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Daily Brief: Former Prosecutor Duterte Sworn In as Philippines President

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June 30, 2016

Daily News Brief

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TOP OF THE AGENDA

Former Prosecutor Duterte Sworn In as Philippines President

Rodrigo Duterte, a lawyer and former prosecutor, was inaugurated as the sixteenth president of the Philippines as he promised to confront corruption, criminality, illicit drug sales, and bolster law and order (Phil Star). Duterte has described himself as the country's first leftist leader and has promised a foreign policy that does not depend on its longtime treaty ally the United States (AP), though rights organizations and the Catholic Church have expressed alarm over his promises for a heavy crackdown on crime. Human rights lawyer Leni Robredo was also sworn in on Monday as vice president; vice presidents are elected separately from presidential candidates, and Duterte has not met Robredo since the May vote. Duterte's first presidential directive was for government agencies to "remove redundant requirements" in a bid to lessen bureaucracy and corruption (CNN).

ANALYSIS

"Duterte’s crusade against crime and corruption may indeed hold the key in terms of engendering a positive investment climate and bringing more foreign direct investment into the country. But this also raises another question in the international arena: which economic tide must the Philippines ride? There is a multiplicity of initiatives out there being led by major powers. The US-led Trans-Pacific Partnership is one example, others include the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership and 'One Belt, One Road' efforts. The question is not so much how the Philippines can get in on the bandwagon, but rather how the Philippines can take advantage of these simultaneous 'pivots' to Asia," Charmaine Misalucha-Willoughby writes for the East Asia Forum.

"President-elect Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, known for his Trump-like rhetoric and supra-legal methods of reducing crime while mayor of Davao City on the island of Mindanao, is already causing consternation in many parts of the world. His previous tolerance for vigilantes as a crime-fighting tool, for example, is cause for concern. But in other cases, we should relax and keep an open mind. For example, while the Washington Post editorial page has lamented that he appears willing to do a deal with Beijing—accepting Chinese investment in the Philippines while allowing China to enforce its claims to the uninhabited Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea—that particular outcome may actually be good for the United States," Michael E. O'Hanlon writes for the Brookings Institute.

"Duterte is not going to focus on foreign affairs; he might not be as accommodating to China as some suggest, but he is also not going to prioritize the conflict in the South China Sea—no matter what he said on the campaign trail about jet skiing to contested waters to reinforce Philippine claims. Like President Joko Widodo in Indonesia, Duterte has been elected with a mandate to focus on domestic issues, principally inequality, perceived needs for political reform, and crime. He has already promised to continue many of President Aquino III’s macroeconomic policies," writes CFR's Joshua Kurlantzick for the Diplomat

PACIFIC RIM

Report: Political Donations From Australian Mining Companies Preceded Favorable Legislation

A report by an independent Australian policy institute examined six cases (NYT) in which mining companies made donations to political parties before the passage of favorable legislation, including development plans for the country's largest coal mine. The report was released two days ahead of national elections in Australia but does not include information on contributions in the current election cycle.

SOUTH AND CENTRAL ASIA

Suicide Attack Outside Kabul Kills Thirty Police Recruits

The Afghan Taliban claimed responsibility for an attack carried out by two suicide bombers about twelve miles outside of Kabul that targeted a bus carrying police recruits (AP), killing thirty.

CFR's Daniel Markey discusses the strength of the Taliban and the wave of attacks by the militant group in this interview with the Cipher Brief.

INDIA: Some 40 percent of India's human capital is underutilized, according to a new report from the World Economic Forum (WSJ). The reported pointed to India's lower youth literacy rate and high gender gap in employment compared to other economies.

MIDDLE EAST AND NORTH AFRICA

Report: Tens of Thousands of Syrians Trapped on Jordanian Border Face Starvation

Tens of thousands of displaced Syrians are trapped in a remote desert area of the border with Jordan with no food and little water, according to the medical aid organization Doctors Without Borders (AP). Jordan sealed its northern and eastern borders following a suicide attack outside a refugee camp that killed six soldiers earlier this month (Guardian).

SYRIA: The U.S.-backed New Syrian Army was forced to withdraw to its base at Tanf near the border with Jordan (WaPo). The rebels had attempted to take over a town near the Iraqi border and were attacked by the self-proclaimed Islamic State. The group, the only remaining fighters from a Pentagon program to train and arm moderate rebels, said it lost several men in the assault. Islamic State social media showed captured U.S.-supplied weapons and claimed to have killed forty rebels.

SUB-SAHARAN AFRICA

Suicide Attack at Mosque in Cameroon Kills Eleven

Eleven people were killed when a suicide bomber targeted a mosque in Cameroon, an attack officials said was carried out by a young boy with the Boko Haram militant group (Reuters). Also in Cameroon, the family of a seven-year-old boy struck and killed in April by the motorcade of U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power received compensation (AP) of roughly $10,000.

SOUTH SUDAN: An estimated 70,000 people have fled fighting in northwestern South Sudan since Friday (Al Jazeera), according to Doctors Without Borders, following violence between government forces and a newly formed rebel group.

This CFR interactive tracks victims of political violence in Sub-Saharan Africa.

EUROPE

Istanbul Airport Attackers Identified as Russian, Uzbek, and Kyrgyz

A Turkish official identified the three suicide bombers who attacked Istanbul's international airport Tuesday as nationals of Russia, Uzbekistan, and Kyrgyzstan (Reuters). A pro-government Russian newspaper identified one attacker as being from Dagestan and on a United Nations sanctions list for recruiting Russian speakers to the self-proclaimed Islamic State. Police in Istanbul conducted sixteen raids across the city and detained thirteen people on suspicion of connection with the attack (Hurriyet).  

FRANCE: Police carrying lethal weapons (Guardian) will patrol beach resorts in France. Previously, riot police were equipped with batons and handcuffs. The move comes after a French police officer and his partner were stabbed in Paris earlier this month; the self-proclaimed Islamic State claimed the attack.

AMERICAS

North American Leaders Set Clean Energy Goals

Leaders from Canada, Mexico, and the United States announced in Ottawa a goal to have 50 percent of all the region's electricity come from clean energy sources by 2025 (Globe and Mail); some 37 percent of the continent's energy comes from clean sources now.

CUBA: The Four Points by Sheraton hotel opened in Havana, operating in conjunction with the Cuban state enterprise Gaviota (LAHT).  The venture is the first hotel in Cuba managed by a U.S. company since 1959.

CFR's Carla Anne Robbins writes about what U.S. President Barack Obama's trip to Cuba this year meant for U.S. businesses for Fortune.

 
 
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