Say what you want about Benigno Aquino, but the Philippine president has some brass.
First he arrested predecessor Gloria Arroyo on corruption charges and ousted her Supreme Court chief justice. Then he took on the powerful Catholic Church, shepherding free-contraception laws that enraged the Vatican. Next he ran afoul of the local tycoons by backing higher taxes on cigarettes and alcohol. By tackling these issues along with economic reforms, Aquino’s country is on the way toward an investment-grade credit rating.
Now Aquino is taking on an immeasurably bigger target: China. The Philippines will challenge China’s maritime claims before a United Nations-endorsed tribunal. This isn’t going over well in China, and it’s sure to raise tensions as Asia vies for oil, gas and fisheries resources and a ruling on competing views of history in contested waters.