This past month has generally been a handful. Here are the important bits, so far, in summary.
When clashes from the past pile upon clashes of the present, an agreement is a pretty welcome visitor. In this edition of Saved You A Google, we recap face-offs on different levels: country vs. country, rebel group vs. military, employees vs. employers, and one agreement between previously salty world leaders.
Attempts at peace ran into yet another snag as the Philippine Army, in coordination with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), undertook operations against a group of militants in Maguindanao and adjoining North Cotabato. While the Office of the Presidential Adviser on the Peace Process initially did not name any particular terrorist group as target of this military air strike, reports point to bomb makers from the Bangsamoro Islamic Freedom Fighters (BIFF) as the mark of the offensives. The BIFF, who are against the ongoing peace process, are a breakaway group from the MILF. The initial strike was followed by a separate gunfight in Datu Unsay.
Just last year, they were in a legendary Twitter war, exchanging heated directs and indirects. This week, Trump was all praises for Kim, calling him a “very worthy…very smart negotiator.” How the tables have turned.
All this went down as the heads of state held the first ever summit between an incumbent US president and North Korean Supreme Leader. While we celebrated our own Philippine Independence Day, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un sat down in Singapore to sign a comprehensive joint document. The goal? The complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In a press conference held soon after, Trump shocked by announcing the end of the US and South Korea’s joint military exercises, including the war games. Just how will this sudden stop happen? Trump says, rather vaguely: “We have to talk to countries about treating us fairly.”
Earlier this year, Trump announced that he will be slapping heavy tariffs on hundreds of imports from China, Canada, Mexico, Europe and Japan. It seemed like the G7 summit was helping until Trump suddenly pulled out of a joint statement tackling subjects including trade. What was supposed to be a show of unity became the opposite. Now China’s hitting back with “equal taxation measures” and Canada’s not far behind. When PM Justin Trudeau reasserted opposition to the tariffs, Trump tweeted about Trudeau’s “false statements.” People, can’t we get along for once?
Recap: In early 2012, the Philippines tried to arrest Chinese fishermen for taking marine species from the Scarborough shoal, part of which falls within the Philippine Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ). The Philippine Navy and Chinese Coast Guard thus went into the Scarborough Shoal Standoff.
In 2016, The Permanent Court of Arbitration ruled in favor of the Philippines, stating that China had indeed violated Philippine’s rights over the EEZ in (local name) Panatag shoal. The tribunal declared the shoal traditional fishing ground but did not decide on which nation has sovereignty.
Tensions arose again in May when Chinese coast guards seized the catch of Philippine fishermen, boarding their boats and selecting the best of their hard-earned haul. According to Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua, Beijing is allowing Filipino fishermen to access the shoal “out of goodwill,” a remark which did not sit well with VP Leni Robredo, among others. An agreement between the nations is developing, but yet unwritten, says Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano.
Workers went on strike at the Marilao, Bulacan plant of NutriAsia, protesting against alleged illegal termination and contractualization practices. Police violently dispersed the crowd and arrested four workers, leaving others injured. The Department of Labor and Employment itself has condemned the dispersal, with Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod saying “natural karapatan ng manggagawa ‘yan.”
The firm claims that the workers are actually employees of third-party toll packer company B-Mirk Enterprise, Inc. and that the “illegal picket by employees” was backed by militant groups. In a separate statement, the company said: “NutriAsia, Inc. categorically denies claims that endo or “end of contract” is being practiced by its service provider/toll packer in Marilao plant. The Company…supports the government’s stand against endo and other illegal forms of contractualization.” We must ask, yet again: Where is the truth?