Julie McCarthy

The Philippine government, beset by charges of incompetence and corruption in its handling of the pandemic, has mounted a vaccination campaign that any of its Southeast Asian neighbors might envy. Over the course of just three days this week the country vaccinated 7.6 million people ages 12 and above. 34.53% of the country is now fully vaccinated.

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A foiled succession plan, sensational allegations, and a family feud at the pinnacle of power — these are the ingredients in what promises to be a riveting race to succeed outgoing Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte.

The no-holds-barred contest scheduled for May 2022 has already produced what some observers see as an unsettling alliance: the offspring of two presidents pairing off in an unprecedented bid to run the country.

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In September, the Philippines saw one-fifth of all the infections the country has reported since the start of the pandemic. NPR's international correspondent Julie McCarthy has this look at how the Philippines is coping.

Oxygen tank at her side, Isabelita Vinuya, 88, struggles as she sits up in her bed, too weak to stand and too listless to talk about the cause that animated her life the past 25 years. She organized the "Malaya Lolas," women who endured the Japanese Imperial Army's system of sexual slavery during its occupation of the Philippines in World War II. NPR's radio and digital account of the survivors' stories — and their decades-long struggle to win reparations from Japan — was honored with the Edward R.

He once scavenged through garbage heaps to help feed his family in one of Manila's most distressed slums. But today, Isko Moreno has launched himself on a bid to rule the Philippines.

Moreno, the Manila City mayor and former actor, announced Wednesday he's running to succeed President Rodrigo Duterte, whose term ends in June 2022.

Moreno's entry into the race has sparked attention because of his relative meteoric rise and his potential to upset a growing field of contenders who are vying for the highest office.

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The International Criminal Court has authorized a formal investigation into the controversial anti-drug war of the Philippines that has drawn international outrage.

By official count, at least 6,000 Filipinos, mostly poor drug peddlers and addicts, have been killed in the anti-drug police operations. But rights groups estimate the number of victims could be four times that.

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National elections in the Philippines are not until May of next year, but the family of the president, Rodrigo Duterte, has already shaken up the race. NPR's Julie McCarthy explains how

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has derided the United States, and courted China, through much of his time in office, putting one of America's oldest alliances in Asia on the back foot. But now, nearing the end of his single six-year term, the mercurial leader appears to be looking more favorably toward the Americans.

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Updated July 1, 2021 at 5:06 PM ET

After years of a deadly counternarcotics campaign that has riven the Philippines, the International Criminal Court is a step closer to opening what international law experts say would be its first case bringing crimes against humanity charges in the context of a drug war.

In Southeast Asia, the coronavirus is gathering pace, with dangerous new outbreaks in Malaysia and Vietnam. Both these countries had managed to avoid the worst of the pandemic in 2020.

In Malaysia, the surge in cases follows exponential growth that began in early April. Cases have risen by more than 60% in the past 14 days.

Friday alone saw more than 8,200 confirmed new cases of infection, pushing the country's tally to more than 603,100, a five-fold increase since the start of the year.

Eighty-year-old Nardo Samson, a retired policeman, lay dying in the back of a makeshift ambulance. It was nearly Easter. A surge in coronavirus cases triggered yet another lockdown in the capital Manila, where a confusing patchwork of quarantines to contain the virus persists.

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China has provoked international alarm by massing ships in the South China Sea near a reef claimed by both China and the Philippines. This week, Manila formally protested what it called a violation of "its sovereignty, sovereign rights, and jurisdiction." The United States and Western allies backed the Philippine call for China to immediately withdraw what appears to be a flotilla of fishing vessels.

Anger at restrictions imposed to contain the coronavirus pandemic swept into the streets of Europe on Saturday.

German police used water cannons, pepper spray and clubs on protesters rallying over the coronavirus lockdown in the town of Kassel in central Germany where demonstrators numbered some 20,000. Protests against government measures to rein in the pandemic were also reported in Austria, Britain, Finland, Romania and Switzerland.

Conservationists and wildlife enthusiasts are mourning the case of six lions that have been found dead and dismembered in what is a suspected to be a poisoning in one of Uganda's most renowned national parks.

Dead vultures provided a clue.

In a statement, the Uganda Wildlife Authority (UWA) said the big cats were found Friday evening with "most of their bodies parts missing" in Queen Elizabeth National Park, their carcasses surrounded by the lifeless scavengers, "which points to possible poisoning of the lions."

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Willy Pulia, who turned 58 this week, is scared of getting COVID-19 – and for good reason. He's a nursing assistant at a hospital in Manila, which means he inevitably comes in contact with patients who've contracted the virus. He lives with his 96-year-old father. And he's not been vaccinated.

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Editor's note: This story contains graphic descriptions of sexual and physical violence.

Narcisa Claveria will turn 89 this year, two days before Christmas. Stepping onto the veranda of the family apartment, she takes a moment to check on her 92-year-old husband, who eyes visitors with a weary look. The couple lives in the hill town of Antipolo, an hour outside Manila, in the Philippines. Outwardly, she is grandmotherly, sweet and tranquil.

But when memories from 75 years ago are tapped, her mood changes.

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It's been 75 years since the end of World War II. And in the Philippines, victims are still haunted by an atrocity - the sexual enslavement of women by Japanese forces occupying the country. Some 40 of those women are still alive. NPR's Julie McCarthy has our report on one of those survivors. And a warning - we do have to describe violence and sexual assault to tell this story.

JULIE MCCARTHY: Narcisa Claveria invites us into the family apartment outside Manila, where we arrange ourselves in a small bedroom to escape the noise.

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