Estrada makes Manila bid
Ousted president Joseph Estrada filed his candidacy yesterday for mayor of Manila. The polls are scheduled for May 13 next year. “There is no boundary to serving the people, especially the marginalized,” Estrada, 75, explained as his motive. “I will not stop until my last breath.” Boxing champion and Representative Manny Pacquiao is also expected to file his candidacy before leaving for the US to prepare for a fight scheduled in December. Imelda Marcos, widow of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos, is expected to be among candidates for 286 congressional seats. Her daughter, Imee, is to try to keep her seat as governor of their northern home province of Ilocos Norte.
N Korea drops leaflets
North Korea has dropped thousands of propaganda leaflets attacking the South across their heavily militarized border for the second time this year, Seoul’s defense ministry said yesterday. Soldiers have collected about 17,000 leaflets, which were floated by balloon over the frontier on Saturday, a ministry spokesman said. “They were found scattered in western border areas,” the spokesman said. The leaflets criticize the defense ministry’s “anti-Pyongyang” education program for its military and praise pro-North Korean activists in the South, he said.
Rebels, government in talks
Negotiators from the government and the country’s largest Muslim rebel group began a fresh round of peace talks in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, aiming to seal an agreement to end 40 years of conflict. Negotiators are closing in on a peace deal after nearly 15 years of violence-interrupted talks. A peace deal with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front would set up an expanded autonomous area for Muslims on Mindanao Island, giving them more political and economic powers including a bigger share in revenues from natural resources and a more active role in internal security. “The road is not that long, but it’s still very hard to tell if we will reach there,” Mohagher Iqbal, the rebels’ chief negotiator, said by text message late on Monday. “But we are close to it.”
Groups slam sentencing
A court yesterday handed two Frenchmen partially suspended two-year prison sentences for sexually abusing teenage boys, a punishment criticized as too lenient by the victims’ lawyer. Denis Page, 63, and Jean Vidon, 67, were arrested on Oct. 25 last year for paying for sex with the boys aged 15 and 17 in a hotel room in Battambang Province. The court ordered them to serve one year in jail from the day of their arrest and suspended the remaining year, meaning they could soon be released although the boys could appeal the verdict. “I’m not satisfied because the sentences are lenient. I will discuss it with my clients and we may appeal,” the victims’ lawyer said. The defendants denied having sex with the boys and said they had brought them to their hotel to perform massages, according to anti-pedophile group Action Pour Les Enfants, which monitored the case.
Retired general attacked
Retired Indian Lieutenant General Kuldeep Singh Brar, who helped lead a deadly 1984 raid on Sikhism’s holiest shrine in India, has been stabbed and wounded in London, in what he said was an assassination attempt. Brar, 78, was set upon by four men and slashed in the neck as he walked with his wife near Oxford Street on Sunday. He was treated in a hospital and released.