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Category archive for: Philippines

Challenging Oligarchic Politics in the Philippines

Written by Roland G. Simbulan.

Electoral candidates in national and local positions who mostly come from the elites, always promise to carry out a ‘good governance’ initiative. Our response to this must be to widen participatory governance. That is, to broaden the participation of the marginalized sectors and progressive organizations and civic groups in the political process.

This article examines the possibilities and challenges of participatory governance under the present oligarchic political system and electoral process.

Dynastic families compete among themselves in ad hoc political parties to monopolize politics for their families, and use their power to control government projects and finances to further enlarge their economic power. The resurgence in Philippine politics of the unrepentant Marcos family, which for two decades plundered our economy into impoverishment while murdering democracy for 14 years, is proof of how money dominates money dominates our so-called political parties. The Marcos dictatorship looted $10 billion from the Filipino people. This money is being used to do a political ‘Lazarus’. Continue reading Challenging Oligarchic Politics in the Philippines

Typhoon Yolanda Survivors Need More than Pro-poor Rhetoric from Politicians

Written by Pauline Eadie.

Market researchers in the Philippines stratify socioeconomic classes into A, B, C, D or E classes. The distinction between the classes is not absolute however it is clear that the D and E classes make up around 90%  of the electorate. Therefore politicians have to appeal to the ‘masa’ vote in order to secure political office. This was done extremely well by former President Joseph (Erap) Estrada who campaigned on the slogan Erap para sa masa or mahirap (Erap for the masses/poor). Meanwhile, outgoing President Benigno Aquino III, who was swept into office by a wave of sympathy for his recently deceased mother (and national icon) former President Cory Aquino, addressed poverty by campaigning on an anti-corruption/good governance ticket. Aquino claimed that ‘if no one is corrupt then no one will be poor’.  Continue reading Typhoon Yolanda Survivors Need More than Pro-poor Rhetoric from Politicians

Marcos and Duterte: Authoritarian Nostalgia in the Philippines

Written by Jeremiah Reyes.

Our country is said to be in the midst of ‘authoritarian nostalgia.’ According to a study of six countries in Asia, the Philippines exhibits growing yearning for strongman rule and sympathy for a military intervention in government. Among the countries studied, the Philippines rejects authoritarian rule the least. The study used statistical analysis of the first and second rounds of the Asian Barometer Survey and was authored by Yu-tzung Chang, Yunhan Zhu, Chong-min Pak and. The Journal of Democracy published their findings in 2007.

I am not surprised by these findings. This election has yielded a colorful variety of personalities vying for the highest posts of the land. Despite the myriad assortment of interesting personalities, two have caught my attention, and for very exacting reasons. I refer to Bongbong Marcos, currently a Senator and running for the position of Vice President, and Rodrigo Duterte, Davao City mayor and a ‘presidentiable.’ These two people have stood out from among the rest because of the kind of government these two have come to represent. I refer to it as an authoritarian form of government. Continue reading Marcos and Duterte: Authoritarian Nostalgia in the Philippines

Philippines 2016: Is America’s military presence affecting the Philippine elections?

Written by Elliot Newbold.

On the 28th of January, 2016, only days before the official start of the Philippine elections, United States Ambassador Philip Goldberg outlined his nation’s vision for military cooperation between the Philippines and the United States. Under the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (E.D.C.A.), the United States has earmarked over $60 million to help strengthen the Philippines’ anemic military. Signed in April of 2014, the deal affords U.S. troops, planes, and warships increased rotational presence in Philippine military bases and allows Washington to build facilities and store equipment. In a statement to the Manila press, Goldberg declared “[the] E.D.C.A. is designed to support what the Philippines is trying to do in terms of… modernizing and equipping its armed forces.” Continue reading Philippines 2016: Is America’s military presence affecting the Philippine elections?

Philippines 2016: The Crises of Representation in the Philippines and the Role of Charter Change

Written by Aries A. Arugay.

The Aquino Administration would like to believe that it has made strides in improving transparency and accountability. While there is empirical support for this, corruption is not the only gripping problem of Philippine democracy. There is also a need to improve government responsiveness, political inclusion, and popular participation. There is reason to believe that current political leadership has not paid attention to these dimensions of democracy. With this in mind, the 2016 elections should be an opportunity for the new administration to explore instituting political reforms by amending the 1987 Constitution.

Existing assessments of Philippine democracy reveal a current state of stagnation. Democratization, a process that was rebooted in 1986, seemed to be trapped in suspended animation. One study attributed this to the inability of the democratic regime to integrate different groups within society to the electoral process as well as policy-making. The long-list of identified challenges relate to dynastic politics, costly elections, clientelism, weak political parties, and the absence of meaningful public participation. The deficits, if not addressed, could worsen into a full-blown crisis of representation as seen in other countries, some of which descended into a downward spiral of polarization and instability. Continue reading Philippines 2016: The Crises of Representation in the Philippines and the Role of Charter Change

Democratic Dysfunction in the Philippines: “Pateros ” as a Microcosm

Written by Ernie R. Gonzales.

Democracy run by patriotic democrats empowers the masses whom they represent, and facilitates the attainment of genuine justice, freedom, peace and progress.  But kept in the hands of Kleptocrats, democracy becomes dysfunctional and pushes society into the depths of poverty, hunger and modern slavery. Social life becomes locked into systemic graft and corruption. This undermines both the polity and the integrity of human habitats and ecological systems.  The system of representative democracy is damaged and the system of statesmanship is killed literally.  In this dysfunctional democracy the government itself becomes the oppressor of the very people that it  should serve and govern. Continue reading Democratic Dysfunction in the Philippines: “Pateros ” as a Microcosm

Philippines 2016: Democracy for the Bobotante

Written by Carmina Yu Untalan.

Spend just 30 minutes reading commentaries on Philippine presidential elections online, and there is a 99 percent chance that you will come across the word bobotante. You may guess that it is a derogatory term from the context in which it appears: we have four candidates and each have weaknesses: Mar Roxas, member of one of the country’s oldest dynasties; Jejomar Binay, the incumbent vice president being tried for graft and corruption; Rodrigo Duterte, an iron fist with a dirty tongue; and, Grace Poe, a novice facing disqualification due to her ‘dual’ citizenship. But what is spectacular about this election discourse is that we not only see commentaries lambasting the candidates but also their supporters in public space. Bobotante and its “derivatives” are the choice words to strike the ultimate affront to the other. Continue reading Philippines 2016: Democracy for the Bobotante

Philippines 2016: We Need to Talk About Manny

Written by Pauline Eadie.

Political aspirants in the Philippines routinely trot out religious piety, devotion to family and humble origins as mechanisms to appeal to the masses. These humble origins often turn out to be somewhat exaggerated as in the case of Manny Villar.  If a claim to humble origins is simply not credible then a love of or affinity with the poor will do. This worked well in the case of former President, and now Mayor of Manila, Joseph Estrada who capitalized on his former career as a movie star where he often played the role of defender of the poor.

However one man whose humble origins cannot be disputed is Manny Pacquiao. Pacquiao was born in Mindanao in 1978 and dropped out of school aged 12 to support his mother and siblings after his father left the family home for another woman. In due course he travelled the 500 miles to Manila as a stowaway on a boat. Once there he moved from manual labour and living on the streets to professional boxing. Pacquiao went on to win ten different world titles in eight different weight divisions. Manny Pacquaio is the stuff of legends. It is reported that when he fights there is virtually no crime in the Philippines as everything stops for the match. Pacquiao’s appeal is so great that the Philippine Marines and the Moro National Liberation Front were able to put their differences aside and watch the fight against Ricky Hatton together. He is courted by politicians and celebrities, in the hope that some of his magic might rub off on them. Continue reading Philippines 2016: We Need to Talk About Manny

2016 Philippine Presidential Elections: Turning Point for Internal Conflicts?

Written by Joseph Franco.

The 9th February 2016 marks the official start of 90-day campaign period for the Philippine presidential elections. Boisterous and even bordeline slanderous remarks are par for the course as with prior presidential races. Beyond the day-to-day flurry of campaigning lies potential turning points for the different internal conflicts raging across the Philippines.

Political cadres versus fighters: Communists at the crossroads?

The Philippines has played host to one of the longest-running insurgencies in the world—led by the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and its armed wing, the New People’s Army (NPA). Figures from the Philippine militaryestimate that the NPA is down to 3900 armed fighters in 2016 far below its peak strength of around 26000 during the late President Corazon Aquino’s administration. Continue reading 2016 Philippine Presidential Elections: Turning Point for Internal Conflicts?

What the Philippines 2016 Elections Mean for the Mindanao Peace Process

Written by Pauleen Gorospe.

It has been decades since the armed conflict in Mindanao erupted. Almost 50 years later, the Government of the Philippines (GOP) was able to enter into peace agreements with two secessionist groups: in 1996, with the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) and, in 2014, with its breakaway group, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). However, recent developments could be undone by a change in leadership, which makes the May 2016 general elections a critical juncture in the peace process.

The peace process so far

The 1996 final peace agreement between the GOP and the MNLF enabled the expansion of the Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (ARMM), an autonomous political entity created in 1989 in accordance with a constitutional amendment. Former combatant and MNLF founder Nur Misuari was elected as the ARMM’s third governor. Amidst all this, the armed conflict continued, as breakaway groups, such as the MILF, did not recognize Misuari’s leadership and found anything short of independence unacceptable. In addition, for many years after its establishment, the ARMM remained one of the poorest regions in the country, fueling allegations of corruption against MNLF leadership. The armed conflict also disrupted long-term development, and the lack of progress served as one of the impetuses for the MILF’s campaign. Continue reading What the Philippines 2016 Elections Mean for the Mindanao Peace Process