Category Archives: Manila Observer

Who got Duterte to sing at the ASEAN?

MANILA For sheer bragging rights, US President Donald Trump was the only world leader who got President Duterte to sing at the gala night of the recent Asean Summit held here. Not Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, or Shinzo Abe was able to to that. Only Trump. We don’t really know if it’s true that Trump egged Duterte on… Read More »

How deep is the support for Duterte?

MANILA Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte still gets good ratings in poll surveys. But, as I’ve surmised in more than one column, I doubt that the survey results reflect a true picture of the situation on the ground. Filipinos like to play things safe. We are a generally timid people, noisy only in neighborhood drinking sessions or small gatherings… Read More »

Wrong from the start

MANILA Now the police here want to rehabilitate drug users in their “war” on drugs. That’s what they should have done in the first place. Here’s what the police did to start their war: They started rounding up drug users and pushers, killing thousands of them in the process. The international community was outraged, unbelieving that in this… Read More »

More people realize drug ‘war’ is unwinnable

MANILA The so-called war on drugs here is finally showing everyone its futility and wrongness from the start. Society is finally being scandalized by the drug war’s brutality and ruthlessness. Citizens are finally realizing that it’s an unwinnable war with deplorable consequences. Giving the police carte blanche in pursuing the so-called war emboldened them so much, they don’t… Read More »

Filipinos find surveys baffling

MANILA Positive survey findings in favor of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte continue to baffle observers. Who can blame those who can’t believe the news of Duterte getting high marks from people surveyed? With all the controversies swirling around him, the common observer can only scratch his head in confusion. I’ve written before that there’s a possible explanation for… Read More »

The puzzle that is Duterte

MANILA The notion of a Philippine independent foreign policy sounds like a good idea. But the problem with President Rodrigo Duterte’s idea is that the policy jumps from one giant ally-protector (the United States) to one or two new benefactors (China and Russia). Is that an independent foreign policy? Mr. Duterte seems to have an industrial-strength allergy toward… Read More »


MANILA Now the Australians are mad at us. I know, I know, our president doesn’t give a koala’s hoot. But let us plain citizens try to reassure the Aussies we’re not all bad losers. It turns out some Filipinos have gone out in force to bash new WBO welterweight champion Jeff Horn and his wife in social media… Read More »

Fooling people through fake news

Pro-administration people here aren’t bothered about dishing out fake news. In fact they love fake news. It is their most potent propaganda weapon. Recently Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre conjectured whether opposition politicians were involved in planning the conflict in Marawi City, where a rebel force called Maute Group tried to establish an Islamic caliphate. He tagged Sens. Bam… Read More »

Duterte allies find impeachment a nuisance

MANILA Some congresspeople here think impeachment complaints are a nuisance because “they hold back development” and that they take time away from Congress’ main work, legislation. At the recent House hearing on Rep. Gary Alejano’s impeachment complaint against President Duterte, several members expressed annoyance because, they said, impeachments are a waste of time. But isn’t an impeachment complaint… Read More »

Are Trump, Duterte asea in their jobs?

Donald Trump is finding the US presidency a complicated job. Our own President Duterte says he doesn’t need or relish the office. The first is naive to think the presidency would be a picnic. The second’s reaction is mystifying; why run for the office if you don’t need it in your life? The presidency is the toughest job… Read More »