An Irrelevant ASEAN Limps to a Filipino Gala

An Irrelevant ASEAN Limps to a Filipino GalaAnybody wondering what useful came out of the 2017 Association of Southeast Asian Nations leaders’ summit in Manila over the weekend may read this brief communique. The answer is clear: very little besides what appears to have been quite a party. We, the Heads of State/Government of ASEAN Member States, gathered for the 30th ASEAN Summit…

Impeachment Mania in Manila

Impeachment Mania in ManilaFor the first time, the Philippines’ two highest officials face the threat of impeachment in the House of Representatives. President Rodrigo Duterte faces an impeachment complaint filed on March 16 by a bemedaled former putschist-turned-congressman, Gary Lejano, while Vice-President Leni Robredo faces one filed on March 20 by a perennial candidate, Marcos loyalist and political…

Philippines’ Duterte Buckles to China

Philippines’ Duterte Buckles to ChinaA submerged extinct volcanic ridge at least 3,000 meters underwater that is 350 km. east of the Philippines’ coast appears likely to be the next flashpoint between Manila and Beijing, at least partly because the Duterte administration is at sea over strategy. On March 9, Delfin Lorenzana, the Philippines Defense Secretary, told reporters that satellite…

No Conclusive End to Filipino Demonstrations

No Conclusive End to Filipino DemonstrationsAround this time of the year, a date that coincides with a massive revolt that ended the Marcos dictatorship in 1986, Filipinos tend to try to take stock of their country. On Sunday Feb. 25, there were demonstrations on either side of the capital Manila – one that wanted to hold steadfast to the gains…

Philippines’ de Lima Arrest may Signal Wreckage of Pork Barrel Case

Philippines’ de Lima Arrest may Signal Wreckage of Pork Barrel CaseThere is rising concern in Manila that President Rodrigo Duterte is about to wreck the prosecution of one of the biggest scandals in the history of the Philippines, a country replete with huge scandals. On Feb. 15, the country’s solicitor general, Jose Calida, in effect nullified a guilty verdict by a local court in a…

Asia in 2016: Philippines

Asia in 2016: PhilippinesThe Philippines has endured a turbulent year under Rodrigo Duterte, who assumed the country’s presidency from June 30. His agenda, which has included extra-judicial killings as part of a war on drugs and sidelining the United States as an ally, has put the Philippines back in the headlines. The controversial campaign against drugs, in which…

Philippines’ Duterte a Drug User Himself

Philippines’ Duterte a Drug User HimselfSo now we know what has long been suspected: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has a history of drug dependence greater than that of most of the 6,000 or so murdered during his anti-drug campaign.  Duterte has admitted past regular use (and over-use) of Fentanyl, the most powerful of all the opioids known. It is far…

Is the Philippines Tiring of Duterte?

Is the Philippines Tiring of Duterte?The stage, one cloudy afternoon at the military headquarters at Camp Aguinaldo in Quezon City, gave a picture of Philippine politics as it stands. There was President Rodrigo Duterte who for the second time that day was churning out his oft-repeated and by-now familiar rambling monologue on his anti-drug campaign. And there behind him sat…

Duterte’s Long Game: Marcos Family Return, Critics say

Duterte’s Long Game: Marcos Family Return, Critics sayThe ugly divide between Rodrigo Duterte and Vice President Leni Robredo, which culminated last week with his kicking her out of cabinet meetings, is raising concerns that his long game is to eventually turn the presidency over to a close ally, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. There is little doubt that Marcos is at the center…

Marrakech Climate Talks Thrown into Confusion by US Election

Marrakech Climate Talks Thrown into Confusion by US ElectionNews broke that Donald Trump had won the US presidential election on the third day of United Nations-sponsored annual talks on climate change in Marrakesh, Morocco. Given Trump’s inflammatory rhetoric calling global warming a Chinese plot, understandably the news came as a shock. Hundreds of delegates are attending the 22nd session of the Conference of…