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Taiwan tensions spur US and Philippines to cement military cooperation

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With Chinese extensive military deployment around Taiwan rattling the region, the Philippines is eager to strengthen defence cooperation with the US. The US, which already has troops in bases on Filipino territory, has assured the south-east Asian nation of protection in case of an armed attack.

In the Philippines on Saturday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said that the Philippines is an “irreplaceable ally” while the Philippines President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. reflecting on the Taiwan Strait tensions said: “…the visit of your House Speaker Nancy Pelosi coming here… I did not think it raised the intensity; it just demonstrated how the intensity of the conflict has been…”.

China’s aggressive posturing towards Taiwan, in the wake of US Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s visit to Taipei, has shaken up the region. Countries in south-east Asia are worried as Beijing has territorial conflicts with many in the South China Sea (SCS).

In Blinken’s visit, the highest-ranking US official to visit Manila after Ferdinand Marcos Jr became President this June, the two nations reaffirmed their decades-old defence alliance. They are governed by the Mutual Defence Treaty (MDT)–an agreement signed on 30 August 1951 that states that if either of the allies faces an armed attack, the other would come to its defence.

Emphasising that the US would defend its allies in south-east Asia, Blinken told journalists: “An armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels, and aircraft will invoke US mutual defense commitments under that treaty. The Philippines is an irreplaceable friend, partner, and ally to the United States.”

US and the Philippines relations had come under strain under previous President Rodrigo Duterte, who was opposed to the continued presence of US troops on Filipino soil. Duterte had tried to move closer to China at the cost of bilateral relations with the US. That scenario changed as Beijing began to assert itself in the region.

Duterte even watered down the historic arbitration case that the Philippines had won against Beijing over islands in the disputed SCS that belonged to Manila rather than Beijing. During his rule he also decided to unilaterally end the US-Philippines Visiting Forces Agreement that allowed for the deployment and rotation of American soldiers on bases in the country.

For almost a hundred years, the country has fallen back on the US for its security and defence needs. To that extent, Ferdinand Marcos Jr has restored the nation’s foreign policy to what it had been for a long time–go back to the US.

The new president seems keen to restore ties with the US not just in the fields of defence but also in areas of technology and health cooperation.

With China unleashing live-fire drills with a vengeance and a blockade of Taiwan, the public mood in the Philippines which has largely always been positive towards the US is now beginning to swing further to the US. For President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. it will be a tight rope walk – doing the balancing act between two warring powers.

Maharashtra

PIL filed in Bombay HC to seek probe in expenses of CM Eknath Shinde’s Dussehra rally

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In a petition filed in the Bombay High Court, a social worker has asked the source of money and sought a probe against Chief Minister Eknath Shinde under the provisions of the Money Laundering Act and the Income Tax for allegedly spending “Rs 10 crore or more” during his Dussehra rally at MMRDA grounds in Bandra Kurla Complex (BKC) on October 5.

Deepak Jagdev, a social worker, petitioned through advocate Nitin Satpute asking the court to direct central agencies such as the CBI, Mumbai Police Economic Offence Wing, and the Enforcement Directorate (ED) to investigate the fund of Rs. 10 crore or more used by the unregistered party led by Eknath Shinde in the CM’s Dussehra Rally on Wednesday.

he petitioner raised the question of the use of public transport, such as the 1,700 Maharashtra State Road Transport Corporation (MSRTC) buses, for transporting Shinde’s supporters from various parts of the state to BKC, which caused a lot of inconvenience to the average man.

Social activists have raised the question that “What is the source of money?” as huge amount of money was spent for advertisements in newspapers, to rent the BKC ground, songs, teasers, putting over 2000 hoardings, and food packets, and “more than Rs. 10 crores has been paid to the State Transport.’

Drawing comparison with incarcerated political leaders, the plea states: “If Sanjay Raut can be jailed for Rs. 56 lakh and Anil Deshmukh for Rs. 4.5 crore of his own property, then Shinde is also liable for Rs. 10 crore.”

The plea asserts that there is a high probability that black money has been used for this public rally by spending Rs 10 crore. The source of black money and funding needs to be investigated.

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Maharashtra

Uddhav Thackeray’s response sought to Shinde group’s claim on poll symbol

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The Election Commission on Friday wrote a letter to Shiv Sena leader and former Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, asking him to furnish a response along with requisite documents in the case related to dispute over claims by two groups over “real Shiv Sena”, by Saturday.

In the letter issued on Friday, the Commission said that it received an application from the (incumbent Maharashtra Chief Minister) Eknath Shinde faction on October 4 to allot the symbol of the party ‘Bow and Arrow’ to the group led by Shinde in view of ongoing bye-election from 166-Andheri East Assembly Constituency.

“Chirag Shah, an advocate, on behalf of Shinde has furnished an application to allot the symbol of the party ‘Bow and Arrow’ to the group led by Shinde in view of ongoing by-election from 166-Andheri East Assembly Constituency,” said the Commission’s letter.

The Commission said that it is yet to receive a reply from the Thackeray group.

“Though your reply is yet to be received, considering the fact that by-election has been notified from 166-Andheri East Assembly constituency, it is directed that you may furnish your comments along with requisite documents as requested by the Commission’s letter, latest by 2 p.m. of 8.10.2022,” it said.

In case no reply is received, the Commission will take appropriate action in the matter accordingly, it added.

The Commission in its letter dated September 29 had requested Thackeray to furnish written submissions along with the respective documents to support claim, if any, by 2 pm, October 8.

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National News

DMK intra-party polls: TN CM Stalin files nomination for president’s post

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Tamil Nadu Chief Minister M.K. Stalin on Friday filed nomination papers for the president’s post in the ruling DMK intra-party elections.

The party general council meeting is scheduled to be held on October 9 at St. George School, Aminjikarai, Chennai.

Before filing his papers, Stalin paid floral tributes at the memorials of former Chief Ministers of Tamil Nadu C.N. Annadurai and M. Karunanidhi.

After filing his nomination papers at Anna Aruvalayam, the DMK headquarters, Stalin paid floral tributes before the photograph of his late father and former Chief Minister of Tamil Nadu M. Karunanidhi at his Gopalapuram residence.

Senior DMK leader and state waterworks minister S. Duraimurugan, who is also the organising secretary of the party, DMK treasurer and Member of Parliament T.R. Baalu, former Union Minister and Member of Parliament from The Nilgiris A. Raaja, Stalin’s sister and Member of Parliament Kanimozhi, and other senior ministers and parliamentarians were present.

Stalin’s son and party youth wing leader and Member of Legislative Assembly from Chepauk constituency,Udayanidhi Stalin was also present during the filing of the nomination.

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