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.

Written for The Diplomat Magazine

June 12 will be known in history as the day when United States President Donald Trump met North Korea leader Kim Jong-un in Singapore. But for Filipinos, June 12 is significant because it is the day when revolutionaries declared independence from Spain in 1898.

June 12 is an official holiday and the government celebrates it each year by honoring the heroes of the independence struggle. But this year, various groups mobilized on June 12 to denounce the ‘mendicant’ foreign policy of President Rodrigo Duterte.

The government downplayed the June 12 protest and insisted that it is unnecessary to antagonize China.

Perhaps the government should rethink its response because this indifferent attitude towards legitimate grievances could only spur more anti-Duterte groups to unite despite their ideological differences.

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Is the Congress Coup in the Philippines a Threat to Duterte?

Written for The Diplomat

In a significant recent development in Philippine politics, former president Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is now the new Speaker of the House of Representatives. Though it is still early days, it is worth examining what this might mean for the country’s political evolution in general as well as the presidency of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte in particular.

With respect to Duterte and his presidency, Arroyo supported Duterte’s presidential bid in 2016 and has been an influential member of the so-called ‘super majority’ in Congress for the past two years. Her election as Speaker was not viewed by many as a direct threat to Duterte since it was mainly triggered by a conflict between factions supporting the president.

Perhaps it is a relief for Duterte, then, that the opposition and activists have started reviving their attacks against Arroyo, given that protests against higher taxes, impunity killings, and other unpopular actions of the Duterte government had been continuing to gain momentum beforehand. But Duterte also has reasons to worry. It also means that Arroyo is now perceived to be more than just a political patron but a real contender for the position which she once occupied for nearly a decade.

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