After Sept. 11, 2001, President George W. Bush declared the Philippines a second front in the war on terror ("Operation Enduring Freedom-Philippines").The egregious human rights violations committed by the Philippine military and paramilitary forces are some of the most underreported atrocities in the media today.
While the Philippines is waging the snail's pace legal warfare, China is dramatically altering facts on the ground on a daily basis. By all means, the real struggle in the South China Sea is to protect your position on the ground, defending every inch of your territorial claim lest others will Darwin you out.
Following a number of recent setbacks in the elusive search for a lasting peace in Mindanao, the Philippine Congress is trying to rush the passage of the Bangsamoro 'Basic Law' -- a major component of the 2014 Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro -- in the hope of enacting the law prior to a mandatory adjournment of the Congress next month.
The Aquino administration and the MILF's top brass are seeking to present a common front in rooting out extremism in Mindanao. The ultimate challenge, however, is how to ensure justice for the victims of the massacre without undercutting genuine efforts at preventing a new round of all-out war between the AFP and the MILF.
The president of the Philippines, Benigno Aquino, became the second of two close American allies (after Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe) to shake hands with President Xi Jinping of China this week. Xi and Aquino shared promises to constructively manage tensions in the South China Sea, a promising step forward after several years of maritime incursions into territory both countries claim as their own.