US-Russia relations

Are the Americans interfering?

Lilibeth Frondoso

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A law is changing the way human rights is being pushed

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Francis’ hand-slap. On New Year’s Eve, Pope Francis greeted children on Saint Peter’s Square and was turning away when a woman pulled his hand and almost caused him to fall. The 83-year-old Pope grimaced before managing to break free by slapping the woman’s hand twice.

Human Pope. The video of the hand-slapping went viral, with Twitter comments mostly supportive of the pontiff’s instinctive reaction. A typical comment was “He is human,” while some said that being the Pope does not make one immune to pain. “We lose patience many times,” the Pontiff said soon after, adding, “I apologize for the bad example given yesterday.” (WATCH: Pope says sorry for slapping devotee’s hand)

His reaction gives us 3 tips on anger management as we enter 2020 – a year that will no doubt be a minefield of things that will trigger our anger: 1. Don’t let them pull you down. 2. Put a lid on your anger quickly. 3. Apologize if you have to.

Anger management is not easy as we’ve all learned the hard way. A 2019 Gallup Global State of Emotions report found that anger, worry, and sadness are at a record high worldwide.

And it’s not just about anger when it comes to Filipinos but the entire gamut of intense feelings. The poll found the Philippines to be among the most emotional countries, scoring 60 in the emotions index – the second highest in the world.

Pair that propensity to be emotional with social media, and what do you have? A landscape ripe for irrational conflict and not-so-sober discussions. It’s also the main fodder for social media trolls who aim to sow discord, hatred, and doubt.

Interference? In the Philippines, Palace Spokesman Salvador Panelo went on overdrive hitting US senators who had pushed for the Global Magnitsky Act in the United States that may yet cause shockwaves in Philippine politics.

He calls it “interference in Philippine sovereignty.”

Is it interference as Panelo, Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra, and Foreign Secretary Teddyboy Locsin claim?

In an online message, human rights lawyer Ted Te says, “The Global Magnitsky Act is a human rights measure that imposes sanctions on human rights violators even outside the US. It’s not considered interference as it is a US law and it is entirely based on acts that the US considers as contrary to its interests.”


Advocates say that sanctions like the Global Magnitsky Act are way better than inaction. For impunity, after all, is the absence of sanctions. In fact, Tony La Viña calls it “one of the best things that have happened recently [in the field of law].”

In an opinion piece in The Financial Times, human rights campaigner Katrina Swett said it is important that the Magnitsky Act’s effectiveness not be undercut by other governments that provide safe havens within their borders. This is the reason why there is a campaign for the law to be adopted globally. It has been passed in Canada and the United Kingdom, as well as Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania. Advocates predict the European Union will soon adopt it while Australia is considering a similar law.

Talking to Rappler’s Maria Ressa, Bill Browder, the primary advocate of the Magnitsky Act, tells us how it evolved into a global law adopted by many countries: “My congressional allies, these [US] senators, said, ‘[Vladimir] Putin is getting so upset we should make other dictators upset as well,’ and so they launched the Global Magnitsky Act. And the Act applies not just to Russians, it applies to all bad guys in the world.”

Would Senator Bato dela Rosa have thought twice about being the poster boy for tokhang had he known it would stop his Vegas trips to watch Manny Pacquiao? Maybe, maybe not. He had, after all, said he would give his life for Rodrigo Duterte.

Lawyer for the Magnitsky campaigners and Doughty Street Chambers founder Geoffrey Robertson described the Act as “a way of getting at the Auschwitz train drivers, the apparatchiks, the people who make a little bit of money from human rights abuses and generally keep them under the radar.”

The Global Magnitsky Act goes beyond denying applicants a US, Canadian, or UK visa. This largely symbolical slap can literally hurt if it sets back your government career, ruins a family reunion abroad, gives you a bad reputation among your international peers, or puts you in the blacklist of border immigration officers.

Would you still be a human rights offender? Sometimes loyalty can be so overrated. ;D

Here’s the link to my last newsletter The power of the Ampatuan massacre verdict.

Preempting Congress. President Rodrigo Duterte hits network ABS-CBN, saying it would be better for the owner to just sell, adding Congress would unlikely renew its franchise. The legislative franchise will expire on March 30, 2020.

Duterte had been criticizing the network since the start of his presidency. It supposedly did not air his political ads during the 2016 campaign. 

The President adds, referencing telenovela tropes, “I will make sure that you will remember this episode of our times forever.”

Right of Way talks to Kuya Bernard a taxi driver who wrote, designed, and published his own road safety manual.

Jose Rizal was also a fitness buff. Leloy Claudio, along with fitness coach Mark Limbaga and Rappler colleague Paula Mutuc, try out the weightlifting routine based on Rizal’s journals.

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Lilibeth Frondoso

She currently heads Multimedia Strategy and Growth in Rappler.