Connect with us

World News

What is the future of democracy in the Philippines?

Thaiger

Published

 on 

What is the future of democracy in the Philippines?

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has announced plans to run for vice president when his term ends in May 2022, raising concerns about how it could bypass presidential term limits and keep him in power, while granting immunity from criminal charges.

“Consider me a candidate for the vice presidency at this time, maybe to maintain equilibrium for all,” Duterte told reporters last Thursday.

Philippine presidents are limited by the 1987 constitution to a single six-year term.

Under Philippine law, the vice president is elected separately from the president.

Those who serve in the post could potentially be propelled to the top role if the president dies or is incapacitated for any reason.

Possible ICC investigation into the anti-drug campaign

Duterte, a 76-year-old former mayor who made a name in politics with his extra-tough approach to crime, has gained notoriety for his profane rhetoric and contentious drug war, which claimed the lives of thousands of people in the Southeast Asian country.

Human rights organizations and civil society activists have slammed his government, holding it responsible for what they say is a culture of impunity.

Last month, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) announced their intention to open a full investigation into the brutal anti-drug campaign and the alleged unlawful killing of possibly tens of thousands of people.

The ICC’s outgoing chief prosecutor said last month that a preliminary examination found reason to believe crimes against humanity had been committed during the crackdown.

The prosecutor sought authorization to open a formal investigation and the court’s judges have 120 days to decide.

The court’s moves mean Duterte could face charges of crimes against humanity, although Duterte has said he would never cooperate in a possible ICC investigation.

Despite criticism from rights campaigners at home and abroad, Duterte’s popularity in the Philippines has remained high.

Weak democratic foundations and institutions

Duterte has a long track record of chipping away at democratic institutions.

His actions range from the closing of the largest broadcast media network to the passage of an anti-terror law that critics say institutionalizes a crackdown on dissent and thousands of alleged extrajudicial killings.

Political experts say that the Duterte administration simply exposed the fragility of the country’s democratic institutions.

“The Philippine democratic systems were already broken making it easy for Duterte to impose his authoritarianism. Duterte just pushed existing structural weaknesses to their logical extreme,” political scientist Richard Heydarian told DW.

The Philippines has a multiparty political system that critics characterize as “mere fan clubs” of politicians, who often switch parties for their own personal gains.

The allegiance of politicians and voters is based on political personalities rather than on ideologies.

Heydarian said that the defection of many members of Congress to Duterte’s ruling party after he won the 2016 presidential elections was facilitated by the absence of concerted institutional checks and balances. It also chipped away at democratic safeguards.

“The Philippines may look like a promising and beautiful democracy but institutions were really up for grabs by authoritarian leaders,” said Heydarian.

A young, maturing democracy

Centuries of colonial rule make the Philippines a young democracy. The country was under Spanish rule for over three centuries before control passed on to the United States, which granted independence to the Philippines in 1946.

Democracy took a downturn when dictator President Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law in 1972. The toppling of Marcos in a celebrated bloodless revolution in 1986 catapulted the widow of his main political opponent, Corazon Aquino, to the presidency.

However, succeeding administrations could not fix the systemic deficiencies of the multiparty political system or neutralize the dominance of political dynasties in government.

Political analysts say the outcome of the presidential elections in May 2022 will now determine the democratic trajectory of the country.

Sara Duterte, President Duterte’s daughter, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator, are emerging as strong contenders for the highest office.

Marcos Jr. ran for vice president in the 2016 elections and lost by a razor thin margin.

“The Philippines is not a singular case. It is part of the broader trend of embracing authoritarian nostalgia and various forms of reactionary populism that we see in Asia,” Heydarian underlined, citing the recent military coup in Myanmar.

Turning the tide in favor of opposition

According to political strategist Alan German, the Philippines cannot continue on the same trajectory, which is fostering a culture of impunity and causing an erosion of democratic freedoms.

“It will take a strong and working opposition to counter this trend, but we don’t have that yet and well, the presidential elections are just around the corner,” German told DW.

Vice President Leonor Robredo, who is the most prominent member of the opposition Liberal Party, remains reluctant to run for president.

However, the death of former President Benigno Aquino III in June and the outpouring of sympathy for him may have the potential to turn the tide in favor of the Liberal Party.

“Aquino’s death made a dent, but it is uncertain if it is enough. What is certain is that the Philippines cannot continue on this same trajectory of a culture of impunity and hatred of us vs them. I worry that civil unrest will ensue,” said German.

Disinformation to reshape political landscape

Social media manipulation or the use of fake accounts, trolls and bots to shift public opinion also plays a role in drastically shaping a political landscape where dissent is stifled.

“Social media manipulation strategies reflect a wholesale adoption of corporate marketing into the political realm. However, political marketing is like the wild, wild, west. It is unregulated,” Jonathan Ong, a research fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, who has studied disinformation networks in the Philippines, told DW.

Social media and its algorithms enable the proliferation of disinformation, conspiracy theories and targeted harassment of individuals on a personal level. “This creates a climate of fear not just among journalists but also general citizenry to express legitimate dissent,” Ong said.

SOURCE: DW News

 

Get more from The Thaiger

📱 Download our app on Android or iOS
👋 Have your say on our Thailand forums
🔔 Subscribe to our daily email newsletter
📺 Subscribe / Join YouTube for daily shows
👍 Like/Follow us on Facebook
🐦 FOLLOW us on Twitter
📷 FOLLOW us on Instagram

Follow Thaiger by email:

Philippines11 hours ago

ICC opens investigation into Philippines President Duterte

World11 hours ago

American general defends “clandestine” phone calls with China

Thailand11 hours ago

Countdown to October reopening; body of Koh Phi Phi resort manager found | Thailand News Today | September 16

Welcome back to Thailand!

Thaiger is getting behind local businesses for the restart of tourism in Thailand - up to 50% discounts across all advertising packages!

Visa12 hours ago

Hungarian woman arrested in Koh Samui for 10-year overstay

Thailand12 hours ago

Nakhon Si Thammarat reports Covid outbreak at prison

Guides13 hours ago

Most famous viewpoints in Phang Nga

image
Join the conversation on the Thaiger Talk forums today!
Blackpink13 hours ago

Blackpink’s Lisa causes sales frenzy for Buri Ram meatballs

Thailand14 hours ago

NACC ordered to disclose their findings regarding Deputy PM Prawit’s watch scandal

World14 hours ago

“Thai Taste Therapy” launched to promote Thai cuisine worldwide

Food14 hours ago

Food and drinks to stay away from in Thailand

Thailand14 hours ago

Ode to the Comments | Thaiger Bites | Ep. 19

Pattaya15 hours ago

Pattaya reopening likely to snub nightlife, favor other attractions

Thailand15 hours ago

Epidemiologists dispatched to Phuket to help curb the spread of Covid

Phuket15 hours ago

Phuket Vegetarian Festival gets “green light” to run from October 6 to 14

Coronavirus (Covid-19)16 hours ago

Thursday Covid Update: 13,897 new cases; provincial totals

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14 | Thaiger
Thailand3 days ago

Morning Top Stories Thailand | Police to end protests, Human Trafficking | September 14

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Thai Airways in rehab, All go for Songkran | March 4

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket’s nightlife. Yes, bars and clubs are still open | VIDEO

Phuket7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid passport talks, Thai Airways heads to court | March 2

Tourism7 months ago

Phuket Thai food treats you need to try | VIDEO

Thailand7 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bars, pubs and restaurants ‘sort of’ back to normal | Feb 23

Tourism7 months ago

In search of Cat & Dog Cafés in Phuket Town | VIDEO

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Gambling crackdown, Seafood market to reopen, Vlogger challenge | Jan 21

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid testing for visas, Business impact, Vaccine approval | January 19

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Weekend Bangkok bombs, Thailand fires, Covid update | January 18

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Stray car on runway, Indonesian quake, 300 baht tourist fee | January 15

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Governor off respirator, sex-trafficking arrest, condo prices falling | January 14

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Chinese vaccine, Thailand ‘drug hub’, Covid update | January 13

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Bangkok may ease restrictions, Phuket bar curfew, Vaccine roll out | January 12

Thailand8 months ago

Thailand News Today | Covid latest, Cockfights closed down, Bryde’s Whale beached | January 11

Trending