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Philippine lawyer who resisted Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war gunned down

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Manila: One of the founding members of a Philippine lawyers’ group at the forefront of opposing President Rodrigo Duterte’s lethal war on drugs was gunned down Tuesday, killed by three bullets as he was leaving his office for the night.

The lawyer, Benjamin Ramos, 56, was the 34th lawyer killed since Duterte became president two years ago. His group, the National Union of People’s Lawyers, specialized in doing no-cost work for poor clients whose families have been targeted by police, soldiers and death squads associated with the president’s drug war.

“We are shocked, devastated and enraged at the premeditated, cold-blooded murder of our colleague and fellow people’s lawyer,” said Edre Olalia, a leader of the group. “We are disturbed and unbowed. These are dangerous times.”

 

Initial police reports said that Ramos had just finished work when he was shot by motorcycle-riding men near the central town of Kabankalan on Tuesday night. He was declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

Colleagues described Ramos as passionately dedicated to pro-bono work for the poor, environmentalists, activists and political prisoners.

The lawyers’ group said his work had angered local policemen and the military. His picture was recently included by the local police in a list of people accused of having ties to the underground communist movement, a claim the group has denied.

Jose Manuel Diokno, a human rights lawyer for another organization, the Free Legal Assistance Group, said he was outraged by the killing.

“I join the calls for the police to conduct an impartial and thorough investigation, to find the motive, the gunmen and the mastermind,” Diokno said in an interview, urging the Justice Department to take the lead in the inquiry. “I ask my fellow lawyers who fight for what is right and just to continue and not be cowed.”

In a speech in August 2017, Duterte told the national police not to be daunted by rights lawyers investigating the thousands of deaths of what he called drug addicts and dealers.

“If they are obstructing justice, you shoot them,” Duterte instructed police, referring to lawyers. (The president, himself a lawyer, began his political career as a prosecutor.)

He often carries a list of the names of dozens of judges, members of the armed and police forces as well as of local politicians he claims are protecting drug suspects.

Duterte has not publicly divulged how he came up with the list, although at least three mayors whose names appeared on it have been killed. Eight other mayors were also gunned down in suspicious circumstances. One of them was killed last year in a raid that left his wife and 10 other people dead. Another mayor was fatally shot during a flag-raising ceremony in July.

Olalia said that some members of the National Union of People’s Lawyers had received threats, and had been labelled by police and the military as sympathetic to the political left, in “open contempt of basic principles of the role of lawyers in democracy.”

He said a colleague investigating abuses against women and children, Katherine Panguban, had recently been criticized by police for leading a fact-finding mission into the killings of nine farmers in the central city of Sagay.

a statement. “We demand an impartial investigation into Ramos’ murder and the many other attacks against lawyers in the Philippines and that the authorities bring the perpetrators to justice.”


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National

Naveen Patnaik-led BJD sweeps Odisha assembly polls

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Mumbai: Naveen Patnaik-led Biju Janata Dal (BJD) clinches a clean sweep in the Odisha assembly elections. However, the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has tried to increase the vote margin than the previous elections.

The BJD has secured 94 seats. While the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has joined the race with 28 seats, the Indian National Congress (INC) managed to attain 12 seats and the Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM) with 1 seat.

The counting of votes began at 8 am. The Lok Sabha and Assembly elections in Odisha took place simultaneously in four phases on April 11, 18, 23 and 29.

 

In 2014 Odisha assembly election, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) had won 117 seats out of the total 147. The Congress had won 16 seats while the BJP, on the other hand, 10 of the 147 assembly seats.

An Odisha-centric exit poll jointly done by Sambad, the most circulated regional daily in the state, and Kanak News, its group-owned TV channel, gives BJD a massive lead over its closest rival Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

Sampling a survey of over 100,000 respondents, the exit poll forecasts BJD winning 85-95 of the 147 Assembly seats, where outcomes were polled till this report was filed. The BJP is seen contending with a distant second spot with 25-34 seats, while for the Congress, the poll trend is a reprisal of its mortifying electoral performance in 2014. Congress party’s presence is seen diminishing to 12-15 seats.

A collective prediction of Kanak News and News18 Odia for the Odisha Assembly Election 2019 projects BJD’s win. On the other hand, the BJP may add more to its 2014 tally by 16 seats, which comes up to 26 of the 147-seat assembly. Congress, on the other hand, may manage to win only 12 seats, a drop of four seats less than what it had won in the 2014 polls. The other parties will collectively win 24 seats in Odisha.

Among the main candidates in Odisha, Naveen Patnaik contested in two seats – Hinjili in Ganjam district and Bijepur in Bargarh. Senior Congress leader Narasingha Mishra contested from Bolangir assembly seat, while BJP’s legislature party leader KV Singhdeo is contested from Patnagarh.

Before the gradual rise of Biju Janata Dal (BJD) – formed by Biju Patnaik and his son Naveen Patnaik, the political arena was dominated by the Congress.

The upsurge of Congress party in the state as the only secular, progressive force in Odisha was countered by the BJD, which has managed to gain a majority for the last three consecutive terms. The BJP has also made its presence felt in the state, and is considered an important political party in Odisha.

The regional parties apart from BJD in the state are Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), All India Trinamool Congress (AITC), Janata Dal(United), Lok Jan Shakti Party (LJP), Revolutionary Socialist Party (RSP), Samajwadi Party (SP).

Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Bahujan Samaj Party (BSP), Communist Party of India (CPI), Communist Party of India, Marxist (CPM), Indian National Congress (INC) and Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) are the national parties in Odisha at present.?

Odisha, earlier known as Orissa, has a rich and varied political tradition. From the ancient times, the state has remained politically active. However, Odisha’s political prominence was heightened after it was granted complete statehood in 1950. Odisha has a 147-member strong Vidhan Sabha.

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‘Was expected, it is people’s victory,’ says Jaganmohan Reddy

Press Trust of India

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Amaravati: With his YSR Congress heading for a landslide victory in the Assembly and Lok Sabha elections in Andhra Pradesh, party president Y S Jaganmohan Reddy Thursday termed it as people’s victory.

He also said the YSRC’s victory was expected. “I sincerely thank the people who overwhelmingly voted for YSRC and blessed it. I also thank them for exercising their franchise in large numbers and enhanced the value of democracy,” Jaganmohan Reddy said in a Facebook post.

“I will live up to the expectations of the people,” he promised.

 

According to the trends, YSRC is leading in over 150 seats of the total 175 in the State.

The party is leading in 23 Lok Sabha seats, while the TDP in two.

Telangana Chief Minister K Chandrasekhar Rao called Reddy over phone and congratulated him over the YSRC’s thumping win in the general elections. Wishing Reddy all the best, Rao hoped he would lead Andhra Pradesh further on the path of progress.

Later, talking to the media at his residence here, the YSRC chief congratulated Prime Minister Narendra Modi over the BJP’s stupendous performance in the Lok Sabha polls.

Reddy asserted that his fight for securing special category status for Andhra Pradesh would continue. He declined to speak about Congress president Rahul Gandhi.

Meanwhile, the YSRC Legislature Party will meet here on May 25 to formally elect Jaganmohan Reddy as its leader, party sources said. The sources said Reddy will take oath as Chief Minister in the temple-town of Tirupati on May 30.

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BJP loses Parrikar’s Panaji Assembly seat to Congress

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Panaji: Congress’ Atanasio Monserratte on Thursday wrested Panaji Assembly seat, held by the late chief minister Manohar Parrikar, from the BJP and with a margin of over 1,775 votes in the by-poll held simultaneously with the Lok Sabha elections.

The Panaji Assembly seat became vacant after the demise of former Goa chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who held the seat for nearly two-and-a-half decades since 1994.

The BJP had fielded Siddharth Kunkolienkar to retain the seat.

 

Goa Assembly has a strength of 40 members out of which BJP currently has 12 legislators and enjoys the support of legislators from Maharashtrawadi Gomantak Party (MGP), Vijay Sardesai of the Goa Forward Party (GFP) and three independents. GFP and MGP each have three MLAs.

Congress, on the other hand, has 15 MLAs in the house till now.

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