Misuari’s spiritual adviser, Ustadz Sharif Zain Jali, is dead

By Raïssa Robles - I am deeply saddened by the news that Ustadz Sharif Zain Jali, the spiritual adviser of Moro National Liberation chief Nur Misuari, died Sunday at the age of 74. I had known him for decades. As a journalist, I try to keep an emotional and social distance from my sources. But somehow, through the years Jali became not just a source to me. From him I learned the gentleness of Muslims and their humanity. He was always open to all my questions about Islam and what was happening in Mindanao.

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My sketch of Philippines’ most wanted man – communist leader Jose Maria Sison

By Raïssa Robles It was my first time to interview and meet Jose Maria Sison – the nemesis of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos – and the nagging problem of all five presidents since. I wanted to gauge the man. We ended up talking for over nine hours. Below is just a rough sketch of him.

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How will President Aquino measure up against all previous presidents?

My hubby Alan made this initial assessment for South China Morning Post (HK) on the eve of President Benigno Aquino's last State of the Nation Address (SONA). It's only initial because so much can still happen in his last year in office. Our thanks to Dr. Mahar Mangahas of Social Weather Stations who agreed to be interviewed even while he was busy abroad. And to Aurelio German, who was first interviewed when Aquino was running for office in 2010. Reli German lends a historical perspective.

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PNoy told me – Soldiers & police pension system to be fixed before he steps down

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Exclusive by Raïssa Robles - When I interviewed President Benigno Aquino III on April 16, 2015, one of the very first things he told me was that he intends to fix the pension system for the military and policemen. This includes passing an amended law and identifying ways to fund its seed capital, which is estimated to cost over P1.7 trillion. According to news reports, as of the year 2000, unpaid pensions had reached a total of P18 billion.

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CPP’s Joma Sison calls “greedy” China’s sea claims “foolish” and “false”

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He also offers government a truce by year-end - By Raïssa Robles - When I interviewed Jose Maria Sison in Utrecht recently, I decided to ask him about his thoughts on present day China and its ownership claim of the South China Sea.

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Guess what: in a rare development Malaysia, Indonesia, Japan, Thailand sent “observers” to the South China Sea arbitration in The Hague

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By Raïssa Robles - The recent hearing of the Arbitral Tribunal was supposed to be closed to the public. ITLOS-logo“However,” according to an official press release from the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague dated July 13, “after receiving written requests from interested States, and having sought the views of the Parties, the Arbitral Tribunal permitted the Governments of Malaysia, the Republic of Indonesia, the Socialist Republic of Viet Nam, the Kingdom of Thailand and Japan, to send small delegations to attend the hearing as observers.”

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You gotta watch this: Our lawyer Paul Reichler explains the Philippine’s arbitration case on the South China Sea

  Reichler said: 29 minutes, 22 seconds into the forum: “The Philippines had spent many years – actually negotiations go back to 1995 – mainly bilateral, some multilateral, and at no point was any progress made in reaching any kind of a solution bilaterally. China simply held to the position that China has sovereignty and sovereign rights within the nine-dash […]

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Senator Bongbong Marcos exploits news gap to project himself for the presidency

USE THIS - 2016 Elections UPDATES June 8-15

By Raïssa Robles - July is usually a month when Congress reporters hardly have anything to write about because our honorable legislators are on recess (read – vacationing abroad). Some lawmakers use this lull to try to grab media attention. As an example, look at Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos. His spin doctors are no doubt telling him that this year, he should project himself on the national stage, with an eye on next year’s presidential election.

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