AAS Annual Meeting

Southeast Asia Session 764

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Session 764: Politics in the Phillippines

When the Becky and the AJ Fight Back: Understanding How the Colletive Identity of Gay and Lesbian Social Movements in the Philippines and Singapore is Created and (Strategically) Employed
Jan Wendell C. Batocabe, National University of Singapore, Philippines

According to the current literature, there are several factors such as local history, political conditions, organizational structures, and others that affect the way collective identity is used by social movements in reaching their goals (Sandoval 1991; Perez 1993; Calhoun 1994; Bernstein, 1997, 2002, 2003; Polleta and Jasper 2001; Choup 2008). More specifically, Bernstein posits that the political conditions, the organizational framework, and the opposition to the movement affect the very identity that the gay and lesbian social movements employ (Bernstein 1997). However, such understanding of colletive identity is generally based on the different cases in the United States and Latin America; little has been done in applying the existing models to studying collective identity to other countries. This paper tackles the applicability of the existing frameworks, particularly that of Bernstein, in understanding how collective identity is employed by the gay and lesbian social movement outside the United States. It explores the possibility that the current knowledge on collective identity in social movement is too universalizing and cannot account for local peculiarities of gay and lesbian social movements outside the West. A study of the various Pride March/Festival Celebrations and the two dominant political LGBT movement organizations in the Philippines and Singapore is conducted to facilitate the questions posed by this paper. In the end this paper argues that concept of collective identity is played out contextually – depending on the place and its relationship with very identity that is used by the social movement.

From 'martial law' to 'war on terror': Framing and reframing the militarist solution in Philippine presidential rhetoric
Gene S. Navera, National University of Singapore, Singapore

The paper examines the State of Nation Addresses of four Philippine presidents that succeeded the twenty-year rule of Ferdinand Marcos. It investigates how presidential discourses from Corazon Aquino to Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo had framed or conceptualized ‘the militarist solution’ to communist rebellion and secessionism, a policy which can be traced back to the previous presidencies after the declaration of Philippine independence from the United States but was most particularly pronounced in the Marcos regime when the country was placed under martial law. Informed by perspectives and approaches from critical discourse studies (Fairclough 2001, 2003, 2007; Blackledge 2005; Chilton and Schaffner 2002), cognitive linguistics (Lakoff and Johnson 1980; Lakoff 1992, 1999, 2004, 2008; Charteris-Black 2004, 2005, 2007), and ideographic criticism (McGee 1980), the analytical framework employed in the study examines how metaphors, ideographs, and other rhetorical features in the texts configure to produce frames of the militarist solution. Various ways of framing may be gleaned from the ideographic expressions used to represent the militarist solution (e.g., ‘counter-insurgency’, ‘war on terror’) and the conceptual metaphors that recontextualize them and/or are used in conjunction with them. I argue that the varying ways of framing the militarist solution or ‘counter-insurgency’ are largely due to the interplay of factors brought about by different actors who have assumed executive leadership, the shifts in socio-political and historical contexts in the national and global spheres, as well as changing discourses with regard to the problem of insurgency in the Philippines.

Voter Demands, Electoral Institutions, and Personalistic Politicians: Party Switching and Legislative Voting in the Philippine House of Representatives, 1987-2007
Jae Hyeok Shin, Korea University, South Korea

Many observers believe that frequent party switching and weak party unity in legislative voting harm government accountability and performance, and hence undermine citizen support for democracy in the long run. Why, then, do politicians who want democracy to be supported by citizens and to survive sometimes switch parties or deviate from the party line? This paper addresses the question by examining post-Marcos legislators in the Philippines. I assume that the primary goal of legislators is to get reelected in the subsequent election. This study of the Philippine legislators reveals that voter demands and electoral institutions largely affect whether party switching or party disunity is likely to help increase politicians’ electoral chances. First, poor, less educated voters tend to desire individual or local benefits rather than national public policies. Since only the president has access to government resources for those particularistic benefits, legislators who are elected from less developed districts are more likely to switch to the president’s party and/or vote for the president’s bills in order to deliver desired benefits to their constituents. Second, electoral institutions that encourage candidates to cultivate personal reputations for delivering benefits to constituents rather than party policy reputations tend to spur party switching and undermine party cohesion. Hence, in the Philippines, politicians who are elected under a single-member district open ballot system are less likely to be disciplined and loyal to their parties, compared to those elected under a party-list system.

Comparing Different Churches Influence in Philippine Politics
Nelson G. Cainghog, University of the Philippines, Diliman, Philippines

Despite a constitutionally enshrined separation of church and state, various churches in the Philippines exercised considerable clout in government decision-making processes. The paper compares the experience of the Roman Catholic Church and the Iglesia ni Cristo (Church of Christ) in the Philippines under the 1987 Constitution. It starts with an overview of the hierarchy and organizational expanse of each denomination. While Catholicism is the dominant religion in the country, with Iglesia ni Cristo being a small minority, the latter enjoys more clout in the political arena as shown in news reports detailing government officials’ deference to Iglesia ni Cristo leaders. It is argued that this seeming paradox is mainly due to the structure of the hierarchy of each denomination. The Roman Catholic Church has a fragmented structure in the country with each bishop answerable only to the Pope in Rome while Iglesia ni Cristo is centralized with the executive minister based in the Philippines at the summit.

Pedigree and Presidential Patronage in Philippine Congressional Elections
Luisita Cordero, University of California, Los Angeles, USA

My paper analyzes the extent to which political pedigree, presidential patronage, and incumbency affect the electoral fortunes of legislative candidates in the Philippines. The enduring role of local dynasties and the president’s command over resources are implicated in the prevalence of clientelistic linkages between the country's voters and politicians, which in turn is tied to the weak institutionalization of political parties. I examine if pedigree not merely complements, but perhaps substitutes for presidential access in winning over voters. Despite the importance of presidential resources to a legislator’s re-election chances, the political prominence of one’s family or sheer incumbency can independently favor a congressional candidate. I study under what conditions this might be true and, in particular, whether this varies with a constituency’s level of development. Using data on Philippine House elections, districts, and representatives since 1992, my study helps to determine if there is an underlying stability in what appears to be an inchoate party system. Rampant party switching by legislators in an effort to obtain patronage and high electoral volatility seem to indicate instability in the Philippines. However, the role of clans in the country’s electoral politics, if true, should mitigate that instability. Politicians may be switching parties, but voters may be electing the same politicians or individuals from the same clans repeatedly. I examine how other institutions undercut political parties and assume the latter’s usual functions, the factors determining whether clans will perpetuate themselves or go into eclipse, and whether presidential patronage and political dynasty-building are mutually constraining.

Waltzing with the Big Boys: The Coalition-Building Strategy of the Philippines in the World Trade Organization
Sharon Quinsaat, University of Pittsburgh, USA

This article explores the emergence and development of the Philippines' key bargaining strategy in the Doha Round--coalition building. The following central features of the Philippine polity have given trade negotiators the flexibility in the formation of alliances: (1) executive monopoly, (2) issue-based fragmentation and dispersal of authority, and (3) active involvement of stakeholders. The realization of national interest is still paramount and coalitions are regarded as means to achieve domestic economic goals and objectives. The coalition-building strategy of the Philippines in the Doha Round is marked by increased collaboration of developing countries with the big powers on specific issues through pragmatic, technocratic, and non-ideological bargaining. The Philippines uses the coalitions to increase its bargaining power--to provide political backing for its proposals and to bolster its capacity to block the outcome of negotiations that is not in its favor. It is for this reason that it has consistently allied itself with big developing states such as Brazil, China, and India. Yet, despite the Philippines' recourse to other developing countries, which is characteristic of solidarity and the politics of identity, it eschews from idealist conceptions of coalition-building and the revival of traditional Third World-ism.