A Philippine supply boat and a Chinese coast guard ship in the South China Sea, October 2023. Adrian Portu / Reuters

As China increasingly threatens to use force against Taiwan, the United States is rightly focused on the dangers of conflict over the island. But there is an equal risk of crisis, confrontation, and even war over a different area—the South China Sea. China is aggressively pursuing its claims throughout the sea, through which over $3 trillion in trade flows each year. Over the last decade, Beijing has built military bases on a series of reclaimed islands and harassed other countries that claim rights in the sea. Most recently, it has raised the risk of disaster by unsafely intercepting ships and aircraft belonging to the United States and its allies.…  Seguir leyendo »

Soldiers arrive at Mindanao State University in Marawi City, a day after a bomb attack that killed four people and wounded 12. December 4, 2023. Merlyn MANOS / AFP

The peace process in the Bangsamoro, the Muslim-majority region in Mindanao, the Philippines’ second largest island, stands at a critical juncture. Just over a year remains until parliamentary elections take place, which will conclude the political transition under way in the region after decades of war between Manila and Moro separatist rebels. In 2014, the government reached an accord with the main rebel group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), providing for creation of an autonomous regional authority in the Bangsamoro, which was duly set up in 2019. This accord remains one of the few examples of a negotiated peace anywhere in the world over the last ten years, thanks partly to robust support from the European Union.…  Seguir leyendo »

Philippine President Benigno Aquino III, center, claps as Moro Islamic Liberation Front chief negotiator Mohagher Iqbal, left, shakes hands with Senate President Franklin Drilon, right, as he hands over the Draft of the Bangsamoro Basic Law at the Malacanang Presidential Palace in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, Sept. 10, 2014.

As President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.  met with Joe Biden in Washington last week to boost economic ties and bilateral defense cooperation, the Philippine military launched airstrikes and mortar attacks on marshy militant hideouts in the autonomous Bangsamoro region, on the country’s southernmost island of Mindanao. At a time when Manila, increasingly caught up in the geopolitical realities of the U.S.-China rivalry, is shifting its attention to external defense, continued military operations provide a stark reminder that the  peace process in Bangsamoro should not be taken for granted.

The militants targeted by recent security operations were not part of the 2014 Peace Agreement between the government of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), the largest Moro rebel movement in Mindanao.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., shaking hands with President Richard Nixon in 1969 in Manila. Bettmann/Getty Images

For Filipinos like me who grew up under the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos Sr., the news that the U.S. military would expand its presence in the Philippines has been dizzying and wounding.

The image of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin shaking hands in Manila last week with the country’s fatuously smiling president, Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the former despot, was like some tragic Groundhog Day. Mr. Marcos was elected in May. So Filipinos not only find themselves with another President Marcos, but also with another creeping occupation by the U.S. military under the guise of East Asian security.

The Philippine Senate put an end to the permanent basing of American forces three decades ago.…  Seguir leyendo »

La toma de posesión de Ferdinand Marcos Jr, (también conocido como «Bongbong»), como presidente de Filipinas, el pasado 30 de junio, ha pasado en España casi desapercibida. Como ocurrió con el discurso sobre el estado de la nación que pronunció en la festividad de Santiago, en el que insistió en su mantra de unidad de la nación. Duele pensar que España se ha olvidado de los 333 años de historia común, desde la llegada de Miguel López de Legazpi, fundador de Manila en 1565 hasta 1898.

1. Filipinas es hoy un país de más de 110 millones de habitantes, con una renta per cápita en torno a los 3.000 dólares (puesto 125 de 196 países), y 138 sobre 180 en libertad de prensa mundial.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Philippines Has a New Liar in Chief

When Ferdinand Marcos Jr. was sworn in as president of the Philippines on June 30, he took his oath in front of the former legislative building where his father entered politics and swore on the same Bible used by the elder Mr. Marcos at his 1965 inauguration.

For victims of Mr. Marcos’s tyrannical reign, it was an insulting homage to the dead dictator. But it came as no surprise.

The younger Mr. Marcos rode to a landslide election win with a campaign that leaned heavily on the fiction of a triumphant golden age under his father. It was promoted by a well-oiled disinformation machine that brazenly ignored the thousands of people jailed, tortured or killed by the regime and the estimated $5 billion to $10 billion siphoned off by the Marcos family.…  Seguir leyendo »

España en Filipinas, 1521-1820

La literatura filipina en español es una de las tradiciones asiáticas más importantes en una lengua europea. Sin embargo, no es muy conocida. Por un lado, los hispanistas tienden a especializarse en España o Latinoamérica. Por otro lado, pocos filipinos dominan el español. Historias generales como La literatura filipina en castellano (1974) de Luis Mariñas son útiles como presentaciones panorámicas, pero no como estudios en profundidad. Además, las introducciones a la literatura hispanofilipina o bien no mencionan el Siglo de Oro o bien lo hacen de pasada. En otras palabras, los textos sobre Filipinas producidos en los siglos XVI-XVII suelen quedar en el limbo.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ferdinand Marcos greets supporters at his Manila campaign headquarters in Manila on May 11. Photograph: Lisa Marie David/Reuters

Last week, Adarna House – a publisher of children’s books in the Philippines – posted on social media about a discount it was offering: 20% off on a #NeverAgain book bundle. The selection includes Ito Ang Diktadura, the Tagalog translation of Equipo Plantel’s Así es la Dictadura, or This is a Dictatorship. The book was originally published in Spain when the country was transitioning from the Franco regime.

What seems like a mundane moment of online marketing was in fact a significant political act. Two days before the sale, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, the son and namesake of the late dictator, won the Philippines’ presidential election by a landslide.…  Seguir leyendo »

Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., son of late dictator Ferdinand Marcos, delivers a speech during a campaign rally in Lipa, Batangas province, Philippines, on April 20. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

When Philippine dictator Ferdinand E. Marcos landed in Hawaii in 1986 after being toppled in Manila’s “People Power” revolution, he and his entourage brought with them everything that was left to plunder.

They came with $300,000 in gold bars, bearer bonds worth another $150,000, countless pearl strands, a $12,000 jewel bracelet with the price tag still attached, and 22 crates of freshly minted Philippine pesos, at the time valued at around $1 million. On top of this were documents — a treasure trove of 2,000 pages outlining the extent of Marcos’s mass looting, including hidden ownership of at least four Manhattan skyscrapers and properties in Long Island and New Jersey.…  Seguir leyendo »

The Man Who Could Ruin the Philippines Forever

Ferdinand Marcos Jr., known as Bongbong, was convicted of tax evasion. He also lied about his academic degree, according to Oxford University. Victims of his father’s brutal regime — which lasted for 20 years until his ouster in 1986 — accuse the younger Mr. Marcos of whitewashing history.

Yet Mr. Marcos, the unapologetic heir of the family that plundered billions of dollars from us Filipinos, is — absent a major upset — poised to win the presidential election on May 9.

This is possible only because our democracy has long been ailing. Disinformation is rewriting our past and clouding our present.…  Seguir leyendo »

Students and opposition supporters gather at the gate to Malacanang Palace in Manila on Feb. 21, 1986 in a protest against the government of Ferdinand Marcos. (Willie Salenga/AP)

I was 8 years old when the “people power” uprising toppled the dictatorship of Ferdinand Marcos in the Philippines in 1986. I remember it as a terrifying time: My family was torn apart and I was forced to flee and hide. I felt I had been robbed of my home, childhood, country and culture. It took me decades to realize many things I believed about that period were lies — lies that are still being told.

I am the daughter of Gen. Fabian Ver. For 20-plus years, my father was Marcos’s right-hand man, the chief of staff of the armed forces and the overseer of the country’s intelligence and national security apparatus.…  Seguir leyendo »

Philippine presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. holding a rally in Manila, April 2022. Lisa Marie David / Reuters

Ferdinand Marcos, the strongman who ruled the Philippines with an iron grip for two decades, may have died over 30 years ago, but his ghost haunts the Philippine presidential election that is slated to take place on May 9. Marcos, whose regime was characterized by fraud, corruption, and political repression, was ousted from power by a popular revolt in 1986 and later died in exile in Hawaii. This year, however, his son, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr., a 64-year-old former senator, is the leading contender for the Philippine presidency.

Marcos’s campaign has resurrected memories of his deposed dictator father and revived the trappings of his rule—the anthem of his New Society party, the red shirts that were once his signature attire, the stirring speeches delivered with hands slicing the air.…  Seguir leyendo »

The explanations for Marcos and Duterte’s impending victory lie mostly in the country’s economic, social and political divisions.

On 9 May, if present trends continue, the people of the Philippines will elect as their president and vice president the son of a discredited dictator and the daughter of a man being investigated for crimes against humanity. Opinion polls suggest the presidency will be won by Ferdinand Marcos Jr, better known as ‘Bongbong’, and the vice-presidency by Sara Duterte.

Bongbong’s father was Ferdinand Marcos Sr, who was elected president in 1965 and imposed martial law in 1972 before being deposed by a ‘people power’ revolution in 1986. During those two decades his family amassed billions of dollars in private wealth, oversaw the killing and disappearance of thousands of political opponents and created a debt-fuelled economic boom which ended in a major recession.…  Seguir leyendo »

Maria Ressa, one of the winners of the 2021 Nobel Peace Prize, in Manila on Oct. 9. (Eloisa Lopez/Reuters)

When the Nobel Peace Prize ceremony is held in Oslo on Dec. 10, one of its recipients may not be allowed to attend.

Despite facing possible restrictions that could prevent her from traveling to Norway, Philippine journalist Maria Ressa was upbeat when I spoke to her and her lawyer, Amal Clooney, last week about the Nobel, Ressa’s ongoing legal troubles against manufactured complaints, and the future of press freedom at a time when new technologies are making it easier to alter reality and target individuals.

But Ressa’s optimism, which she maintains despite the efforts of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte’s regime, should not be mistaken for naivete.…  Seguir leyendo »

People of Bangsamoro Autonomous Region stage a peace convoy event to support the campaign to extend the term of the transition government in the region to 2025, Philippines on 21 March 2021. Benyamen Cabuntalan/Anadolu Agency via AFP

What happened and why is it important?

On 28 October, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte signed into law a bill postponing the first parliamentary elections in the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) from 2022 to 2025, thereby extending the political transition in the region for another three years.

The law amends Philippine Republic Act No. 11054, better known as the Bangsamoro Organic Law, that had formally created the new autonomous entity in the southern Philippines in early 2019, providing for a three-year interim period before holding the BARMM’s first parliamentary elections that would formally mark the end of the transition.…  Seguir leyendo »

Like so many of Maria Ressa's former CNN colleagues, I have followed her career with admiration and with more than a little concern for her safety. The indomitable journalist has just been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize along with Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov.

When Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was asked, shortly before being sworn in, what he would do about the high murder rate of journalists, and declared, "Just because you're a journalist you're not exempted from assassination, if you're a son of a b*tch", I shuddered for one of the most courageous journalists I've ever known. But she kept on.…  Seguir leyendo »

‘In the face of multiple threats, criminal charges and two arrests, Maria Ressa has continued to speak out.’ Maria Ressa is escorted by police after posting bail. Photograph: Eloisa Lopez/Reuters

For the first time, a Filipino person, Maria Ressa, has been awarded the Nobel peace prize – “a win for Filipinos, for journalists, and for the global fight to uphold press freedom,” as her colleague Lian Buan puts it.

Ressa, the co-founder and chief executive of the news site Rappler, shares the prize with the Russian journalist Dmitry Muratov in recognition of their individual activism and relentless fights for press freedom. She is a symbol of courage in light of the human rights situation in the Philippines. Since the president, Rodrigo Duterte, took office in 2016, even residents with no link to drugs have been touched by the thousands of extrajudicial killings that have taken place.…  Seguir leyendo »

Rappler Chief Executive and Executive Editor Maria Ressa reacts during an interview at a restaurant in Taguig, Philippines, on Oct. 9. The Nobel Peace Prize was awarded to Ressa, plus Dmitry Muratov of Russia, for their fight for freedom of expression. (Aaron Favila/AP)

The award of the Nobel Peace Prize to journalists Maria Ressa and Dmitry Muratov is a big victory for free expression. In an era when attacks on the press have been increasing, Ressa and Muratov are a reminder of the critical role the Fourth Estate plays in upholding democracy. But Ressa’s win has another dimension as well: It also is an indictment of the failings of Facebook.

Ressa, a former CNN journalist, is co-founder of Rappler, the Philippines’ most prominent independent news outlet. Rappler began its life in 2011 as a Facebook page before transitioning to a full-fledged news website. Like several other countries in its region, the Philippines relies heavily on Facebook for access to the online world.…  Seguir leyendo »

This file photo taken on 30 January 2017 shows Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte (L) talking to then Philippine National Police (PNP) director general Ronald Dela Rosa (R) during a press conference at the Malacanang palace in Manila. Noel CELIS / POOL / AFP

What happened?

On 15 September, a pre-trial chamber of the International Criminal Court (ICC) authorised the court’s Office of the Prosecutor to open an official investigation into crimes against humanity allegedly committed in the Philippines between 2011 and 2019 as part of President Rodrigo Duterte’s controversial “war on drugs”, as well as atrocities around Davao, in the southern island of Mindanao, when he was the city’s vice mayor.

Following a three-year “preliminary examination” of the alleged crimes, the prosecutor sought permission in June to proceed with a more formal investigation, arguing that Duterte’s anti-drug campaign “cannot be seen as a legitimate law enforcement operation”, adding that the killings can be viewed “neither as legitimate nor as mere excesses in an otherwise legitimate operation”.…  Seguir leyendo »

The flag of the newly created Bangsamoro autonomous region. Credit Wikipedia Commons

Two years into the creation of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM), the peace process that put an end to decades of war in the Southern Philippines may be running into a rough patch.

Leading the interim government, the former rebels of the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) are making headway in building up the new entity’s institutions and passing key legislation ahead of the new region’s first elections, due in 2022, but delays resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic now threaten to push that important deadline. Another key element of the 2014 peace deal between the rebels and the Philippines government is also languishing: the so-called “normalization process,” an ambitious combination of measures that aim to demobilize Moro Muslim fighters, transform their camps into peaceful and productive communities, establish a transitional justice process, and carry out a series of confidence-building initiatives.…  Seguir leyendo »