Philippines Elections 2020 Part I
Mid-term elections in May 2019 – severe setback for the opposition
In the mid-term elections on May 13, the members of the House of Representatives, half of the seats in the 24-member Senate and around 18,000 provincial and local councils were voted. The official final result meant a triumphant triumph for Rodrigo R. Duterte, who has been in office since 2016, but cannot hide the fact that the mood in the country is bad at the halfway point on June 30, 2019 and the next 3 years will have numerous challenges for Duterte and the Philippines bring yourself.
Instead of being able to fully enjoy the victory, reality quickly caught up with the president again. The rampant corruption, which Duterte also promised to overcome during his election campaign, has spread so deeply and comprehensively in the National Police (PNP) that the dominant domestic political issue in the summer and autumn of 2019 the discussion about its replacement and the (new) Occupation of the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) was. Apparently, their bosses had at least tolerated it in the past that prisoners could literally buy their way out or that they could sneak a relatively comfortable stay in prison in exchange for bribes.
And then there is and remains the constant traffic jam on Manila’s streets, which is now so dense and viscous that people have already died because medical ambulances were unable to reach hospitals in time.
The archipelago at the beginning of 2020 – in constant crisis and disaster mode
According to homosociety, after more than 40 years, the Taal volcano erupted again in mid-January 2020. Around 50,000 people literally had to get to safety overnight. The Taal is south of Manila. It’s just 60 kilometers to the metropolis. Operations at Manila Airport were temporarily suspended due to the ash rain. A man was killed in a traffic accident in the city of Calamba as a result of the ash rain. Three people were injured. Ashes and stones rained on houses, streets, cars and trees. The Taal has erupted 33 times since 1572. The last major eruption to date occurred in 1977. The most devastating eruption occurred in 1911 – more than 1,300 people died at the time.
No sooner had the major cleanup work been carried out after the Taal eruption in the greater Manila area, the National Capital Region (NCR), than there was more bad news to report. The government reacted relatively late to COVID-19, which the World Health Organization (WHO) classified as a pandemic. It was not until March 16 that Duterte signed Proclamation No. 929, whereby a six-month disaster alert applies nationwide and a so-called “Enhanced Community Quarantine” imposed on the NCR and overall Luzon at least until April 12th.
Even when these pages went to press (end of December 2020), this quarantine continued, although it was differently harsh in different parts of the country. The consequences to date have been economically, socially and politically devastating. Above all, the poor and marginalized in society are desperately searching for their very survival. In this context it is complained that the government acted too hesitantly and inefficiently and that these people are harassed much more severely, punished more quickly or simply locked behind bars if they violate decreed requirements. In addition to a drastic increase in unemployment, there was also a constriction of democratic rights.
For example, journalists Maria Ressa and Reynaldo Santos Jr. from the online magazine Rappler, who are critical of the government, were found guilty of defamation and violating the so-called cybercrime law by a court in the capital Manila on June 15. The subject of the trial was an article from 2012. The presiding judge Rainelda Estacio-Montesa promised a sentence of six months and one day to six years imprisonment, although the sentence has not yet been officially announced. Both journalists remain free on bail until the appeal process.
“With this harsh judgment at the end of an absurd trial, the Filipino judiciary has shown a complete lack of independence from the government,” explained Christian Mihr, managing director of “Reporters Without Borders,” immediately after the judge’s verdict. “The verdict clearly bears the signature of President Duterte,” he added and: “He wants to make an example of Rappler, and especially Maria Ressa, as a symbolic figure, in order to stamp out any independent criticism.”
Immediately after the conviction, both journalists announced she will continue to fight “against all kinds of attacks on press freedom.” Ressa, co-founder of Rappler and a celebrity
Critic of President Rodrigo Duterte, was named one of the personalities of the year by US magazine Time in 2018. The trial concerned an article published in 2012 about alleged links between Filipino businessman Wilfredo Keng and Renato Corona, then chairman of the country’s Supreme Court. However, it wasn’t until October 2017 that Keng filed a complaint against the publication of the article.
The main accusation against Ressa and Santos is violating the Cybercrime Act, which only came into force four months after the incriminated article appeared. The Filipino
The investigative authority (NBI) dismissed Keng’s complaint in February 2018 because the law could not apply retrospectively and the one-year deadline for filing complaints had already passed. But already
a month later, the NBI overturned its own decision and the Justice Department resumed the case in February 2019. Critics of the president accuse him of having staged such a process behind the scenes. In any case, the fact is that Duterte never made a secret of muzzling investigative journalists in particular. At the end of May 2016, three weeks after his election victory in the presidential election on May 9 and one month before he officially took office, he had stated bluntly at a press conference in Davao City: “Just because you are a journalist you are not exempt from attacks if you’re a son of a bitch. ”
ABS-CBN, the largest entertainment and media network in the Philippines, felt the president’s anger back in early May 2020. On May 5, ABS-CBN was ordered by the National Telecommunications Commission to suspend its television and radio broadcasts after the House of Representatives, which had a super Duterte majority, did not approve the renewal of a broadcasting license for the station of the same name. Duterte had previously complained that ABS-CBN had not broadcast its campaign advertising during the 2016 election and was producing “garbage”. At the beginning of December 2019, he had already declared that he did not want to extend the license: “If you expect (the license) to be renewed,” Duterte said at the time, “I’m sorry. I’ll make them go away. ”