Sunday, October 16, 2016

Statement by PHISO; Photos from "Political Transformation" Conference; Hong Kong; Cuba Note

The GSCIS Advisory Committee on Outreach and Conferences recently expressed some concern to our new PHISO affiliate about the situation in the Philippines. We did so in the context of the fact that we are co--hosting a workshop with PHISO, March 9-10, 2017, in Manila (we are also co-sponsoring several panels in Hong Kong but we are pleased to do those). As a result of our conversations, as well as our discussions with the Executive Committee of the GSCIS, we have decided to table the issue for further discussion in Baltimore.  At the same time, we felt that it was important to disseminate PHISO's statement on the issue. Members should Here it is:

From Nassef Manabilang Obiang, PHISO Founding Chair:

 We would like to take this opportunity to clarify our position on concerns about human rights under the Duterte administration. While we do condemn in the highest terms controversial comments made by President Duterte on matters such as the Jacqueline Hamill rape-murder and his obtuse references to the Holocaust, we assert that the legal and democratic processes of the country have not been dismantled by the incumbent democratically-elected administration. At present, investigations are being conducted on the spate of alleged extra-judicial killings related to the drug trade and a number of civil society groups, NGOs and concerned citizens are monitoring the developments carefully without systematized state repression.  

In terms of the onslaught of media backlash about the president’s remarks, a number of which were taken out of context or mistranslated, we as scholars of the Global South have to be critical of the dominant narratives that surround Duterte’s increasingly independent streak on matters of foreign policy and consider the competing power interests of various Philippine elites in constructing the discourse of the peripheral-born President who grew up in Davao City (Southern Philippines). His legacy as a public servant in that city was centered on anti-graft and corruption as well as anti-drug campaigns. Davao City eventually became one of the top 5 world’s safest cities[].

In early 2016, his electoral platform was centered on the ‘War-on-Drugs’ as has been the case in various other countries across the world. He won the 2016 Presidential election by a landslide[] in an election process that was quick, transparent and legitimate, in contrast to neighbouring countries such as Thailand during the 2013-2014 political crisis. Duterte won primarily because of his track record in Davao City and his action-centered platform. The crime rate in the country is down by 31%[] as of August 24, 2016. 

Democracy in the Philippines is very alive. There is no state repression of political opposition parties, of local and international media, of academics, and of all sectors in the Philippines. This is very different from recent occurrences in Turkey, with its mass purges of the academe and media, among other sectors. According to the recent Drug War stats[], there are almost 3,600+ deaths (both from legitimate police operations and vigilante-style or unexplained killings), more than 22,000+ drug addicts and criminals arrested, and more than 730,000 drug pushers and users surrendered. Based on our observations, a number of alleged extrajudicial killings are undergoing investigation, while controversial incidents are critiqued openly in various media. As of writing, the incidents have not caused notable social unrest.


October 06, 2016 marked the first 100 days of the Duterte Administration, and according to the recent Social Weather Stations' (SWS) survey the president got a "very good" satisfaction rating. “The survey, which was conducted between Sept. 24 and 27 through interviews with 1,200 adults nationwide showed that 75 percent were satisfied, while 13 percent were undecided on Duterte's performance….  – See more at:[]   

“Amid controversies in his first 100 days in office, President Rodrigo Duterte is most likely to be "one of the very best presidents" of the Philippines, an analyst said Thursday.” – See more at:[]  

World Bank and Business World measured the government’s 100-day economic performance.

World Bank said “the country’s economy, as measured by its gross domestic product (GDP), may grow 6.4 percent this year…” In addition, it “remains one of fastest growing economies in East Asia and the Pacific despite the weak global economy.” Read more at[] 

Business World submits that “sentiment in the financial market remains generally positive amid and despite President Rodrigo R. Duterte’s expletive-laden rhetoric…” Read more at[]  

This is not to defend the current government. but generally most Filipinos are satisfied with the country's economic and security policies. While, international mainstream media continuous to focus on the President's expletive-laden rhetoric. 

The country has more than 100 million population, and according to Dangerous Drugs Board’s 2015 survey there are 1.8 million (1.8% of the total population) drug users. See:[] However, the president estimated that there will soon be 4 million drug addicts. See:[]


The workshop, Political Transformation-Transforming Politics: Feminist Perspectives and Interventions, was sponsored by our friends and members--including Prof. Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel and Porf. Uta Ruppert--at Goethe University, Frankfurt, 7-8 October 2016. The two-day workshop addressed a range of issues involving gender and politics in the global south, transnational feminist perspectives, activism, transnational justice, and global transformations in general. The book, Negotiating Normativity: Postcolonial Appropriations, Contestations, and Transformations (Springer 2016) edited by Nikita Dawan, Elisabeth Fink, Johanna Leinius, and Rirhandu Mageza-Barthel, was launched during the meeting. Photos:
 Dr. Nadje Al-Ali (seated) speaking about Women in the Middle East


 Solange Chatelard presents on China and Africa
 GSCIS Founding Chair JBW with organizers and participants

The dates of the workshop on decolonizing IR (with thanks to B.G. Jones, 2006) or alternatively, Integrating the Local in IR, are tentatively set for July 6-8, 2017. Please mark your calendars. The call for participants will go out soon.

Click here for next blog: Job Opening in Australia, ACUNS Meeting  2017 and ACUNS Dissertation Fellowship!

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