Mong Palatino

blogging about the philippine left and southeast asian politics since 2004


@mongster is a manila-based activist, former philippine legislator, and blogger/analyst of asia-pacific affairs.

News about Chinese ships surveying the waters of Benham Rise, located east of the northern part of the Philippines, has triggered a bit of panic in Manila’s political circles in the past few weeks.

Perhaps the renewed sense of nationalism over the issue of Benham Rise could embolden policymakers and economic planners to draft a masterplan on how to develop the provinces near the underwater plateau. How can Filipinos benefit from the mineral deposits contained in Benham Rise if there are no nearby adequate scientific facilities to start the exploration?

The Chinese motive in exploring Benham Rise may be unclear, but the Philippines should have a definite plan on how to efficiently secure, manage, and develop the areas surrounding the ridge. Otherwise, foreign powers like China will find it easy to invoke the underdevelopment in the area as a cover for offers of scientific assistance or economic exploration that could in fact further boost Beijing’s strategic objectives while undermining Philippine sovereignty.

Read more at The Diplomat

Remembering Deadly Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines

While millions of people around the world actively followed the results of the U.S. presidential election on November 8, Filipinos quietly commemorated the third anniversary of Typhoon Haiyan (also known as Yolanda in the Philippines), which killed more than 6,000 people in the central part of the country.

Haiyan was the strongest tropical cyclone to make landfall in history. It caused a tsunami-like storm surge that devastated the islands of Samar and Leyte.

As typhoon victims struggle to rise, many survivors have also realized that it isn’t enough to beg for charity. What Haiyan taught Filipinos is that the most important component of disaster preparation involves the elimination of poverty, inequality, and other forms of economic injustice. To strengthen the capacities of communities, the government should prioritize the stimulation of domestic industries, especially the agricultural sector.

And lastly, the Haiyan anniversary should inspire the Duterte government to rethink the framework of its “war on drugs” by refocusing its strategy to address more urgent, lingering issues like chronic poverty and its causes.

Read more at The Diplomat

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