Julie McCarthy

If there is such a thing as a model citizen, Quimberly "Kym" Villamer might qualify.

She's a dynamo in a five-foot-one-inch frame.

"Excited," she says, to vote in her first U.S. presidential election, Villamer is part of the huge diaspora from the Philippines who have moved abroad for a chance at a more prosperous life.

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Why would the president of the Philippines pardon a U.S. Marine? President Rodrigo Duterte acted in the case of an American convicted of killing a transgender woman. NPR's Julie McCarthy reports that justice may have had little to do with it.

Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte has granted "an absolute pardon" to U.S. Lance Cpl. Joseph Scott Pemberton convicted of killing a transgender woman in 2014.

The surprise move to free the 25-year-old American Marine comes just days after the president's office said it would intervene to block his early release.

The pardon has angered Philippine nationalists who resent the U.S., and gay and transgender groups who fear the decision encourages hate crimes against them.

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JULIE MCCARTHY, BYLINE: A stretcher rattles...

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MCCARTHY: ...In New York City's Presbyterian Queens Hospital.

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Updated at 5:12 p.m. ET

Petitions have piled up at the Philippines' Supreme Court to overturn a new anti-terrorism law championed by President Rodrigo Duterte, which could jail suspects without charge for weeks.

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In the Philippines, the government of President Rodrigo Duterte says a new law is needed to fight terrorists. His opponents say that law could be used to suppress activists and ordinary citizens. Here's NPR's Julie McCarthy.

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Weeks after declaring victory over the pandemic, China is fighting it again. The latest high-profile outbreak is in the capital, Beijing. NPR's Emily Feng reports.

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In Indonesia, the world's largest Muslim country, this weekend's Eid al-Fitr holiday marking the end of the holy month of Ramadan will involve mass travel, raising concerns about the effect it may have on the country's COVID-19 infection rates.

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As COVID-19 sweeps through many of the world's prisons and jails, the Philippine Supreme Court has ordered the release of nearly 10,000 inmates in one of the world's most congested prison systems.

Chief Justice Diosdado M. Peralta said in the order, released over the weekend, that granting bail and releasing indigent prisoners on "recognizance" would help staunch the spread of the novel coronavirus that has infected both prisoners and staff.

With many countries reeling from the COVID-19 pandemic, New Zealand is proving a model of recovery and is lifting part of its strict lockdown.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has applied her trademark empathy to rally her country of 5 million to attempt what few states have tried: eradicate, not just mitigate, the novel coronavirus.

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In the Philippines, doctors who have treated patients with COVID-19 are dying in alarming numbers. Fourteen physicians who died tested positive for the virus and four more are suspected of succumbing to it, according to the Philippine Medical Association.

As the pandemic sweeps through the Philippines, confirmed cases of COVID-19 are rising by the hundreds each day. On Friday, 385 new cases were reported, and 29 deaths, the highest for a single day. Total confirmed cases have crossed the 3,000 mark, with 136 total deaths.

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In the Philippines, Congress granted President Rodrigo Duterte special temporary powers on Tuesday to manage the COVID-19 crisis that continues to surge in the country of 110 million people.

To date, there are 552 confirmed cases, and 35 deaths.

The measure granting Duterte the new powers was the first to be approved by Philippine lawmakers using Zoom, the remote teleconferencing service, and puts the country under a "state of national emergency."

The world's fourth most populous country is bracing for a spike in cases of coronavirus infection, after health experts say a sluggish government response has masked the serious of the outbreak.

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Updated at 9:30 a.m. ET

At the direction of President Rodrigo Duterte, a fierce critic of the United States, the Philippines announced Tuesday that it would scrap a security pact that allows American forces to train there.

Duterte's foreign secretary, Teodoro Locsin Jr., tweeted Tuesday that the Visiting Forces Agreement with the U.S. would be terminated — a move that could have consequences for a counterinsurgency against Islamist extremists in the country's south.

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Updated at 12:15 p.m. ET

A volcano that has thrown a blanket of ash over much of the Philippines' main island of Luzon in recent days is somewhat quieter, but tremors continued and authorities warned people that a deadly new eruption was still possible.

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A brief period of calm in Hong Kong is over.

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INSKEEP: Demonstrators protested in major malls, scuffling with police and members of the public. NPR's Julie McCarthy reports on how Hong Kong's year is ending.

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