Philippine Elections Under Fire

Under normal circumstances, when fire destroys a decrepit, decades-old building already condemned as a fire hazard, people might jump to the logical conclusion – this was a disaster waiting to happen. But this is the Philippines. And two months before Election Day, the gutted building happens to be the office of the Commission on Elections…

Philippines Release Report on Political Killings

Responding to pressure from the United Nations and domestic critics, the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo relented Thursday and released an official report critical of the role of the Philippine military in a spate of murders of political activists. The release came a day after the UN Special Rapporteur on political killings had criticized…

Arroyo Backed into a Corner Over Assassinations

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo may be on a collision course with her military establishment after she succumbed to international pressure Wednesday and ordered the release of a critical report into a continuing plague of political assassinations of leftist organizers. Following harsh criticism early in the day from a senior UN official over the killings,…

The Blood Politics of the Philippines

I am a warlord's daughter, granddaughter, niece, cousin, relative, and friend. On my bloodline I blame the deaths of hundreds of men in Abra. But I am powerless to undo what members of my clan have wrought. Many times I have cursed my forefathers for the tragedy of living in a place that is beautiful…

Flight Plans

In the end it was a minor incident, something that perhaps could be put down to crossed signals or miscommunication but when it came to light Sunday that a commercial airliner running out of fuel had to be diverted from landing in Manila because President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s official Lear Jet was preparing to take her…

Good Eats

By the time you get 45 kilometers up the potholed and traffic-choked Emilio Aguinaldo Highway into the Cavite highlands south of Manila, and your knuckles are locked onto the steering wheel so that your companions have to get the tire iron out of the boot to pry them off, it’s probably a good time to…

Criminal Rape or Philippine Nationalism?

Sympathizing with convicted rapists is more controversial than appealing for the release of journalists accused of revealing state secrets but it is hard not to see the reflection of the tortured state of Philippine-American relations in the case of US Marine Lance Corporal Daniel Smith. This 21-year-old was recently sentenced to 40 years in jail…

The Philippines in a Holiday Mess

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo was busy part of this week filming her annual holiday message to the nation. Clad in a pink pants suit, she posed in a life-size manger on the grounds of the Presidential Palace, complete with Mary and Joseph and the Three Wise Men. Surrounded by Christmas kitsch, Arroyo may be hoping that…

Asean Caves In to the Bad Guys

Gone are the days when the Association of Southeast Asian Nations was steered by Indonesia's Suharto, Singapore's Lee Kuan Yew, and Malaysia's Mahathir Mohamad. Call them dictators or whatever you like, but to be sure, these leaders did lead Asean and made it a real entity in world affairs. A case in point was the…

Should the Philippines Cha Cha?

Lawmakers allied to beleaguered Philippine President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo are attempting to use sheer political muscle to change the constitution — Cha-Cha or charter change in local parlance—in record time. Arroyo loyalists said Monday they would press ahead with a “marathon” session of Congress this week to pass an administration-backed proposal to give the Philippines a…