Philippines

US-China rivalry behind fresh corruption charges in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 9 January 2012

Behind the sordid allegations is a simple fact: Arroyo gave a massive infrastructural contract to a Chinese state corporation over a rival bid from a US firm.

Death toll in Philippines flooding over a thousand

By Oliver Campbell, 23 December 2011

It appears that the collapse of dams contributed to the severity of the floods, along with deforestation, silting of the rivers and lack of government planning.

The Philippine ‘left’ and the constitutional crisis

By Joseph Santolan, 20 December 2011

The ongoing constitutional crisis in the Philippines has revealed the bankrupt and unprincipled character of every section of the so-called ‘left.’

Philippines: Hundreds dead and missing in flash flooding

By Oliver Campbell, 19 December 2011

The severity of the floods, which hit residents without warning, was compounded by extensive deforestation and unplanned urbanisation.

Constitutional crisis erupts in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 19 December 2011

President Aquino, employing sharply anti-democratic measures, has had Philippine Chief Justice Renato Corona impeached.

Ex-Philippine President Arroyo arrested for electoral fraud

By Joseph Santolan, 21 November 2011

Aquino’s prosecution of Arroyo occurs in the context of rapidly mounting geopolitical tensions between the US and China, and is driven by the interests of US imperialism.

Twenty thousand displaced as Philippine government bombs Mindanao

By Joseph Santolan, 29 October 2011

The ‘lawless elements’ whom President Aquino has ordered attacked, are the primary hurdle to a US-backed ‘peace’ process in the southern Philippines.

Philippine gunboat rams Chinese fishing vessel in South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 25 October 2011

Behind the confrontation and escalating tensions in the South China Sea is the provocative role being played by Washington in the region.

Six workers die in Subic shipyard in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 10 October 2011

Keppel, the shipyard operator, has actively suppressed the release of information regarding the accident, denying government officials, investigators and journalists access to the site.

Union abandons Philippine Airlines ground employees

By Dante Pastrana, 5 October 2011

The PALEA leaders betrayed a September 27 sit-down strike, continuing their protracted sell-out of 2,600 workers being replaced by contract labourers.

Death toll mounts in the wake of typhoon in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 1 October 2011

The tragedy of Typhoon Nesat was caused by staggering levels of class inequality and by the pursuit of profit in complete disregard for its effects upon human lives.

Philippine Airlines to sack 2,600 ground staff

By Dante Pastrana, 27 September 2011

The job cuts are part of the ongoing restructuring of the airline that began in 1998 when the airline sacked 5,000 pilots, flight attendants and ground staff.

Philippine economy decelerating amid global turmoil

By Dante Pastrana, 19 September 2011

The economic slowdown will only widen the gulf between rich and poor, with the Stratbase Research Institute reporting that the Philippines was already the most unequal among Southeast Asian countries.

US-China rivalry drives corruption scandal in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 29 July 2011

Former Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has been charged on five counts of plundering the economy during her tenure as president and with election fraud.

Hacienda Luisita and the farce of Philippine land reform

By Joseph Santolan, 7 July 2011

What hides behind the opaque language and convoluted logic of the Supreme Court decision is the final scrapping of even the most limited land reform in the Philippines.

Washington boosts military ties with the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 4 July 2011

The Philippine administration has, since the election of President Benigno Aquino last year, aligned its foreign policy more and more closely to the United States.

Washington continues to escalate tensions in South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 30 June 2011

A US Senate resolution passed this week deploring China’s use of force and supporting continued US military operations heightens the danger of a confrontation in the South China Sea.

South China Sea disputes heighten danger of conflict

By Joseph Santolan, 15 June 2011

Tensions have intensified as Vietnam and the Philippines, tacitly backed by the US, assert their claims in the contested waters of the South China Sea.

Gates outlines aggressive agenda for US imperialism in Asia

By Joseph Santolan, 7 June 2011

The US Defense Secretary’s speech came amid rapidly mounting tensions between China and other claimants to the South China Sea.

A revealing prison “escape” in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 28 May 2011

The living conditions of wealthy prisoners in New Bilibid Prison are much better than those of the people who live on the edges of the prison grounds.

US and the Philippines: naval ships and ‘historical ties’

By Joseph Santolan, 21 May 2011

With US backing, the Philippines has been playing an increasingly provocative role in the South China Sea in asserting its stake in the disputed waters, especially against China.

Philippine president proposes to evict 500,000 slum residents from Manila

By Joseph Santolan, 12 May 2011

Aquino’s plan aims to simultaneously clear urban land for private developers and to stem the mounting threat of a food crisis.

The Pacquiao phenomenon in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 9 May 2011

Like almost every boxing figure before him, Manny Pacquiao came from a life of grinding poverty. It is this history—the intimate shared reality of suffering and struggle—that the vast majority Filipinos identify with.

Tensions escalate over the South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 3 May 2011

China, Taiwan and the Philippines have each stepped up their rhetoric regarding the contested oil-rich Spratly Islands and deployed troops to the region.

Good Friday crucifixions in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 22 April 2011

The spectacle is an annual celebration of gore and obscurantism, an international media circus, and a tourist bonanza.

Fears of a looming Philippine rice crisis

By Joseph Santolan, 15 April 2011

The public furor over possible rice shortages has exposed the precarious position in which Aquino administration’s policies have left the country’s food supply.

China’s execution of Filipino drug couriers highlights mounting regional tensions

By Joseph Santolan, 5 April 2011

The three prisoners became pawns in a vast geopolitical game involving the China, the Philippines, the US and the Association of South East Asian Nations.

US plays key role in Philippine corruption scandal

By Joseph Santolan, 8 March 2011

US-instigated charges of corruption in the Philippine military have become a weapon in the hands of President Benigno Aquino III as he strives to consolidate his hold on power.

Philippine planes confront China in disputed South China Sea

By Joseph Santolan, 5 March 2011

Two Philippine military planes chased Chinese patrol boats from disputed waters in the South China Sea on March 2.

Ten workers die in construction accident in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 1 February 2011

These workers died because the enforcement of even minimal safety standards would have hampered their employers’ rapacious pursuit of profit.

Stranded migrant workers protest in Saudi Arabia

By Joseph Santolan, 26 January 2011

The plight of the Filipino contract workers demonstrating outside Philippine Overseas Labor Office in Riyadh is typical of the plight of thousands of migrant workers from numerous countries who are trapped in Saudi Arabia.

President Aquino imposes strike ban on Philippines Airlines workers

By Dante Pastrana, 3 January 2011

Philippine President Aquino has by-passed his labor secretary, Rosalinda Baldoz, and assumed jurisdiction over a long-running industrial dispute at Philippine Airlines.

Aquino government blocks strike at Philippine Airlines

By Dante Pastrana, 30 October 2010

President Benigno Noynoy Aquino’s administration has issued a labor department order barring Philippine Airlines employees from striking in support of a pay agreement.

Hunger in the Philippines as President Aquino cuts food subsidies

By Joseph Santolan, 20 October 2010

The budget for the National Food Authority, the agency responsible for the purchase and sale of rice at subsidized prices, has been slashed to meet IMF demands for budget cuts.

Philippine budget: Austerity for the poor, subsidies for the rich

By Dante Pastrana, 29 September 2010

President Aquino’s pro-poor posturing is a sham. Like government leaders worldwide, he is under pressure from global financial capital to rein in public expenditure at the expense of working people.

Philippine president visits US amid rising regional tensions

By Joseph Santolan, 23 September 2010

Like other countries throughout Asia, Aquino is faced with balancing between his country’s growing economic dependence on China and its longstanding ties with the US, the former colonial power.

Manila’s water crisis exposes impact of privatisation

By Dante Pastrana, 7 September 2010

July’s week-long rationing of water highlighted the reality: millions of people are denied the basic right to potable water and sanitation while private firms rake in profits at their expense.

Philippine hostage tragedy exposes tense international relations

By Joseph Santolan, 27 August 2010

These events simultaneously exposed the rot at the core of the new Philippine government, the empty bluster of the news-as-entertainment media, and the taut and tenuous nature of relations between the Philippines and China.

Aquino installed as Philippine president

By Joseph Santolan, 1 July 2010

Lurking behind Aquino’s insipid rhetoric of change and an end to corruption is a continuation of the anti-working class policies of his predecessor.

Noynoy Aquino wins Philippine presidency

By Joseph Santolan, 12 May 2010

The one-term senator and scion of the Cojuangco dynasty is set to enter office facing a 4.358 trillion peso national debt.

Fear of election failure in the Philippines dominates lead up to Monday’s voting

By Joseph Santolan, 8 May 2010

From the disputes in ruling circles and the press, it is clear that the bourgeoisie is terrified of an election that fails to give the stamp of legitimacy to the victor.

Hacienda Luisita haunts Philippine presidential candidate Aquino

By Dante Pastrana, 7 May 2010

With the Philippine elections taking place next Monday, leading candidate Senator Benigno Aquino III continues to be plagued by controversy over his family’s huge sugar plantation.

Charges dropped over Philippine political killings

By John Braddock, 28 April 2010

The Philippine government has dropped charges against two members of a prominent political family accused of conspiracy in last year’s massacre of 57 people in southern Mindanao.

Philippine port workers sold out by unions

By Dante Pastrana, 14 April 2010

The trade unions paved the way for the privatisation of Manila North Harbour by signing a sell-out agreement with the new port operator on March 30 that will lead to major cutbacks in jobs and conditions.

Philippine presidential candidates to cut budget deficit

By Dante Pastrana, 30 March 2010

While all the presidential candidates in the May elections are making empty promises to help working people, the next administration will quickly launch a further assault on living standards.

A tense election campaign in the Philippines

By Joseph Santolan, 26 March 2010

A worsening economic crisis is fuelling sharp rivalry between the various factions of the ruling elite, which also reflect the international tensions between Beijing and Washington.

Martial law in the Philippines

By Peter Symonds, 14 December 2009

The resort to martial law in the Philippines is directed against the working class and highlights the political consequences of the deepening global economic crisis and rising class tensions internationally.

Philippine president declares martial law in Maguindanao province

By Peter Symonds, 12 December 2009

In a further erosion of democratic rights in the Philippines, President Arroyo has imposed martial law over most of Maguindanao province on the southern island of Mindanao.

Philippine political massacre foreshadows widespread election violence

By Joseph Santolan, 1 December 2009

The 57 people killed were victims of the violence of the electoral process that is wielded with impunity by powerful political families throughout the Philippines.

Typhoon causes widespread destruction in the Philippines

By John Roberts, 30 September 2009

A major storm struck the Philippines last Saturday killing at least 250 people and causing over 435,000 to flee their flooded homes.

Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, 1933-2009

Part two

By Joseph Santolan, 5 August 2009

Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, died of colon cancer on August 1. She had scarcely been dead for thirty minutes when eulogies and encomia began to flood the mainstream media.

Corazon Cojuangco Aquino, 1933-2009

Part one

By Joseph Santolan, 4 August 2009

Corazon Aquino, former president of the Philippines, died of colon cancer on August 1. She had scarcely been dead for thirty minutes when eulogies and encomia began to flood the mainstream media.

Summary executions mount in Philippine city

By Dante Pastrana, 21 April 2009

The number of extra-judicial killings of suspected criminals in Davao city has risen to 888 since 1998. The consensus of human rights organisations is that the murders are the work of a death squad acting in collusion with local government officials.

Rising unemployment and poverty in the Philippines

By Dante Pastrana, 6 April 2009

Under the impact of the global recession, Philippine growth rates slowed from 7.3 percent in 2007 to 4.6 percent in 2008 and a further steep decline is expected this year.

ASEAN summit: amid talk of cooperation, economic rivalry on the rise

By John Chan, 5 March 2009

The annual summit of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Bangkok last weekend followed what is becoming a familiar pattern at top-level international gatherings. Amid a sharp downturn in all 10 member states, ASEAN leaders pledged themselves to economic cooperation and free trade, even as they resort to protectionist measures.

Sharp economic downturn in the Philippines

By Dante Pastrana, 9 December 2008

Three months after the eruption of the global financial crisis, the Philippines confronts a rapidly worsening economic outlook.

Philippines: Employee association presses for quick electricity privatisation

By Dante Pastrana, 15 November 2008

Several articles published last month in the Philippine media confirm that the privatisation of the country’s electricity grid is proceeding with the complicity of the employee association MINTREA. The drawn-out process, which is now being finalised in the Senate, threatens the jobs and conditions of more than 3,600 workers currently employed by the government-owned National Transmission Corporation (TRANSCO).

Philippine government renews its communal war in Mindanao

The US role

By Dante Pastrana, 29 September 2008

An offensive by the Philippine military to seize areas of southern Mindanao island controlled by the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) is now in its seventh week.

Philippine power grid privatisation threatens jobs and conditions

By Dante Pastrana, 9 September 2008

The Philippine House of Representatives has approved a bill granting the private National Grid Corporation of the Philippines (NGCP) a franchise to run the country’s electricity transmission grid. The counterpart bill in the upper house is still pending but there is little doubt that the proposed franchise will be approved.

Escalating political murders in the Philippines

By Dante Pastrana, 17 October 2006

The death toll of political activists has continued to mount in the Philippines. On September 20, eleven gunmen, wearing bonnets, black shirts and combat boots, barged into the backyard of Christopher Lunar, and shot and killed the peasant leader in broad daylight.

Arroyo administration abandons 30,000 Filipinos trapped in Lebanon

By Dante Pastrana, 15 August 2006

An estimated 30,000 Filipino workers, mostly women employed as domestic helpers, have been trapped in Lebanon during Israel’s month-long offensive. According to the Philippine department of foreign affairs, at least 2,000 were in southern Lebanon, which has borne the brunt of the bombardment.

Philippines president orders offensive against Maoist guerrilla army

By Dante Pastrana, 19 July 2006

Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, in a bid to whip up anti-communist hysteria and shore up the narrow social base underpinning her tottering regime, has ordered the military to launch an offensive against the Maoist Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New Peoples Army (NPA).

Renewed efforts to impeach Philippines president

By John Roberts, 14 July 2006

Late last month, the first of several petitions to restart impeachment procedures against Philippines president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was filed in the lower house of the national parliament. While the latest impeachment moves appear to have little chance of success, the issue is being fuelled by an acrimonious debate in ruling circles over a package of constitutional changes being vigorously pushed by Arroyo.

Political tensions continue after Philippine state of emergency ends

By John Roberts, 13 March 2006

Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has ended the country’s state of emergency one week after she imposed it. The decree was lifted on March 3, but still without any credible evidence of any alleged coup attempt involving, allegedly, a combination of Communists and right-wing army officers.

Philippine president imposes state of emergency after alleged coup attempt

By Peter Symonds, 27 February 2006

In a sign of considerable political crisis, Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo last Friday declared a state of emergency and began a crackdown on political opponents in response to what she alleged was a foiled military coup.

Nearly 2,000 feared dead as huge mudslide hits Philippine village

By John Roberts, 20 February 2006

An entire village in the Philippines was engulfed by a massive mudslide when the side of a mountain suddenly gave way last Friday. After three days of rescue efforts, most of the nearly 2,000 inhabitants of Guinsaugon in the province of Southern Leyte are still missing, feared dead.

Arroyo clings to Philippines presidency amid growing economic crisis

By John Roberts, 1 September 2005

After months of political turmoil, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has staved off efforts to impeach her but remains deeply unpopular and faces a continuing opposition campaign to have her removed from office.

Philippines president clings to power

By John Roberts, 2 August 2005

The political opponents of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo had hoped to make July 25 the culmination of their two-month campaign to drive her from office. They boycotted the President’s annual State of the Nation address to the Congress, organised a large demonstration outside demanding her resignation and began impeachment proceedings. A week later, however, Arroyo is still clinging to power and the opposition has made little immediate headway.

Philippines President Arroyo refuses to step down

By John Roberts, 22 July 2005

Embattled Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is clinging to office amid continuing calls for her to resign over allegations that she was involved in rigging last year’s presidential elections. She has been compelled to reorganise her administration after the resignation of senior cabinet members and advisors, including her entire economic team, earlier this month.

Philippines president fails to stem political crisis

By Dante Pastrana, 7 July 2005

The administration of Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is sinking into deeper political trouble.

Political turmoil surrounds Philippines President Arroyo

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 22 June 2005

Less than a year after being sworn in for a second term of office, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is confronting a mounting political crisis. The most obvious signs are two ongoing scandals that have provoked a series of protests and calls for her to resign. Underlying her falling popularity, however, is a growing hostility to the impact of her regressive economic policies, including increased taxes, amid continuing levels of high unemployment and widespread poverty.

Philippine police crush jail rebellion

By Dragan Stankovic and Peter Symonds, 30 March 2005

Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo reacted with undisguised triumph on March 15 to the news that police paramilitary units had stormed the Camp Bagong Diwa prison and killed 22 prisoners involved in a jail uprising. Among the dead were three jailed leaders of the Islamist militia group Abu Sayyaf, who were awaiting trial on charges of terrorist bombings and kidnappings.

Outrage in the Philippines over killing of plantation workers

By Terry Cook, 24 December 2004

The Philippine government of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is facing a public outcry over violence meted out to farmers, plantation workers and their representatives in the ongoing labour dispute at the Hacienda Luisita Inc near Tarlac City. The plantation and associated sugar mill are owned and run by the Conjuangcos-Aquino family, relatives of former president Cory Aquino.

More than 750 dead after tropical storms batter the Philippines

By Dragan Stankovic and Peter Symonds, 4 December 2004

Two tropical storms that caused flash floods and landslides have devastated large areas in the northern Philippines this week. The death toll could reach more than 1,000 as rescue workers continue to dig through the wreckage and reach villages that are more isolated. As of Friday, 753 bodies had been recovered and at least another 345 people were still missing.

Philippines government to withdraw troops from Iraq

By Laura Tiernan, 16 July 2004

In another blow to the Bush administration and its occupation of Iraq, the Philippines government, one of the staunchest US allies in the “war on terror”, has begun withdrawing its military contingent. The pullout from Iraq—one month ahead of a mandated August 20 exit date—came despite top-level appeals from US officials that the troops remain.

Arroyo sworn in for second term as Philippine president

By Peter Symonds, 2 July 2004

Nearly two months after the Philippine elections, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo was sworn in for a second term as president on Wednesday. While she used the occasion to make a series of populist promises, her economic agenda will ensure that the burden of the country’s slump will fall most heavily on those who can least afford it—the working class and poor.

Philippine election reveals widespread political alienation

By John Roberts and Peter Symonds, 10 May 2004

Filipinos go to the polls today to vote for the next president as well as more than 17,000 positions at the local, provincial and national level, including the House of Representatives and half of the Senate posts. The election takes place amid acute social and political tensions, produced by deteriorating economic conditions and attacks on basic democratic rights.

Bush’s Philippines model for Iraqi “democracy”

By John Roberts, 29 October 2003

In the course of his address to the Philippines Congress on October 18, George Bush invoked the Philippines as an example of US-sponsored “liberation” and democracy.

Military mutiny in the Philippines: a sign of deeper political tensions

By John Roberts, 31 July 2003

A mutiny by 300 junior officers and soldiers of the Philippine Armed Forces rapidly came to an end on Sunday after failing to attract broader support either within the military or the population as a whole. The short-lived revolt is nevertheless an indication of disquiet within the ruling elite with President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo over the country’s continuing economic stagnation and the ongoing civil war in southern Mindanao.

Philippine military implicated in brutal murder of human rights activists

By Dante Pastrana, 6 June 2003

Mounting evidence has emerged in the Philippine media that the military was directly involved in the brutal murder of two human rights activists—Eden Marcellana, secretary-general of Karapatan (Rights)-Southern Tagalog, and Eddie Gumanoy, a peasant leader—on April 21 on the island of Mindoro about 150 km southeast of the capital Manila.

Philippine president renews her pledge of loyalty in Washington

By John Roberts, 28 May 2003

In the nineteenth century, at the height of the British Empire, a stream of potentates, maharajas and other assorted dignitaries made their way to London to pledge fealty to their colonial masters, to be awed by British power and to take home a handful of trinkets and the stamp of British approval.

Setback for US plan to send combat troops to the Philippines

By Dante Pastrana, 14 March 2003

Washington’s plans to deploy more than 1,700 US troops in a joint operation on the southern Philippine island of Jolo suffered a setback earlier this month when Philippine President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and Defence Secretary Angelo Reyes ruled out any active combat role in the country.

US troops to be involved in combat operations in the southern Philippines

By Peter Symonds, 22 February 2003

In a major escalation of the US military presence in the Philippines, the Pentagon plans to send up to 3,000 personnel to take part in a joint operation next month with the Philippine army against the Islamic fundamentalist militia Abu Sayyaf on the southern island of Jolo. Unlike last year’s operation on neighbouring Basilan Island, which was disguised as a limited six-month training exercise, US Special Forces will be directly involved in combat alongside local soldiers. There will be no cutoff date.

US prepares further military exercises in the Philippines

By John Roberts, 27 December 2002

When 1,300 US troops started arriving on Basilan Island in the southern Philippines in February, both Washington and Manila were at pains to declare that their presence was part of a limited training operation designed to enhance the capability of Filipino forces to defeat Abu Sayyaf—a group of armed Islamic separatists.

The Philippines pushes for a leading role in the US "war against terrorism"

By John Roberts, 25 November 2002

In the wake of the Bali bombings on October 12, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo is aligning her administration even more closely with Washington and pressing ahead with “anti-terrorist” legislation to give the police and military far-reaching powers to crack down on all forms of opposition.

Philippine president bolsters police powers and foreshadows new austerity measures

By Keith Morgan, 5 August 2002

In her second State of the Nation speech on July 23, Philippine President Gloria Arroyo laid out a prescription for tougher economic austerity measures, further inroads into democratic rights under the banner of fighting “corruption,” “crime” and “terrorism” and closer relations with Washington.

US prepares to extend its military presence in the Philippines

By Keith Morgan, 2 July 2002

When the US dispatched more than 1,000 troops to the Philippines earlier this year, both Washington and Manila claimed that the Balikatan (Shoulder-to-Shoulder) “training exercise” would last only six months and be completed by July 31. As the deadline approaches, the signs are growing that US soldiers will remain in the country, under one pretext or another, well into the future.

Washington seizes on Philippines hostage deaths to extend military presence

By Keith Morgan, 13 June 2002

A botched rescue attempt by Philippine soldiers on June 7 has resulted in the deaths of two of the three hostages held by an Abu Sayyaf group in southern Mindanao for more than a year. American missionary Martin Burnham and Philippine nurse Ediborah Yap were killed in the shootout. Martin Burnham’s wife Gracia received a gunshot wound to the leg and was ferried to hospital by helicopter. Four guerrillas were killed and seven Philippine soldiers wounded, four seriously.

Philippine bomb blasts provide excuse for expanded US military presence

By John Roberts, 13 May 2002

A series of bomb blasts last month in the southern Philippine city of General Santos has been used to argue for greater US military involvement in the country. Most of the casualties were caused by a single blast on April 21 from a bomb placed under a tricycle taxi in front of the Fitmart-Gensan shopping mall. The 14 dead and 60 injured were shoppers, passers-by, tricycle drivers and their passengers.

US military plans for a long-term presence in the Philippines

By John Roberts, 16 April 2002

When US troops started to arrive in the Philippines in February to extend the Bush administration’s “war against terror” into South East Asia the publicly announced terms of the “training exercise” forbade active US involvement in combat missions. The 660 US personnel were to train local troops and leave after six months.

US "training exercise' in the Philippines sets stage for broader military operations

By John Roberts, 15 March 2002

According to the US and Filipino governments, the 660 American troops that began to arrive in the Philippines in January, are involved in a six-month “training exercise”. Two months on, however, a different picture has begun to emerge with the US military playing a leading operational role in search and destroy missions, directed, initially at least, against Abu Sayyaf rebels on the southern island of Basilan.

The US extends "war on terrorism" into the Philippines

By Peter Symonds, 21 January 2002

Under the guise of conducting a joint training exercise with the Philippines Armed Forces, more than 650 US troops, including 160 elite special forces soldiers, have begun landing on the southern island of Basilan where the separatist Abu Sayyaf guerrilla group is based. The deployment marks a significant extension of the Bush administration’s so-called global war against terrorism and an aggressive reassertion of US interests in its former colony and more broadly in South East Asia.

Philippine president uses September 11 attacks to forge closer ties with US

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 13 December 2001

In the wake of the September 11 terrorist attacks, Philippines President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has exploited the opportunity to establish a closer relationship with the US. She immediately condemned the attacks and gave full support to the Bush administration’s “global war on terrorism,” offering the use of the former US military bases—the Clark airfield and the Subic Bay naval facility.

Philippines hotel fire reveals neglect of safety standards

By John Roberts, 23 August 2001

More than 70 people are dead and 100 injured, over half of them seriously, after a devastating fire broke out in the Manor Hotel in the Philippine capital of Manila early on Saturday morning. The flames spread rapidly through the third and fourth floors of the budget hotel, which is located in the Quezon City area of suburban Manila.

Philippine President Arroyo takes hardline stance over hostage crisis

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 22 June 2001

The hardline stance taken by Philippine President Gloria Arroyo over the current hostage crisis on the southern island of Basilan has once again confirmed the rightwing and anti-democratic orientation of her administration. With the backing of the United States, she has repeatedly ruled out any negotiations with the hostage takers, dispatched 5,000 troops including special forces to the area, imposed a media blackout and threatened to prosecute anyone found assisting the Abu Sayyaf rebels.

Philippine president fails to obtain a clear mandate in national elections

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 19 May 2001

Vote counting in the May 14 national elections in the Philippines will probably not be finalised for more than a week. But it is already clear that President Gloria Arroyo has failed to register the ringing electoral victory she needed to legitimise her ouster of former president Joseph Estrada earlier in the year. At stake in the poll are 13 out of 24 Senate seats, all 208 seats in the House of Representatives and over 17,000 posts at the regional and municipal level, including governors and mayors.

Philippine president declares "state of rebellion" and cracks down on opposition

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 7 May 2001

Large protests by supporters of ousted Philippine president Joseph Estrada culminating in running street battles with police and the military on May 1, have rocked the newly installed administration of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. At least four people were killed, 113 injured and more than 100 arrested in what commentators describe as the worst riots since the overthrow of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos 15 years ago.

Arroyo bans film at insistence of Philippines Catholic hierarchy

By Richard Phillips, 23 April 2001

Two months after her installation as Philippine President, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo has prohibited screenings of Live Show, an internationally acclaimed documentary film, and forced the resignation of the country's chief censor because he opposed the ban. Arroyo moved against the film after Manila Archbishop Cardinal Jaime Sin and other Catholic Church leaders called on the government to do so.

Political payoffs to supporters and opponents alike

Arroyo attempts to shore up her grip on the Philippine presidency

By Keith Morgan and Peter Symonds, 2 March 2001

Just over a month ago, with the backing of the military, the Catholic hierarchy, significant sections of big business and the political establishment, Gloria Macapagal Arroyo forced Philippine president Joseph Estrada from office and, blessed by the Supreme Court, took charge herself. Her installation was portrayed in the national and international press, with a few misgivings, as a triumph for democracy and People Power that would end Estrada's alleged corruption, incompetence and abuse of power.

Behind the façade of People Power

Philippine military and big business join hands to oust Estrada

By Peter Symonds, 31 January 2001

The ousting of Philippine President Joseph Estrada on January 20 has been widely presented in the media as the outcome of People Power II—a re-run of the protest movement headed by Cory Aquino that brought down the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in 1986.