SC sets debates on Writ of Kalikasan for West PH Sea

Robie de Guzman   •   June 5, 2019   •   1788

MANILA, Philippines — The Supreme Court (SC) is set to hear on June 25 oral arguments on the petition urging the government to protect the West Philippine Sea from further environmental degradation.

The writ of kalikasan petition was filed by the Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP) and fisherfolks from Palawan and Zambales seeking to stop the alleged illegal activities of Chinese vessels in the area.

Named respondents in the petition were the Department of Agriculture, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources, the Department of Justice, the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources, Philippine Navy, Coast Guard and the Philippine National Police Maritime group.

The Supreme Court has previously issued writ of kalikasan for the protection of Panatag Shoal, Ayungin shoal and the Mischief reef. (with details from Mai Bermudez)

China lifts almost 5-year ban on import of US poultry

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

Chickens are seen in a barn at Todd Chapman’s poultry farm in Clermont, Georgia, USA. EPA/ERIK S. LESSER

BEIJING – China has lifted import restrictions on poultry products from the United States after nearly five years, according to the General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture.

In January 2015, China banned the import of chicken and poultry products from the US to protect itself from bird flu that had been recorded in some areas of America in 2013 and 2014.

According to a joint statement by the two Chinese bodies, the US took active and preventive measures following the bird flu outbreak, and that no fresh cases had been reported since March 2017.

A team of Chinese experts visited the US in July 2017 on Washington’s invitation to conduct on-the-spot assessments of measures against bird flu, the statement said.

In May 2018, the two countries held consultations on the subject, and after a full assessment, China considered the bird flu epidemic in the US to be effectively under control, and poultry regulation systems were compliant with Chinese legal requirements.

The statement said that following the lifting of US import restrictions, Chinese poultry imports would expand to effectively respond to market demands.

According to US trade authorities, the end of the import ban would result in the export of poultry products worth more than $1 billion to China annually.

Moreover, China has been facing a meat shortage following an outbreak of African swine fever, which has led to the culling of millions of pigs in the country, affecting the supply of pork, a preferred food item among the Chinese. – EFE-EPA

jg/sc/tw

Trump asks Supreme Court to block subpoena for his tax returns

Robie de Guzman   •   November 15, 2019

US President Donald J. Trump waves as he walks on the South Lawn of the White House upon his return from a campaign rally in Bossier City, Louisiana; in Washington, DC, USA, 15 November 2019. EPA-EFE/YURI GRIPAS / ABACA / POOL world rights

WASHINGTON – President Donald Trump’s personal attorneys on Thursday asked the US Supreme Court to quash an attempt by prosecutors in New York to obtain his tax records for the last eight years.

The filing comes after a US district court and a federal appellate panel ruled that Trump’s accountants, Mazars USA, had to comply with a grand jury subpoena for the documents.

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr., whose office has been trying to enforce the subpoena, said he would delay action to allow the president’s lawyers to ask the Supreme Court to consider the case in the current term, according to The New York Times.

“For the first time in our nation’s history, a state or local prosecutor has launched a criminal investigation of the President of the United States and subjected him to coercive criminal process,” Trump lawyer Jay Sekulow said. “Politically motivated subpoenas like this one are a perfect illustration of why a sitting president should be categorically immune from state criminal process.”

The dispute goes back to August, when Vance’s office demanded that Mazars hand over the tax records as part of an investigation into whether the Trump campaign’s 2016 hush-money payments to adult film actress Stormy Daniels and former Playboy model Karen McDougal violated the laws of New York State.

Both women said they had affairs with Trump, who denies the claims.

On Wednesday, the DC Circuit Court of Appeals let stand an earlier ruling that Mazars must also provide eight years of Trump’s tax returns to the Oversight and Reform Committee of the US House of Representatives.

The committee is seeking the tax records for “legitimate legislative pursuits, not an impermissible law-enforcement purpose,” the appellate judges concluded.

Trump’s legal team plans to ask the Supreme Court to take up that case as well.

While the US Department of Justice has long held that a sitting president cannot be charged with a crime, Trump attorney William S. Consovoy has maintained that his client enjoys “temporary presidential immunity,” not only from prosecution, but also from investigation. – EFE-EPA

llb/dr

Robredo: Majority of illegal drugs in PH came from China

Aileen Cerrudo   •   November 15, 2019

Vice President Leni Robredo

Vice President Leni Robredo who is also the co-chairman of the government’s anti-illegal drug program, said that the majority of the illegal drugs in the country came from China.

After the Inter-agency Committee on Anti-Illegal Drugs (ICAD) Enforcement Cluster Meeting on Thursday (November 14), Robredo said this is based on the reports they currently have.

“Kasi iyong pinaka-report talaga sa atin ngayon, karamihan sa supply na pumapasok dito, galing China. Pati iyon mga nahuhuli sa ma nago-operate within the Philippines, karamihan Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese national (Because based on the reports we have, most of the supply entering the country came from China. Even those who are arrested for operating in the Philippines, most of them are Chinese nationals or Filipino-Chinese nationals),” she said.

The vice president also said she wants to collect more data and review the information they have gathered regarding the supply of illegal drugs entering the country.

However, according to the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA) Chief Aaron Aquino the drugs entering the country came from the Golden Triangle Drug Syndicate.

The Golden Triangle, Aquino said, is an area on the border of Thailand, Myanmar, and Laos.

Aquino added that due to the crackdown of illegal drugs in China, drug syndicates in the said country opted to get their supply from other places instead of manufacturing it.

Meanwhile, Robredo also plans to coordinate with other countries including the United States regarding the drug war in order to strengthen the government’s campaign against illegal drugs.—AAC (with reports from Vincent Arboleda)

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