Martial Law in the Philippines

The declaration of martial law in the
Philippines doesn’t inspire confidence in the government, or in the democratic
process as it is being carried out in the Philippines.

The news from the Philippines isn’t good. It’s not only bad, it could get worse before it gets better. The declaration of martial law to prevent a coup doesn’t speak well for the democratic process as it’s being conducted in the Philippines.

Human rights were taking a beating even before this. Legitimate political opposition was labeled terrorism and human rights advocates, clergy and others were at risk of death. Many have been killed in the past four years.

Now under martial law political dissent can be suppressed even more easily. It’s a dangerous time for Filipino society.

The democratic experiment in the Philippines has been faltering since Ferdinand Marcos was forced from power. Power has passed from one faction of the ruling elite to another with little meaningful reform to benefit the average person. Poverty has not been reduced and the gap between the rich and poor has increased.

The old aristocracy contend for power and control under the dressing of democracy but they suspend the rules when the threat of real change gets too close to them.

This analytical piece in the Washington Post by Alan Sipress gives an overview of the process during the past 20 years, and points out that little progress toward meaningful democracy has occurred during that time. Sipress quotes Marcos’s daughter who says democracy has not worked the way it was meant because kinship ties and blood relations among the elite stymie real democracy.
A TIME reporter in Manila gives a first-hand account of a meeting of Filipino leaders who planned to “withdraw support” from the government of President Gloria Macagapal Arroyo.

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