#THROWBACK2013 | Year in Review: Philippines 2013

10. Philippines-Taiwan row over fisherman's death

Amid the dispute with mainland China, the Philippines found itself caught in an imbroglio after an unarmed Taiwanese fishing vessel was peppered with bullets by the Coast Guard in waters off Batanes. One fisherman died, with Taipei crying overkill. Taiwan tried to flex its military and diplomatic muscles, as it demanded justice for the slain fisherman. Overseas Filipino workers on the island had it worst and were allegedly on the receiving end of racist incidents. The Palace, despite being caught by surprise by the turn of events, played it cool and had the the National Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Justice look into the issue. The Philippines later apologized for the incident and charges were filed against Coast Guard personnel responsible. Manila also expressed willingness to engage Taipei in fisheries talks to prevent a similar incident from happening.

9. Sulu Sultan's 'Royal Army intrudes' in Sabah

The long-standing Sabah territorial dispute took center stage again when a self-proclaimed sultan of Sulu and men loyal to his cause caused mayhem in Lahad Datu. Kuala Lumpur did not take it sitting down and launched a siege on Jamalul Kiram III's "Royal Army," resulting in at least 68 dead and more than 100 "invaders" captured. Kiram's camp wanted the Philippine government to intervene and assert Manila's claim on the territory but the Aquino government stayed put and sought diplomacy in resolving the conflict. Kiram died in October -- a wanted man, penniless and without a kingdom.

8. 2013 Elections
Team PNoy and Binay's United Nationalist Alliance squared off in the polls, with the Palace-backed line-up getting the majority, 9-3, in the Senate race.

A daughter of Vice-President Jejomay Binay caused a firestorm on the Internet after the opposition United Nationalist Alliance announced that it would be fielding Nancy Binay as a senatorial candidate in the 2013 midterm elections.

She was the daughter of the king of Philippine movies and one of its reigning queens, but until recently Grace Poe-Llamanzares was unknown to many Filipinos. She led the senatorial race and was one of the first winners to be proclaimed.

7. Zamboanga siege

On September 9, 2013, members of the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) faction of Nur Misuari laid siege to Zamboanga City, displacing more than 100,000 residents. The city became a battlefield as government troops and the MNLF exchanged gunfire for days, killing around 200 people. The clashes ended on September 28, 2013 with around 400 MNLF fighters loyal to Misuari either killed or captured by government troops.

6. Bohol earthquake

A magnitude 7.2 earthquake hit Bohol on October 15, 2013, jolting parts of the Visayas and Mindanao regions. The quake caused massive damage to buildings and homes in Bohol and parts of Cebu. Even historical churches in Bohol, including the centuries old Baclayon Church, were not spared.

5. Worst catfights

It rained fire and brimstone in the halls of the Senate amid the clashes between two of its most senior members, Senate Minority Leader Juan Ponce-Enrile and Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago.

While relief and recovery efforts in the aftermath of the typhoon showed signs of heroism, it also became a subject of controversy after Tacloban Mayor Alfred Romualdez criticized President Aquino and Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas for engaging in partisan politics immediately after the typhoon ravaged his city.

4. Year of Filipino beauty

Two first-time wins in Miss World and Miss Supranational. A 5th crown in Miss International. Fourth-place finishes in Miss Universe, Miss Grand International and Miss Intercontinental. Top 8 in Miss Earth and Top 10 in Miss Tourism Queen International plus Miss International Queen. 5th place in Mister International

3. Pacman vs Taxman

Philippine boxing icon and Sarangani Rep. Manny Pacquiao's tax problems with the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR) started two years ago, but became full-blown only in 2013 after the bureau ordered his bank accounts and properties garnished for his alleged failure to pay P2.2-billion to the government from his earnings. Pacquiao's camp claimed that the allegations are baseless because his earnings in the US are automatically taxed by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The BIR, on the other hand, said the boxer has not given the agency the documents it has been asking as proof of his payments in the US. The issue became more complicated after celebrity website TMZ alleged that the IRS is after the boxing champion for failing to pay more than $18 million in income taxes in the US. Instead of engaging in a PR war, Pacquiao was advised by his fellow lawmakers to instead get a good tax lawyer and an accountant.

2. World's strongest typhoon

The deadliest disaster in the world in 2013 made landfall in Leyte on November 8 and left more than 6,000 dead and 1,700 others missing. Super typhoon Yolanda (international name Haiyan) is officially the strongest storm ever to make landfall and unofficially the strongest typhoon ever recorded in terms of wind speed. It devastated central Philippines, with deaths and destruction blamed on tsunami-like storm surges that the cyclone created. It also raised questions regarding preparations and response of national and local governments to natural disasters.

1. Pork barrel scam

It began with an expose by the Philippine Daily Inquirer, which dragged names of several senators and congressman into a P10-billion scheme organized by a businesswoman called Janet Lim Napoles. Soon the little-known Napoles became a household name Filipinos use to describe most ills they see in government. It didn’t help that Napoles’ U.S.-based daughter Jeane flaunted the family wealth online, thereby fuelling the wrath of taxpayers. Uproar over the so-called pork barrel scam has prodded President Benigno Aquino III himself to move for the abolition of the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF). Napoles surrendered to Aquino, was put in custody and faced a Senate hearing, but continues to claim innocence.

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