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For years, the Philippines has struggled with domestic terrorism. Last Friday, Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a sweeping new anti-terror bill that has the opposition on edge, as the tough-talking president gears up to make broader constitutional changes. Here's a look at what the law does, and what it means for the country less than two years away from the next presidential election.
The legislation grants authorities broad powers to prosecute domestic terrorism, including arrests without a warrant and up to 24 days detention without charges. It also carries harsh penalties for those convicted of terror-related offenses, with a maximum sentence of life in prison without parole. Simply threatening to commit an act of terror on social media can now be punished with 12 years behind bars.
<p>Supporters of the law argue that the Philippines requires <a href="https://www.scmp.com/week-asia/opinion/article/3089558/philippines-needs-dutertes-anti-terror-bill-addressing-roots" target="_blank">stronger laws</a> to go after the communist guerrillas and Islamist militants who have harried government forces and taken hundreds of lives. On the other hand, human rights activists and the media warn that the government may weaponize the bill to <a href="https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/06/30/philippines-antiterror-bill-will-stifle-dissent-pub-82215" target="_blank">silence its critics</a>, and are pushing for the <a href="https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/07/philippine-court-asked-annul-duterte-backed-anti-terror-law-200706061933515.html" target="_blank">Supreme Court</a> to strike it down (an unlikely prospect, as it's full of Duterte appointees).</p><p>Why does the Philippines need this bill?</p><p><strong>Because it genuinely has a terrorism problem</strong>. The communist guerillas of the New People's Army have been fighting government forces in rural areas for over half a century. Meanwhile, the southern island of Mindanao has been a hotbed of Islamic extremism and separatism since the 1970s.</p><p>Three years ago, it took the military a full five months to <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2017/10/17/asia/duterte-marawi-liberation/index.html" target="_blank">liberate</a> the Mindanao city of Marawi from a ragtag group of Islamic State-linked militants. That siege, the Philippines' <a href="https://www.amnesty.org/en/latest/news/2017/11/philippines-battle-of-marawi-leaves-trail-of-death-and-destruction/" target="_blank">longest-ever episode of urban warfare</a>, prompted lawmakers to move quickly on drafting new, tougher anti-terror legislation, modeled in part on similar measures taken by <a href="https://www.lowyinstitute.org/the-interpreter/indonesia-anti-terror-law-crisis-consensus" target="_blank">Indonesia</a> and <a href="https://www.scmp.com/news/asia/southeast-asia/article/2146431/singapores-new-anti-terror-law-takes-effect-allowing-media" target="_blank">Singapore</a>.</p><p>But it soon emerged that the bill's <a href="https://polisci.upd.edu.ph/position-paper-on-the-anti-terror-bill/" target="_blank">ambiguous and expansive definition of terrorism</a>, along with the sweeping powers it confers to a government-appointed body that designates individuals and groups as "terrorists," made the law <a href="https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/1285092/anti-terror-bills-vague-definition-of-terrorism-prone-to-abuse" target="_blank">ripe for abuse</a>.</p><p><strong>That's why human rights activists and the media are worried. </strong>They <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/04/world/asia/duterte-philippines-terrorism-drug.html" target="_blank">argue</a> that it will encourage self-censorship out of fear of being prosecuted for social media posts that are critical of the government if the new anti-terrorism council — whose members are appointed by the same government — vaguely interprets them as inciting terrorism "by mean of speeches, proclamations, writings, emblems, banners or other representations." Journalists are also <a href="https://cpj.org/2020/06/anti-terrorism-legislation-threatens-press-freedom-in-the-philippines/" target="_blank">concerned</a> that they could be held liable if their (independent) reporting falls into the same broad category of "incitement" — a real threat following the recent <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/philippines-court-convicts-top-journalist-what-comes-next" target="_self">conviction</a> of press freedom icon Maria Ressa for cyber libel.</p><p><strong>So, why now?</strong> Duterte is now two-thirds through his six-year single term as president. Although he is constitutionally barred from running for reelection, Duterte's opponents are concerned that the 75-year-old leader might be angling to pull a 2008 Vladimir Putin move, by rewriting the constitution in a way that enables him to jump to an empowered <a href="https://newsinfo.inquirer.net/799182/duterte-wants-federal-govt-with-prime-minister-president" target="_blank">prime minister</a> role.</p><p>In fact, pro-Duterte lawmakers have been working since 2016 on a <a href="https://www.economist.com/asia/2018/06/30/the-president-of-the-philippines-wants-to-change-the-constitution" target="_blank">constitutional reform</a> project to shift the Philippines to a federal form of government. If Duterte does opt for a national referendum on constitutional changes, critics worry that the sweeping anti-terrorism legislation would give the government a powerful tool to silence dissent or unfavorable media coverage.</p><p>A dream scenario for the Philippine president…if he indeed decides he wants to stay on after 2022.</p>
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Ian Bremmer shares his perspective on global politics on this week's World In (More Than) 60 Seconds:
Jair Bolsonaro, the president of Brazil, has coronavirus. What are your thoughts and where does this leave Brazil?
Well, I mean, you know, if coronavirus was karmic, and I don't believe that, Bolsonaro would be the president you kind of expect would get it, right? Because he's been saying, "it's just a little flu, don't worry about it, I don't need to wear a mask, everyone can come out and rally, we can hug, we can hold hands, we can shake hands with no problem." He's been doing that for months now and he's exposed to an awful lot of people, both in Brazil and internationally, including in the United States when he traveled to meet with President Trump in Mar a Lago. And now he's taken the test. The 65-year-old president has coronavirus.
<p>He's saying, "I'm fine. Look at me. Look at my face. There's no problem." I hope he's fine. You don't wish ill health on anybody, but you also kind of hope that someone who has gotten it this wrong, with well over 50,000 dead in Brazil, with some of the worst case load of any country in the world after the United States, Brazil is right there with us, and per capita looks considerably worse and their hospitals are starting to get overwhelmed and his popularity is going down. And, you know, their ability to manage this effectively and also keep the economy going is really, really challenged. So, I mean, I've said it before. I'll say it again, among Democratic presidents, Jair Bolsonaro is by far been the worst in handling coronavirus on the health care side, on the cheerleading side, on the fake news side and on the economic side. He's kind of got everything going against him. He's just not handled this well. </p><p>Brazil does have a lot of strong governors that do have a strong and reasonably independent judiciary, which has helped the country a lot. Bolsonaro also now is in the middle of growing impeachment cases surrounding him and his family, some of which involves corruption. That's going to dog him for the rest of his term. It's possible he'll even be thrown out like his predecessors, but if not, it's hard to imagine that he's going to be reelected. Brazil is, after all, still a democracy. So, horrible to see all this news in a country that really should be doing pretty well, all things considered. But poor governance makes a real difference, especially in a crisis. </p><p><strong>There was an assassination attempt on Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. What's the story? </strong></p><p>I'm stunned that the American media has said virtually nothing about this. This was an extremist from Manitoba who gets in his pickup truck, he drives to the prime minister's residence, breaks through the gates with a bunch of, like heavy rifles, like machine guns, and Trudeau is not home, thankfully, and the guy doesn't do great research, thankfully. Turns out to be some QAnon inspired nut job. And the Canadian police, rather than firing on him and killing him, which probably would have happened in the United States and a lot of other countries, actually managed to talk him down and apprehend him. But it's not making much news. I mean, I've talked about it with friends and colleagues here in the United States, it's the first they've heard of it. And I'm honestly a little surprised. I mean, I know that a lot most Americans don't have passports. They don't travel. We don't pay attention to news that isn't in the United States. And Trump dominates everything. But I mean, Trudeau's been covered like America's boyfriend for the last five years by the mainstream media. </p><p>You would think an assassination attempt against him would drive coverage in the US. And it really isn't. And it really should. Because, of course, you know, even though we don't have nearly as much of an international terrorist issue in the United States and in Canada as we did say in 9/11 days, we have a very significant domestic terrorism problem in the United States and Canada. And it's been growing. And we're going to need to deal with it. And, you know, thank God that this guy is not only an ideological nut job, but also doesn't know how to plan an assassination, or we could have very, very different news right now from our friendly neighbors to the north. </p><p><strong>Finally, Australia resumes lockdown. How are they handling the pandemic? </strong></p><p>And the answer is, reasonably well. You know, they are locking down the border between their two largest provinces. They've not done this an enormously long period of time. And it's because there is serious outbreak. But I mean, this is way earlier than you're seeing in the United States. They've largely been following the scientific guidelines from their own health minister, their own government. And that means that when you see an expansion, you shut everything down. And that's helped the Australian numbers overall to be comparatively limited. And it gives them a handle on the spread. They're not doing the job that New Zealand is, much more isolated, shut down their borders completely. All these billionaires that bought their luxury boat holds and now can't even get to the land they own because New Zealand doesn't want a more coronavirus. Australia doesn't have that. They've got economic problems, too, because increasingly there's a trade war happening between Australia and China with an enormous amount of trade and investment going there. But in terms of general governance around coronavirus, Australia not being cheerleader's, not politicizing this overtly, doing a reasonable job. And hopefully that will continue with this response to recent outbreaks. </p>
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As the coronavirus pandemic has plunged much of the world economy into turmoil, you've probably heard a lot about what might happen to "supply chains," the vast networks of manufacturing and shipping that help create and deliver all those plastic toys, iPhones, cars, pills, pants, yogurt, and N95 face-masks you've been waiting on.
The future of global supply chains is an especially important question for China, the world's manufacturing powerhouse. Some countries and companies now worry about relying too much on any single supplier for consumer and medical goods, let alone one where the government hid the first evidence of what became a global pandemic and sometimes enforces trade and investment rules in seemingly arbitrary ways. The US-China trade war — and the vulnerabilities it reveals for manufacturers — certainly don't help.
<p>So, as foreign companies worry about whether continuing investment in China is a good idea, many countries are offering themselves as attractive alternatives. </p><p>Here's a look at three of those alternatives... with one big caveat.</p><p><strong>India</strong>. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has long<a href="https://www.ft.com/content/3fbe1c46-0c7f-11ea-8fb7-8fcec0c3b0f9" target="_blank"> sought</a> to boost his country's lagging manufacturing sector. Now New Delhi is redoubling its<a href="https://www.aa.com.tr/en/asia-pacific/covid-19-fall-out-india-lures-global-businesses-with-sops/1848769" target="_blank"> efforts</a> to lure factories out of China, reaching out to firms directly, easing foreign investors' access to land, and even in some cases<a href="https://asia.nikkei.com/Economy/Indian-states-waive-labor-laws-under-cover-of-coronavirus-crisis" target="_blank"> loosening labor regulations</a>. India's fast-growing population of young people —workers and consumers — makes for a potentially attractive alternative to<a href="https://time.com/5523805/china-aging-population-working-age/" target="_blank"> aging China.</a> But Modi has a problem. His continued fondness for high tariffs as a way to protect local industry, and his decision to<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/05/economy/rcep-trade-deal-india-scli/index.html" target="_blank"> opt out</a> of a major China-led Asian trade pact, limit his country's appeal for other Asian countries. After all, companies may want to leave China, but they still want preferential trade arrangements with the rest of Asia's massive consumer market. </p><p><strong>Vietnam</strong>. As labor costs in China have risen over the past decade, some manufacturing has already relocated to Southeast Asia. Vietnam, which has streamlined trade and investment rules and concluded a free trade deal with the EU, is one of the biggest winners. In the six years to 2019, it alone absorbed almost half of all US manufacturing that left China, according to a<a href="https://www.kearney.com/operations-performance-transformation/us-reshoring-index/full-report" target="_blank"> study</a> by Kearney, a consultancy. Now, having managed both the public health and economic aspects of the coronavirus pandemic well, the country is looking to benefit from a further exodus from China. But as some experts have<a href="https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/06/18/is-vietnam-eating-into-china-s-share-of-manufacturing-pub-82094" target="_blank"> pointed out</a>, the country's relatively small (and aging) population, as well as its own dependency on Chinese imports, may limit its longer term appeal. </p><p><strong>US</strong>. The Trump administration has seized on the economic fallout of what Trump calls "the China virus" to intensify its calls for American firms to bring manufacturing "back" to the US from China. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer recently<a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2020/05/11/opinion/coronavirus-jobs-offshoring.html" target="_blank"> wrote</a> that the age of "lemming-like" offshoring is now over. Data backs up his claims: The "Reshoring Index" in that same Kearney report, which measures the movement of manufacturing from Asia to the United States, found the largest reshoring jump on record in 2019. But making things at home is one thing – making them with human hands is another. As we've written, many companies are<a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/coronavirus-and-the-robot-revolution" target="_self"> looking to automation</a> to bring manufacturing closer to their home markets while also keeping costs down. That lessens the vulnerability of production to pandemics and tariff wars, but it doesn't do much for jobs.</p><strong>Is China too big to fail?</strong> China still has huge advantages. First, rearranging supply chains isn't like changing table settings – it takes time to reorient billions of dollars in investment and infrastructure. Second, and more importantly, China has a billion consumers. It used to be that foreign companies wanted to be in China mainly because it was a cheap place to make things for export. But as China's own population has gotten more affluent (lifting<a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/graphic-truth-china-since-tiananmen" target="_self"> more than 500 million people</a> out of poverty will do that), the country is itself a<a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/how-the-coronavirus-hits-the-world-economy" target="_self"> leading consumer market</a> for European and US firms. That makes decisions to leave the country much harder.
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Brazilian president Jair Bolsonaro tested positive for the coronavirus on Tuesday. To understand what that means for the country's politics and public health policy, GZERO sat down with Christopher Garman, top Brazil expert at our parent company, Eurasia Group. The exchange has been lightly edited for clarity and concision.
<p><strong>Chris, Brazil has been one of the countries hardest hit by the pandemic, in part because President Jair Bolsonaro has <a href="https://www.gzeromedia.com/is-bolsonaro-going-bust" target="_self">systematically downplayed</a> the seriousness of the disease. Now that he has it, do you expect any change in his government's public health approach?</strong><br/></p><p>Garman: Very unlikely. The president has made his bed over the past four months, trying to downplay the severity of the pandemic, arguing it is a "small flu" and not wearing facemasks in public. If his symptoms are not severe, and he has a clean bill of health in 10 to 14 days, he is likely to use that as justification for the idea that Brazil can "live with the virus." </p><p>If he is hospitalized that narrative will be harder to defend, but he is still unlikely to change his approach — politically, he has already gone too far down the path of defending his strategy to have a meaningful turnabout. </p><p><strong>Why is the issue of coronavirus so politically polarizing in Brazil?</strong> </p><p>Bolsonaro was already a highly polarizing president, Covid-19 just exacerbated that rift tremendously — the question of how to manage the pandemic itself became a point of political division between those who support or oppose the president. </p><p><strong>If Bolsonaro is incapacitated, or worse, who would take over?</strong></p><p>The Vice President Hamilton Mourão would assume office in case the president is incapacitated or passes away. </p><p><strong>Tell us a little bit about Hamilton Mourão. Who is he and what kind of president would he be? Any concerns about his military background?</strong> </p><p>Mourão is a general and, as such, there would be some discomfort in Congress with a military man assuming the presidency. But it would be quite manageable. In fact, the relationship between the executive branch with congress, the courts and the media would probably improve. </p><p>Mourão has proved to be a quite moderate voice in the administration, and would look to work with Congress and the courts. And the top brass of the military, including Mourão, has been very aligned with the (reformist) economic policies endorsed by Minister of Economy Paulo Guedes, both when it comes to fiscal responsibility and even their agenda to privatize state owned enterprises. The military brass is pretty far removed from the military of the 1970s who promoted a very interventionist economic policy under military rule. </p><p><strong>If Bolsonaro recovers swiftly, how might that play politically?</strong> </p><p> It certainly would reinforce his talking points that the country can live with the virus and that one shouldn't shut down the country because of it.</p>
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