Asia in Review Archive (2017)


Date of AiR edition

News summary

Web links

29 December 2017

Philippines: Duterte closes out year with continued popularity

Duterte’s presidency, including the harsh war on drugs, singular leadership style and the heavy use of martial law has not created any significant public backlash. In fact, he remains highly popular enjoying approval rates of around 80% in recent surveys. The Philippine voters seem to be inclined towards a strong type one-man leadership that “ensures law and order” and does not bother too much with other branches of government. Whilst the media appears to remain at least partly free [Freedom House] and keeps reporting on issues for example relating to Duterte’s family, the presidency could be a slippery slope back to more authoritarian times not entirely unknown to the Philippines [Asia Times].

22 December 2017

Philippines: Asia’s ‘deadliest country’ for journalists

President Rodrigo Duterte’s comment that journalists are not exempted from assassination is reflected by the country’s presence among the deadliest countries for reporters in the world in 2017, joining Syria (12 people killed), Mexico (11), Afghanistan (9) and Iraq (8) having risen 11 places to 127th when compared to last year’s index. Altogether 65 journalists were killed in 2017, 26 of them in the course of their work, 39 deliberately targeted [The Philippine Star].

22 December 2017

China-Philippines relations: Nascent defense ties

Beijing and Manila after a break of four years have resumed the annual defense and security consultation (ADST) last week. This move reflects emerging defense ties between the two countries which within the frame of President Duterte’s ‘independent foreign policy’, do not exclude the possibility of stronger ties with Washington [The Diplomat].

15 December 2017

End of Marawi siege does not mean end of martial law

As alluded to in last week’s AiR, the Philippine President has requested an extension of martial law on the island of Mindanao until the end of 2018. Even though IS has been defeated in the city of Marawi, Duterte deems it necessary to keep martial law for means of “rehabilitation”. Human Rights groups have expressed concerns over the long period of martial law requested, but the Philippine Congress is expected to wave it through in accordance with the constitutional provisions enacted after the fall of long term ruler Ferdinand Marcos [The Wall Street Journal].

8 December 2017

War on drugs, communist “terrorists”, Islamist threat, martial law and dead environmentalists

The Philippine police is back in charge of fighting the war on drugs. President Rodrigo Duterte signed an order on Tuesday directing the police to again join the crackdown. In October, Duterte announced that the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) would replace the police in the drug war following mounting public opposition. The October suspension was the second time Duterte had hauled police off the drug war [South China Morning Post]. President Duterte on Tuesday also declared the Communist Party of the Philippines-New People’s Army (CPP-NPA) a terrorist organization under the Human Security Act. The proclamation still has to go through court before the CPP-NPA is officially designated a terrorist organization. Under the Act of 2007, a person found guilty of terrorism should be sentenced to jail for 40 years without parole. Earlier this year, Duterte had suspended peace talks with communist rebels after the NPA increased its offensive against government forces throughout the country [CNN Philippines]. At the same time, Muslim extremists continue to conduct recruitment in Mindanao, despite the liberation of Marawi City from terrorists last month. This development might prolong martial law in the region, government officials said. Earlier this year, President Duterte placed the entire Mindanao under martial law until the end of the year to deal with the crisis and prevent other armed groups from reinforcing the militants or launching similar uprisings elsewhere in the region [The Philippine Star]. The constitutionality of the proclamation of martial law in Mindanao was again upheld by the Supreme Court of the Philippines on Tuesday. The en banc voted 10-3-1 to deny the motions for mootness and lack of merit [Rappler]. Finally, in the Philippines, environmental activists were recorded to have been killed every 12 days in 2016, with only Brazil and Colombia having more murders. The deaths are rising as communities stand up against corrupt politicians and businessmen intent on securing increasingly scarce natural resources [The Straits Times].

1 December 2017

War with communists, more autonomy for Bangsamoro region, and federalization on the horizon

Fifteen communist guerrillas were killed in a clash with Philippine troops south of Manila on Wednesday, the same day that the government closed the door on peace talks with the rebels. Last year, President Rodrigo Duterte moved to start negotiations with the rebels soon after taking office. But the rebels have demanded more and more concessions, including the release of jailed comrades. Last week, Mr. Duterte angrily called off the talks and threatened to put the rebels on a terrorist watch list [New York Times]. Formed in 1969, the communist insurgency has claimed an estimated 30,000 lives on both sides including civilians. Its strength peaked during the time of former dictator Ferdinand Marcos with more than 20,000 fighters. In 2015, the Philippine army estimated its strength at 3,200 fighters and has frequently claimed its “people’s war” is a front for extortion collected as revolutionary taxes [Asia Times]. At the same time, regarding the Bangsamoro region, President Duterte on Monday vowed he would ensure the passage of the long-stalled Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) that would create an expanded Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM). Duterte said that the government would engage not only the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), but also the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and the non-Muslim indigenous peoples. “One republic. No condition. Government must be the sole authority, and we desire it. You’ll have the elected leaders. Whether you like it or not you must have representatives in Congress,” said Duterte [Rappler]. In the Manila Times, Antonio Contreras writes about the painful shift to a federal system of government in the Philippines. He argues that the main challenge will be that in the Philippines, unlike most other federal countries, the component states have not had their own autonomous, or sovereign-like, prior existence. Instead, the Philippines have a strong experience of being under a unitary system of governance, where geopolitical subdivisions existed only as administrative arms of the central government [Manila Times].

24 November 2017

Japan-Philippine relations: Increasing Tokyo’s military assistance

In a move deepening the security cooperation between Japan and the Philippines, Manila has commissioned three new vessels from Japan. This commission follows an earlier order of 10 patrol ships on the basis of an official development loan from Tokyo [The Diplomat].

17 November 2017

Philippines: Situation in Marawi remains uncertain as new resistance groups form

Haironesah Domado argues that the authorities in Marawi face a ticking clock. According to his analysis, there is a heightened risk for evacuees to be radicalized when they feel ignored, undermined, alienated, and excluded. The recent emergence of a new armed group, the Meranao Victims Movement — which claims to represent the rights of the displaced Maranaos —illustrates the consequences of failing to involve and engage evacuees in addressing their own needs [New Mandala].

17 November 2017

Philippines-US relations: Vital for military – less so for trade

US president Donald Trump said that strong US ties with the Philippines were vital for military reasons, as he ended a trip to Manila, the last stop on his tour of Asia: “We have a very, very strong relationship with the Philippines, which is really important: less so for trade, in this case, than for military purposes.” [South China Morning Post 1] Duterte, for his part, seems to have warmed to the United States and President Trump as the current US president did not, as his predecessor had done, remind the Philippine leader to follow the rule of law in tackling the illegal drug trade [New York Times 1]. But the longer-term game for Mr. Duterte has been his determination to court China. A spokesman described his policy as a deliberate turn toward closer relationships with countries in Asia, and with China in particular [New York Times 2]. It is against this background that both the Philippines as well as Vietnam have been wary of Trumps offer to mediate in the South China Sea dispute [South China Morning Post 2]. However, in terms of trade, critics warn that joining the Regional Comprehensive Economic Cooperation (RCEP) that includes major players such as China, India, Japan and South Korea would be a “suicide plan” [Inquirer].

10 November 2017

The country’s two tales

The Philippines are currently the fastest growing ASEAN nation, President Duterte’s approval ratings remain high and Marawi has been reclaimed. The rather rosy picture however, is built on a bloody war on drugs that does not remain without critics, a siege of ISIS militants that showcased the difficulties of the Philippine Armed Forces and a number of deals struck with a rising China that some observers call ‘unbalanced’. Duterte’s single six-year term approaches its first quarter and it is questionable whether both his support and economic growth remain strong [East Asia Forum]. Former President Benigno Aquino in the meantime, faces criminal investigations as he is charged with usurpation of authority, as well as graft and corruption [Reuters].

10 November 2017

The Philippines: No occupation of any “new” territory in the South China Sea

Philippine constructions on a newly built sandbar have drawn strong condemnation from China as it violates an agreement by the two countries not to occupy any new territory. Philippine President Duterte ordered a stop to the construction of a rather insignificant structure there, highlighting the need for a thoughtful mechanism to deal with these type of incidents as and when they occur [The Straits Times].

10 November 2017

Islamic State

The recent battle against ISIS in Marawi has been long and difficult for the Philippines. However, it has not only been won, but also facilitated previously stalled military cooperation with other parties in and outside of the Philippines. Throughout the fighting, the Philippine Army has cooperated with former enemies such as the Moro Islamic Liberation Front, but also re-kindled cooperation with neighbouring states equally concerned about Islamic Extremism [New York Times]. Notwithstanding the positive developments of late, ISIS in Southeast Asia is far from beaten and according to the Philippine National Police, has a new leader in the Philippines who is followed by the remaining fighters of the Maute Group [Rappler/ATimes]. Meanwhile, ISIS claimed credit for the murder of a Pakistani diplomatic corps member in eastern Afghanistan Tuesday. The Khorasan chapter of Rana Nayyar Iqbal, part of the ultra-violent Middle Eastern terrorist group, claimed responsibility for the killing of Aimaq.  Iqbal, who worked in the visa section of the Pakistan Consulate General in Jalalabad [The Express Tribune].

3 November 2017

Former human rights lawyer Harry Roque to be Duterte’s new spokesman

President Rodgrio Duterte announced that Kabayan Partylist Representative Harry Roque will be appointed presidential spokesman. Before his political career, Roque was a human rights lawyer who had taken part in many high-profile cases, including extrajudicial killings. A group of legal and human rights organizations strongly urged Roque to reconsider Duterte’s offer to be his spokesman, asking him to “stand on the right side of the struggle for human rights and justice in the Philippines” [Rappler].

3 November 2017

Japan foreign policy: The Philippines, Russia 

Japan has pledged to provide assistance for the Philippines as it rebuilds Marawi City in its Southern Mindanao as well as help with other projects ranging from rail infrastructure to river defences. Japan is concerned about China’s growing power in the South China Sea and sees cooperation with the Philippines, which lies on the waterway’s eastern side, as key ally in helping prevent Beijing’s influence spreading into the western Pacific [Asian Correspondent]. China has previously pledged to provide over US$24 billion in development aid and investment largely for infrastructure development. Some analysts, however, suggest Beijing may be withholding the funds until the bilateral relationship is more firmly consolidated, including in regard to unresolved territorial disputes in the South China Sea [Asia Times]. Meanwhile, Japan and Russia have agreed to set up a task force to jointly develop tourism and four other businesses on disputed islands controlled by Russia but claimed by Tokyo. Japan hopes joint economic activities will pave the way for settling a decades-old territorial row with Russia, while Moscow aims to attract Japanese investment to the underdeveloped islets off Japan’s northernmost main island of Hokkaido. [Kyodo News]. Russia, for its part, is increasingly wielding oil as a geopolitical tool, spreading its influence around the world and challenging the interests of the United States. Through the state oil giant Rosneft, Moscow is trying to build influence in places where the United States has stumbled or power is up for grabs [The New York Times].

28 October 2017

Chinese foreign policy towards South Asia, Eurasia and East Asia

Being nuclear powers which account for almost half of the world population, the relations between China, India, and Pakistan build up one of the most tensest and explosive strategic configurations [China Policy Institute: Analysis 1]. Within this triangle, the strengthening of the Sino-Pakistani relations has put India under pressure to find strategies to counter China’s growing influence in South Asia [China Policy Institute: Analysis 2].  A latest example is New Delhi’s launching of a satellite program offering communication and meteorological data to its neighboring countries, such as Sri Lanka for which China had installed a satellite in 2012 and with which it has established strong economic and defense cooperation since 2015 [China Brief: The Jamestown Foundation].

The Eurasian Economic Union (EEU) with its members Russia, Belarus, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Armenia is a core element in China’s One Belt, One Road (OBOR) initiative as it not only secures China’s connection to Europe and provides economic opportunities due to the wealth of national resources in the EEU-region, but also stabilizes the relation to Russia as the first and foremost condition for the success of OBOR [East Asia Forum].

South Korea and China have signaled efforts to overcome their differences on the deployment of US anti-missile systems on South Korean soil to pave way to re-vitalize diplomatic relations. At the margins of the ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM) Plus in the Philippines, the defense ministers of both countries met and had talks for the first time since 2 years [Channel News Asia].

28 October 2017

ASEAN countries: In between major powers

Further intensifying Vietnamese-Indian relations, the deputy foreign ministers of both countries met in Hanoi for strategic consultations on political and security issues. This meeting follows a number of high level visits and exchange in the recent past [Viet Nam News]. In the meantime, Singapore is hedging between the US and China. After a recent visit to China, Singapore’s PM is currently on a visit to Washington upon invitation by President Trump. Whilst business has unsurprisingly been the focal point of the trip, Singapore is trying to position itself neutral, cooperating with both China and the US [Asia Times]. Similarly, the Philippines – after hosting US Secretary of Defense for a routine visit at the sidelines of the ADMM [NPR] – are making headway in diversifying their defense co-operations. New deals have been inked with both Russia [PhilStar 1] and China [PhilStar2].

28 October 2017

Fighting Terrorism, Piracy & Drug in South East Asia

While terrorist groups in Indonesia seem to have shifted the focus of the financing operations from illegal activities to legal ones including donations through social media [The Strait Times], President Duterte calls on Malaysia and Indonesia to ‘blast’ pirates with strings to terrorist groups out of the regional sea [The Star]. Meanwhile Indonesia’s ‘shoot-on-sight’ policy against drug offenders has increased the number of drug-related extrajudicial killings to a total of at least 80 since January this year [The Jakarta Post].

20 October 2017

Duterte takes drug war out of hands of police

President Rodrigo Duterte took his war on drugs away from the 170,000-strong Philippine Nation-al Police (PNP) and handed it over to the much smaller Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency (PDEA), which has about 2,000 agents. The Phil-ippine police are suspending all anti-narcotics operations, which have sparked public outrage over the deaths of thousands of mostly poor sus-pects. Growing anger over the violence, including killings by hit squads, has also caused Duterte’s popularity to plummet. “This is better for the bleeding hearts and the media. I hope I will satis-fy you,” he said [The Straits Times].

20 October 2017

Which way forward for federalism?

The author of this article assesses the current state of constitutional reform with respect to the country’s federalization. The governing party has submitted a draft Constitution to the House of Representatives. Hearings on proposed changes are ongoing. But the draft is loaded with compromises to secure quick approval. The author points out the contentious points, with particular emphasis on the criteria for determining the number of federal states [Rappler].

20 October 2017

Philippines: Duterte declares Marawi liberated from terrorists, but the fight is likely to continue

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte declared the southern city of Marawi liberated from pro-Islamic State militants on Tuesday. More than 1,000 people, mostly rebels, were killed in the battle while the heart of the city, which was once home to 200,000 people, has been levelled by air strikes [South China Morning Post]. On Monday, one of Asia’s most-wanted terrorists was killed Monday in Marawi. Isnilon Hapilon was the leader of Abu Sayyaf, a militant group affiliated with the Islamic State that has held parts of Marawi since May [New York Times]. However, experts expect retaliatory attacks from remaining leaders of Islamic groups with ties to IS, particularly with the Malaysian Islamic State militant leader Dr. Mahmood Ahmad, who has been operating in Mindanao since 2014 [Asian Correspondent].

20 October 2017

Australia: Strengthening security and economic relations with the Philippines and Timor-Leste

Filipino and Australian naval forces darted across the sea and landed on a Philippine wharf in a disaster-response drill in the Subic Bay to strengthen the two countries’ ability to jointly respond to typhoons and other disasters. It reflects their deepening security ties in a region prone to calamities, piracy and territorial rifts [South China Morning Post]. Also, a long-running territorial dispute between Australia and Timor-Leste concerning vast oil and gas fields is a step closer to resolution with the respective treaty being finalized by The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration. The rapprochement happens before the background of Timor-Leste recently having turned to China to balance the influence of Indonesia to its west and Australia to its south [Asia Times].

13 October 2017

Philippines: The art of hedging: Closer ties with China, Russia, and the US

The Philippines are hedging their bets. They are seen to be moving away from over-reliance on the US, whilst crucially not severing ties with its traditional major ally [Manila Bulletin]. China is more than ready to fill the gap, boosting aid and handing out free rifles [Voice of America].


13 October 2017

Philippines: IS is spinning the narrative around its Marawi battle despite military setbacks

The Islamic State is calling upon its supporters to liberate countries, towns and cities from its colonial, anti-muslim rule by taking up violent means in Southeast Asia, especially as it becomes more difficult for fighters to travel to the Middle East. The enemy of the insurgency is clearly marked as Christians, secular governments and American involvement in the region. Marawi is hailed as an example of successful liberation which other fighters in the region should follow. Whilst in reality Marawi is nearly fully reclaimed by Philippine forces, President Duterte expects that it will be a long time until the terror threat as a whole recedes [East Asia Forum] [].



6 October 2017

Office of the Ombudsman under pressure

The Philippine Office of the Ombudsman inves-tigates claims that President Rodrigo Duterte’s bank accounts had millions of dollars which the president failed to disclose as required by law. Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said he would not cooperate with the special anti-corruption prosecutor’s investigation, vowing he would “not submit” to its authority (South China Morning Post). At the same time, former Senator Jinggoy Estrada, son of former President Joseph Estrada and also under investigation for corrup-tion, alleged corruption on the side of the Om-budsman. He said he waited for President Duterte to create a commission to investigate the Office of the Ombudsman for corruption.

29 September 2017

Australia, Japan and India advance to the South China Sea

Three major countries in Asia Pacific – Australia, Japan and India – are expected to beef up their naval presence in the South China Sea amid the Philippine’s softening sovereignty stance in the disputed waters collaborating with China in oil and gas exploration and accepting the increasing presence of Chinese vessels within its exclusive economic zone. While India and Japan foster ties with Vietnam, Australia is seeking closer relations to Indonesia in the joint strategy to contain Chinese influence.

22 September 2017

Entire city’s 1,200 police forced put out of duty

For the first time since President Rodrigo Duterte unleashed his crackdown against illegal drugs, an entire city police unit has been relieved of its du-ties. The move came amid intense scrutiny of police activities in Caloocan in the wake of the killing of a 17-year old last month in what police said was an anti-drugs operation.

22 September 2017

ASEAN human rights delegates barred from visiting detained senator

Two delegates from the ASEAN Parliamentarians for Human Rights said they were barred from visiting Senator Leila de Lima in her detention cell at the main headquarters of the Philippine National Police (PNP). Several international or-ganizations, including APHR and the European Parliament, have backed De Lima’s claim of in-nocence.

22 September 2017

Commission of Human Rights’ budget cut not sealed yet

After the House of Representatives of the Philip-pines cut down the budget of the country’s Commission of Human Rights to about 25 dollars last week, the General Appropriations Bill 2018 may be subject to changes as it still needs to be approved by the Senate. Erwin Colcol argues that, if the budget was restored by Congress, a presidential veto by Rodrigo Duterte could result in a serious backlash for the president.

22 September 2017

Tracking Southeast Asia’s terror finance

Counterterrorism experts will link up with financial firms in a bid to cut off Islamic State’s (IS) Southeast Asian cash lifeline at a November summit in Kuala Lumpur, amid mounting evidence that the extremist group’s Middle East coffers are starting to run dry. The meeting aims to develop private-public initiatives to counter the spread of IS following its stunning seizure of Marawi city on the southern Philippine island of Mindanao in May.

15 September 2017

Commission on Human Rights budget cut from $17 million to a nothing of $25

President Duterte has succeeded to virtually slash the Human Right Commission giving it an annual budget for 2017 of $25 with the House Speaker calling it “useless” amid four-fifths of the lower house members supporting the de facto abroga-tion of the human right body prompting the ques-tion how other right defenders and critical media will end up in the near future.

15 September 2017

Terrorism: IS wants Muslim militants to avoid Syria and go to the Philippines/Returnees share horrible experiences about life under the IS and in Singapore there are increased worries about radicalization.

The Islamic State, after losing ground in Syria and Iraq, is switching its attention to the Philippines encouraging potential fighters to join the battle for Marawi, reinforcing serious worries that Asia is ISIS’s new focus (The Week). In Indonesia, returnees who spent some years living in Syria under the IS publicly shared some of their experiences and what caused them to return (Benar). In Singapore, officials lament that radicalization now happens faster than ever (Channel News).

15 September 2017

Does the West rebalance towards once distrusted leaders?  

Western, especially US, interests in increasing security cooperation with Southeast Asian governments seem to pave the way for a rapprochement with ASEAN leaders who were accused of corruption or human rights violations not long ago. Examples are the recent visit of Malaysian PM’s Najib visit in Washington amid investigations of the US Justice Department into his finances now highlighting US-Malaysian efforts to fight terrorism (Strait Times) and Philippines’ Duterte as an even more unsavoury, yet not less important ally due to his country’s geopolitical role within Asia’s emerging new security order (East Asia Forum).

7 September 2017

Calls for a Senate investigation into drug-smuggling allegations against Duterte’s family

For the past two months, the Philippine Senate has conducted a high-profile investigation into alleged smuggling of drugs from China through the Bureau of Customs (BoC). The sensational investigations led to the resignation of the BoC Commissioner, a key ally of President Duterte. Now, members of the Duterte family are facing increasing pressure.

7 September 2017

Anti-piracy patrols adrift in terror-targeted waterway

Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines have started joint patrols against pirates terrorizing shipping in the deep water Sibutu Passage between Malaysia and the Philippines, but limited resources and legal obstacles are already rocking the boat. The Sibutu Passage has emerged as Asia’s most dangerous waterway as Islamic terror groups target seaborne trade.

7 September 2017

Rebuilding Marawi, or rebuilding extremism?

As military operations in Marawi drag on, the enthusiasm prompted by promises about post-conflict rebuilding has been slowly dwindling, argues Haironesah Domado. With martial law in effect, she describes how the security environment in Marawi is increasingly polarised and politicized, and that those who express dissent with military actions, or those who come across as unfavourable to current government’s interests, may be tagged as potential suspects.

24 August 2017

War on drugs

Two articles pertaining to the war on drugs in the Philippines. The Asia Sentinel argues that there is no other word than terror for the drug war policy of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte intending to spread fear and pander to the basest instincts of the public. The article describes growing concerns that Duterte’s ambitions could go well along the path Ferdinand Marcos has taken. Duterte himself expressed his satisfaction about simultaneous anti-drug operations which killed a record number of suspects: “Thirty-two died early in Bulacan, in a massive raid. That’s good. If we can kill another 32 everyday then maybe we can reduce what ails this country.”

24 August 2017

Death of Philippine Teenager Stokes Opposi-tion to Duterte’s Drug Crackdown

The killing of a 17-years old teenager last week has had an effect that no other police killing throughout President Duterte’s war on drugs had: The Senate, though dominated by allies of the president, has opened an investigation indicating concerns among supporters of the harsh policy. while the president himself has ordered that the officers involved be taken into custody — a re-versal from his frequent promise to pardon offic-ers who kill suspects without provocation.

24 August 2017

The Philippines: Blogger-propagandists, the new crisis managers

Pro-Duterte bloggers serve as crisis managers for the Presidential Communications Operations Of-fice (PCOO), alerting them about any negative sentiments about the administration. The social media monitoring skills of the bloggers allow the PCOO to react in a timely manner, a huge boost to the disorganized government office. Pro-Duterte bloggers are also invited to cover gov-ernment forums and events to spread good news about the administration.

4 August 2017

Further deteriorating human rights conditions in the Philippines as the war on drugs gets more nasty

The death of Philippine Mayor Reynaldo Parojinog, accused of drug ties by President Duterte, and multiplying summary executions reported by United Nations experts, point to in-creasingly difficult human rights conditions in the Philippines.

27 July 2017

Philippines: Duterte ally pushes for same-sex unions, divorce

Opening the lower house for its second regular session, Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he would file a bill to legally recognise civil partnerships between people of the same sex. The Philippines would become the first Southeast Asian nation to legalise same-sex unions if he succeeds.
[Asian Correspondent]

27 July 2017

Philippines: Martial Declared and Uphold by Supreme Court

The Philippine Congress voted on Saturday to extend martial law in the southern part of the country, giving the military five more months to crush a rebellion there by Islamic State-inspired militants.
[The New York Times]

27 July 2017

A court’s abdication

Senator Leila de Lima, an outspoken critic of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, assesses the Supreme Court decision in Lagman v. Medialdea on the President’s declaration of mar-tial law in Mindanao. She argues that the verdict leaves much to be desired in the Court’s exercise of its constitutional mandate to review the suffi-ciency of the factual basis for the declaration of martial law.

27 July 2017

Suing for peace, Duterte gets all-out war

Communist rebels have seized on the govern-ment’s pre-occupation with Islamic State linked militants to make strategic gains and undercut a once hopeful peace process.
[Asia Times]

21 July 2017

Philippine Background Portrait: “Rudy Fariñas – boss in the House”

A portrait of the House Majority Leader and Ilocos Norte politician Rodolfo Fariñas who has delivered the votes needed to pass the President’s priority bills and who generally makes things work in a chamber of sometimes unruly lawmak-ers.

7 July 2017

Philippines not married to US, can still pursue China, says Manila’s top diplomat

The Philippines’ new foreign secretary, Alan Pe-ter Cayetano, warned that “outside influences” could turn Southeast Asia into “a theatre of geo-political rivalry” and that Manila’s relations with the US should not stop it from forging ties with China.
[South China Morning Post]

7 July 2017

Martial Law proclamation upheld

President Duterte’s martial law declaration that set into motion a bloody campaign to retake a city besieged by terrorists is definitely legal, the Su-preme Court (SC) ruled on Tuesday, 4 July.

7 July 2017

Mr. President, before signing the law on free college tuition, please read this

In the Philippines, both houses of Congress ap-proved a bicameral conference committee report consolidating Senate Bill 1304 and House Bill 5633 to provide free tuition in public colleges and universities. Aniceto C. Orbeta Jr points out criti-cal issues regarding the bills.

30 June 2017

Highlights: Year 1 of President Duterte’s ad-ministration

A web special with features, analyses, in-depth reports, and videos on the first year of Rodrigo Duterte’s term as President of the Philippines.

30 June 2017

Philippines says no deal with Islamists who seized Marawi

The Philippines ruled out negotiations on Tuesday with Islamist militants holding hostages and occupying a southern town, after reports that a rebel leader wanted to trade a Catholic priest for his parents being held by police.

30 June 2017

Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia boost joint efforts vs terrorism

In a joint statement, officials of the Foreign Min-istries of Indonesia, Malaysia, and the Philippines agreed to strengthen co-operation in preventing their countries becoming operational bases of IS-linked terror groups.