Monday 27 Jun 2022 | 07:17 | SYDNEY
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Philippines

Thailand seeking to profit from a global food crisis

In response to worldwide supply chain issues caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – who between them previously accounted for nearly one-third of global wheat supplies – the Thai government, headed by 2014 coup leader Prayuth Chan-ocha, is seeking to profit from the 45 per cent increase

Philippines: justice and accountability, post elections

The Philippine election verdict is in. Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr – the son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was deposed in the peaceful 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution – is the next President of the Philippines. Sara Duterte, the daughter of the current President Rodrigo

China’s nine-dash line proves stranger than fiction

Vietnam recently banned the film Uncharted from domestic distribution due to a scene depicting an “illegal image” of China’s infamous “nine-dash line”. This is not the first time popular culture has become embroiled in the politics of the South China Sea. In 2021, the Philippines’

How the Marcos family could rule again in the Philippines

Ferdinand Marcos Jr, only son and namesake of the Philippines’ late kleptocratic dictator, looks set to win the country’s upcoming presidential election in May. Consecutive polls in January and February have the junior Marcos winning with a staggering 60 per cent of the national vote. Bongbong

Stiffening the ASEAN spine in the South China Sea

“Coalition” is one of those politically loaded terms that the sovereignty-conscious member-states of ASEAN tend to avoid – especially in dealing with disputed claims in the South China Sea. Keeping the region away from direct conflict with its giant neighbour the People’s Republic of China

Philippine elections and the politics behind it

While broadly similar to other presidential forms of government, the Philippines’ system of choosing its leaders does hold some nuisances which reveal deeply-rooted problems in Philippine democracy. The following are some of the long-standing realities of its politics:   Leaders

Duterte is playing both sides

The Philippines national election looms in May 2022. Sitting President Rodrigo Duterte is running to become a senator, while his daughter is campaigning to be vice-president to Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr, the offspring of another strongman. Current senator and Duterte’s closest ally

Filipino migrants are agents of change

The Philippine labour diaspora is one of the largest in the world with around 9 million people or 10 per cent of the population working overseas, and sending massive remittances (US$33.5 billion in 2019) that contribute to the economy. Yet the popular construction of the Filipino migrant is that of

The Duterte double

On 25 August, Rodrigo Duterte announced his intention to seek the second-highest post in the Philippines government in next year’s elections. “I will run for vice president,” he said. “I will continue this crusade [against] insurgency, then criminality [and] drugs.” But by 2 October

Duterte’s back-down on US forces in Philippines

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has finally put an end to uncertainty regarding the fate of the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) between the Philippines and the United States. This 1999 agreement provides the rules, guidelines and legal status of US soldiers during military exercises in the

The politics of PacMan

Boxer and Philippine senator Manny Pacquiao knows how to pick his fights. For weeks, the champ has engaged President Rodrigo Duterte in a word war. First, Pacquiao jabbed Duterte’s leniency on the incursion of Chinese ships in the West Philippine Sea ­– a major thorn in the President’s side

Whatever happened to the South China Sea ruling?

Five years ago on this day, an international tribunal in a landmark ruling dismissed Beijing’s claim to much of the South China Sea. The Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague said on 12 July 2016 that there was no evidence that China had exercised exclusive control historically over the key

How strong is Duterte the strongman?

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

Duterte the defier

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

Lockdown déjà vu in the Philippines

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

A Duterte dynasty?

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

In the Philippines, a label can take your life

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

Duterte’s vaccine promise is a political placebo

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

The killings in the Philippines grow more brazen

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

Philippines government driving jeepneys off the road

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

Philippines: Covid-19 will devastate the poor

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

Australia-Philippines: Prolonged partners

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

Philippines: When democracies hit midlife crisis

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

Pushing the Philippines‑US alliance over the cliff

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

A verdict on justice in a land of impunity

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

The Philippine standoff over China

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.

Dengue spirals out of control in the Philippines

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

After the voting, personality beats policy in Southeast Asia

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

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