Manila Gets Its US Protector Back

Manila Gets Its US Protector BackWay out in the South China Sea, a Philippine Air Force twin-engine Islander aircraft regularly drones out to drop parachutes bearing two dozen takeout meals for a Marine platoon stationed on a beached, dilapidated WWII tank carrier. It has come to symbolize the Philippines’ stance as the underdog in a territorial dispute with China. In…

Mr. Obama’s Asian Vacation

Mr. Obama’s Asian VacationUS President Barack Obama ended his four-nation tour of Asia last week, insisting, yet again, that the US is not out to confront China. “Our goal is not to contain China,” he said at a press conference in Manila, just before he left. “Our goal is to make sure international rules and norms are respected,…

Filipina Reformers Collect Powerful Scalps

Filipina Reformers Collect Powerful ScalpsThe decision by a five-member special panel to prefer charges against three of the Philippines’ most prominent members of the 24-person Senate is almost unprecedented, and it leaves the Philippine political community in disarray. Indictments of as many as seven politicians are expected eventually, analysts in Manila say. Although others have been indicted in the…

US Nears Defense Pact with Philippines

US Nears Defense Pact with PhilippinesIn 1991, when the Philippine Congress forced the United States out of the military bases that they had occupied since 1898, they left. But when they did, they went to Leyte and picked up the bronze statues of Gen. Douglas MacArthur and the landing party that had accompanied him on MacArthur’s famed October, 1944 return…

Historic Peace Agreement in Philippines

Historic Peace Agreement in PhilippinesThe signing of a comprehensive peace agreement between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front Thursday is a major triumph for President Benigno S. Aquino III, a landmark accord that hopefully will put an end to one of the longest-running armed conflicts in Southeast Asia. "I will not let peace be snatched from…

Expect Justice Long Delayed in Philippine Pork Barrel Case

Expect Justice Long Delayed in Philippine Pork Barrel CaseThe massive “pork barrel” scandal in the Philippines has outraged the public, implicated powerful politicians and led to televised senate hearings that have revealed a tide of evidence that would seem ironclad. But given the pace of justice in the country’s notoriously slow courts it seems likely that none of the lawmakers accused of lining…

Filipino Land Reform Still Tardy in Tarlac

Filipino Land Reform Still Tardy in TarlacDespite a 2012 Philippine Supreme Court order requiring the family of President Benigno S. Aquino III to redistribute its vast Hacienda Luisita sugar plantation to poor farmers, critics say the pace of divestiture is slow and that redistribution targets are not being met. Nor, say activists, is the powerful Cojuangco dynasty alone. They say the…

A Strike Against Abu Sayyaf

A Strike Against Abu Sayyaf  Najar Hajad is known by the nom de guerre Marlboro, the head of a Sulu Archipelago village militia that clashed with radical Abu Sayyaf rebels in what has become major news – a local rebellion against what is increasingly regarded as a criminal enterprise rather than an ethnic or religious movement. In the past…

Asean’s Weak Haiyan Response

Asean’s Weak Haiyan ResponseLê Lương Minh, the secretary general of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, arrived in the Philippines today to inspect the damage from Super Typhoon Haiyan/Yolanda, which made landfall on Nov. 8 – two full weeks after the storm smashed into the center of the country and killed more than 5,000 people. There are 381,022…

Heavy Lift in Leyte

Heavy Lift in LeyteJust over a month ago, US President Barack Obama skipped the APEC summit in Bali and the Asean summit in Brunei, leaving the stage clear for China’s President Xi Jinping to make nice and sign deals, while editorial writers pondered over the declining power of the United States. It seemed to some that Obama’s decision…