The Philippines, which was once a diverse mix of sultanates and rajahdoms, was politically unified by the Spanish conquest of the 16th century. Spain ruled until a Filipino rebellion in 1898 ousted them with the support of the US, which subsequently asserted control. The Philippines gained independence after WWII, but dictator Fernando Marcos soon took over, ruling until 1986. Electoral democracy returned after that, but it has been marked by corruption and instability. The new government of Benigno Aquino III – heir to one of the Philippines’ most storied political families – has promised to clean up politics and cut bureaucratic inefficiency.
This section features interviews with President Benigno Aquino III; Florencio Abad, Secretary, Department of Budget and Management; and Surin Pitsuwan, Secretary-General, ASEAN. William Hague, UK Secretary of State for Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs, provides a viewpoint on UK-ASEAN relations in the 21st century.