The South China Sea territorial dispute between China and the Philippines is beginning to take a toll on the Philippine economy, which is dependent on a steady Chinese demand for its products.
The two countries have been locked in a tense standoff since April 10, when a Philippine naval ship attempted to arrest Chinese fishermen working off what is known internationally as the Scarborough Shoal. The Philippines claims the territory is within its exclusive economic zone, but China claims sovereignty over it, and Chinese ships blocked the arrest, ordering the Philippine ship to leave.
The death toll from flash floods that swept away entire villages in the southern Philippines climbed to nearly 1,500 on Tuesday, as authorities widened their search for bodies.
The Office of Civil Defense's latest tally listed 891 dead in Cagayan de Oro and an additional 451 in nearby Iligan city. The rest came from several other provinces. Most of the dead are unidentified.
A southern Philippine area devastated by flash floods that killed more than 1,000 people looks like it was hit by a tsunami, a U.N. official said Thursday as he appealed for $28 million in aid for the region.
U.N. humanitarian coordinator Soe Nyunt-U voiced concern about possible outbreaks of disease among the thousands living in evacuation centers after their houses were washed away last Friday when a tropical storm unleashed the flash floods.
But 20 years on, the phenomenon of People Power looks good just about everywhere but the place of its birth. Democracy has failed to transport the Philippines to a prosperous or stable new world. Coup attempts by disgruntled officers and soldiers are a chronic problem. Corruption never subsided, and though the Philippines is one of the best-educated countries in Asia—92% of Filipinos are literate—the economy has never risen to Asian Tiger status.
Without Filipino doctors, nurses, midwives and care assistants, medical institutions in the US and elsewhere would collapse. The irony is that medical services in the 7,000 islands that make up the Philippines are highly variable – with parts severely under-resourced and under-doctored.
But attempts are being made to improve services for the poor. There are some enouraging signs. But health care spending remains low at only US$7 a person a year. And government subsidies are being cut.
Elections and violence go together in the Philippines, but the massacre of 57 people on a small, secluded hilltop in Maguindanao province, on the south island of Mindanao, at the end of last year took it to a new level.
The gruesome images filmed in the immediate aftermath betray the brutality with which the largely female members of a politically-ambitious family and 32 journalists were kidnapped and assassinated.
Alarmed by China's increasingly aggressive posturing over territorial disputes and energy rights in the South China Sea, officials from Philippines are holding talks today and tomorrow in the US capital about the possibility of US Navy ships operating out of the Philippines in the future. More joint exercises between the two countries and the deployment of American ground troops are also being discussed.
Following the announcements late last year that US marines will be based in Darwin, Australia and US navy ships stationed in Singapore, the news that the Pentagon is contemplating a return to the Philippines is certain to anger Beijing.
More than 7,000 islands make up the Philippines, but the bulk of its fast-growing population lives on just 11 of them.
Much of the country is mountainous and prone to earthquakes and eruptions from around 20 active volcanoes. It is often buffeted by typhoons and other storms.
Two presidents of the Philippines were forced from office by "people power" in the space of 15 years.
About a third of Manila's 12 million residents live in slums, and a third of 94 million Filipinos live below the poverty line of $1.25 a day. Overall, more than half the population in Asia remains poor.
The Philippines is a country in Southeast Asia with more than 90 million people. The president is Benigno S. Aquino III.
More than parties or ideology, family rivalries have always defined Philippine politics. And no feud has shaped the modern Philippines more than the epic fight between the Marcoses and the Aquinos: the standoff between Ferdinand E. Marcos, the American-backed autocrat, and Benigno S. Aquino Jr., the opposition leader, which eventually led to Mr. Aquino’s assassination, Mr. Marcos’s downfall and the rise of Corazon C. Aquino as president in 1986.