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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

85 pc loot during Congress regime plugged:PM Modi

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Varanasi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday described NRIs as India’s brand ambassadors and said they were the symbols of the country’s capabilities.

The Prime Minister was inaugurating the 15th Pravasi Bharatiya Diwas convention in his parliamentary constituency Varanasi. “I consider NRIs India’s brand ambassadors.

They are the symbols of our capacities and capabilities,” he told the gathering.

 

“People of Indian origin are in leadership roles in countries such as Mauritius, Portugal and Ireland,” he said.

PM Modi also alluded to former prime minister Rajiv Gandhi’s comment that only 15 paise of Re 1 reaches masses and said the Congress government had done nothing to stop the leakage.

The Prime Minister added that his government had stepped in to rectify the situation. The “85 per cent loot” taking place during the Congress regime had been plugged “100 per cent” through technology, he said.

“We have given about Rs 5,80,000 crore to people, transferred to their bank accounts through various schemes. Imagine, if the country was being run on the older system? Then Rs 4,50,000 crore would have vanished,” PM Modi said.

Continuing his attack on the Congress, he said efforts to stop the “leakage” could have been made earlier as well but there was no intention and will power. “Our government is moving towards ensuring that the aid given by government is directly transferred to beneficiary accounts through direct benefit schemes,” he said.

Mauritian Premier Pravind Jugnauth, who is the chief guest for the three-day event, also spoke on the occasion. He hailed the Prime Minister for India’s transformation through initiatives such as the Skill India and the Beti Bachao Beti Padhao schemes. He also praised PM Modi’s global stewardship in promoting clean energy and for setting up the International Solar Alliance.

Jugnauth announced that his country will hold a Bhagwad Gita Mahotsav next month and a Bhojpuri Festival next year.

For the first time, the three-day convention is being organised from January 21 to 23 instead of January 9 to allow participants to visit the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad and attend the Republic Day parade in the national capital.

The theme of this year’s convention is ‘Role of Indian diaspora in building new India’.

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‘Madrasas promote ISIS ideology, shut them’: UP Shia board chief to PM Modi

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New Delhi: Uttar Pradesh Shia Waqf Board chief Waseem Rizvi on Tuesday said that madrasas promote ISIS ideology.

Rizvi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi to shut Islamic seminaries across India so that Muslim children are not influenced by it.

“If madrasas across the country are not shut down soon then after 15 years half of the Muslims will start favouring the ISIS ideology. It has been observed across the world that ISIS is targeting children and asking them to follow them,” Rizvi wrote in the letter.

 

The UP Shia Board chief added that Muslim children should study with students of other religions in schools so that they are able to get better education.

The comments are likely to irk several Islamic clerics and scholars.

In his letter to the Prime Minister, Rizvi cited the example of Kashmir to substantiate his point

“In Kashmir, ISIS supports can be seen in huge numbers. In rural areas, Madrasas are destroying the future of our children being run on donations as their owners are hungry for money,” he stated.

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Yashwant throws his hat in PM race, calls self ‘closest’ person to deliver on job creation

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New Delhi: Former BJP leader Yashwant Sinha threw his hat in the race for prime ministership when he declared himself as the “closest” person who could deliver on job creation, building roads, townships and industries.

Sinha, a former finance minister during the Atal Bihari Vajpayee-led previous NDA government, also said that Transport Minister Nitin Gadkari would not succeed Prime Minister Narendra Modi as he and BJP chief Amit Shah will “not retire” even if the BJP fell below the 200-seat mark in 2019 Lok Sabha polls.

The former BJP lawmaker said the problem in the country was non-creation of crores of jobs and millions of kilometres of roads. India needs a leader who can make agriculture profitable and set up irrigation projects, townships and industries, he said.

 

“We have to do a lot of work in this country… We will have to find somebody who is prepared to buy this theory and start doing it,” he said.

Asked who the person could be, Sinha told a news channel, “There is nobody in my mind.”

Asked who was closest to deliver all this, he said, “The closest is me, myself, what I am,” leading to a laughter in the audience of the event hosted by the channel.

“I am very close behind him,” said CPI(M) leader Sitaram Yechury, seated next to him, when asked if he endorsed Sinha.

Various opposition parties are seeking to unite to put up a united front to defeat the Modi-led BJP in general elections, with the BJP taking a swipe at them saying all are prime ministerial aspirants in the opposition camp.

About speculation on whether Gadkari would succeed Modi, the disgruntled former BJP MP said, “There is no hope in hell for that.”

Sinha said what he is saying is “because I know the kind of vice-like grip the current prime minister and the party president have over the BJP and even after the loss in elections where they could be below 200, they will not retire from their leadership.”

“It is a very fond hope that some media people are nursing that Gadkari might succeed Modi,” he said, negating the possibility.

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