The 2016 presidential race in the Philippines looked like the perfect time for Rodrigo Duterte to come to power. The country was coming off of Noynoy Aquino’s soft and ineffectual presidency, and there was a sweeping sense that voters were keen on the unconventional. In stepped Duterte, who spoke
On 20 March, the Philippine government’s National Task Force for the West Philippine Sea reported that more than 200 Chinese fishing vessels, with suspected members of China’s maritime militia on board, had congregated around Juan Felipe Reef (aka Whitsun Reef) and appeared to be neither
A handwritten slogan can be spotted on cardboard posters at stalls across the Philippines: “Give according to your means, take according to your need.” These are makeshift community pantries, ad hoc efforts that provide free items such as rice, vegetables, canned goods and even facemasks
It’s hard to tell whether the Philippine government intentionally sought to mark exactly one year since 15 March 2020 Metro Manila Covid lockdown by tightening quarantine restrictions once again, first on 15 March and then further on 22 March. New Covid cases have been piling up at
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte’s six-year term is drawing to a close in 2022, and under the current constitution, he isn’t eligible for re-election. Incumbent leaders have been known to endorse a successor leading up to the voting, but only one president* has ever been succeeded by
A civil war has been going on in the Philippines for over 50 years, waged by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) with the armed guerrillas of the New People’s Army (NPA). The rebels boast a strength spread across 73 out of the country’s 81 provinces. Every president since the conflict
Since coming to office, President Rodrigo Duterte has largely ignored the 2016 arbitration award made in favour of the Philippines under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which invalidated China’s nine-dash line claim in the South China Sea. But in an astounding turnaround,
President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines addressed the United Nations General Assembly last month, the first time he has done so since he assumed office in 2016. During his speech, Duterte said that the “Philippines will continue to protect the human rights of its
As early as April, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte set a P50 million (A$1.45 million) reward for anyone who comes up with a vaccine for Covid-19. Since then, Duterte has assured the public that inoculations for the virus will soon be readily available. The administration went so far as to
Earlier this month, days after Manila went back into a hard lockdown due to a sharp rise in Covid-19 infections, unidentified assailants slipped past the Philippine capital’s strict quarantine measures and approached the home of Randall Echanis, a left-wing party leader and longtime activist. When
Rodrigo Duterte assumed the Philippines presidency in 2016 with a promise to promote an “independent” foreign policy. Yet as he detaches the Philippines from the United States, Duterte is seemingly yielding to China. His own statements exposed the irony of his supposed independent approach when
The Philippine House of Representatives opened the second regular session of congress last month, with some legislators looking to kick-start the controversial process of amending the constitution. Charter change – or “cha-cha”, as locals put it – has been part of President Rodrigo Duterte
After almost four months of lockdown measures due to Covid-19, the Philippines government in June eased restrictions for the majority of the country. But even as public transport systems slowly got back to running, something was missing: the distinctive jeepneys, still banned from plying their trade
The Covid-19 pandemic is affecting democracies in the Asia-Pacific region in ways that demand Australian attention.
The ability to weather a crisis of this magnitude depends upon partnerships and collaboration – economic, social and political – with key countries in the region. These
In the midst of a delicate war-to-peace transition, still punctuated by military operations, attacks from militant groups and vendettas between feuding clans, the newly created autonomous region of Bangsamoro, in the southern Philippines, is now living in fear of Covid-19. While the extent of the
Flaviano Villanueva was in tears last Thursday. It was day five of the “enhanced community quarantine” in Metro Manila, where the priest runs a homeless centre. The sprawling Philippine capital of 13 million people had been sealed off, and police and army troopers were guarding municipal
The announcement by the Duterte administration last month that it will terminate the 1998 Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement will likely also raise questions about the future of the Australia-Philippines political and security relationship. Australia and the US are the only two countries that
Democracy in the Philippines turned 34 last week. The nation commemorated the peaceful mass demonstration that ousted the dictator Ferdinand Marcos from power.
A group of protesters wore facemasks to protect themselves from the “Duterte virus” infecting the majority of Filipinos who
The termination of the 1998 Philippines-US Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) initiated by the Duterte administration will mark a historic disruption of American power projection in the Asia-Pacific, and deal a serious blow to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea–based maritime order
It would almost seem nothing could further divide politics and society in the Philippines – and then the coronavirus arrived. Only three cases have been confirmed in the country, but rampant fears and unchecked anxieties are playing into the existing division.
The first half of President Rodrigo
Martial law was lifted in the southern Philippines island of Mindanao on 1 January, an indication of what a military spokesperson called an “improved security climate” in the region. The move, in theory, ends 31 months of heightened military presence on the island, put into effect in May 2017,
I still remember the last time I saw Marlene Esperat. How could I not? She was wearing a red dress and matching high-heeled shoes. Her eyes sparkled with glittery makeup.
Marlene was a journalist in the province of Sultan Kudarat, on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao, where she exposed
Mindanao has always been a militarised zone due to the combined influence of insurgency, high criminality, and clan violence. Yet the five-month Marawi siege in 2017 and the aftermath has further amplified what can be best described as a “securitised” state. More than 12,000 troops were deployed
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is scheduled to arrive in China on Wednesday for his fifth presidential visit to China in less than three years. His predecessor, President Benigno Aquino III, made only one trip to China, in 2011. China is Duterte’s most visited presidential destination.
The recent declaration of a national dengue fever epidemic in the Philippines has sounded a public-health alarm in the Western Pacific, as cases of the tropical virus continue to rise throughout the region.
The statement by the Philippines Department of Health earlier this month follows a
On 28 June, two suicide bombers carried out an attack in the Philippines, targeting the headquarters of 1st Brigade Combat Team (BCT) in Indanan, Sulu. Days later, one of the suicide attackers was identified as Norman Lasuca, a 23 year-old resident of Jolo, now considered the first Filipino to be
It has been an unusually intense time for elections across Southeast Asia in the past year with both a stunning upset and more predictable returns of incumbents.
But the striking thing from a quick tour of some of the main battlefields is how the general absence of clear policy reform debate in
For more than 50 years, the Philippine insurgent group the New People’s Army has sought to foment a communist revolution in the rural regions across the country. The group has sustained itself by recruiting or coercing the support of local villages within designated regional commands.
Last Wednesday, two days after the Philippines mid-term elections, the loose coalition of forces that amounts to an opposition were having a crisis meeting.
They were moving quickly for fear of what convenor Corazon “Dinky” Soliman described as a “horror scenario” – that the vice
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte is notorious for exhibiting an unconventional diplomatic style and in recent weeks, ahead of local elections, he has picked a new foe. Duterte has been trash-talking the Canadian government – quite literally – insisting that containers of rubbish sent from
In Manila’s most densely-populated and poorest district of Tondo the fight for the mayor of the city is a loud one. For 10 hours, voters line the halls of Manuel L. Quezon Elementary School in the middle of the district. Hundreds of voters will have their say in the Philippines’ midterm
As the Philippines gears up for 13 May midterm elections, debate over Manila’s strategic alignment between China and the US has been one area of serious contestation. Opponents of President Rodrigo Duterte have criticised his government’s decision to sign a memorandum of understanding
The Philippine government’s premature declaration that Indonesians were the perpetrators of the Jolo cathedral bombing has set back the prospects for regional cooperation on terrorism and reinforced a perception among Indonesian counterparts of the Philippines as an unreliable and unprofessional
On 29 January, over 24 hours after Datu Jomorito Guaynon and Ireneo Udarbe were reported missing in downtown Cagayan de Oro, local police in northern Mindanao announced that the two activists had been arrested.
Udarbe and Guaynon are both regional leaders organising Lumads (a catch-all Visayan
Mindanao, the region in southern Philippines, rarely on the international agenda for good news, enjoyed a win last month. A resounding Yes vote in support of a new law based on a comprehensive peace plan sent a clear message that the people of the Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao (ARMM) see
The horrific bombing of the cathedral in Jolo last Sunday underscores the need for the Philippines government to understand more about the operations of pro-ISIS groups in Mindanao. The best way to get that information is to find, arrest, and debrief the perpetrators of violent extremist crimes.
Last month, at his end-of-year press conference, the Philippine Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana called for a review of the 1951 US-Philippine Mutual Defense Treaty (MDT). Under the terms of this treaty, either side can unilaterally withdraw.
When asked if post-review options
Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte is a very different leader than his predecessor, Benigno Aquino III.
Duterte has expressed his love for Xi Jinping. Aquino took China to court. Aquino significantly enhanced Philippine-US relations during the Obama administration. Duterte called Obama a “son
Who is right in the territorial dispute between the Philippines and Malaysia over Sabah is a question best not asked. In answer, each side will reaffirm their absolute sovereign claim to Sabah, on the northern part of the island of Borneo, and mutual recriminations will result.
My visit to Marawi city in June has left me with a profound sense of sadness. The enormous task of reconstructing a once-bustling Philippine city hangs heavily over the Task Force Bangon Marawi interagency committee. Apart from rehabilitation and compensation for damage lost
When President Rodrigo Duterte visited the People’s Republic of China (PRC) in October 2016, he came home with an agreement that earmarked US$24 billion worth of Chinese foreign direct investment (FDI) and overseas development aid for the Philippines. Many of the deals were eventually
Many local and international observers have denounced Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s conduct towards China as “appeasement” after he took the view there was nothing the Philippines could do to stop China’s militarisation in the South China Sea. Duterte’s defeatist attitude,
On 11 May the Philippine Supreme Court removed its own Chief Justice, Maria Lourdes Sereno, from office. Sereno, the first woman to hold that position, was dismissed on a vote of 8–6 through a quo warranto proceeding – a legal procedure for removing public officials on the grounds that
Unfortunately for the Philippines, the country has a lot of experience rebuilding major urban areas after catastrophic natural disasters or man-made destruction.
In 2013, Zamboanga City in Mindanao suffered widespread damage during a 20-day siege, and later Tacloban City was devastated by Super
A new normal is evident in the South China Sea disputes.
Last week, Philippine Secretary of Defense Delfin Lorenzana revealed that China continues to exchange radio challenges and responses with Philippine aircraft patrols and resupply missions in the West Philippine Sea. With Manila keen to
Imagine this. China builds a military base on the Australian continental shelf off, say, Cairns. Then, according to the Australian prime minister, China threatens a military response should Australia attempt to exercise its maritime rights in accordance with a unanimous international
Rodrigo Duterte, President of the Philippines, is a quarter of the way through his single six-year term under the current constitution. So far, he is changing the office of the president and the Philippine political system much more than it is changing him. The checks and balances that are
Close observers of ASEAN's peak summitry often note the blandness of the final communiqués. The forum remains crippled by the consensus-based nature of decision-making and a policy of non-interference in the domestic affairs of member states. So while some may talk up big statements on
President Duterte returned last night from a three-day working visit to Japan, his second bilateral trip to Tokyo since taking office in June 2016. This visit took place only two weeks before Duterte and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will rub shoulders at the APEC meeting in Danang and Duterte