2016 was replete with surprises, twists and turns in-country. President Duterte made the headlines around the world with his merciless stance on drugs; the Philippines woke up to the surprise burial of Marcos; and we finally won exclusive sovereign rights within its economic zones in some disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. As we welcome 2017, let us look back on some year-defining moments of 2016.
DUTERTE WINS PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION
Former Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte, with his anti-crime and “genuine change” platform, emerged victorious in the May 9 presidential election. Meanwhile, Camarines Sur Rep. Leni Robredo, the late Interior Secretary Jesse Robredo’s widow, won the vice presidency.
THE PHILIPPINES WINS ARBITRATION CASE
A panel of five judges at the Permanent Court of Arbitration in The Hague awarded on July 12 to the Philippines exclusive sovereign rights within its exclusive economic zone in some disputed areas in the West Philippine Sea. The Tribunal concluded that there was no legal basis for China to claim historic rights to resources within the sea areas falling within the ‘nine-dash line’ and that China had violated the Philippines’ sovereign rights in its exclusive economic zone.
MARCOS BURIED; PROTESTS HELD
Former president Ferdinand Marcos was buried on Nov. 18 at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, in a burial that shocked the entire nation. His remains were secretly flown in from Ilocos Norte, where it had been preserved since his death in 1989, soon after the Supreme Court voted 9-5 in favor of allowing his burial at the heroes’ cemetery.
Thousands of millennials – mostly students and young professionals – staged protests against Marcos’ burial on Nov. 30. Wearing black shirts and carrying placards, the millennials gathered in Liwasang Bonifacio and People Power Monument to express their outrage. Various other groups, including leftist organizations, also decried the heroes’ burial for the former dictator.
TROLLS AS A POLITICAL FORCE
The May 2016 presidential election showed the power of social media and the internet as a political tool, as the Duterte camp marshalled an army of diehard followers to populate cyberspace and advance his cause. These “trolls” vigilantly patrolled social media and attacked, harassed, threatened and bullied any one who posted a comment or opinion unfavorable to or against then candidate and now President Duterte.
THE NATION BID ADIEU TO SOME NOTABLE FILIPINOS
Former senator Miriam Defensor Santiago, who again ran for president last year, passed away on Sept. 29. She had been battling stage 4 lung cancer since 2014. Other high-profile Pinoys who died in 2016 include former Senate president Ernesto Maceda; television host, comedian, actor and talent manager German Moreno, commonly known as Kuya Germs; film and TV writer and director Wenn Deramas; comedian Joy Viado; “Queen of Philippine Horror Movies” Lilia Cuntapay, among others.
THE WAR AGAINST DRUG CONTINUES
As part of Duterte’s anti-crime campaign, the administration has been proactively scouting for drug dealers and users across the Philippines. The controversial drug war, which has gained global attention, has so far resulted in the death of more than 6,000 persons in police operations as well as in undetermined circumstances.
THE PHILIPPINES WINS AN OLYMPIC SILVER MEDAL
Hidilyn Diaz shone at the 2016 Rio Olympics, where she bagged a silver medal in the women’s 53kg weightlifting category.