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

Filipinos fear Omicron will ‘paralyse’ nation as government’s focus turns to election

Just under half the country has been double-vaccinated, while the Duterte administration has ruled out another punishing lockdown ahead of polls in May.

Just under half the country has been double-vaccinated, while the Duterte administration has ruled out another punishing lockdown ahead of polls in May.

17 Jan 2022 - 8:41AM
Philippine election: Bongbong Marcos slams ‘nuisance candidate’ who called him an impostor

Philippine presidential hopeful TVM wants people to believe the ‘real’ Bongbong Marcos died years ago. The claim is one of various conspiracy theories surrounding the colourful election.

Philippine presidential hopeful TVM wants people to believe the ‘real’ Bongbong Marcos died years ago. The claim is one of various conspiracy theories surrounding the colourful election.

1 Dec 2021 - 11:34PM
Could the colour pink swing the Philippine presidential election for Leni Robredo?

Fans describe Leni Robredo’s choice of campaign colour as “a masterstroke visual metaphor of resistance against toxic masculinity”.

Fans describe Leni Robredo’s choice of campaign colour as “a masterstroke visual metaphor of resistance against toxic masculinity”.

26 Nov 2021 - 12:35AM
The Manchurian candidate: why China’s interest in the Philippine election is under scrutiny as Duterte prepares to leave office

In intellectual circles, the talk has turned to the possibility of a ‘Manchurian candidate’. The CIA once steered the pro-American ‘Amboy’ Ramon Magsaysay into office but Beijing’s attention on Bongbong Marcos has raised eyebrows.

In intellectual circles, the talk has turned to the possibility of a ‘Manchurian candidate’. The CIA once steered the pro-American ‘Amboy’ Ramon Magsaysay into office but Beijing’s attention on Bongbong Marcos has raised eyebrows.

20 Nov 2021 - 4:13PM
Philippine election 2022: is Duterte’s cocaine claim a sign of a deeper feud with the Marcos family?

The Philippine president claims one of the candidates to replace him is a drug user and ‘weak’ leader. Whatever can he mean?

The Philippine president claims one of the candidates to replace him is a drug user and ‘weak’ leader. Whatever can he mean?

20 Nov 2021 - 10:36PM
Explainer | Philippine presidential election: who’s running, who’s favourite and what’s their China policy?

The deadline to enter has passed and among the big names in with a shot are Panfilo Lacson, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao, Ronald dela Rosa and Leni Robredo.

The deadline to enter has passed and among the big names in with a shot are Panfilo Lacson, Ferdinand Marcos Jnr, Isko Moreno, Manny Pacquiao, Ronald dela Rosa and Leni Robredo.

9 Oct 2021 - 3:11AM
Duterte, Marcos, Estrada, Cayetano: Pacquiao can’t beat the Philippines’ political dynasties, but he can join them

In the Philippines’ free and open elections, it’s easy to vote a political family out of power – vote another one in. Welcome to the ‘world capital’ of political dynasties.

In the Philippines’ free and open elections, it’s easy to vote a political family out of power – vote another one in. Welcome to the ‘world capital’ of political dynasties.

3 Oct 2021 - 1:06PM
Duterte spokesman who mocked the UN now hopes they’ll give him a job

Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque is vying for a spot at the International Law Commission.

Philippine presidential spokesman Harry Roque is vying for a spot at the International Law Commission.

17 Sep 2021 - 8:35PM
US military, China’s economy: Philippines plays it both ways with Duterte’s VFA U-turn

After years of anti-American vitriol and repeated threats to scrap a deal that allows US troops to operate in the country, the Philippine leader has turned on a dime. Is it all part of a deep game?

After years of anti-American vitriol and repeated threats to scrap a deal that allows US troops to operate in the country, the Philippine leader has turned on a dime. Is it all part of a deep game?

14 Aug 2021 - 4:00PM
China theme runs through Philippine weightlifter Hidilyn Diaz’s Olympic gold medal

The weightlifter made her stance on the South China Sea clear, saying ‘what’s ours is ours’, and thanked her Chinese coach, Gao Kaiwen.

The weightlifter made her stance on the South China Sea clear, saying ‘what’s ours is ours’, and thanked her Chinese coach, Gao Kaiwen.

5 Aug 2021 - 12:27PM
Opinion | Is Philippines’ adobo recipe debacle akin to spats over Italy’s pizza, Spain’s paella?

Filipinos are ridiculing officials over their plans to pin down a recipe for adobo, a dish every family has a different take on.

Filipinos are ridiculing officials over their plans to pin down a recipe for adobo, a dish every family has a different take on.

14 Jul 2021 - 4:50PM
Could Philippines-Japan air force exercise herald Tokyo’s closer involvement in Southeast Asia?

An analyst says such a prospect would have been ‘unthinkable’ two decades ago following Japan’s legacy of conquest and occupation in the region.

An analyst says such a prospect would have been ‘unthinkable’ two decades ago following Japan’s legacy of conquest and occupation in the region.

8 Jul 2021 - 11:14PM
Tributes pour in for Benigno Aquino, the Philippine president who stood up to China

Aquino, who died on Thursday, has been hailed for his legacy of economic growth and Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory over Beijing in the South China Sea dispute.

Aquino, who died on Thursday, has been hailed for his legacy of economic growth and Manila’s 2016 arbitral victory over Beijing in the South China Sea dispute.

25 Jun 2021 - 7:53AM
US-Philippine VFA military pact ‘in limbo’ until Duterte leaves office

The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows US soldiers to train in the Philippines, has been put off multiple times.

The termination of the Visiting Forces Agreement, which allows US soldiers to train in the Philippines, has been put off multiple times.

23 Jun 2021 - 9:44PM
Arrests within months if ICC crimes against humanity probe into Rodrigo Duterte’s drug war goes ahead: rights lawyer

The International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked for an investigation into the Philippine government, saying there is reason to believe it ‘deliberately’ killed up to 30,000 Filipinos in the crackdown between 2016 and 2019.

The International Criminal Court prosecutor Fatou Bensouda has asked for an investigation into the Philippine government, saying there is reason to believe it ‘deliberately’ killed up to 30,000 Filipinos in the crackdown between 2016 and 2019.

15 Jun 2021 - 11:02PM
Philippines shocked by video of policeman shooting mother

Phone footage shows master sergeant Hensie Zinampan grabbing Lilibeth Valdez by the hair and shooting her.

Phone footage shows master sergeant Hensie Zinampan grabbing Lilibeth Valdez by the hair and shooting her.

1 Jun 2021 - 11:29PM
Most Filipinos don’t want a coronavirus vaccine. Especially not a Chinese one

President Duterte has moved to stop people choosing what brand of jab they receive after a clinic giving Pfizer jabs was swamped. Meanwhile people are missing appointments at centres offering Sinovac shots.

President Duterte has moved to stop people choosing what brand of jab they receive after a clinic giving Pfizer jabs was swamped. Meanwhile people are missing appointments at centres offering Sinovac shots.

26 May 2021 - 8:45PM
Philippines won’t move an inch on South China Sea, Duterte tells Beijing

The Philippine president has rebuffed a call from China to withdraw vessels from a contested maritime area near a Chinese military installation.

The Philippine president has rebuffed a call from China to withdraw vessels from a contested maritime area near a Chinese military installation.

14 May 2021 - 11:34PM
Philippines plans South China Sea ‘logistics hub’, as Beijing accused of increasing boats

Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jnr says there are now 300 Chinese boats in the disputed waters, up from 200 in March.

Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin Jnr says there are now 300 Chinese boats in the disputed waters, up from 200 in March.

13 May 2021 - 1:34PM
‘Original Wolf Warrior’? How Philippine Foreign Secretary Teddy Locsin tries to outdo China’s diplomats on Twitter

The Philippines’ top diplomat has long refused to censor himself on social media, culminating in a recent expletive-laden Twitter rant at China. But the 72-year-old foreign secretary has not always been so pugnacious, say those who know him.

The Philippines’ top diplomat has long refused to censor himself on social media, culminating in a recent expletive-laden Twitter rant at China. But the 72-year-old foreign secretary has not always been so pugnacious, say those who know him.

8 May 2021 - 8:34PM
South China Sea heats up as Philippines drops the F-bomb over Chinese boats

War of words as Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr calls China an ‘ugly oaf’ in foul-mouthed Twitter outburst over Chinese vessels near Scarborough Shoal.

War of words as Foreign Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr calls China an ‘ugly oaf’ in foul-mouthed Twitter outburst over Chinese vessels near Scarborough Shoal.

4 May 2021 - 1:17PM
Coronavirus: Philippines could face India-like surge, doctor warns, as infections pass 1 million

Dr Rodrigo Ong of the independent OCTA Research Group think tank said the country was at the ‘same crosspoint’ in its fight against the virus, with the health care system in a ‘delicate balance’ as hospitals risk being overwhelmed.

Dr Rodrigo Ong of the independent OCTA Research Group think tank said the country was at the ‘same crosspoint’ in its fight against the virus, with the health care system in a ‘delicate balance’ as hospitals risk being overwhelmed.

27 Apr 2021 - 10:57PM
Philippine woman who started food bank branded a communist, compared to Satan by Duterte’s forces

Ana Patricia Non, 26, recently set up a shelf with groceries for those who have been jobless and hungry during Covid-19, sparking a nationwide trend.

Ana Patricia Non, 26, recently set up a shelf with groceries for those who have been jobless and hungry during Covid-19, sparking a nationwide trend.

24 Apr 2021 - 1:00PM
Whitsun Reef row: could the Philippines lose another South China Sea feature to Beijing?

The Philippines has summoned Beijing’s top envoy in the country to a meeting, but analysts say Manila may be forced to pick a side between the US and China.

The Philippines has summoned Beijing’s top envoy in the country to a meeting, but analysts say Manila may be forced to pick a side between the US and China.

13 Apr 2021 - 11:15PM
Coronavirus: Rodrigo Duterte reappears amid anger over surging cases, lack of hospital beds in Philippines

The president had not been seen for two weeks, prompting speculation over his health, as people take to social media over the lack of hospital beds in the country.

The president had not been seen for two weeks, prompting speculation over his health, as people take to social media over the lack of hospital beds in the country.

13 Apr 2021 - 11:56AM
South China Sea: Manila gets tough on Beijing over Whitsun Reef row, earning praise from even Duterte’s critics

The swarming of Chinese vessels in the Whitsun Reef could signal a shift in the pro-Beijing position that Manila has cultivated for five years.

The swarming of Chinese vessels in the Whitsun Reef could signal a shift in the pro-Beijing position that Manila has cultivated for five years.

7 Apr 2021 - 7:27AM
South China Sea: will the Whitsun Reef dispute come between Beijing and Manila?

The growing row sparked by Chinese vessels in the Whitsun Reef is causing a headache for Philippine President Duterte, who has been nurturing ties with China since 2016.

The growing row sparked by Chinese vessels in the Whitsun Reef is causing a headache for Philippine President Duterte, who has been nurturing ties with China since 2016.

5 Apr 2021 - 9:03AM
‘Prelude to occupation’: worries flare in Philippines as Beijing tells US not to provoke confrontation over Chinese ships

Foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr says the Philippines might invoke its defence treaty with the US to deal with presence of Chinese ships in its waters, while duelling statements from the Chinese and American embassies have also fuelled anxiety and speculation.

Foreign secretary Teodoro Locsin Jnr says the Philippines might invoke its defence treaty with the US to deal with presence of Chinese ships in its waters, while duelling statements from the Chinese and American embassies have also fuelled anxiety and speculation.

24 Mar 2021 - 8:34PM
Philippines must protest over Beijing’s ‘little blue men’ or waive South China Sea claims, Rodrigo Duterte’s government told

The Philippines has lodged a formal protest with Beijing after spotting what it says is a militia of more than 200 Chinese vessels around Whitsun Reef. But it has also played down the friction.

The Philippines has lodged a formal protest with Beijing after spotting what it says is a militia of more than 200 Chinese vessels around Whitsun Reef. But it has also played down the friction.

24 Mar 2021 - 1:13PM
Missiles, vaccines and China bring the Philippines and India closer

Manila this month signed a deal to buy the world’s fastest cruise missile from New Delhi, while it could also secure up to 38 million doses of Covid-19 inoculations made in India.

Manila this month signed a deal to buy the world’s fastest cruise missile from New Delhi, while it could also secure up to 38 million doses of Covid-19 inoculations made in India.

22 Mar 2021 - 11:09AM