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Philippines: President Duterte 32nd EDSA Message (24.02.2018)

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Opinion: Is President Duterte showing weakness, since he cannot stomach a reporter from Rappler?

In the Philippines, President Rodrigo Duterte has been a strongman whose fought the good fight for the people against government corruption, also used martial law to beat Islamist’s in Marawi on the island of Mindanao. Now, he has also broken the dialogue with the communists rebels, of the militia of the New People’s Army. Therefore, as he has used the army and police to battle drug-cartels and militias. You would expect a fellow President to manage a few journalists.

President Duterte has now started a spat and unnecessary, as the Christopher Lawrence “Bong” has stated today to the media after 48 hours of foolishness from themselves. This is crisis made out of stupidity made by the Malacañang. Duterte and Bong just acting dumb by kicking out a reporter from Rappler. Pia Randa yesterday on the 20th February and then barring her from entering today.

They have stated this to the media:

Let us be clear: The case of Rappler is not an attack on press freedom. Members of the media, including the Philippine Daily Inquirer, continue to be hard-hitting yet they can cover the activities of the President. Ms. Ranada’s accreditation, which would give her access to Palace activities, lies on Rappler’s accreditation. If Rappler wants to have direct coverage of certain events inside and outside Malacañang, it may apply for Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines (FOCAP) accreditation. Two things could have avoided Rappler’s present predicament: One, get a temporary restraining order. Two, be a Filipino corporation. Unfortunately, Rappler failed to obtain a TRO and failed to show that it is a Filipino entity” (Presidential Communications Operations Office – ‘From the Presidential Spokesperson – On Rappler’ 21.02.2018).

By the standard of the ownership of Rappler, it is owned by Dolphin Fire Group (31%), Maria Resa (23%), Hatchd Group (17% ), Benjamin So (17%), Public Trust and Media Group (5%) and 4 minority owners with about 5%. So the ownership of Rappler and Rappler Holding Company is based in the Philippines, even if they have gotten funding from abroad Omidyar Network and North Base Media. Both foreign, but the ownership is still Philippines based. Therefore, the attacks on this is a bit strange.

That is just the quick defense of Rappler and their ownership, which should be easily accessed to the President and his associates. Since they can get all registers and all files on the company. Since the Rappler Holding Corporation has to pay taxes and levies like any other. I would expect the Spokesperson to the President knowing this. Even I could find this information without very little research, since this is public, as a public company and with open access to the domain.

However, this isn’t just about press freedom, this is about the open scar of weakness. That the President doesn’t like one story about Navy Frigate Deal. Maybe, the President should be transparent about the trade and deal, also show the process of the agreement with set supplier of the boat. Not just spray venom and show fury over Rappler writing a story. Show the truth, drop the arrangement, mark the classified details, which only the military can know and show the paper-trail if the story is false. That would be mature and prove transparency in his actions. However, he takes away press credentials and beats the messenger, instead of showing the true face of Navy Frigate deal.

I hate to say it, but Duterte looks weak and foolish with this. He could have shown his true character and riding the storm. Instead he seems hot-headed and unwise. Duterte been swift and wise in cracking down on terrorists and communist rebels. But doing this to a report from Rappler is childish and petty. He is supposed to be better and have better reasoning behind it. Clearly, he lost it a bit and need guidance.

Sometimes the ego of a person goes to far, in this instance it has. Duterte forgotten, that he represent all parts of the people, even the critical ones. They are labeling Rappler foreign when its not, and trying to muffle their reports. However, instead of debunking and showing the legitimate agreement, which is the main reason for this attack on the media company.

The reporter in question is known for being critical of Duterte, that is fact, still Duterte and Malacañang press corps could need that. But the administration and the president seems misguided. Duterte should show strength, not weakness. This is weak, really weak, petty even.

President Duterte, you have been able to beat the hell out of terrorists and are doing what you can beat communist rebels. Two noble fights, also the third to get rid of the drug-cartels. All of that has been for the betterment of the republic. However, this attack on Rappler, as it has been now from the administration since January 2018. This is just the latest after the state revoked it license. Seemingly, you have the courage and boldness to beat the ones with guns, ammunition and drugs.

But, you cannot manage a report from Rappler? Is that your Achilles heel? That is weak tea. Really weak tea. Steaming hot water, but with no flavor. Peace.

RDC – Sud Kivu: “Objet: Denonciation de l’irresponsabilite politique de Monsieur Justin Bitawira” (29.01.2018)

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (27.01.2018)

The Secretary-General condemns the killing of a peacekeeper from Pakistan deployed with the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) following an ambush by members of an armed ‪group today near Lulimba, 96 km south west of Baraka, in South Kivu Province. At least one other peacekeeper was wounded in the attack.

The Secretary-General extends his heartfelt condolences to the family of the deceased and to the people and government of Pakistan. He wishes a speedy recovery to the injured and calls on those responsible for this attack to be brought to justice.

The Secretary-General reiterates his call on armed groups in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to lay down their arms and seek to resolve their grievances peacefully. He reaffirms the readiness of MONUSCO and the United Nations system to continue working with the authorities of the DRC to help address the security challenges facing the country.

RDC: Comite Laic De Coordination (CLC) – Communique (27.01.2018)

Opinion: President Kabila uses the argument of financial restraint to postpone the elections; Any tricks to stay I assume!

There was scheduled Presidential Elections in November 2016, as the end of the second official term of President Joseph Kabila would end on the 19th December 2016. However, we are in January 2018 and days away from February 2018. Still, there are no credible movement or changes within the leadership or the government to prepare for a genuine exercise of a new election. It’s unlikely that CENI will deliver, not matter sort of international pressure. That is proven by the first Press Conference in ages or years from the President himself who said this:

“The election budget is 1.2 billion dollars, and I say it quite often, the elections in this country are starting to cost us a lot more than even the development of the country. And at some point we will have to make a choice, will it be necessary to be cited around the world as the most democratic country, or is the development that counts?” he said” (…) “Today, we are nearing the end of enlistment operations in Kasai. We are more or less 46 million voters enlisted. The elections in this country is a vast operation,” said Joseph Kabila” (…) ““We must take the most courageous options and decisions not to fall or fall back into the situation with a budget of 1.2 billion for elections, while we have a total budget of 6 or 7 billions,” added the Congolese president” (Xuequan, 2018).

What is striking that he is using the defense of budget and funds. While his own Republic who had scheduled this ever since he won in November 2011. Could have planned funds ahead for a coming election. If they are a serious government and if it is such a big operations, why did the Kabila government plan it earlier?

A thing that the President should be careful about, is that United Kingdom has already spent funds on Electoral Operations and Electoral Organizations in the years ahead of the 2016 and still supports it with funding. This they do together with United States Aid (USAID). The Development tracker proves that the UK has already donated £6,6m in April 2015 to technical support to the National Electoral Body (CENI), from the same donors £3,5m in April 2015 to civic education, also in April 2015 gotten £2,5m to Election Observers through the Carter Center. In October 2016, the UK donated to promote woman participation in the Election a total of £1m. The DFID has already also pledged for supporting the Electoral Process in total £14,5m. This is just from one Nation to another. That is funds that is already spent and misused. While he is crying foul.

President Kabila should be careful playing with fire, especially since he is creating insecurity with his position. That someone is speaking of delaying election into April 2019. There was already rumored in August 2017 that it would either be in 2019 or 2020. So it is not to far off, after the new timeline was released in November 2017. That was a year after the term ended. Still, there was no international outcry, neither was anyone really supporting the CENCO initiative or trying to force Kabila out.

Kabila has been allowed to stall for time, to buy time and awaiting his next move. Since he didn’t change the Constitution like many other clinging to power Presidents. That was one of his foolish moves, since he really doesn’t want to step and give way for a legitimate President in the Republic. His term already ended 434 days ago or 1 year two months and 8 days ago.

So the saga continues and the postponed election will continue. If it is insecurity or lacking of funds continue. He will use that for his own gain, as reasons not to step down. That if there is coming militias or militants from Burundi, Rwanda or Uganda. While refugees are fleeing from the Republic to Uganda and Angola. Because of the insecurity in North and South Kivu’s, also in Kasai Province. This has not let go.

So I don’t expect any election in 2019 or following the timeline of November 2017. The CENI or Kabila administration has no plan to achieve a new Presidential Election, where Kabila has to step-down. I don’t expect a President who has already registered himself twice for the elections. That he uses expenses and that its a big operation as an excuse. Shows that since he first talked about it now, that he wants to make sure the world knows he is struggling. Even if he could have planned it together with CENI all through 2014 to 2016. Where the timeline could have been met and also fixed the succession. However, President Kabila had no interest of securing his own self leaving power. Therefore, nothing has happen.

Now he has extended his time and showed up in public for a press conference after using brutality and killing demonstrators. Had to show the world he cared and was working on solution. Even if he isn’t, it’s hard to believe he is doing anything when he is already 1 year and 2 months over his ended term. So the ones who has supported the DRC with financial aid between 2015 to 2017 for purpose of Elections, you have been tricked and given money for nothing. That is proven.

Kabila is stalling and using all tricks in the book. Expect Kabila to have more trouble with militias and insecurity, as he is the only key to stop the violence. Even if he initially sponsor it or has connections to the ones who make sure it happens. That is what is very ill about the whole situation. Peace.

Reference:

Xuequan, Mu – ‘ DR Congo: President Kabila calls on politicians to choose between elections and development’ (27.01.2018) link: http://www.xinhuanet.com/english/2018-01/27/c_136927896.htm

The Chairperson of the African Union Commission Condemns the Recent Violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (22.01.2018)

ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia, January 22, 2018 – The Chairperson of the African Union Commission (AUC), Moussa Faki Mahamat, strongly condemns the violence following demonstrations organized on 21 January 2018 in Kinshasa, and deplores the reported loss of life.

The Chairperson of the AUC encourages the Congolese stakeholders to fully honour the commitments entered into, on the 31st December 2016, in order to consolidate the gains made and deepen democracy in the country. He further stresses the importance of confidence-building measures and respect for fundamental rights and freedoms as guaranteed by the Constitution.

Furthermore, he reiterates the call for the proportionate use of force in the maintenance of law and order.

The Chairperson calls on all political actors to create a conducive environment for the conduct of free, transparent and fair elections on 23rd December 2018 and urges all concerned to ensure that the electoral calendar is strictly complied with.

The Chairperson reiterates that the AUC will continue to engage all the Congolese stakeholders to show restraint and promote dialogue in the interest of stability in the DRC.

The Commission will also continue to avail support towards the holding of peaceful and transparent elections and calls on the international community at large to provide the financial and logistical support in order to meet the timelines set by the Commission Électorale Nationale Indépendente (CENI).

Statement attributable to the Spokesman for the Secretary-General on the Democratic Republic of the Congo (22.01.2018)

NEW YORK, United States of America, January 22, 2018 – The Secretary-General is disturbed by reports of the killing on Sunday of at least six people during protests calling for the full implementation of the 31 December 2016 political agreement in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Reports also suggest that 63 people were injured. He calls on the Congolese authorities to conduct credible investigations into these incidents and to hold those responsible accountable.

The Secretary-General urges the Congolese security forces to exercise restraint and to uphold the Congolese people’s right to freedom of speech and peaceful assembly. He also calls upon all concerned to ensure full respect for places of worship.

The Secretary-General, once again, calls on Congolese political actors to work towards the full implementation of the 31 December political agreement, which remains the only viable path to the holding of elections, the peaceful transfer of power and the consolidation of stability in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.

Stéphane Dujarric, Spokesman for the Secretary-General
New York, 22 January 2018

RDC: CENCO – “Bilan provisioire de la marche pacifique organisee par le Comite Laic de Coordination (CLC) le diamanche 21 janvier 2018” (22.01.2018)

RDC: Declaration du Comite Laic de Coordination (CLC) – (22.01.2018)

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