The overarching project goal is to reinforce public debates about the risks and consequences of authoritarian rule in the Philippines by enabling members of the academic community to become more active and persuasive participants in these debates. The project strategy is to establish a research network with representatives from the academic community, civil society and the media that will undertake a collaborative research project. Impact will be achieved through the establishment of a research network, research-specific capacity-building among network partners, the production of multi-disciplinary and high quality research, and effective dissemination oriented toward social impact. Taken together, these intermediate results will translate into improved research practices and new knowledge that can sustain a more nuanced and fact-based debate on the state of democracy, human rights, and violence in the Philippines.


The War on Drugs, The Abra Story

Abstract The drug situation in the province of Abra has been the subject of vacillating narratives.From being reported as having the worst case in its region in July 2016, to being, albeitunofficially, declared as drug-free just six-months into the Duterte...

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Factors and Forces That Led to The Marawi Debacle

(This is an excerpt from a case study written by the author for the project, “Violence, Human Rights, and Democracy in the Philippines.” The project is a joint undertaking by the Third World Studies Center, College of Social Sciences and Philosophy, University of the...

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Mirroring Duterte

by Karol Ilagan, Agatha Fabricante, and Christine Fabro | Case Studies, Mindanao (This is an excerpt from a case study written by the authors for the project, “Violence, Human Rights, and Democracy in the Philippines.” The project is a joint undertaking by the Third...

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"The enemy is here," Omarkhayam was quoted as having told his younger brother, "why do I need to ask permission" to launch an attack? The enemy is here, why shouldn't we fight?" The military believed it was Abu Dar who reinforced Omarkhayam's unprovoked attack on the military detachment.

The formulation of an ethical and political response to the violence continuously visited by the state upon civilian indigenous communities entails a long, complex dialogue, and for that very reason, such a dialogue needs to be initiated soonest. Perhaps sharing the tales of the Manobo with which I have been entrusted can help in this process, especially as their stories are not simply astonishing, or moving, or interesting, but most importantly, true.

The impact of tokhang could be similar to the demolition of communities but its methods are more brutal and sinister while shrouded in extralegal secrecy and affects a wider segment of the local population. It intensifies state intrusion into the lives of the poor, overkill police deployment is legitimized, and the community’s state of underdevelopment is entirely blamed on the drug problem. It also undermines solidarity among neighbors by instigating citizen surveillance which makes it more difficult to promote unity in challenging the reign of oppressive local authorities. Community solidarity is shattered by Tokhang where everybody is seen as a suspect or snitch in a supposedly drug-affected barangay.

One Manobo woman declared that “the symbol of martial law here is [the military’s] deployment of drones” (ang hulagway sa martial law diri kining pagpalupad nila og drone). This statement captures what, for the Manobo, is the most salient characteristic of life under Duterte’s martial law: it is not just the continuing, virtually constant threat or reality of militarization, which, after all, is not peculiar to the Duterte administration. Rather, it is the community’s perception that they—Manobo residents of civilian communities—are actively being targeted by the state’s counterinsurgency forces and programs. Because each appearance of the [drone] is, from bitter experience, linked to subsequent military ground operations, the drone is not merely an eye employed in surveillance, but is also a virtual gun sight used to aim the violence of militarization at Manobo villages.