Detainees found in ‘secret police cell’ in Philippines

Members of the government’s human rights commission, accompanied by journalists, found the men and women in an unannounced visit to the station in the heart of Manila’s slum area on Thursday evening.

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Cries of “here we are, here we are” were heard from behind a wall, according to the rights workers and journalists. The rights workers then found a hidden door behind a bookshelf, leading to the cell.

Stunned detainees came stumbling out of the room, some begging for water while others, in tears, pleaded with the rights workers not to abandon them.

The detainees said they had been held for about a week after being arrested on allegations of drug use or trafficking and that police had demanded hefty payments in exchange for their freedom.

People allegedly kept inside a hidden room at the Drug Enforcement Unit of the Manila Police Department’s Police Station 1 in the Tondo area of Manila.AFP

“They were picked up on the pretext of drugs but they had not filed any charges against them,” Gilbert Boisner, Manila director for the rights commission who led the inspection, told AFP on Friday.

Human Rights Watch said the incident was another example of widespread rights abuse under Duterte’s war on drugs, which has seen thousands of drug suspects killed either by policemen or mysterious vigilantes.

“The discovery of the secret jail is just the latest sign of how police are exploiting Duterte’s abusive anti-drug campaign for personal gain,” the group said in a statement.

Duterte briefly suspended all police from the crackdown in January after an official investigation found drug officers kidnapped a South Korean businessman and murdered him as part of an extortion scam.

‘Corrupt to the core’

Duterte described the police force then as “corrupt to the core” and vowed it would not be allowed to prosecute the drug war until its ranks had been “cleansed”.

But he redeployed police onto the drug war about a month later, without major reforms.

Rights groups have questioned his sincerity in wanting to cleanse the police force, citing his promise to pardon officers if they are found guilty of murder for killing in his drug war.

Police have reported killing 2,724 people as part of Duterte’s anti-drug campaign, although authorities insist the shootings have been in self defence.

Many thousands of others have been killed by shadowy vigilantes, according to rights groups.

A Philippine lawyer on Monday filed a complaint at the International Criminal Court accusing Duterte of mass murder, alleging his war on drugs had led to about 8,000 deaths.

Rights disdain

Global rights monitor Amnesty International released a report in February warning that the killings in the drug war may amount to a crime against humanity.

It accused police of shooting defenceless people, fabricating evidence, paying assassins to murder drug addicts and stealing from those they killed.

Senator de Lima, one of Duterte’s fiercest critics who has been detained on what she says are false charges in an effort to silence her, said the “secret cell” was an expected consequence of the drug war.

“Because we let him kill our poor countrymen like animals, we can only expect more animal and inhuman treatment from his policemen,” she said in a statement.

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The station chief in charge of the “secret cell” was suspended on Friday as police vowed an investigation but conceded that improper detentions were widespread.

“We must recognise that this problem is not just in one police station but almost in all our stations region-wide,” the head of the capital’s police force, Director Oscar Albayalde, said in a statement.

The incident occurred as Duterte began welcoming Southeast Asian leaders for a summit in Manila.

Speaking to reporters after meeting Brunei’s Sultan, Hassanal Bolkiah, on Thursday Duterte used typically defiant language as he defended his drug war and repeated his disdain for human rights.

“You know human rights (campaigners), I am not a worker for human rights,” Duterte said, after branding The New York Times newspaper an “asshole” for criticising his drug war tactics.

Watch: Duterte said in December 2016 he ‘has killed criminals’

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Trump thought being president ‘would be easier’ than his old life

He misses driving, feels as if he is in a cocoon, and is surprised how hard his new job is.

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President Donald Trump on Thursday reflected on his first 100 days in office with a wistful look at his life before the White House.

“I loved my previous life. I had so many things going,” Trump told Reuters in an interview. “This is more work than in my previous life. I thought it would be easier.”

A wealthy businessman from New York, Trump assumed public office for the first time when he entered the White House on Jan. 20 after he defeated former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in an upset.

Listen to Trump’s interview

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More than five months after his victory and two days shy of the 100-day mark of his presidency, the election is still on Trump’s mind. Midway through a discussion about Chinese President Xi Jinping, the president paused to hand out copies of what he said were the latest figures from the 2016 electoral map.

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“Here, you can take that, that’s the final map of the numbers,” the Republican president said from his desk in the Oval Office, handing out maps of the United States with areas he won marked in red. “It’s pretty good, right? The red is obviously us.”

He had copies for each of the three Reuters reporters in the room.

Trump, who said he was accustomed to not having privacy in his “old life,” expressed surprise at how little he had now. And he made clear he was still getting used to having 24-hour Secret Service protection and its accompanying constraints.

“You’re really into your own little cocoon, because you have such massive protection that you really can’t go anywhere,” he said.

WATCH: Dateline: President Trump

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When the president leaves the White House, it is usually in a limousine or an SUV.

He said he missed being behind the wheel himself.

“I like to drive,” he said. “I can’t drive any more.”

Many things about Trump have not changed from the wheeler-dealer executive and former celebrity reality show host who ran his empire from the 26th floor of Trump Tower in New York and worked the phones incessantly.

He frequently turns to outside friends and former business colleagues for advice and positive reinforcement. Senior aides say they are resigned to it.

The president has been at loggerheads with many news organizations since his election campaign and decided not to attend the White House Correspondents’ Dinner in Washington on Saturday because he felt he had been treated unfairly by the media.

“I would come next year, absolutely,” Trump said when asked whether he would attend in the future.

The dinner is organised by the White House Correspondents’ Association. Reuters correspondent Jeff Mason is its president.

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Giants pip Bulldogs in AFL thriller

Greater Western Sydney have served the Western Bulldogs some cold preliminary final revenge, writing the latest thrilling chapter of the two club’s burgeoning AFL rivalry with a two-point win.

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With the temperature plummeting to five degrees, the heat was on at UNSW Canberra Oval.

The Giants came from behind to win 11.9 (75) to 9.19 (73) in front of a crowd of 14,048 who were treated to another classic encounter.

The GWS forward line fired, with Jeremy Cameron kicking four goals while Jonathon Patton and Toby Greene booted three apiece – including crucial last-quarter majors.

Patton’s monster set shot from the boundary put the Giants back in front 14 minutes in to the last quarter, while Greene threaded a goal four minutes later to extend the lead to 10.

Jake Stringer’s third goal gave the Bulldogs hope, cutting the deficit to three, but Toby McLean narrowly missed a shot at goal in the dying moments and the Giants held on for a memorable victory.

“We put up on the board to beat the Bulldogs you need to play for 120 minutes,” Giants coach Leon Cameron said.

“In the end it came down to the last 10 seconds.”

The Bulldogs were left to rue their missed opportunities after taking a nine-point lead to half-time despite dominating the second quarter.

While two goals each to Stringer and Marcus Bontempelli shifted the momentum of the game after quarter time, a slew of missed shots gave the Giants a chance to regroup at the main break.

“It was just pleasing to get off the canvas at half-time because they should have been up by four or five goals,” Cameron said.

From there an arm-wrestle ensued in a game that was hard, fast and skilful.

Luke Dahlhaus racked up 27 touches for the Dogs, while Jason Johannisen had 21 possessions and seven rebounds off defensive 50.

Easton Wood was superb in defence but gave away a crucial 50-metre penalty early in the last quarter to give Patton an easy shot that he converted for his second goal.

Dylan Shiel and Callan Ward were influential around the contest for the Giants, while Zac Williams was impressive and Heath Shaw accumulated kicks off half-back.

The Giants are likely to be without Greene next week after he was reported for striking Caleb Daniel in a marking contest during the third quarter.

Dogs midfielder Tom Liberatore’s night ended in the last quarter when he was concussed in a heavy tackle by Shane Mumford, who was outstanding with 52 hit-outs against the Bulldogs makeshift ruck duo of Tom Boyd and Josh Dunkley.

Western Bulldogs coach Luke Beveridge said his side was beginning to get closer to the form which won them last year’s premiership.

“There was a few things to like but overall it’s just frustrating,” Beveridge said.

“Even though our intensity was good, we just gave it back to them in close and they went forward.

“But I don’t think our intensity really dropped off at all so that’s a step in the right direction.”

Green hoping Kangaroos won’t risk Thurston

North Queensland coach Paul Green is confident Kangaroos medical staff won’t take any unnecessary risks when it comes to the health of his star playmaker Johnathan Thurston.

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Thurston was a last minute scratching for the Cowboys before their loss to Parramatta on Friday, casting a major shadow over his involvement in this week’s Test match against New Zealand in Canberra,

Green and Australian coach Mal Meninga shared differing views this week on Thurston’s availability for the clash, but the Cowboys mentor said he was comfortable to the national team’s medical staff would make the right call.

“That will depend on how he goes this week, it’s not my call it’s the medical staff’s but if he’s not 100 per cent fit he shouldn’t be playing because he probably risks being out for longer,” Green said.

“I understand it’s Australia, it’s a great honour and I’m sure all things considered the right decision will be made.”

Green’s stressed that player safety was paramount to any decision and also took heart from the fact that physiotherapist Steve Sartori and doctor Chris Ball hold positions on both the Cowboys and Kangaroos medical staff.

“The doctors will make the right decision regardless of whether they are with our club or not,” he said.

“It’s about what’s best for the player and if a guy’s not fit you’re taking a massive risk going in to a big game like a Test match.”

Thurston will travel to Canberra on Sunday and will be assessed by Kangaroos medical staff, with Sharks playmaker James Maloney in the squad as cover for the Maroons maestro.

Thurston’s absence added to a Cowboys injury ward that already includes Lachlan Coote, Matt Scott and Jake Granville and their experience was sorely missed as the Eels punished North Queensland at 1300SMILES Stadium.

Heading in to this weekend’s representative round on the back of two straight losses is far from an ideal situation for the Cowboys and Green wants his team to use the week off to address some worrying signs.

“When you’re disappointed with your result sometimes next week can’t come quick enough,” he said.

“Hopefully the fire will be in the belly for us to make amends because we are pretty disappointed with tonight’s (Friday) efforts.

“We’ve got the break next we’ll use it for that.

“Parramatta deserved to win, they played well, but we were probably a little bit off in a few areas that recently when we have been at our best have been our strengths.

“We need to do some hard work, see where we can improve and it will help getting some players back on deck.”

Starting hooker Granville and experienced custodian Lachlan Coote should be fit and firing in time for the Cowboys’ round 10 clash with the Bulldogs in Sydney.

Nadal joins Murray in Barcelona semi-finals

The unseeded Chung, 20, went 3-1 up against the 14-time Grand Slam champion in the first set on the newly renamed Rafa Nadal Court at the Real Tennis Club and forced a tie-break, which the Spaniard eventually won with little trouble.

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The newly crowned Monte Carlo Masters champion made light work of the second set, rounding off a 7-6(1) 6-2 victory in the Barcelona sunshine with an ace to set up a semi-final on Saturday against Argentine Horacio Zeballos, who beat Russia’s Karen Khachanov 6-4 6-1.

“I have to be honest, I had hardly seen him play, all I had to go on were videos which I watched yesterday,” Nadal said of the little-known Chung.

“These young players have a lot of character so I took to the court with respect, perhaps too much, but in the second set I started dominating.”

Nadal has won every semi-final he has played in the Barcelona Open, where he is chasing a 10th title.

World number one Andy Murray also made the semi-finals but had to dig deep to overcome Albert Ramos-Vinolas 2-6 6-4 7-6(4), avenging his defeat by the Spaniard in the Monte Carlo Masters last week.

Briton Murray was overpowered by Ramos-Vinolas in the first set and had to save three break points in the ninth game of the second before tying the match. He then lost his first service game in the third set.

Ramos-Vinolas, who took a few minutes’ rest in the final set to shake off muscle discomfort, was again unable to seize the chance to see off the number one seed, who came out stronger to win the tiebreak.

“It was obviously a very tough match. It was kind of the opposite of the match we had last week, where probably today he deserved to win, he created a lot more chances, he served for the match and couldn’t quite get it,” Murray told reporters.

“Last week I had 4-0, I felt like I had all of the chances and sometimes on clay matches happen this way so I’m very happy to get through.

“I started coming to the net more and volleying, I felt like I started to dictate more of the points and that was a big difference.”

Murray will play Dominic Thiem on Saturday after the Austrian booked his place in the last four earlier on Friday by easing past Yuichi Sugita of Japan 6-1 6-2.

(Editing by Ken Ferris, John Stonestreet and Clare Fallon)