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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

Panama Papers: why we’re looking at global corruption the wrong way

Written by Paul M Heywood.

Although the size and scale of the Panama Papers leak was shocking, the offshore dealing they revealed was hardly a surprise. After all, many organisations, including Transparency International, Global Witness, Action Aid, Christian Aid, Corruption Watch, and Tax Justice Network have long expressed their concerns about money laundering and the role of enablers.

The Panama Papers have revealed a lot about the ways in which the rich and powerful hide their wealth – and many of them are legal. But while there’s no evidence that Mossack Fonseca has done anything illegal, the reporting has suggested links between some offshore shell companies and organised crime and money laundering. The data, we’re told, reveals a vast underbelly of corruption associated with Panama – and other offshore banking destinations. Continue reading Panama Papers: why we’re looking at global corruption the wrong way

Brexit or Bremain? Immigration and EU Membership

Written by Helen Williams.

At the core of many discussions about the UK’s referendum on EU membership and a possible Brexit is the issue of immigration. Objections to the freedom of movement enshrined in EU membership generally focus on five aspects:

  • The effect on public services;
  • The effect on the economy;
  • Britons who live elsewhere in the EU;
  • Questions of sovereignty; and
  • Differences of culture and values.

Here, I address the first of these: public services. I break this into the categories of benefits, housing, healthcare, and education, looking at each in turn. Continue reading Brexit or Bremain? Immigration and EU Membership

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

Philippines 2016: The Significance of the OFW Vote

Written by Rachelle Bascara.

The Philippine Daily Inquirer collated the positions of the five presidential candidates on ten key issues: poverty, economy and jobs, food security, peace and order, corruption, health care, foreign policy, traffic, climate change, and interconnectivity. Reading through the profiles and action points, there was no mention of Overseas Foreign Workers (OFW). OFWs comprise around ten percent of the Philippine population or an estimated 15 million Filipinos. Some OFWs now have the opportunity to vote through the Overseas Voting Program. There are currently 1.1 million Filipinos abroad registered and entitled to participate in the upcoming May elections. Continue reading Philippines 2016: The Significance of the OFW Vote

Brussels terror attacks: a continent-wide crisis that threatens core European ideals

Written by Fiona de Londras.

The attacks of March 22 in Brussels were shocking, but not surprising. They reinforced what many have known for years: Belgium has a serious problem with terrorism.

For a long time, security analysts have expressed anxiety about the depth and extent of radicalisation and fundamentalism in the country. It is thought that Belgium has the highest per capita rate of foreign terrorist fighters of any EU country. A February 2016 “high-end estimate” puts that number at 562 out of a population of just over 11 million.

Last November it was revealed that some of the Paris attackers had Belgian connections and were known to the security forces there, and Brussels was virtually locked down for almost a week. Continue reading Brussels terror attacks: a continent-wide crisis that threatens core European ideals