TIME indonesia

The Execution of Several Foreigners in Indonesia Appears Imminent

President Joko Widodo has said he will not interfere

Correction appended, April 24

In a sign that it may be preparing to put 10 mostly foreign drug offenders to death, Indonesia has asked foreign diplomats to travel Saturday to visit the maximum-security prison on the island of Nusakambangan where the inmates are being held.

According to Reuters, the legally required 72-hour notice has not been announced but a diplomat the news agency spoke with on condition of anonymity said, “We still don’t know when the actual date of the execution will happen but we expect that it will be in days.”

On Tuesday, through the state-owned news agency Antara, Indonesian President Joko Widodo said the executions were “only awaiting the conclusion of all procedures and the legal process, which I will not interfere in. It is only a matter of time.”

The condemned include Australian, Brazilian, French and Nigerian nationals, as well as a Filipina maid named Mary Jane Veloso who has sparked a social-media campaign for clemency.

Also set to be executed are the two Australian ringleaders of the Bali Nine drug-smuggling group, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran. Repeated appeals to spare their lives have been made by the Australian government and the case has created tensions between the two countries. France also blasted the Indonesian legal system on Thursday.

According to David McRae, a senior research fellow at the Asia Institute in the University of Melbourne, who wrote an analysis paper on the subject in 2012, Jakarta is torn between domestic and international considerations. “One [stream of thought] relishes the opportunity for the government to present itself as firm in the face of international pressure,” he tells TIME. “But I think there are others who are concerned at the prospect of Indonesia’s relations with various of its important international partners becoming mired in needless rancor.”

Indonesia has severe punishments for drug offenses and has once again started implementing the death penalty after a five-year stoppage.

[Reuters]

Correction: The original version of this story incorrectly described the drug offenders. Nine are foreigners and one is Indonesian.

TIME indonesia

The Internet Is Begging the Indonesian Government to Spare a Filipina Single Mother’s Life

A protester holds a placard urging the Philippine and Indonesian government to save Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia, during a protest in front of the Indonesian embassy in Makati city
Romeo Ranoco—Reuters A protester holds a placard urging the Philippine and Indonesian governments to save Mary Jane Veloso, a Filipina facing execution in Indonesia, during a protest in front of the Indonesian embassy in Manila on April 24, 2015

"Is my President a murderer?”

As the executions of 10 drug convicts loom in Indonesia, a massive social-media campaign has kicked off in support of Mary Jane Veloso, the Filipina maid set to face the firing squad.

The hashtag #MaryJane was the No. 2 trending topic on Indonesia’s Twittersphere on Friday morning, hours after Veloso was transferred to the execution island of Nusakambangan. As her family flew to the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta, where Veloso was held, Indonesians rallied to urge President Joko Widodo, popularly known as Jokowi, to spare the life of the 30-year-old migrant worker.

Indonesian celebrity chef Rahung Nasution launched a tweet storm on Friday morning, detailing how Veloso ended up in an Indonesian prison and how the Indonesian government handled her case. “Jokowi is not battling drugs. He is executing poor women, like the migrant workers in Saudi Arabia!! #MaryJane,” Rahung tweeted, referring to the two Indonesian domestic workers executed in the Middle East country last week.

Dewi Candraningrum, the chief editor of feminist magazine Jurnal Perempuan (Women’s Journal), uploaded her charcoal-on-paper drawing Mary Jane and tweeted, “She is a victim of trafficking. Is my President a murderer?” The National Commission on Violence Against Women also posted a series of tweets on why the government should not execute Veloso.

One Twitter user wrote, “I agree with death penalty for drug cases, as long as it’s for big-time drug dealers, not couriers or duped victims like #MaryJane.”

Another tweeted, “Sorry for #MaryJane how is it possible for a victim of a drug dealer is sentenced to death. As if people’s life is a plaything.”

While local support for other foreign drug convicts has been muted, there is a wider sympathy toward Veloso, a single mother of two, who said she was not a drug dealer but a victim of trafficking and was duped into carrying narcotics into the country. She was initially promised a job in Malaysia, but upon arrival there, she was told her job was in Indonesia. While in Malaysia, the drugs were secretly sewn into a suitcase she was lent, her family said. She was arrested at Yogyakarta airport in April 2010 after authorities found 2.6 kg of heroin in her suitcase. She was found guilty and sentenced to death later that year.

Veloso launched her first appeal in March, questioning the competence of the translator provided to her during the trial, but it was rejected by the Indonesian Supreme Court. She was transferred from Yogyakarta’s prison to Nusakambangan execution island at 1 a.m. on Friday.

On Friday, the Philippine government filed a second appeal for judicial review on behalf of Veloso in another attempt to save her life.

TIME viral

Watch This Hilarious Rap About Filipino Mythical Creatures

Do you know your tikbalangs from your duwendes?

Filipino folklore is full of mythical creatures from the bigfoot-like Kapre to the man-eating blood-sucking witch Manananggal.

Now these strange beasts are the unwitting subjects of Canadian-born Filipino singer and video producer Mikey Bustos’ latest project.

“We Filipinos have some really crazy mythical beings. Imagine they were all rap stars!” he says on his Facebook page.

Well, you don’t have to imagine anymore because with the help of copious amounts of face paint, Bustos transforms himself into several creatures and raps about what they get up to.

Bustos even makes a special appearance as controversial U.S. boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. ahead of his May 2 fight against Filipino legend Manny Pacquiao.

The 33-year-old former Canadian Idol contestant is known for producing hilarious Pinoy music videos, which he posts on his YouTube channel.

Read next: Watch This Guy Dunk Oreos in the Most Creative Ways Possible

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME Innovation

Five Best Ideas of the Day: April 10

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

1. China is literally building islands from almost nothing to tighten control over the South China Sea.

By Sui-Lee Wee and Ben Blanchard at Reuters

2. With drones and a recycled fishing trawler, one group is rescuing migrants making the world’s deadliest border crossing.

By Brad Wieners in Bloomberg Business

3. How can India can fix its trade imbalance? Convince Hindu temples to deposit their billion-dollar gold hoards in banks.

By Meenakshi Sharma and Krishna N. Das in Voice of America

4. Bangkok’s insane malls consume as much power as entire Thai provinces.

By Adam Pasick in Quartz

5. Biometrics — fingerprints and retina scans — have changed spycraft, and now even the bad guys are using it.

By Kate Brannen in Foreign Policy

The Aspen Institute is an educational and policy studies organization based in Washington, D.C.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Philippines

Philippines on High Alert as Supertyphoon Approaches From the East

The storm is currently a Category 5 — the highest possible level — although its intensity may reduce once it reaches land

The Philippines on Wednesday warned its citizens and visiting tourists to be prepared for a high-intensity supertyphoon that looks set to hit within the next three days, with troops placed on standby and supplies of food and medicines readied as a precaution.

The typhoon, christened Maysak, is currently hovering over the Pacific Ocean with winds up to 155 m.p.h., Reuters reported. The Category 5 storm, the highest possible rating, is expected to make landfall on the Southeast Asian country’s east coast.

On Wednesday, the Micronesian state of Chuuk declared a state of emergency after Maysak reportedly claimed at least five lives and caused extensive damage as it tore across the central Pacific.

Experts do anticipate that Maysak will reduce in intensity to around Category 2 once it hits the Philippines, though, with British agency Tropical Storm Risk expecting winds to reduce to 110 m.p.h.

“But this will still be typhoon intensity so it will bring strong winds when it makes landfall on the eastern coast,” Esperanza Cayanan, an officer at the Philippines’ weather bureau, said in a televised briefing.

Although the typhoon could damage crops in the country’s central and northern regions, the damage is likely to be minimal thanks to the conclusion of a major rice harvest in February.

The biggest challenge for authorities will be ensuring the safety of Filipinos and foreigners celebrating the long Easter weekend, the national disaster agency’s executive director Alexander Pama explained.

“Because of our holiday mode, some of us may not give proper attention to the warnings,” Pama said.

[Reuters]

TIME Philippines

Philippines Honors Commandos Killed Fighting Rebels With Day of Mourning

PHILIPPINES-CONFLICT-UNREST-POLICE-MUSLIM
Ted Aljibe — AFP/Getty Images Philippine police commandos stand at attention next to the flag-draped coffins of their slain comrades shortly after arriving at a military base in Manila on Jan. 29, 2015

Forty-four members of the police’s elite special action force unit were killed during a firefight with rebels earlier this week

Flags flew at half-mast across the Philippines on Friday as the entire country observed a national day of mourning following the violent deaths of 44 elite commandos during a daring raid.

President Benigno Aquino held a ceremony honoring the deceased servicemen on Friday. “The entire nation is requested to offer prayers and all public institutions are directed to lower the Philippine flag at half-mast on Friday,” Aquino said in a statement released ahead of the service.

Over the weekend, members of an elite police force entered territory controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) rebel group in Mindanao Island’s Maguindanao province, where two high-value terrorists were believed to have been hiding.

Rebel commanders claim authorities had not liaised with their representatives before entering the territory and members were acting in self-defense when the firefight broke out.

Despite the heavy casualty toll, officials claim the raid as a success as it resulted in the death of Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli bin Hir, also known as Marwan, an expert bombmaker and a member of the Indonesia terrorism outfit Jemaah Islamiyah’s central command. However, authorities have erroneously claimed to have killed Marwan in the past on multiple occasions, according to the BBC.

The government signed a landmark peace accord with the MILF in 2014 after decades of civil conflict, mainly in the Philippines’ conflict-riven south.

During a televised address on Wednesday, Aquino pleaded with the nation to continue to support the ongoing peace deal and warned against retaliation in the wake of the killings.

“If the peace process won’t succeed, if we were to go back to the status quo, or if the violence gets worse, isn’t this exactly the opposite of the purpose of their sacrifice?” asked the President.

Others paid their respects to the fallen commandos via social media.

TIME Philippines

Rare Megamouth Shark Washes Up In The Philippines

Fishermen use a stretcher with steels bars to carry a rare 15-foot megamouth shark, which was trapped in a fishermen's net in Burias Pass in Albay and Masbate provinces, central Philippines, Jan. 28, 2015.
Rhaydz Barcia—Reuters Fishermen use a stretcher with steels bars to carry a rare 15-foot megamouth shark, which was trapped in a fishermen's net in Burias Pass in Albay and Masbate provinces, central Philippines, Jan. 28, 2015.

Very little is known about the megamouth shark, an extremely rare species of deepwater shark that was first discovered in 1976

A dead megamouth shark (Megachasma pelagios) was discovered by fishermen in the Philippines on Wednesday, providing a rare glimpse of a mysterious animal that spends much of its life in the deep ocean.

It was found in the Burias Pass, located between the Albay and Masbate provinces of central Philippines. Less than 70 megamouth sharks have ever been spotted, according to marine biologist Christopher Bird and Marine Wildlife Watch of the Philippines.

The 15-foot male was dead when it was discovered. The cause of death is unknown. Very little is known about the megamouth shark, an extremely rare species of deepwater shark that was only first discovered in 1976. Most wash up on the coasts of the Philippines, Japan and Taiwan.

Read the rest of the story from our partners at NBC News

TIME portfolio

The Best Pictures of the Week: Jan. 16 – Jan. 23

From escalating violence in eastern Ukraine and a thousands strong march in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Ala. to priests photographing Pope Francis in the Philippines and a surprising, glowing seascape in Hong Kong, TIME presents the best pictures of the week.

TIME Philippines

Pope Francis and the Mystery of Manila’s Vanishing Street Children

A homeless child in the streets of Manila in 2014.
Noel Celis—AFP/Getty Images A homeless child in the streets of Manila in 2014.

Was the Philippine capital really purged of unsightly urchins for the Pope's recent visit, as media reports allege?

Pope Francis took the helm of the Catholic Church last year, vowing to refashion the institution “for the poor.” Yet during his recent five-day visit to the Philippines, where he presided over Mass for more than six million rapturous worshippers, it appeared many of the nation’s most impoverished were cruelly banished from view.

As the Pontiff touched down in Asia’s most Catholic nation, reports emerged that street children had been rounded up and caged in order to sanitize Manila’s streets. Local authorities vehemently denied this was a case, pointing out that the accompanying photographs of an emaciated toddler and young girl handcuffed to a metal pole had in fact been taken months earlier.

However, rumors continued to swirl as more anecdotal evidence arrived. So was the Philippine capital purged of unsightly urchins? In a word, yes, although only a small fraction of this was anything new.

According to local activists, street children are constantly being rounded up across this sprawling metropolis of 12 million. This is generally for vagrancy and petty crime — they are often scapegoats for the deeds committed by organized gangs — and, although numbers are hard to pin down, the Pope’s visit seemed to herald a slight uptick.

“There’s definitely been a ramp up,” Catherine Scerri, deputy director of the Bahay Tuluyan NGO that helps street children, tells TIME. “They were definitely told not to be visible, and many of them felt that if they didn’t move they would be taken forcibly.”

Those detained end up a various municipal detention centers sprinkled all over Metro Manila, says Father Shay Cullen, the Nobel Peace Prize-nominated founder of the Preda Foundation NGO. These local adult jails each adjoin euphemistically named “children’s homes,” which, like the adult facility, has bars on the windows.

Children are summarily kept for anything up to three months without charge, with little ones sharing cells with young adults. Many fall prey to serious sexual and physical abuse: Kids just eight-years-old are often tormented into performing sex acts on the older detainees, says Cullen. (Amnesty International documented such abuses in a December report.)

“They are locked up in a dungeon,” says Cullen, explaining that some 20,000 children see the inside of a jail cell annually across the Philippines. “We keep asking why they put these little kids in with the older guys.”

Nevertheless, Philippines Welfare Secretary Corazon Juliano-Soliman explicitly denies that homeless children were rounded up for the Papal visit, highlighting that they were, in fact, central to the 78-year-old Pontiff’s reception. Some 400 homeless kids — albeit in bright, new threads — sang at a special event (and posed awkward theological questions.)

Any children detained, explains Juliano-Soliman, were “abandoned, physically or mentally challenged or found to be vagrant or in trouble with the law, and we are taking care of them.” Father Cullen’s allegations, Juliano-Soliman suggests, are a sympathy ploy to win donations “One can’t help but think it’s a good fundraising action,” she says wryly.

However, Juliano-Soliman did confirm that 100 homeless families — comprising 490 parents and children — were taken off the street of Roxas Boulevard, the palm-fringed thoroughfare arcing Manila Bay along which Pope Francis traveled several times, and taken about an hour and a half’s drive away to the plush Chateau Royal Batangas resort. Room rates there range from $90 to $500 per night.

This sojourn lasted from Jan. 14, the day before Pope Francis’s visit, until Jan. 19, the day he left. It was organized by the Department of Social Welfare’s Modified Conditional Cash Transfer program, which provides grants to aid “families with special needs.”

Juliano-Soliman says this was done so that families would “not be vulnerable to the influx of people coming to witness the Pope.” Pressed to clarify, she expressed fears that the destitute “could be seen as not having a positive influence in the crowd” and could be “used by people who do not have good intentions.”

For Scerri, though, this reasoning doesn’t cut it: “It’s very difficult to believe that children and families who have lived on the streets for most of their lives need to be protected from what was a very joyous, very happy, very peaceful celebration.”

In fact, families involved were only told two days prior that they were to make the trip to Chateau Royal Batangas. “Many felt that if they didn’t participate that they would be rounded up,” says Scerri, adding that those who returned to their usual digs by Malate Catholic Church found large signs had been painted in the interim that prohibited sleeping rough.

Ultimately, whether jailed or stashed in a resort, “there’s nothing new,” says Father Cullen. “Every time dignitaries come it’s a common phenomenon for more children to be locked up.”

So where did Manila’s street children go? The truth is that most people didn’t really care, just as long as they did.

Read next: Pope Calls Out Philippines on Corruption and ‘Scandalous’ Inequality

Listen to the most important stories of the day.

TIME contraception

Pope Francis Tells Catholics That They Shouldn’t Be Breeding ‘Like Rabbits’

After hopping around Asia, the Pontiff condemns artificial contraception

Pope Francis used his return journey from Asia to insist that the Catholic Church’s prohibition on artificial contraception does not necessitate followers bearing an enormous brood of children.

“Some think, excuse me if I use the word, that in order to be good Catholics, we have to be like rabbits — but no,” the 78-year-old Argentine told reporters while flying from the Philippines back to Rome, reports Reuters.

Francis spoke of meeting a Filipina woman who had risked her life to give birth to seven children, and revealed that he scolded her for her “irresponsibility.” He has developed a reputation for using plain, colloquial language to get his points across.

But despite garnering praise as a liberal reformer, Francis continues to condemn artificial birth-control methods, criticizing the Philippines’ recent legislation to make contraceptives more easily available to the public. He called these laws “ideological colonization,” claiming they conflict with traditional family values. (Advocates insist birth control empowers women and guards against sexually transmitted diseases.)

Francis explained that there are church-approved natural contraceptive methods that can prevent Catholics from having too many children. These consist primarily of abstinence while a woman is fertile.

[Reuters]

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