The Philippines government is due to begin peace talks with communist rebels on 18 January which could end one of Asia's longest insurgencies.
President Rodrigo Duterte has said he wants to "walk the extra mile" to achieve peace, in a conflict which has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives since the 1960s. BBC Monitoring's Mark Wilson examines the challenges ahead.
FOR more than two years Thailand’s ruling junta, which seized power in a coup in 2014, has been cooking up a constitution which it hopes will keep military men in control even after elections take place. In August the generals won approval for the document in a referendum made farcical by a law which forbade campaigners from criticising the text.
There is much to dislike about the proposed constitution, which will keep elected governments beholden to a senate nominated by the junta and to a suite of meddling committees. But Mr Prayuth says the king’s objections relate only to “three or four” articles—all of which appear to limit the sovereign’s power slightly.
Lao Prime Minister (PM) Thongloun Sisoulith on Monday urged the business and public sectors in Laos and Thailand to open their hearts and break down barriers for bilateral investment and cooperation.
The remarks were made by Thongloun at the Lao-Thai Business Forum 2017 in the Lao capital of Vientiane with nearly 200 participants from the two countries, including businesspeople, officials from the Thai and Lao Chambers of Commerce and Industry and relevant ministries.
Tax will be withdrawn on construction of hydropower projects being developed by Chinese companies under CPEC.
The government is expected to withdraw general sales tax (GST) on construction of hydropower projects being developed by Chinese companies under the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) on the pattern of tax exemptions given to mass transits like Lahore Orange Line Metro Train last week.
Informed sources said that at least three major hydropower projects with cumulative generation capacity of over 2,700 megawatts among the priority list of CPEC would qualify for the GST waiver worth over 50 billion rupees ($473 million) to facilitate their implementation, which is currently at very early stage. The move would improve cash flows of major investors like China Gazhouba Group and China Three Gorges Corporation, they said.
Malacañang and Congress have quietly kept alive the graft-ridden pork barrel system—declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court four years ago—in this year’s P3.35-trillion national budget, Sen. Panfilo Lacson said on Sunday.
“Pork barrel has been a very corrupt and corrupting system in our political institutions, which had been shortchanging millions of Filipinos who suffer from half-baked, even ghost projects,” he said.
The Election Commission has announced a new set of measures for the assembly elections in five states which will take place from February 4 to March 8.
Malacañang has designated the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) to oversee the implementation of the Freedom of Information (FOI) in the executive branch.
Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea signed Memorandum Order No. 10 on December 29, mandating the PCOO “as the lead agency in the implementation of executive order no. 2”
Any increase in Social Security System (SSS) pension should come only after the approval of the tax reform law that would make it easier to increase members’ contribution to the fund, Budget Secretary Benjamin Diokno said on Tuesday.
Diokno said President Duterte was not in the same situation as when he was a candidate who had promised voters an increase in the pensions of retirees in the private sector.
As Chief Executive, Mr. Duterte now has access to more data concerning the SSS, Diokno said following reports that the President was still looking for ways to give the pension increase while protecting the life of the fund.
The Supreme Court ruled on Monday that seeking votes in the name of religion , caste, race, community or language by a candidate, his agent or anyone with his consent would be a corrupt electoral practice rendering the person open to disqualification.
The order, which some political and official sources felt would be of limited utility in a country teeming with parties appealing to regional, caste-based and community identities, widened the scope of Section 123(3) of the Representation of the People Act in order to "maintain the purity of the electoral process".
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