The Philippines has followed through on its threat to send 1,500 tonnes of illegally dumped rubbish back on a boat to Canada, ending a six-year dispute between the two countries. The dispatch of the Canadian rubbish, which had been sitting in two Philippine ports since 2013 and 2014 while Canada refused to acknowledge the issue, was a cause for celebration in the Philippines. The rubbish has been a source of contention between the two nations for years, after it was discovered the containers had been brought in falsely declared as recyclable plastic when it was in fact electrical and rotting household waste. However, in recent months the issue had escalated into a full-blown diplomatic dispute.
A new powerful earthquake hit the central Philippines on Tuesday, a day after a magnitude 6.1 quake rattled the country’s north and left at least 16 people dead. The quake was centered near San Julian town in Eastern Samar province and prompted residents to dash out of houses and office workers to scamper to safety. There were no immediate reports of injuries or major damage from the new quake. Philippine seismologists said the back-to-back quakes in the last two days were unrelated and caused by different local faults.
Maria Ressa, the co-founder of an online news start-up critical of President Rodrigo Duterte of the Philippines, has been arrested a second time as the Duterte administration steps up its campaign against a news outlet that has been sharply critical of his government. The latest charges against Ms. Ressa accuse her and members of her news outlet, Rappler, of violating laws regarding foreign ownership of the company. She was released around noon after posting bail, about five hours after she was arrested.
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.
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.
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.
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.