Year in Review 2019: Top newsmakers in Philippines

Yahoo Philippines looks back at the people and moments that made the headlines and kept Filipinos talking in 2019.

President Rodrigo Duterte

File Photo: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, center, attends a wreath laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Oct. 4, 2019. (Yury Kadobnov/Pool Photo via AP)

Since he was elected in 2016, the long-time mayor of Davao City has generated a lot of controversy over his leadership style. He crossed swords with his critics, especially on his anti-illegal drugs campaign where he urged the police to kill all drug lords. Duterte appointed Vice President Leni Robredo as co-chairperson to the Inter-Agency Committee of the Anti-Illegal Drugs only to fire her less than a month after stressing he did not trust the vice president. Duterte’s recent tirades were against the water concessionaires Manila Water and Maynilad for their alleged overcharging rates to the consumers. The government’s water regulator cancelled the extension of the water deals following Duterte’s orders.

Hong Kong protests

File Photo: Protesters face off with police in Hong Kong on Sunday, Sept. 29, 2019. (AP Photo/Vincent Thian)

The ongoing series of demonstrations in Hong Kong was triggered by the introduction of the Fugitive Offenders amendment bill meant to allow the extradition of criminal fugitives who are wanted in territories which Hong Kong does have current extradition agreements, including Taiwan and Mainland China. The Hong Kong government was forced to withdraw the bill in September after the protests grew more intense and violent. It remains to be seen when the protests will end.

Philippine midterm elections

Allies of President Rodrigo Duterte stormed to a landslide victory in midterm polls, final results showed May 22, 2019. (Photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

Allies of President Duterte dominated the 2019 midterm elections indicating that majority of Filipinos want stability and continuity in the government. Moreover, it dominated the Senate by winning all the 12 slots despite fielding candidates who were not known as intellectuals in their own fields. It was the same in the House of Representatives as Duterte allies swept the opposition. Furthermore, it catapulted into fame Duterte allies such as former police chief Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa and former presidential aide Christopher Lawrence “Bong” Go.

Cotabato triple earthquakes

File Photo: A general view shows a damaged building after a 6.5-magnitude earthquake hit Kidapawan town, north Cotabato province, on the southern island of Mindanao on October 31, 2019. (Photo: FERDINANDH CABRERA/AFP via Getty Images)

Cotabato province was hit by three powerful earthquakes in October 2019. According to the Philippine Institute of Volcanology and Seismology (PHIVOLCS), a 6.3 magnitude earthquake struck the city on October 16 where the epicenter was 22 kilometers southeast of Tulunan and had an intensity 7 magnitude.

On October 29, the local seismological agency reported 6.6 magnitude earthquake hit Cotabato for the second time where the towns of Tulunan, Makilala, Kidapawan City, Digos City, and Malungon were affected causing power outages in several parts of Mindanao.

On October 31, a 6.5 magnitude earthquake shook Cotabato for the third time. Reports said some structures in Davao and Socsargen experienced heavy damage. Data gathered indicated total number of casualties of the October 29 and 31 quakes reached 24, with 563 people injured and 11 missing.

Huawei US ban

File Photo: A Chinese man is silhouetted near the Huawei logo in Beijing on Thursday, May 16, 2019. In a fateful swipe at telecommunications giant Huawei, the Trump administration issued an executive order Wednesday apparently aimed at banning its equipment from US networks and said it was subjecting the Chinese company to strict export controls. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

Chinese telecom giant Huawei is putting up a brave front in China’s trade war against the United States. Moreover, it will sue Washington over attempts to blacklist the company from working with US companies. The result of fierce trade was resulted in blocking Huawei from trading goods and services with American tech companies such as Google after the Americans raised some security concerns.

Huawei is also in hot water for detaining one of its employees in China after he demanded severance pay.

Former Police Chief Oscar Albayalde

File Photo: Foremer Philippine National Police chief Oscar Albayalde gestures as he testifies anew at the resumption of the Senate probe on the release of hundreds of convicts under the shortened serving of their sentence for good behavior known as "Good Conduct Time Allowance or GCTA Wednesday, Oct. 9, 2019, in suburban Pasay city south of Manila, Philippines. (AP Photo/Bullit Marquez)

Unlike the others before him, former police chief Oscar Albyalde retired quietly after serving the Philippine National Police for 37years by skipping the traditional full-dress parade and review.

A few days after retirement, Albayalde’s name was dragged into the “ninja cops” controversy in which he was accused either of negligence or connivance. In November 2013, 13 cops under Albayalde as Pampanga police chief stole a huge portion of a stash of crystal meth they recovered in a raid, received a bribe from the suspect and instead arrested a fall guy.

In a Senate hearing in 2016, Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency Director-General Aaron Aquino said Albayalde called him and allegedly asked him to hold off their impending dismissal.

Although Albayalde is facing a criminal complaint filed by the PNP, Interior Secretary Eduardo Año revealed no administrative case was filed against Albayalde after he didn’t find any hard evidence.

Vice President Leni Robredo

File Photo: Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte fired Vice President and arch-critic Leni Robredo from her post as overseer of his deadly drug war on November 24, an aide said, just days after calling her a "scatterbrain" not to be trusted with state secrets. (Photo: TED ALJIBE/AFP via Getty Images)

Vice President Leni Robredo continues to lead the opposition notwithstanding the challenges she and her colleagues posed by the administration. Apparently piqued by her criticism against the war on drugs of the government, she was asked by President Rodrigo Duterte to serve as co-chair of an intra-agency committee against illegal drugs. After a few weeks, the president fired her, saying he did not trust Robredo.

Despite the sacking, Robredo and her staff continued with their humanitarian work. The Office of the Vice President extended aid to the residents of Albay and Sorsogon who were severely hit by Typhoon Tisoy. Under its Angat Buhay program, Robredo’s office provided a total of P4.58 million worth of assistance to five coastal communities in the said provinces.

Former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez

File Photo: Former Calauan Mayor Antonio Sanchez. (Source: Coconuts Manila)

Convicted rapist and murderer Antonio Sanchez, the former mayor of Calauan, Laguna, nearly became a free man through his plea for executive clemency. However, after a public outcry, his application was held back due to some technicalities. His plea for executive clemency has been rejected, while his release on good conduct was held back amid questions on his eligibility and public uproar.

Ma. Clara Sarmenta, mother of Eileen, the student who was raped and murdered by Sanchez, said the “pain came back” when she learned Sanchez was seeking a release.

US President Donald Trump

File Photo: In this photo provided by the German Government Press Office (BPA), German Chancellor Angela Merkel deliberates with US president Donald Trump on the sidelines of the official agenda on the second day of the G7 summit on June 9, 2018 in Charlevoix, Canada. (Photo by Jesco Denzel /Bundesregierung via Getty Images)

Since he was elected as the 45th president of the United States, he has generated a lot of controversy, antagonized a lot of people and always got entangled with several countries around the world. He blamed the immigrants as part of the problem faced by the United States. He has been engaged in a protracted trade war with China without a solution in sight Trump is facing an impeachment inquiry for withholding military aid to Ukraine to pressure Ukrainian Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter. Moreover, Trump also wanted to develop a conspiracy theory that Ukraine, not Russia, meddled in the 2016 presidential election.

Bongbong Marcos

Former Senator Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr. talks to reporters in front of the Philippine Supreme Court in Manila, Philippines, Monday, April 2, 2018. (AP Photo/Aaron Favila)

The second child and only son of former President Ferdinand Marcos, Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos, Jr. pressed on with his challenge of the result of the vice presidential race in 2016 where Leni Robredo emerged victorious.

Marcos presented three causes of action in his electoral protest. The first cause of action was denied. The Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal, issued a resolution in October on how it dealt with Marcos’ second cause of action.

The High Court’s initial recount of votes in three pilot provinces – Camarines Sur, Iloilo, and Negros Oriental – chosen by Marcos himself because they will best show electoral fraud, instead revealed Robredo widened her margin of votes over Marcos from 263,473 votes to 278,555.

The Supreme Court, however, ruled that it’s resolution is not final, keeping Marcos’ hopes alive.

Note: This list was compiled and reviewed prior to the 30th Southeast Asian Games.

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