Alan Robles

Alan Robles

Alan Robles has been a journalist for more than 30 years and has written for the SCMP since 2002. A freelance foreign correspondent specialising in politics, development, foreign affairs, science, environment and IT, he has a humour column at abs-cbnnews.com and runs the political satire site hotmanila.ph. He lectured for 12 years on digital media at the Internationales Institut fuer Journalismus in Berlin.

Latest from Alan Robles

As Philippines seeks Covid-19 vaccines, ghost of Dengvaxia controversy lingers

As Covid-19 cases rise, the Philippine public’s abysmal public trust in vaccines will be a huge hurdle in the government’s vaccination bid.

24 Jan 2021 - 12:25PM

As Covid-19 cases rise, the Philippine public’s abysmal public trust in vaccines will be a huge hurdle in the government’s vaccination bid.

As Philippines seeks Covid-19 vaccines, ghost of Dengvaxia controversy lingers
‘Look at the West Philippine Sea’: Protests flare as Duterte targets ‘state enemies’ at University of the Philippines

Defence authorities ended a pact that had kept military and police off campus saying the university was a safe haven for ‘extremists’. A senator took a dig at China by saying the government should look for communists elsewhere, such as in the disputed South China Sea.

19 Jan 2021 - 11:24PM

Defence authorities ended a pact that had kept military and police off campus saying the university was a safe haven for ‘extremists’. A senator took a dig at China by saying the government should look for communists elsewhere, such as in the disputed South China Sea.

‘Look at the West Philippine Sea’: Protests flare as Duterte targets ‘state enemies’ at University of the Philippines
Filipino women slam ‘sexist’ Duterte after he says presidency is not for women

‘The emotional set-up of a woman and a man is totally different’, president says in reference to a possible presidential run by his daughter.

25 Jan 2021 - 10:08AM

‘The emotional set-up of a woman and a man is totally different’, president says in reference to a possible presidential run by his daughter.

Filipino women slam ‘sexist’ Duterte after he says presidency is not for women
Philippine police under microscope after ‘rape-slay’ case of flight attendant falls apart

The death of a 23-year-old flight attendant during a New Year’s Eve party received national attention after police threatened to hunt down ‘suspects’.

12 Jan 2021 - 9:33PM

The death of a 23-year-old flight attendant during a New Year’s Eve party received national attention after police threatened to hunt down ‘suspects’.

Philippine police under microscope after ‘rape-slay’ case of flight attendant falls apart
Delays and missteps: how Duterte’s Philippines struggled against the coronavirus

A top medical expert warns that the country faces a long battle with Covid-19 unless a coherent strategy to fight it is implemented.

31 Dec 2020 - 8:59PM

A top medical expert warns that the country faces a long battle with Covid-19 unless a coherent strategy to fight it is implemented.

Delays and missteps: how Duterte’s Philippines struggled against the coronavirus
Philippine police’s Christmas prank puts brutality, mistrust in spotlight after recent killing of mother and son

President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has been blamed for a culture of police impunity, with a Christmas prank highlighting abuses of power.

24 Dec 2020 - 6:07PM

President Rodrigo Duterte’s ‘war on drugs’ has been blamed for a culture of police impunity, with a Christmas prank highlighting abuses of power.

Philippine police’s Christmas prank puts brutality, mistrust in spotlight after recent killing of mother and son
Duterte’s war on drugs: ICC sees ‘reasonable basis’ for crime against humanity probe in Philippines

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is deciding whether to investigate the Philippine president’s war on drugs, which is alleged to have claimed thousands of lives.

21 Dec 2020 - 11:04PM

The International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor Fatou Bensouda is deciding whether to investigate the Philippine president’s war on drugs, which is alleged to have claimed thousands of lives.

Duterte’s war on drugs: ICC sees ‘reasonable basis’ for crime against humanity probe in Philippines
Filipinos told to cut the Christmas revelry amid fears of Covid-19 super-spreading events

The country’s biggest holiday is an exuberant combination of Philippine, US, Spanish and Chinese customs and traditions – but many are toning down or skipping the festivities this year.

1 Dec 2020 - 10:57AM

The country’s biggest holiday is an exuberant combination of Philippine, US, Spanish and Chinese customs and traditions – but many are toning down or skipping the festivities this year.

Filipinos told to cut the Christmas revelry amid fears of Covid-19 super-spreading events
‘Women age you’: is Philippines’ Duterte sexist, or a clever politician?

The Philippine president is once again in hot water, this time for sexist jokes with an old school friend. But a psychologist says he uses outrage for political gain.

16 Nov 2020 - 9:44PM

The Philippine president is once again in hot water, this time for sexist jokes with an old school friend. But a psychologist says he uses outrage for political gain.

‘Women age you’: is Philippines’ Duterte sexist, or a clever politician?
China would ‘seize’ the Philippines in a war with the US: former military chief Bautista

Retired Philippine general Emmanuel Bautista said the superpowers would seek to control strategic waterways linking the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean.

30 Oct 2020 - 9:25PM

Retired Philippine general Emmanuel Bautista said the superpowers would seek to control strategic waterways linking the South China Sea and Pacific Ocean.

China would ‘seize’ the Philippines in a war with the US: former military chief Bautista
Philippines’ plan for maritime militia to match China raises fears of ‘shooting war’

Force proposed by military officials would be made up of fishermen and organised into seaborne militia units, but former senator warns the strategy cold raise the risk of war with China.

16 Oct 2020 - 9:00AM

Force proposed by military officials would be made up of fishermen and organised into seaborne militia units, but former senator warns the strategy cold raise the risk of war with China.

Philippines’ plan for maritime militia to match China raises fears of ‘shooting war’
In the Philippines, tide of criticism greets Manila’s new fake beach

Concerns have been raised over the health and environmental impacts of the crushed dolomite used to make the artificial beach along Manila Bay.

27 Sep 2020 - 9:16PM

Concerns have been raised over the health and environmental impacts of the crushed dolomite used to make the artificial beach along Manila Bay.

In the Philippines, tide of criticism greets Manila’s new fake beach
Philippines’ former justice secretary accused of ‘protecting’ immigration syndicate

The ‘pastillas’ scam netted hundreds of millions of pesos in bribes from Chinese nationals who bypassed immigration to enter the Philippines.

22 Sep 2020 - 10:24PM

The ‘pastillas’ scam netted hundreds of millions of pesos in bribes from Chinese nationals who bypassed immigration to enter the Philippines.

Philippines’ former justice secretary accused of ‘protecting’ immigration syndicate
In a US-China war, whose side is Southeast Asia on? Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia ponder the unthinkable

A clash between the world’s superpowers in their own backyard is the last thing Southeast Asian nations need. But they are likely to find staying neutral is not an option.

21 Sep 2020 - 3:16PM

A clash between the world’s superpowers in their own backyard is the last thing Southeast Asian nations need. But they are likely to find staying neutral is not an option.

In a US-China war, whose side is Southeast Asia on? Philippines, Singapore and Malaysia ponder the unthinkable
Philippines mulls ‘Marcos Day’ on September 11 to honour late dictator

Ferdinand Marcos led a regime that killed and tortured thousands of Filipinos and looted billions of dollars. Now a group of lawmakers are calling for his birthday to be a holiday in his home province.

9 Sep 2020 - 10:27AM

Ferdinand Marcos led a regime that killed and tortured thousands of Filipinos and looted billions of dollars. Now a group of lawmakers are calling for his birthday to be a holiday in his home province.

Philippines mulls ‘Marcos Day’ on September 11 to honour late dictator
We’ll keep US military ties as we ‘warm’ to China: Philippine armed forces chief

Words of new armed forces chief Gilbert Gapay contrast to those of Duterte who vowed to China in 2016 he would ‘separate’ from the US, which had ‘lost’.

5 Sep 2020 - 8:28PM

Words of new armed forces chief Gilbert Gapay contrast to those of Duterte who vowed to China in 2016 he would ‘separate’ from the US, which had ‘lost’.

We’ll keep US military ties as we ‘warm’ to China: Philippine armed forces chief
South China Sea: ‘If China attacks our navy, we’ll call the US’, Philippines says

In a first under the Duterte administration, Manila says it is prepared to invoke its Mutual Defence Treaty with the US in the face of Chinese aggression.

27 Aug 2020 - 9:46AM

In a first under the Duterte administration, Manila says it is prepared to invoke its Mutual Defence Treaty with the US in the face of Chinese aggression.

South China Sea: ‘If China attacks our navy, we’ll call the US’, Philippines says
Philippines failing to contain coronavirus, despite multiple lockdowns

It is now Southeast Asia’s worst-affected country, with more than 164,000 confirmed cases and a president who is pinning his hopes on a Chinese or Russian vaccine.

18 Aug 2020 - 9:56AM

It is now Southeast Asia’s worst-affected country, with more than 164,000 confirmed cases and a president who is pinning his hopes on a Chinese or Russian vaccine.

Philippines failing to contain coronavirus, despite multiple lockdowns
Coronavirus rumours prompt Duterte to address citizens in Facebook video

Manila has been bubbling with rumours about the president’s health, forcing him to address citizens in a Facebook live video on Monday evening.

18 Aug 2020 - 9:59AM

Manila has been bubbling with rumours about the president’s health, forcing him to address citizens in a Facebook live video on Monday evening.

Coronavirus rumours prompt Duterte to address citizens in Facebook video
South China Sea: why did Duterte bar Philippine military from US exercises?

Officially the move is aimed at keeping a lid on tensions, but a former senator says it is meant to ‘demonstrate allegiance to China’.

5 Aug 2020 - 8:30AM

Officially the move is aimed at keeping a lid on tensions, but a former senator says it is meant to ‘demonstrate allegiance to China’.

South China Sea: why did Duterte bar Philippine military from US exercises?
Ostriches on the run as Metro Manila goes into coronavirus lockdown

Two ostriches were caught after escaping from a Quezon City property, as the region went into a strict coronavirus lockdown.

5 Aug 2020 - 11:26AM

Two ostriches were caught after escaping from a Quezon City property, as the region went into a strict coronavirus lockdown.

Ostriches on the run as Metro Manila goes into coronavirus lockdown
Philippine coronavirus: Manila braces for lockdown, Duterte accuses doctors of seeking ‘revolution’

Philippine president took aim at ‘troublemakers’ who recorded and shared a Tagalog version of Do You Hear The People Sing? from Les Miserables.

4 Aug 2020 - 4:21PM

Philippine president took aim at ‘troublemakers’ who recorded and shared a Tagalog version of Do You Hear The People Sing? from Les Miserables.

Philippine coronavirus: Manila braces for lockdown, Duterte accuses doctors of seeking ‘revolution’
Duterte seeks Chinese coronavirus vaccine, rules out US bases in Philippines

‘I made a plea to Xi Jinping. Can we be one of the first to have it … or can we buy it?’ said President Rodrigo Duterte in State of the Nation Address.

28 Jul 2020 - 2:22PM

‘I made a plea to Xi Jinping. Can we be one of the first to have it … or can we buy it?’ said President Rodrigo Duterte in State of the Nation Address.

Duterte seeks Chinese coronavirus vaccine, rules out US bases in Philippines
Criticising China could be ‘terrorism’ under Philippines’ anti-terror law, warn retired Supreme Court justices

Duterte’s controversial anti-terror law is so vague it could even be used to censure criticisms of Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea, retired Supreme Court justices warn.

23 Jul 2020 - 10:44PM

Duterte’s controversial anti-terror law is so vague it could even be used to censure criticisms of Beijing’s actions in the South China Sea, retired Supreme Court justices warn.

Criticising China could be ‘terrorism’ under Philippines’ anti-terror law, warn retired Supreme Court justices
South China Sea: ‘no sense’ in pushing Philippines’ case at UN General Assembly, Locsin says

‘Why would you want to re-litigate something that you won? You don’t like you won?’

23 Jul 2020 - 9:21AM

‘Why would you want to re-litigate something that you won? You don’t like you won?’

South China Sea: ‘no sense’ in pushing Philippines’ case at UN General Assembly, Locsin says
Doubts over Philippine drug lords’ deaths from coronavirus while in prison fuel calls for investigation

The bodies of high-profile prisoners including Jaybee Sebastian, a witness against opposition leader Leila De Lima, were cremated without autopsies, fuelling rumours they were ‘resurrected’.

21 Jul 2020 - 11:30PM

The bodies of high-profile prisoners including Jaybee Sebastian, a witness against opposition leader Leila De Lima, were cremated without autopsies, fuelling rumours they were ‘resurrected’.

Doubts over Philippine drug lords’ deaths from coronavirus while in prison fuel calls for investigation
Foreign ministers from China, Philippines discuss South China Sea after US statement from Mike Pompeo

Wang Yi and Teddy Locsin’s call came after the US issued explicit support for the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling. While Duterte has aligned his country with Beijing, Manila has recently been more vocal about the disputed waterway’.

16 Jul 2020 - 5:32AM

Wang Yi and Teddy Locsin’s call came after the US issued explicit support for the 2016 arbitral tribunal ruling. While Duterte has aligned his country with Beijing, Manila has recently been more vocal about the disputed waterway’.

Foreign ministers from China, Philippines discuss South China Sea after US statement from Mike Pompeo
What next for Philippines’ ABS-CBN, the network that fell afoul of Duterte?

Congress has refused to renew the broadcaster’s franchise, citing bias and lewdness, leaving a question mark over 11,000 jobs. Sceptics draw a parallel to its treatment under Marcos.

15 Jul 2020 - 10:56PM

Congress has refused to renew the broadcaster’s franchise, citing bias and lewdness, leaving a question mark over 11,000 jobs. Sceptics draw a parallel to its treatment under Marcos.

What next for Philippines’ ABS-CBN, the network that fell afoul of Duterte?
Is Manila pivoting back to the US with Locsin’s South China Sea warning?

Unexpected warning by Manila’s foreign secretary over Chinese naval exercises comes as US and Chinese forces gather in the disputed waters, so close they can see each other.

6 Jul 2020 - 11:45PM

Unexpected warning by Manila’s foreign secretary over Chinese naval exercises comes as US and Chinese forces gather in the disputed waters, so close they can see each other.

Is Manila pivoting back to the US with Locsin’s South China Sea warning?
Has the Philippines contained Covid-19? Cebu City suggests otherwise

There were more than 5,500 Covid-19 cases there as of Monday, along with some 150 deaths.

3 Jul 2020 - 4:49AM

There were more than 5,500 Covid-19 cases there as of Monday, along with some 150 deaths.

Has the Philippines contained Covid-19? Cebu City suggests otherwise