Seit Langem ist in den Philippinen die gezielte Tötung politischer Gegner:innen ein fester Bestandteil des „demokratischen“ Wettstreits, dem pro Jahr zwischen 50 und 100 Politiker:innen und Kandidat:innen zum Opfer fallen. Trotz der Persistenz dieses Phänomens wird es jenseits der alltäglichen Berichterstattung in den philippinischen Medien weitestgehend ignoriert und stillschweigend als Teil der sozio-politischen Ordnung akzeptiert. Das Spotlight stellt diese national wie international kaum beachtete Form der Gewalt vor und verankert sie im Kontext eines umfassenderen Gewaltsyndroms.
Im Mai 2016 wurde mit Rodrigo Duterte ein Politiker zum Präsidenten der Philippinen gewählt, der versprochen hatte, Drogenkriminalität in wenigen Monaten auszurotten, vor allem durch das Töten von Dealern und Süchtigen. Deren Leichen würden „die Fische in der Bucht von Manila fett machen.“ Seit er diese Ankündigung umsetzt, sind seine Zustimmungswerte auf 80% gestiegen. Die liberale Mittelschicht unterstützt ihn, obgleich er Menschenrechte und liberale Freiheiten ignoriert, und die Armen unterstützen ihn, obgleich die mörderische Anti-Drogen-Kampagne fast ausschließlich Arme ins Visier nimmt. Warum ist das so?
The current and former leaders of the Philippines and Thailand, Rodrigo Duterte, Joseph Estrada, and Thaksin Shinawatra and their policies have in varying degrees been described and explained through the distinct lens of populism. I argue that in these East Asian cases, this category does neither fit the leaders nor their policies. To members of the domestic establishment elites and upper middle class intellectuals it rather serves as a political weapon to fend off political alternatives that threaten to sideline them.
Since the election of Rodrigo Duterte to President of the Philippines, the Philippine National Police has waged an unrelenting war against drug crime that cost the lives of thousands of suspects. A spatial and temporal analysis of the past 30 months suggests that violence is slowly receding. While the situation is still highly problematic, a number of positive developments suggest that in an increasing number of provinces police violence is slowly returning to its pre-Duterte levels. While the master-key for ending the killings lies with the central government, provincial governments can do their share to mitigate the deadly repercussions of the Duterte government’s drug war.
Populists are supposed to thrive on their ability to mirror, condense and radicalize popular demands ignored by establishment politicians. This sketch on the election-promises and later policies of Philippine strongman Rodrigo Duterte suggests that their success is less dependent on any pre-existing radical popular demands, but on their authenticity as leaders who get things done […]
In July 2016, the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) rejected most of the Chinese claims in the case on disputed “islands” in South China Sea brought to the Court by the Philippines. The verdict triggered widespread fears of a further escalation of the conflict between China and the Philippines as well as the other claimants and the United States. Yet, the near simultaneous ruling by the PCA and the change in Philippine administration from President Benigno Aquino to Rodrigo Duterte created a “ripe moment” for a fundamental transformation of the crumbling Sino-Chinese bilateral relations.
In May 2017 two groups of Muslim fighters raided the city of Marawi in the southern Philippines. After five months of fighting, the Philippine military finally announced that the city was reconquered from the Maute and Abu Sayyaf groups that supposedly had ties to the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria. This incident resembles a crisis in 2013 when members of another armed group, the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), entered the city of Zamboanga and battled government troops for weeks. But whereas the Zamboanga crisis neither attracted much foreign attention nor was linked to international jihadism, the fighting in Marawi has been portrayed as part of larger conflict between militant Islamism and the civilised world – a narrative that is lacking substantial empirical evidence.
On July 12, 2016 the Permanent Court of Arbitration (PCA) in The Hague handed down its verdict on the case against China brought to the Court by the Philippines in 2013. The award nullified most of the Chinese claims in the South China Sea. Following China’s rejection of both the Court’s jurisdiction and its adverse decision, confrontation seemed looming. Yet, a year later the storm clouds have dispersed. The rather surprising absence of any crisis in the region rests on two coinciding factors: the legal standards for “islands” developed in the verdict and the change in government in the Philippines.
June 30, 2016 saw the inauguration of Rodrigo Duterte as President of the Philippines. The next day Ronald Dela Rosa became the new Director General of the Philippine National Police. With the two came their longstanding strategy for dealing with crime from Davao City to the Philippine nation: tolerate or actively endorse the killing of suspects. One year later, several thousand people have died at the hands of on-duty policemen and vigilantes in a ferocious campaign that aims at eradicating a problem through “social cleansing”. Although public support for Duterte continues, the Philippines staggers towards an increasingly authoritarian state.