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Philippine leader Duterte withdraws from Senate race in latest flip-flop

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on Tuesday withdrew his senatorial candidacy in next year’s elections in his latest change of mind over what he plans to do after his turbulent term ends, when critics say he would likely face an array of lawsuits for an anti-drugs crackdown that has left thousands of mostly petty suspects killed.

Accompanied by his executive secretary and security escorts, the 76-year-old Duterte went to the Commission on Elections in Manila and withdrew as a senatorial candidate.

His former aide, Sen. Bong Go, separately appeared at the elections commission earlier on Tuesday to withdraw his presidential candidacy, which he said his family opposed.

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Duterte did not give any reason for the move but his spokesman, Karlo Nograles, said it would allow the president to better focus on managing the pandemic in the country and ensuring that the May elections would be peaceful and orderly.

Known for his extra tough approach to criminality, Duterte launched a police-enforced campaign against illegal drugs when he took office in June 2016. The crackdown has left more than 6,000 mostly petty suspects dead based on police figures.

Manila-based analyst Richard Heydarian, however, said Duterte’s latest move showed how the president, who faces potential criminal suits after his presidency for his deadly anti-drugs campaign, seemed to have lost his political footing after his plan to ensure a friendly succession next year caved in.

“Duterte is really scrambling for any kind of leverage in next year’s elections,” Heydarian said. “His initial plan to engineer a succession for one of his anointed successors is now totally out of the window.”

Duterte initially wanted his daughter, Mayor Sara Duterte of southern Davao city, to succeed him but she refused to run for the presidency amid unspecified differences with her father. She later decided on her own to run as the vice-presidential running mate of Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late Philippine dictator.

The president later encouraged Go, his former longtime aide who is now a senator, to run for president. But Go eventually backed out, saying he did not aspire to be president and that his family opposed his presidential candidacy.

Duterte originally considered running for the vice presidency but later dropped the plan, saying he planned to retire when his term ends and added that surveys showed most Filipinos did not support such a move.

Philippine presidents are constitutionally limited to a single, six-year term and Duterte’s initial plan to seek the vice presidency sparked a debate about the legality of such a move, which could have seen him catapulted back to the top position if the next president dies or becomes incapacitated for any reason.

Duterte then filed his candidacy for a Senate seat last month, walking back on his earlier vow to retire from politics after his presidential term ends.

Human rights groups said last month that Duterte was somehow bracing to evade accountability for rights abuses while in power by planning to remain in public office.

Deaths linked to Duterte's anti-drugs campaign has sparked alarm in Washginton, and led to an International Criminal Court investigation. The ICC probe has been temporarily suspended at the request of the Duterte administration.

At least five key candidates are running to succeed Duterte, including Vice President Leni Robredo, who leads the opposition, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator, who was toppled in a 1986 “people power” pro-democracy uprising. Robredo narrowly defeated Marcos Jr. in the 2016 vice presidential race in an outcome that he unsuccessfully challenged.

Read more: Filipino official says journalist’s Nobel Prize not a slap on Duterte

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Almarai signs an MoU with the Authority of People with Disabilities to train and employ them.

Almarai Company signed a memorandum of understanding with the Authority of People with
Disabilities to train, qualify and employ persons with disabilities. This came on the sidelines of
the First International Labor Market Conference, organized by the Ministry of Human Resources
and Social Development on December 13 – 14, 2023, at the King Abdulaziz Convention Center
in Riyadh.

The memorandum was signed by the Chief Human Resources Officer of Almarai Company,
Fahad Mohammed Aldrees, and the CEO of the Authority of People with Disabilities, Dr.
Hisham bin Muhammad Al-Haidari.

“This agreement comes within the framework of the company’s social responsibility program, as
Almarai employs more than 500 people with disabilities, which is one of the most suitable work
environments for them.” Fahad Aldrees said. Pointing out that Almarai has the “Silent Line”,
which is one of its production lines that is designated for people with hearing disabilities.

It is worth mentioning that Almarai supports over 300 charity organizations annually across the
kingdom that operate in the field of community development.

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Central Phuket Shopping Center Prepared Surprises This Christmas & New Year 2024

Central Phuket Shopping Center, the luxury lifestyle landmark o Phuket, invites everyone to celebrate Christmas and New Year 2024 in The Great Celebration 2024 Campaign. Joining hands with global partner ‘The Pokémon Company’, Central Phuket bring over Pokémon, the super cute character popular around the world, for all locals and international fans. The special campaign launch presents a procession of cute ‘Pikachu’ alongside with the giant Christmas tree for the first time in Thailand.
This December, Central Phuket prepared many activities for shoppers when visiting Phuket! Experience the “Surprise of the Day” with free Cotton Candy for our little ones, a sweet and fluffy treat, a special gift from Central Phuket. Bring your kids to enjoy this sweet treat every Saturday and Sunday throughout the month of December. Don’t miss the Christmas Carol that
everyone loves, little Santas spread freshness by singing together in the Christmas Carol activity. Plus, Christmas Live Music, the festival of joy is back! Celebrate Christmas in a luxurious and classy atmosphere, enjoying the music that will bring us joy. Also, there will be Christmas Troop, Santa Claus is coming to town! The Santa troop will spread happiness throughout Central Phuket. Lastly, Cake Workshop, workshop activity with Chef Sebastien’s IRON CHEF Thailand teaching how to make Christmas Vanilla Cake. A special activity for the Christmas season. Moreover, Central Phuket provides special promotion exclusively for international tourists throughout December 23 – January 24 including:

1) Get Free! Tourist welcome discount package valued up to THB 10,000.
2) Receive THB 100 Gift voucher when spending up to THB 2,500 per receipt.
3) Get to buy ‘Happy Holiday Collections’ special price: Pokémon 2-in-1 pillow blanket, tumbler, travel bag set, and keychain. Visit redemption counter for the price.
4) Exclusive for Grab Users get discount code up to 25% off* when traveling to participating Central Shopping Centers.
5) Receive famous Elephant Pants when spending over THB 5,000 in shopping center.
6) Get Free! H&M THB 100 gift voucher when booking any accommodations in Phuket with Agoda. Terms and conditions apply.

Central Phuket is a home of global luxury brands such as Alexander McQueen, Balenciaga, Ermenegildo Zegna, Gucci, Hermès, Louis Vuitton, and Saint Laurent. Exclusive for this season, Louis Vuitton launches a pop-up store located at Central Phuket. The design is inspired by the story of Damier or Checkerboard, the brand’s signature pattern. This classic pattern was created by Louis
Vuitton and his son Georges Vuitton in 1888 and has always been part of the design of Maison’s iconic items and concepts. Find clothes, shoes, bags, and accessories for men at the Pop-up Store from Louis Vuitton at Central Phuket, 1st floor, from today until 31 March 2024. And with over 500 renowned fashion brands and lifestyle shops ranging from local to international
well-known brands covering all categories, international shoppers will be able to find what they are looking for in Central Phuket.
Central Phuket is located in the heart of one of the world’s most famous beach cities, Phuket and await to welcome both locals and international visitors this holiday. Also, don’t miss one of the most joyful New Year Count Down events in Phuket city at Central Phuket Shopping Center on December 31, 2023.

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Saudi Fund for Development Provides $100 Million Development Loan for the Rogun Hydropower Project

The Saudi Fund for Development (SFD) Chief Executive Officer, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, signed a new development loan agreement with the Minister of Finance of the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Kahhorzoda Fayziddin Sattor, through which SFD is contributing $100 million USD to fund the Rogun Hydropower Project, a landmark initiative that will enhance energy,
food, and water security, and foster sustainable development in the country. The signing was attended by the Ambassador of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to the Republic of Tajikistan, H.E. Waleed Al-Reshiadan, and the Ambassador of Tajikistan to Saudi Arabia, H.E. Akram Karimi, alongside other officials from both sides. SFD’s development loan will help contribute towards a more sustainable and equitable food and water future for Tajikistan, while driving the country’s energy transition and climate resilience. The project aims to contribute to the national energy security and will help advance sustainable
development in the Republic of Tajikistan, by providing the renewable electricity supply to meet local demand and expand electricity production domestically and regionally, producing 3600 MW of energy. The loan agreement will also finance the construction of a 335-meter-tall dam, which will enhance irrigation capabilities and bolster agricultural activities across the country. Additionally, the project will improve flood protection through the construction of four hydraulic
tunnels for diversion and drainage. It will also provide clean and drinkable water to people through desalination, and help advance socio-economic development, by creating both direct and indirect jobs.
Importantly, this project also supports the realization of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); specifically, SDG 2, Zero Hunger, SDG 6, Clean Water and Sanitation, and SDG 7, Affordable and Clean Energy.
On this occasion, the CEO of SFD, H.E. Sultan Al-Marshad, said: “Today’s signing marks a major milestone in our shared journey towards a more sustainable future. With this landmark development loan, SFD is not just supporting Tajikistan’s energy future, but also its sustainable development and the well-being of its people. The Rogun Hydropower Project is a beacon of
hope for a bright future that is powered by clean, renewable energy. It will propel Tajikistan towards environmental stewardship and prosperity.”

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