Aquino seeks laws to end rebellion and dynasties

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Aquino seeks laws to end rebellion and dynasties
Protesters clash with police as they march towards the parliament in Manila on Monday, hours before Aquino delivers his final State of the Nation address.

Manila - President urges Filipinos to unite as their country confronts China


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Published: Mon 27 Jul 2015, 7:35 PM

Last updated: Mon 27 Jul 2015, 11:48 PM

The Philippine president asked Congress on Monday to pass a troubled Muslim autonomy bill at the heart of efforts to end a bloody rebellion in the country's south and another that aims to lessen the stranglehold on power of entrenched political families, which include his.
In his final state of the nation speech before he steps down in 11 months, Benigno Aquino III summed his administration's achievements in battling corruption and poverty - his campaign battle cry in 2010 - and thanked just about everyone who backed him, from his late parents, who are revered democracy champions, to his hairstylist.
Among other concerns he raised was the increasingly tense dispute with China over contested South China Sea territories. He called on Filipinos to unite as their country confronts China, which he did not identify by name.
"Our adversary, is by any measure, way ahead whether in terms of influence, economy or military force," Aquino said in the nationally televised address. "But on the basis of reason and love for country, we're not lagging behind."
Relatedly, he said the Philippines, which retired its last fighter jets a decade ago, would soon acquire a dozen FA-50 jets from South Korea, with the first two to be delivered in December, for territorial defense. Two more C-130 cargo planes and more assault helicopters also are being acquired.
One of Aquino's expected major legacies, a peace deal with the largest rebel group in the country, stalled early this year when some of the rebels from the 11,000-strong Moro Islamic Liberation Front got entangled in a clash that killed 44 anti-terrorism police commandos in southern Mamasapano town.
The brutal deaths sparked public outrage and prompted lawmakers to delay passage of a bill crafted to establish a more powerful and potentially larger autonomous region for minority Muslims in the south of the predominantly Roman Catholic nation. The Moro rebels dropped their separatist bid in exchange for broader autonomy.
But the delay has set off concerns that some impatient rebels may resume armed hostilities in the south, where smaller but violent armed groups like the Al Qaeda-linked Abu Sayyaf, continue to carry out kidnappings for ransom, bomb attacks and other acts of banditry.
In a surprise turnaround, Aquino told Congress he now backs long-unsuccessful attempts to craft a law that would restrict the number of members of influential families who can run for public office. Anti-dynasty bills, however, have not had any luck in Congress, which is dominated by millionaires who have carried the family names of dominant political clans to public office for generations. - AP

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III delivers his last State of the Nation Address.
Philippine President Benigno Aquino III delivers his last State of the Nation Address.

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