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Category archive for: Asia and Pacific

Murder of LGBTQ+ editor highlights danger facing all rational voices in Bangladesh

Written by Ibtisam Ahmed. 

The murder of Xulhaz Mannan, the founder and editor of Bangladesh’s first and only LGBTQ+ magazine, Roopban, has drawn the world’s attention to the violence directed against the country’s outspoken supporters of equal rights. His death at the hands of six assailants sent a wave of fear through the community, and has prompted others to go into hiding.

This situation speaks to two closely connected crises. On the most obvious level, it highlights the stigma and danger faced by the LGBTQ+ community and its supporters – and at the same time, it’s part of a larger threat to rational thought and speech that has been mounting for several years. Continue reading Murder of LGBTQ+ editor highlights danger facing all rational voices in Bangladesh

Hardman Rodrigo Duterte closes in on the Philippine presidency

Written by Pauline Eadie.

As the Philippines careers towards the May 2016 presidential elections, it looks as if one of the country’s toughest politicians may be about to sweep to power. Rodrigo “Digong” Duterte is currently leading in the polls despite a series of outlandish and outrageous remarks – most recently, a vow to kill his children if they take drugs – and it seems as if it may be too late for any of his challengers to pull off an upset. Continue reading Hardman Rodrigo Duterte closes in on the Philippine presidency

Philippines 2016: Election Day is All Souls Day

Written by Kevin H.R. Villanueva.

Politics is performance and the Philippine presidential election is a stage. Binay, Duterte, Roxas, Poe and Defensor-Santiago will each play many parts: they will tap into our deepest desires, draw out our dissatisfactions and lay bare our discords as a people. They will have their exits and their entrances. And in three overlapping character scripts – throughout the last stretch of this campaign – they will keep us mesmerized. Continue reading Philippines 2016: Election Day is All Souls Day

Philippines 2016: The Bangsamoro Peace Process Beyond May

Written by Julia Palmiano Federer.

The current peace process between the Government of the Philippines and Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) was dealt a large blow in late January 2016 with the non-passage of a diluted version of the Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL). The BBL is a bill slated to transform central elements of theComprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro (CAB) into law and thereby establishing a new Bangsamoro political entity that would replace the current Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao. The passing of the BBL was envisioned as a mid-way point in the implementation of the CAB, jumpstarting processes of popular ratification and election of a governing body by 2016. However, it became fraught with questions regarding its constitutionality and eventually failed to pass in the House of Representatives of the 16th Congress. It remains pending in the 16th Congress until 30 June, as the Senate cannot support it without the approval of the House of Representatives. The enormity of the bill’s non-passage is compounded by the upcoming general elections on 9 May 2016 and accompanying change in administration. Once Congress reconvenes after the election, the bill will have to be re-filed, rendering the future of the peace process uncertain. Continue reading Philippines 2016: The Bangsamoro Peace Process Beyond May

The Philippines, Environmental Politics and the Challenges Ahead

Written by Pauline Eadie.

On 9 May 2016 Philippine voters go to the polls. They will elect leaders that range from the national presidency down to the local barangay (village). Election campaigns in the Philippines enjoy a carnival type atmosphere that intensifies as polling day draws near. Motorcades cruise around the streets conveying politicians at all levels adorned in their political colours, music blares and electoral paraphernalia is dispensed to the masses. Promises of meaningful change that favours the impoverished masses are made and, for a while at least, the vast majority of the population engage with the merits of the various political aspirants. Filipinos fought hard for their democracy and they value it. Continue reading The Philippines, Environmental Politics and the Challenges Ahead

Missiles Not Rifles: The Significance of Military Modernization for the Next President

Written by Francis Domingo.

The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is gradually regaining its prestige after decades of incapacity. However, these efforts may be diminished if the next president is unable to provide a clear direction and follow through in terms of military capability management. So far, it seems that only two presidential candidates have explicitly articulated plans for continued military modernization: Jejomar Binay and Grace Poe. The other candidates –Rodrigo Duterte, Mar Roxas, and Miriam Santiago – have not outlined definite plans for the military but are prioritising diplomatic initiatives such as bilateral engagements and international organizations as strategies to address external threats. While diplomacy and military strength are equally important, the next president should not forget the colourful history of the AFP’s involvement in Philippine politics. Continue reading Missiles Not Rifles: The Significance of Military Modernization for the Next President

What Hope for Integrity?: Philippines Election 2016

Written by Barry Naylor.

“If rampant cheating and violence ensues in the elections, let us guard the true will of the people by announcing and denouncing the mockery that has happened by taking to the streets and shaking the foundations of traditional politics ruled by Guns, Goons, and Gold.” 

On May 9th the people of the Philippines will go to the polls to elect a new President, a Vice President, twelve Senators alongside members of the House of Representatives, Governors of various provinces, Mayors, municipal councillors and other political leaders. Past experience does not hold out any great hope that these elections will lead to positive transformation in the lives of millions of citizens, who live in poverty and do not have access to some of the basic necessities of life. Continue reading What Hope for Integrity?: Philippines Election 2016

Philippine Fanfare and the Frailty of Philippine Foreign Policy

Written by Amador IV Peleo.

In the 2016 Philippine electoral theatre, an international relations (IR) issue has proven to be a point of agreement for the candidate-players who are accustomed to gaining political acclaim through antagonistic behaviour over issues that are predominantly domestic in scope.  The issue of life in the space where two world powers are quite literally willing to draw a line on the sand has been used by the presidential and vice-presidential candidates in their propaganda to rouse nationalist sentiment that, in principle, could result in votes on election day.  Because of the national campaigns, the revulsion amongst the Philippine electorate for China as an illegal occupant of Philippine territories in the South China Sea is virtually unanimous, as is the belief that military and legal assistance from the United States related to the South China Sea territorial dispute is intended primarily to defend Philippine sovereignty.  However effective the ‘China is our enemy, US is our friend’ argument may prove to be as a campaign slogan, the Philippine electorate may not be sufficiently aware that the outcome of this territorial dispute has less to do with the selection of particular government officials and more to do with the willingness of non-politicians to re-evaluate the place of their state in the global network of international relations. Continue reading Philippine Fanfare and the Frailty of Philippine Foreign Policy

Security Dilemma in South China Sea: China, US and the choices for Philippines

Written by Sumantra Maitra.

As Philippines elections approach in May, the primary foreign policy choice facing the country is how to manage the rise of China, and the growing militarization of the South China Sea. This comes at a time of heightened tensions in the region, as Chinese coast guard vessels took over a portion of the Spratleys chasing away Vietnamese and Philippines fishermen, before heading back as a reminder of Chinese navy’s choke hold. That is just one in a series of events that in the last few months that dramatically increased the tension in the historically volatile and fluid region. At the time of writing this piece, USS John Stennis carrier group escorted by five other warships including two destroyers are heading to South China sea as a show of force “Freedom of Navigation” (FONOP) operation. The navies of United States and India are planning joint patrols in the South China Sea, as well as there are talks of reviving the long dormant Quadrilateral Security Dialogue between Japan, Australia, India and US, as three of the four above mentioned nations are planning a series of naval exercises that is sure to cheese off China. Continue reading Security Dilemma in South China Sea: China, US and the choices for Philippines

Philippines 2016: The Political Spectacle and the Frustrated Vote

Written by Anthony Lawrence A. Borja.

In understanding what a political spectacle is I find a brawl as an apt analogy because when one breaks out in the open you will find at least six types of people.  First are those who are in the fight (i.e. representatives and other citizens in the public sphere), second are spectators forming the human cordon around it, and third are those who are passers-by paying marginal or no attention to the spectacle.  Now from the chain of spectators there are those who would either join or try to stop the fight, and those who will simply walk away from the spectacle upon losing interest.  Lastly, there are those who would remain as mere spectators during the entire span of the spectacle.  Electoral Politics usually takes the form of brawls ranging from the verbal and civilized, to the physical and savage, if not deadly encounters.  These engagements are based, not only upon activities ranging from festivities to violence but upon the projection of competing narratives that are meant to attract people who share the sentiments projected via political marketing.  I note that spectators are attached and concerned with the narratives behind and projected by such spectacles, and that this attachment in turn defines and sustain their spectatorship.  However, I note that election in a democratizing state is a curious spectacle since it is based upon both sustained spectatorship and its brief suspension.  Thus, in the context of relatively high voter turnouts averaging at 74.25% from 1992 to 2013, the persistence of a myriad of social problems, we must turn our attention towards the link between frustration and the narratives being projected during the current 2016 elections.  Continue reading Philippines 2016: The Political Spectacle and the Frustrated Vote