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Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s US Rehetoric Raises Concern

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Rodrigo Duterte
  • Duterte’s US Rehetoric Raises Concern

There is no doubt that Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is not a fan of the US and that his harsh rhetoric against the country’s closest and oldest foreign ally is genuine.

Insisting that the Philippines will survive without US assistance and support, Duterte has refused to stop his foul-mouthed tirades against the US after declaring a “separation” from the country’s former colonizer during a visit to China last week.

“Even if we are just poor, do not fuck with our dignity,” he told a cheering crowd of Filipinos in Tokyo on Tuesday on the first day of his three-day visit to Japan.

Before leaving Manila, the 71-year-old president even threatened to revoke a defence pact which allowed US troops more access to the Philippines.

“Forget it,” he said, referring to the enhanced defence cooperation agreement signed in 2014.

“I do not want to see any military man of any other nation except the Filipino soldiers.”

While analysts agree that the Philippines needs to chart its own foreign policy, free from any outside interference, they warned that Duterte’s anti-Americanism could eventually hurt the country.

“The US is giving us some slack now,” professor of political science Aries Arugay from the University of the Philippines, told dpa.

“However, it doesn’t mean they will not punish us. The US as a superpower has always used the discipline and punish approach.”

“It will let you be, but there will be repercussions,” he added.

The US is one of the largest foreign investors in the Philippines, with investments totalling more than 730 million dollars in 2015.

It is also the country’s third-largest trading partner and home to over 3.4 million Filipinos, making them the second largest group of Asian immigrants in the US after those from China.

In 2015, the Philippines received some 175 million dollars in US development assistance, and a total of 50 million dollars in military financing.

Before Duterte became president in June, the US pledged more than 120 million dollars in military aid, double the amount Washington normally gives each year.

Arugay noted it was not the first time the Philippines had distanced itself from the US, citing a 1992 Senate vote against extending the lease of American military bases in the country.

In 2004, the Philippines also withdrew its peacekeeping forces from Iraq, contrary to the US’ will, after a Filipino was abducted by rebels who threatened to execute him if Filipino soldiers were not pulled out.

“We were punished for that,” Arugay said. The US was not supporting us [for some time], forcing [then president] Gloria Arroyo to tilt towards China.”

Duterte said he was not worried about losing US aid and investment, noting that he would instead work to boost economic ties with China and Japan.

“We will survive,” he said. “Maybe at this time, not all Filipinos would look too kindly about my stand.

But in the years to come, the next generation, they would know that there is such a thing in this world as the dignity of the Filipino people.”

Businessmen and politicians have urged Duterte to be circumspect in his foreign policy pronouncements, with one lawmaker noting that the Philippines would be at the losing end if it completely broke from the US and cozied up to China.

Congressman Gary Alejano reminded Duterte of the territorial dispute between the Philippines and China over the South China Sea, where Chinese encroachment has prevented Filipinos from fishing in the area.

“The more the Philippine economy is exposed to China, the more our economy becomes dependent on them, the less our power to assert will be, pertaining to our territorial conflict in the West Philippine Sea,” Alejano said.

Arugay noted that while the majority of Filipinos love America, many also shared Duterte’s resentment over perceived unfair treatment which the country had received from the US.

“Even the most pro-American Filipino will admit that the Americans have not really given what is due to us,” he said.

“But our anti-Americanism is fleeting. Whether we like it or not, we like the US.”

Arugay said Duterte may only be hedging in his diplomatic play with the US, but warned he was playing a risky game if he continued to unleash anti-American attacks and later backtracks.

“What is being jeopardized is our ability to make credible commitments,” he said.

“Who will believe us if we keep on changing our stand. If this continues, our ability to credibly commit to anything in the international arena will be questioned and we will not be taken seriously.”

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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FG Declares June 12 Public Holiday for Democracy Day Celebration

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The Federal Government has declared Wednesday, June 12, a public holiday in commemoration of this year’s Democracy Day celebration.

The announcement was made in a statement signed by Aishetu Ndayako, the permanent secretary of the Ministry of Interior, on behalf of Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, the Minister of Interior.

The statement urged Nigerians to reflect on the struggles and sacrifices of the nation’s founding fathers and to ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secure, peaceful, and indivisible entity.

“As we mark another Democracy Day in the history of our dear country, let us all reflect on the efforts of our founding fathers and ensure that Nigeria remains a united, secured, peaceful, and indivisible entity,” the statement read.

A Historic Shift

The designation of June 12 as Democracy Day dates back to June 7, 2018, when former President Muhammadu Buhari announced that the day would henceforth be celebrated as Democracy Day.

Prior to this declaration, Democracy Day was observed on May 29, the date marking the inauguration of the Fourth Republic in 1999.

President Buhari’s decision was rooted in the historical significance of June 12, 1993, the day of what is widely regarded as Nigeria’s freest and fairest presidential election.

Despite the election’s annulment by the then-military government, Buhari emphasized that the democratic credentials of the process should be honored.

Honoring a Legacy

To further commemorate the significance of June 12, Buhari posthumously awarded Chief Moshood Abiola, the presumed winner of the annulled 1993 election, with the nation’s highest honor, Grand Commander of the Federal Republic (GCFR).

The statement from the Ministry of Interior also highlighted President Bola Tinubu’s commitment to implementing positive reforms aimed at reviving Nigeria’s economy and enhancing national security.

A Call for Unity

The Minister of Interior, Olubunmi Tunji-Ojo, called on all citizens and friends of Nigeria to appreciate the progress that has been made in the country’s democratic journey and to look forward to a brighter future.

“As we celebrate Democracy Day, we must appreciate the progress that has been made and remain hopeful for a better future for Nigeria’s democracy,” the minister said.

This year’s Democracy Day comes at a crucial time as Nigeria continues to navigate economic challenges and security concerns. The public holiday on June 12 provides an opportunity for Nigerians to reflect on the importance of democracy and the ongoing efforts to strengthen the nation’s democratic institutions.

As the nation prepares to observe the public holiday, there is a sense of anticipation and hope that the values of democracy will continue to guide Nigeria towards a prosperous and harmonious future.

The government’s declaration serves as a reminder of the enduring legacy of June 12 and the importance of upholding democratic principles.

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Guilty on All 34 Counts: Trump Convicted in Hush Money Case

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In a historic and unprecedented legal decision, former President Donald Trump was found guilty on all 34 counts in his “hush money” trial, making him the first former U.S. president to be convicted of a crime.

The verdict was delivered by a jury of 12 New Yorkers on Wednesday, concluding a six-week trial in Manhattan.

The charges against Trump centered around falsifying business records to cover up a $130,000 payment to adult film star Stormy Daniels before the 2016 presidential election.

The jury found Trump guilty on all counts, concluding that he authorized a scheme to falsify checks and related documents to keep the alleged affair from becoming public knowledge.

Prosecutors from the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office presented evidence showing that the conspiracy to cover up the payment began during Trump’s 2016 campaign and continued into his first year in the White House.

They argued that Trump, along with his associates, created false records to mislead voters and conceal the payment.

Trump, who has consistently denied having any sexual encounter with Daniels, responded angrily to the verdict. Speaking to reporters outside the courtroom, he called the trial “a disgrace” and accused the judge of bias.

“This was a rigged trial by a conflicted judge who was corrupt,” Trump stated.

He vowed to continue fighting the verdict, saying, “The real verdict is going to be Nov. 5 by the people, and they know what happened here and everybody knows what happened here. We’ll fight to the end.”

The conviction comes at a critical time for Trump, the presumptive Republican nominee for president in the 2024 election. Despite the conviction, there is no constitutional barrier preventing him from running for office again.

Legal experts note that the Constitution’s requirements for presidential candidates—being at least 35 years old, a natural-born citizen, and a U.S. resident for 14 years—do not include any disqualification for being a convicted felon.

Judge Juan Merchan has scheduled Trump’s sentencing for July 11. The defense has until June 13 to submit any motions, with the prosecution required to respond by June 27.

Trump’s legal team indicated they would prefer a sentencing date in mid to late July.

Trump’s conviction adds to the already intense political climate as the nation prepares for the 2024 elections. The trial has drawn significant media attention and public scrutiny, reflecting deep divisions within American society.

The trial highlighted broader issues regarding campaign finance and the use of hush money in politics. It also raises questions about the integrity of presidential candidates and the lengths to which they might go to protect their public image.

As the legal and political ramifications of this verdict unfold, Trump’s conviction on all 34 counts marks a significant chapter in U.S. history.

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President Tinubu to Inaugurate Newly Paved Roads to Apapa, Tin Can Ports

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Bola Tinubu

President Bola Tinubu is set to inaugurate the newly constructed paved roads leading to the Apapa and Tin Can Island ports in Lagos on Saturday.

This development is anticipated to bring significant relief to port users and operators who have endured years of hardship due to the previously dilapidated roads and severe traffic congestion in the area.

The commissioning of these roads marks a major milestone in the government’s efforts to improve infrastructure and boost economic activities around the nation’s busiest ports.

The newly paved roads are expected to enhance the flow of goods and services, reduce operational costs for businesses, and alleviate the chronic traffic bottlenecks that have plagued the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas.

President Tinubu, who is scheduled to arrive in Lagos on Saturday morning, will perform the inauguration as his first assignment of the day.

The ceremony signifies a commitment to addressing the infrastructural challenges that have long hindered the efficiency of Nigeria’s maritime sector.

Mohammed Koko, the Managing Director of the Nigerian Ports Authority (NPA), highlighted the importance of this project earlier this year.

He emphasized the NPA’s “zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to the free flow of traffic” and reiterated the agency’s dedication to improving port operations.

“Our zero tolerance for all forms of impediments to free flow of traffic is no fluke,” Koko said, noting that the rehabilitation efforts are aimed at consolidating gains achieved first in Apapa and now extending to Tin Can.

In January 2024, President Tinubu directed the Federal Ministry of Works to urgently and comprehensively repair the access roads to the Lagos Port Complex and Tin-Can Island Port Complex.

The Minister of Marine and Blue Economy, Adegboyega Oyetola, echoed the urgency of this directive, pointing out that the poor condition of the port access roads had significantly increased internal logistics costs for importers and exporters.

“The dilapidated port access roads increase the cost of internal logistics for importers and exporters,” Oyetola noted.

The improved road infrastructure is expected to curb the exodus of businesses from the Apapa and Tin Can Island areas, which had been driven away by the severe logistical challenges.

The restoration of these critical routes is also anticipated to enhance Nigeria’s competitiveness in international trade by facilitating smoother and more efficient port operations.

Following the inauguration of the port access roads, President Tinubu is also scheduled to flag off the Lagos to Calabar coastal road project at Victoria Island in Lagos.

Also, he will virtually inaugurate the newly rehabilitated 3rd Mainland Bridge, further underscoring his administration’s commitment to revitalizing Nigeria’s infrastructure.

The series of inaugurations and project launches underscore a broader strategy to enhance connectivity, reduce operational bottlenecks, and stimulate economic growth through improved infrastructure.

The completion of the Apapa and Tin Can Island port roads is a pivotal step in this direction, promising a new era of efficiency and productivity for Nigeria’s maritime sector.

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