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De Lima to face ethics probe, negotiations between AFP and NPA + other nice news

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ILLUSTRATOR Jasrelle Serrano
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Ceasefire breaks, negotiations continue between AFP and NPA.

With the latest round of negotiations in Rome still ongoing, a gunfight between the army and NPA rebels in Makilala, North Cotabato provides an unwelcome distraction from discussions on a possible path forward. Last Saturday, January 21, a local law enforcement operation supported by army forces resulted in the killing of a rebel. The NPA, claiming to have killed eight soldiers in the violent exchange, accused the AFP of deliberately breaking the five-month old ceasefire.

Peace talks between Syrian rebels, Assad brokered by Russia.

In a bid to further raise its international profile, Russia, together with Turkey and Iran, hosts the peace talks currently underway in Astana, Kazakhstan. Russia, which has intervened militarily on behalf of Assad, is repositioning itself as a neutral force in the conflict, while the Syrian opposition refuses to actively participate in the talks. However, with an obstructionist role taken by the Syrian regime and Iran, a chance for lasting success appears unlikely.

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Senator De Lima to face senate ethics probe.

Fierce Duterte critic De Lima, who previously called into doubt the impartiality of the ethics committee handling her case, will reportedly face a probe investigating her role in the temporary disappearance of her driver. Ronnie Dayan, her personal driver and former boyfriend, is accused of accepting bribes on behalf of the senator, money which was allegedly used to finance her senatorial campaign. Two other charges, related to issues of immorality and drug protection, were dismissed due to the committee’s lack of jurisdiction.

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Tortured during detention, Chinese lawyers speak out against abuse.

Two human rights lawyers, arrested in July 2015 during a large-scale crackdown on legal professionals, have recently opened up on the abuse suffered while in secret detention. Released after 500 days, Li Chunfu experienced severe torture and now suffers from possible schizophrenia, while Xie Yang, who still remains in custody, described long sessions of psychological and physical abuse. With the country’s chief justice firmly speaking out against the independence of the courts, these statements address a growing sense of unease among China’s lawyers.

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