Some Thursday ASEAN links:
Mexico’s notorious Sinaloa drug cartel – the United States’ largest supplier of illegal narcotics – recently surfaced in the Philippines, with a National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) raid on Christmas Day breaking up an alleged trafficking ring in Lipa City.
According to the NBI director, Virgilio Mendez, two Canadian citizens and a Filipino who were arrested in the raid are now the target of Sinaloa cartel hitmen.
“We received reliable intelligence report about the supposed assassins,” Mendez told The Inquirer. “Pending our own validation, we have alerted concerned agencies of the supposed assassins.”
Mendez added that the hired guns may already be in the country.
Security details have been tightened at the locations where the jailed cartel members are being held. The NBI antinarcotics department has shown photos of the alleged hitmen to members of the press, but has refused to allow their publication.
The assassins were likely hired over fears that the captured underlings might divulge sensitive information about the cartel’s illicit operations in the Philippines – and perhaps elsewhere in Southeast Asia.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came to the support of beaten and bruised maid Erwiana Sulistyaningsih. The 23-year-old housekeeper was allegedly tortured at the hands of her Hong Kong employer, drawing international outrage at the exploitation of cheap domestic labor.
“In his first publicized comments on the case, Yudhoyono insisted that ‘the law will be upheld’ during a phone call with the maid,” reported The New York Times.
Sulistyaningsih is currently being treated at a hospital in central Java. A 44-year-old woman was arrested by Hong Kong police in connection with the alleged physical abuse, which left the housekeeper unable to walk.
Thousands of migrant domestic workers took to the streets of Hong Kong on Sunday in a show of solidarity with Sulistyaningsih.
Over in Thailand, the National Army Chief has said that the military will intervene against antigovernment protests if local police become overwhelmed. The capital, now under a state of emergency, remains crippled by massive civilian rallies and outbursts of violence.
“Police officers will be mainly responsible for enforcing the [state of emergency] and can request military reinforcements, if needed,” General Prayuth Chan-ocha told The Bangkok Post. “We’ll see whether the state of emergency will produce positive results or more violence, and if the situation does get out of hand it might be necessary for the army to step in and settle the problem. I’m worried about the social divisions, especially between police and protesters.”
General Prayuth called on both sides to seek a peaceful resolution to the gridlock.