Duterte jokes about rape while rallying troops to fight militants

(CNN) Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, giving a pep talk to his troops in the country's restive south, exhorted the soldiers to go all out in fighting Islamic militants and joked that under martial law they could even commit rape with impunity. "The consequences of martial law and the ramifications of martial law, I and I alone would be responsible. Just do your jobs, I'll take care of the rest," he told his soldiers on Friday while visiting Iligan City in the country's Mindanao region.

Tobacco control: What about the supply side?

BALAOAN, LA UNION, Philippines – There are no more bills to pay, no more children to send to school, no more house to build, but Manong (Older Brother) Dominador ‘Domeng’ C. Clemente and his wife don’t even need an alarm clock to jolt them up from sleep at 5 in the morning to head to their 3-hectare tobacco farm. The couple of 33 years no longer remembers a year in their life when their family and the generations of families before them did not harvest tobacco. Tobacco is life, money, family,

Philippines police claim drug war deaths exaggerated

Manila, Philippines (CNN) Police in the Philippines defended the country's ongoing and deadly war on drugs Tuesday as they accused the international media of overstating death tolls. In an elaborately planned, three-hour forum in an upscale Manila hotel, officials said 2,679 suspected drug users and dealers died during legitimate police operations between July 1 and January 30. An additional 1,847 deaths between July 1 and March 31 are believed to have been drug-related, police said, but not t

Philippine church program offers hope to drug addicts

Shirtless men engage in casual chatter in street corners, mothers cradle their infants in the alleys, while children run around the narrow streets of a village in the Philippine capital Manila. Boredom is a common enemy in the village of Pansol, one of the districts in the capital with the highest numbers of drug offenders who surrendered to authorities. For Father Orqueta of Santa Maria della Strada Parish, the challenge offers an opportunity for the church to show that it is doing its part i

Women offer hope in Philippines' war against narcotics

There are those who are fighting the Philippines' war on drugs with words of condemnation and there are those who choose to have faith in the system and are showing compassion. At the San Roque de Manila parish church in a poor district of Manila, a group of women are helping drug users find hope. On March 8, International Women's Day, women parishioners and students volunteered to spend time with drug users at the church's care program. The women taught the former drug users how to make cand

Philippines remains divided 31 years after revolution

Irony had its way during this year's remembrance of the nonviolent 1986 revolution that restored basic freedoms for Filipinos. While protesters trooped to a portion of a four-lane highway that cuts across the Philippine capital to condemn what they regard as a growing dictatorship under President Rodrigo Duterte, a larger crowd gathered in another part of town to show their support for the president and his policies. On the highway, near a shrine marking the spot where the peaceful uprising be

Self-proclaimed death squad chief: I killed almost 200 for Duterte

Manila, Philippines (CNN) The self-proclaimed head of the notorious Davao Death Squad (DDS) has claimed under oath that he killed almost 200 people and was paid millions of pesos -- more than $20,000 -- for his actions by Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte. Arturo Lascanas, a retired police officer, told the Philippine Senate that DDS members received money from the then-mayor in exchange for brutal killings of not only criminals but also of Duterte's enemies in politics and the media. At th

Philippine protesters condemn drug war on anniversary of uprising

Crowds gathered on a highway in Manila, the same area that millions flocked to 31 years ago in a peaceful revolt that led to Marcos' ouster. The so-called People Power Revolution three decades ago attracted government leaders, church groups and civilians in a series of protests that ended Marcos' 14-year military rule marred by human rights violations. Saturday's event was a commemoration and a symbolic protest against Duterte. At another rally a few miles away, pro-Duterte supporters listened

Empathy nurtured in workplaces with people with intellectual disabilities

CARMONA, CAVITE, Philippines – To understand another takes some imagining. Imagine what it would be like to be him and not you. Internalize another person’s lived experience. Consider that there is a reality different from yours. Jomarie A. Espinosa‘s weekly routine is that of a typical government worker. He arrives everyday at the Carmona Municipal Hall at 7:41 am, with or without a flag ceremony. On Mondays when the flag is raised and they each fall in line at the town plaza, he counts – o

Philippines' President says he'll 'break up' with US, tells Obama 'go to hell'

Manila, Philippines (CNN) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte's vitriol against the United States took another caustic turn Tuesday, when he threatened to "break up" with the US and said President Barack Obama can "go to hell." Duterte's latest remarks came just as the US and Philippines started joint military exercises -- perhaps for the last time. The war drills began Tuesday in Manila and will last until October 12. Last week, Duterte said this round of joint drills with the US would be th

Broken ex-champ Navarrete cautions about the dangers of drugs

For former boxing champ Rolando Navarrete, it started with his desperation for a girl's love. It’s been one disaster after another since. GENERAL SANTOS CITY, Philippines – He was 18. She was 14. He was a member of the Philippine boxing team then, and she was the beautiful manicurist he just couldn’t take his eyes off of. She worked in a small-time salon in squalor-deep Tondo, a densely populated Manila district where his training gym was. He wanted her but didn’t know any better at that tim

Deaths in PH factory fire show need for decent jobs

Part of the government's commitment to uphold international labor standards is monitoring and regulating businesses so that jobs created are not mere sources of income but are also safe, secure, and decent MANILA, Philippines – Emmanuel Madiclom, a 54-year-old grandfather of 4, would wake up to the sounds made by his wife who prepared his breakfast, and picked his work clothes for the day. Marietta “Marie” Madiclom helped out in her family's small store and worked for the rest of the day in a

Desire to work abroad exploited by human traffickers

Migrant workers' rights advocate Susan 'Toots' Ople explains that human trafficking almost always starts with illegal recruitment – the promise of overseas employment MANILA, Philippines – "Oy, maayo kay dia ka (Oy, it’s good you are here)," began one recruiter in the village of Tumaga in Zamboanga City when he offered a then 23-year-old Abbie* a job overseas. Abbie gave her contact number to the recruiter, who later reached out to her to talk about a restaurant entertainer position in Malaysi
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