Taal volcano covers houses and streets in ash
16 January 2020 | 11:20 am
Taal volcano in the Philippines could spew lava and ash for weeks, leaving tens of thousands in limbo after they fled their homes fearing a massive eruption. The volcano has already left much of the surrounding area covered in ghostly layers of ash and mud.
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Manila says it is turning around its human rights image after a brutal drug war by the country's former president. That may be enough for the EU to renew a trade scheme and restart talks over a free trade agreement.
The joint military drills are part of the US effort to strengthen its alliances in the Indo-Pacific to counter China's aggressive actions in the region.
This year's joint "Balikatan" military exercises are the largest to date. They come as Manila seeks a stronger response to China's increased military activity and deeper strategic cooperation with the US.
For a long time, the island of Jolo, one of the southernmost points of the Philippines archipelago, was off limits. It was the stronghold of one of the most violent terrorist movements in the world, Abu Sayyaf. In 2000, a group of 20 tourists were kidnapped in Malaysia and taken to Jolo. Journalists who covered the kidnapping were then also captured. Negotiations for their release took several months.
During a meeting with Philippine leader Ferdinand Marcos Jr. at the White House, US President Joe Biden reiterated his support for Manila's security. China has angered the Philippines by harassing its vessels at sea.
As the relationship between Washington and Manila improves, the Philippines is daring to be more robust regarding the security of its own maritime territory in the South China Sea.
Rights activists have welcomed the acquittal of former Philippine Justice Minister Leila de Lima in a drug case. She was detained months after launching an investigation into Rodrigo Duterte's "war on drugs."
The Philippines and Kuwait are locked in a row over the rights of migrant labor following the brutal killing of a Filipino domestic worker.
Officials have raised the alert level due to various seismic events being recorded.
Strategic ties between European countries and the Philippines are set to grow as leaders recognize the importance of countering China's rising military activity near Taiwan and the South China Sea.
The probe into thousands of killings in the "war on drugs" will continue, after the International Criminal Court rejected an appeal from the Philippines. The move was hailed by human rights groups.
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