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What is the future of democracy in the Philippines?

Written by Ana P Santos

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte — who is allowed to serve just one time period as president — has stated he could take into account working for vice chairman when his time period ends subsequent 12 months.

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has introduced plans to run for vice chairman when his time period ends in May 2022, elevating considerations about the way it might bypass presidential time period limits and hold him in energy, whereas granting immunity from legal prices.

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

Philippine presidents are restricted by the 1987 structure to a single six-year time period.

Under Philippine regulation, the vice chairman is elected individually from the president.

Those who serve in the publish might probably be propelled to the high function if the president dies or is incapacitated for any motive.

Possible ICC investigation into the anti-drug marketing campaign

Duterte, a 76-year-old former mayor who made a reputation in politics along with his extra-tough method to crime, has gained notoriety for his profane rhetoric and contentious drug struggle, which claimed the lives of 1000’s of folks in the Southeast Asian nation.
Human rights organizations and civil society activists have slammed his authorities, holding it chargeable for what they are saying is a tradition of impunity.

Protesters march throughout a rally outdoors the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, June 30, 2021.(AP)

Last month, prosecutors at the International Criminal Court (ICC) introduced their intention to open a full investigation into the brutal anti-drug marketing campaign and the alleged illegal killing of probably tens of 1000’s of folks.

The ICC’s outgoing chief prosecutor stated final month {that a} preliminary examination discovered motive to consider crimes towards humanity had been dedicated throughout the crackdown.

The prosecutor sought authorization to open a proper investigation and the court docket’s judges have 120 days to determine.

The court docket’s strikes imply Duterte might face prices of crimes towards humanity, though Duterte has stated he would by no means cooperate in a attainable ICC investigation.

Despite criticism from rights campaigners at dwelling and overseas, Duterte’s reputation in the Philippines has remained excessive.

Weak democratic foundations and establishments

Duterte has a protracted observe file of chipping away at democratic establishments.

His actions vary from the closing of the largest broadcast media community to the passage of an anti-terror regulation that critics say institutionalizes a crackdown on dissent and 1000’s of alleged extrajudicial killings.

Political consultants say that the Duterte administration merely uncovered the fragility of the nation’s democratic establishments.

“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 informed DW.

Protesters maintain slogans bearing a caricature of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte throughout a rally outdoors the Malacanang palace in Manila, Philippines on Wednesday, June 30, 2021. (AP)

The Philippines has a multiparty political system that critics characterize as “mere fan clubs” of politicians, who typically change events for their very own private features.

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

Heydarian stated that the defection of many members of Congress to Duterte’s ruling get together after he received the 2016 presidential elections was facilitated by the absence of concerted institutional checks and balances. It additionally 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,” stated Heydarian.

A younger, maturing democracy

Centuries of colonial rule make the Philippines a younger democracy. The nation was underneath Spanish rule for over three centuries earlier than management handed on to the United States, which granted independence to the Philippines in 1946.

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

However, succeeding administrations couldn’t repair the systemic deficiencies of the multiparty political system or neutralize the dominance of political dynasties in authorities.

Political analysts say the consequence of the presidential elections in May 2022 will now decide the democratic trajectory of the nation.

Sara Duterte, President Duterte’s daughter, and Ferdinand Marcos Jr., the son of the late dictator, are rising as robust contenders for the highest workplace.

Marcos Jr. ran for vice chairman in the 2016 elections and misplaced by a razor skinny 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 latest army coup in Myanmar.

Turning the tide in favor of opposition

According to political strategist Alan German, the Philippines can’t proceed on the similar trajectory, which is fostering a tradition of impunity and inflicting 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 informed DW.

The urn of former President Benigno Aquino III is seen throughout a public viewing at the Church of Gesu of Ateneo de Manila University, in Quezon City, Philippines, Friday, June 25, 2021. (AP)

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

However, the demise of former President Benigno Aquino III in June and the outpouring of sympathy for him could have the potential to show 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,” stated German.

Disinformation to reshape political panorama

Social media manipulation or the use of pretend accounts, trolls and bots to shift public opinion additionally performs a job in drastically shaping a political panorama the place 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 analysis fellow at the Harvard Kennedy School, who has studied disinformation networks in the Philippines, informed DW.

Social media and its algorithms allow the proliferation of disinformation, conspiracy theories and focused harassment of people on a private stage. “This creates a climate of fear not just among journalists but also general citizenry to express legitimate dissent,” Ong stated.

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