20 Juni 2022

How the Philippines Could Overcome Its Deep Mistrust of Constitutional Reform

The Philippines has had three constitutions. Despite numerous attempts, the 1987 Constitution has not been amended since its ratification. Initiatives to change a constitution, and moves of resistance, are part and parcel of a constitutional democracy. Actually, the Philippines finds itself in a fortunate position, because the failure of past attempts at amending the 1987 Constitution can offer valuable lessons. Continue reading >>
01 Februar 2022

Das Erbe des Kriegs gegen den Terror auf den Philippinen

Zwanzig Jahre nach dem 11. September stehen weltweit grundlegende Probleme der Demokratie im Zusammenhang mit Desinformation und illiberaler Intoleranz. Die Philippinen, ein Paradebeispiel für die Post-Wahrheits-Politik, die die Welt erfasst hat, sind von gesellschaftlichen Spannungen geprägt, die sich in Angriffen auf Journalisten äußern, die über missliebige Themen und Ereignisse berichten. Der weltweite Krieg gegen den Terror hat auf den Philippinen erheblich dazu beigetragen, dass die Grenzen des öffentlichen Diskurses in Richtung Autoritarismus verschoben wurden und dass Gesetzesreformen nur sehr begrenzt Abhilfe schaffen können. Continue reading >>

The legacy of the War on Terror in the Philippines

Twenty years after 9/11, the definitive problems of democracy globally relate to disinformation and illiberal intolerance. The Philippines, an illustration of post-truth politics that has engulfed the world, is wracked by tensions in society, resulting in attacks on journalists reporting on disfavoured issues and events. The global War on Terror considerably contributed to a turn towards authoritarianism in the Philippines, vis-à-vis the limits of public discourse, and that law reform offers a very limited kind of remedy. Continue reading >>
26 April 2021

The Philippines a Year under Lockdown

The Philippines have one of the longest lockdowns in the world in response to COVID-19. This post reviews the past year, focusing on the main legal and political issues as well as prospects in the country with the second highest total number of COVID-19 cases in Southeast Asia. Continue reading >>
22 Juni 2020

The Conviction of Maria Ressa and the Unequal Enforcement of the Truth

The cyber libel conviction of Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr. by a regional trial court in Manila last week threw into sharp relief the manifestly different standards of accuracy enforced against citizens and the government. In a country presently governed by an administration that has allegedly been the source of widespread disinformation, private media and citizen reporters are subjected to ever stricter anti-falsehood laws. The case provokes to rethink private and state accountability for the spreading of falsehoods. Continue reading >>
14 April 2020

Abstract panic: On fake news, fear and freedom in Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, which is the world’s most dynamic laboratory of fake news legislation, the corona crisis has put previously created laws to practice and sparked additional legislative activity. The professed goal is to prevent public panic. Recent enforcement actions, however, demonstrate the complete irrelevance of any panic indicators. A falsehood’s panic potential is simply assumed. In short, an abstract panic threat is fought with very concrete measures: Arrests and criminal prosecutions. Cases from across Southeast Asia prove the trend, whereas two decisions in Singapore deserve particular attention. Continue reading >>
07 Dezember 2019

Truth vs. Free Speech

Southeast Asian governments have been stepping up their efforts to actively manage the truth by combatting false information. Among the main tools are correction orders and state-run “fake news centers” that monitor and “rectify” alleged falsehoods online. In addition, government discourse employs increasingly belligerent language to denounce the perceived threats. The Southeast Asian “war on fake news” thus makes the region the world’s most vibrant laboratory of anti-falsehood legislation. The protection of the truth is becoming an increasingly accepted ground for restricting free speech. Continue reading >>
16 Dezember 2018

A Look behind the Fake News Laws of Southeast Asia

In Southeast Asia, attempts to regulate the fake news phenomenon can be broadly categorized, on the one hand, in cases where fake news laws are conceived at least also as the government’s weapon to silence critics and dissenters, and on the other hand, cases where the discourse is lead more open-ended. Under the first category, Malaysia springs to mind, Cambodia and Vietnam possibly too. Thailand is a somewhat mixed case. Much more open-ended are the fake news discourses in Indonesia, the Philippines and Singapore. Continue reading >>
04 April 2018

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.  Continue reading >>
15 März 2018

Bye bye, ICC! The Philippines’ farewell put into perspective

On 14 March 2018, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte announced that the Philippines will withdraw from the International Criminal Court (ICC, the Court) “effective immediately.” Duterte’s intention to reject the ICC’s jurisdiction exemplifies the Court’s fragile foothold across Southeast Asia. Cambodia and the Philippines have been the only two ICC members among the ten ASEAN countries. Thailand signed the Statute in 2000, but not yet proceeded to ratification. An explanation of this Southeast Asian hesitation may be found in distinct attitudes and principles within and between the ASEAN countries. Continue reading >>
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