Category Archives: Manila Observer

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 »

No honorary doctorate for Duterte

The plan of the University of the Philippines (UP) to confer an honorary doctorate degree on President Rodrigo Duterte has created quite a stir. What is the significance of the ruckus? As soon as word got out that UP was going to give Mr. Duterte an honoris causa, an uproar erupted, not only among UP students and alumni… Read More »

The Church speaks, finally

The Philippine Roman Catholic Church has spoken. It has taken a while but there it is, a pastoral letter read in churches last February 5, denouncing the summary killings that have taken the lives of nearly 8,000 Filipinos in the Philippine government’s so-called “war” on drugs. I have been calling out the Church and other key sectors to… Read More »

Duterte’s shortcut style

Many people here aren’t bothered by President Rodrigo Duterte’s shortcuts in getting things done. They’re not bothered that people are getting killed without due process. Mr. Duterte’s so-called war on drugs has been going on since his election. It’s been relentless, ruthless and remorseless. The daily toll of dead bodies has included not only those of crime suspects… Read More »

Duterte is no Magsaysay

MANILA President Rodrigo Duterte’s communications secretary, Martin Andanar, has compared the President to an earlier one, Ramon Magsaysay. As they say in Hollywood, “that’s a stretch.” I’ve commented before that the work of mouthpieces is a tough one. I understand that rah-rah boys have to put the best spin on their clients: My boss is the best this… Read More »

Who wants President Duterte out?

Less than six months into his term, President Rodrigo Duterte is already being asked to resign. If you visit Facebook, you’ll see posts that carry increasing demands for the President’s resignation. The latest bone of contention is his order to Veep Leni Robredo, who belongs to a different political party, to “desist” from attending Cabinet meetings. Many people… Read More »