Press.
The official asked not to be identified pending official announcements by the government.
Greece’s six-month old center-right government has promised to take a tougher line on the migration crisis and plans to set up detention facilities for migrants denied asylum and to speed up deportations back to Turkey.
Under a 2016 migration agreement between the European Union and Turkey, the Turkish government was promised up to 6 billion euros to help stop the mass movement of migrants to Europe.
Nearly 60,000 migrants and refugees made the crossing to the islands last year, nearly double the number recorded in 2018, according to data from the United Nations’ refugee agency.