Philippine journalist Maria Ressa, who has repeatedly clashed with President Rodrigo Duterte, was arrested in her Manila office on Wednesday (Feb 13) in what rights advocates called an act of “persecution”. Her detention on a charge of “cyber libel” is a dramatic escalation in the legal pressure bearing down on Ressa and her website Rappler, which was already facing tax evasion charges that could shut it down. Later, Rappler announced in a tweet that Ressa would have to spend the night at the National Bureau of Investigation, the unit which detained her, as lawyers tried to find a court to post bail.
Authorities in the Philippines have declared an outbreak of the highly contagious measles virus in several areas including the capital, Manila. As of 26 January there have been 1,813 measles cases and 26 deaths, according to the Department of Health Epidemiology Bureau. That is a 74% increase from 2018. Parents have been reluctant to have their children immunized at government health centers, after complications related to a dengue vaccine, Dengvaxia. There is now increasing concern for the 2.4 million unvaccinated children.
Two bombs tore through a Roman Catholic cathedral in southern Philippines on Sunday, killing at least 20 people and leaving dozens wounded, authorities said. ISIS on Sunday claimed responsibility for the bombings via its Amaq News Agency. In a statement, Defense Secretary Delfin N. Lorenzana condemned the bombing and said he has directed troops to “heighten their alert level” and secure places of worship and public spaces.
Tropical Storm Usman, which entered the Philippines on Christmas Day, emerged as the deadliest weather disaster for the country this year following Typhoon Mangkhut in September. Usman, a slow-moving storm with winds of up to 55 kilometers (34 miles) an hour, killed at least 61 people as it triggered floods and landslides and forced thousands to flee to safer grounds. More than 6,600 people were stranded in various ports, while Cebu Air Inc. and Philippine Airlines Inc. canceled more than a dozen flights from Dec. 27 to Dec. 30.
The Philippines is preparing for the anticipated Saturday arrival of Typhoon Mangkhut with thousands evacuating from coastal areas. As farmers rush to save their crops, schools and offices are closing as the typhoon approaches. Typhoon Mangkhut is projected to be the strongest typhoon in the Philippines in 2018 with ten million people in its path.
President Rodrigo Duterte announced, Wednesday, the withdrawal of the Philippines from the Rome Statute, the treaty which established the International Criminal Court (ICC), following the ICC’s investigation into Duterte and deaths linked to his campaign against drug users and dealers. Duterte defended his campaign saying the acts committed ‘are neither genocide nor war crimes.’
President Donald Trump met with Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte Monday during an economic conference where conversation shortly touched upon human rights. Trump publicly commented to Duterte ‘we’ve had a great relationship.’ Duterte appears to have warmed to Trump, opposed to Barack Obama who urged Duterte to follow the law in dealing with illegal drug trade.
In a series of raids carried out near Manila, police have killed 32 people in the bloodiest night yet of President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs. Duterte used undercover cops to lure drug dealers to incriminate themselves and after acknowledging the corruption of police vowed to protect law enforcement who help in the war on drugs.