POSTS BY Michael Henry Yusingco

The Philippines’ Dalliance with Authoritarianism in Times of National Emergency

The Philippines is remarkably familiar with national emergencies, having faced just in the past three decades alone two global financial catastrophes, a number of coup attempts, a couple of destructive volcanic eruptions, a slew of ravaging typhoons, deadly terrorist attacks, and a devastating earthquake. Notably, the national response at these moments of crisis is to give the President “emergency powers”. Of course, this also comes with the admonition that citizens must fall in line and obey the commands of the government, which usually means temporarily “adjusting” adherence to human rights and respect for civil liberties.

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Complexities of Constitutional Change in the Philippines

President Rodrigo Duterte assumed office in July 2016, His party, PDP-Laban, had campaigned under the slogan: “No to Drugs, Yes to Federalism”. Duterte thus is committed to shepherding the Philippines towards a federal form of government; an undertaking that would require an extensive overhaul of the country’s constitution. The future of constitutional change under Duterte in any event is uncertain for a series of constitutional and political reasons. Critically, some of the most pressing of these concern the process of constitutional change itself. 

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