COVID-19 Pandemic: Lessons Learned

by Aurora Roxas-Lim*

14 June 2020

There are many lessons to learn from the turmoil brought about by the COVID19 pandemic.

The virulence and rapidity of the spread of this pandemic affect all social classes from all countries of the world. Wuhan City in Hubei Province of China, the origin of the virus, took drastic measures by cordoning off the city in late December 2019, then the entire province.

Subsequently, the national government ordered lockdown of other provinces and restricted local and international travel. At the same time the Chinese government mobilized all health and support agencies to care for hundreds of thousands victims.

When the virus struck our country, our government took similar measures from March to June 2020. Imposition of strict lockdown, ordering people to stay at home, prohibition of travel while intended to prevent the spread of the virus, caused tremendous havoc to the economy.

The hardest hit by lockdowns and stay at home order are the poor.

The order is such an irony   for thousands of Metro Manila residents are homeless. Many live in squatter areas with no potable water and sanitation facilities. Likewise, the stay at home order caused hardships to daily wage earners, street vendors, tricycle drivers, laborers, jeepney drivers, servitors etc.

Not until August 12, 2019 did House Committee Chairman on Metro Manila Development Congressman Manuel Luis Lopez realize that of the 14 million residents in the National Capital region, at least 494,630 are poor. The numbers will increase with the implementation of the National Identification project. Our government realizing the dire effects of its health measures has been providing relief goods and sums money to alleviate the suffering of the poor.

Fortunately, many wealthier sectors of our society, individuals and corporations donate food, health care and medical supplies.  But these are all short-term emergency measures. 

The social-economic consequences of COVID19 pandemic brought to light the long neglected festering problems of our country. There has been great wealth generated since the 1990’s and our GDP growth has been 6% during the last decade.

However our country’s Gini Coefficient that measures social-economic iniquity remains quite high at – 0.475. This means wealth is more and more concentrated in the hands of the fewer wealthy individuals and families. Our economic policy of free enterprise allows the wealthy to invest in whatever enterprises that will bring them greater profit at the shortest possible time.

Hence, the wealthy take over  mainly public lands (often in connivance with politicians)   and put up shopping malls, expensive subdivisions, hotels, condominiums, cemeteries, casinos, resorts, etc. But rarely do they build affordable, safe, durable sanitary housing for the poor.

Exacerbating the lack of low-cost housing is that our government has not done enough to generate employment at home that guarantees enough wages so that when people are too old to work they can draw from their savings and pension. Corollary to job generation at home is putting up educational training system to raise skills of workers and food producers.

The pandemic also put to the spotlight the vital importance of people who clean up our environment – garbage collectors, sewage cleaners, janitors, hospital orderlies whose work should be mechanized, they should be equipped with protective gear and paid just compensation like the system that is practiced in  Germany. Our health workers – doctors, nurses, dentists, therapists and care givers especially in public hospitals and clinics are mostly over worked and under paid. Hence many go abroad. Instead of nurturing native industries and manufacturing that produce high value high tech products we export labor.

Overseas Filipino Workers number between 5 to 10 million whose remittances (hover between $2.5 to $10 billion) help shore up our economy. Our country focuses on attracting Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). Our country is one of the most hospitable venues to Foreign Direct Investments (FDI). We provide land, roads, transportation facilities and utilities (electricity, water) and compliant skilled labor plus favorable taxation. Greater attention is given to to FDI, Business Processing Operations (BPO), franchising (mainly US fast food chains) and exporting labor.

Yet, we have not taken determined efforts to boost food production that requires large investments over long period of time. So we import rice from Thailand and Vietnam. Our farmers and fisherfolk are the poorest sectors of our society.  Poverty incidence nationwide was 38.8% in 2006 and dropped in 2020 but still 19.8% or 23.1 million Filipinos are poor.

Food production should be mobilized in larger scale, which requires large capital investment over long period of time. This also requires  land reform in order to  consolidate the often 3 to 5 hectares of scattered fields, mechanize operations together with improved less costly irrigation and flood control measures, lower farm imputs – seeds and  fertilizers, provide post-harvest, processing,  ware housing facilities,  transportation and marketing. This also entails organizing food production cooperatives and collectives that will be responsible for maintaining machinery, irrigation facilities and payment of loans. The Balik Probinsya (Return to the Province) Program being undertaken by our government is meant to decongest Metro Manila.

Hopefully, the project will also encourage putting up barangay and municipal economic enterprises suitable for the ecological conditions of the area like aquaculture in coastal areas, agri-forestry in mountainous forest areas, food processing, waste recycling, waste management and environmental protection. There is also a need to set up biomass facilities in the municipalities to recycle biodegradable waste. Our government should entice armed and violent rebel groups to participate in economic production.

Above all, it is paramount to eradicate or at least minimize corruption.  

Our government, while attending to health care of victims of COVID19 pandemic needs to draw up immediately a comprehensive, coordinated social-economic recovery program to deal with the problems raised above. Let us appeal to our wealthy capitalists to undertake not only economic activities for personal corporate profit but for the social good.  

*The author was former Dean at the Asian Center of the University of the Philippines and a former President of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS) where currently sits as a member of the Board of Advisers. She is currently teaching at the Ateneo de Manila University.

This piece was also published in Eurasia Review.

Photo by Capacity Media and Eurasia Review.

45 Years of Philippines-China Relations: Deepening Friendship Towards Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation

by Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD

10 June 2020

Original version of this piece was commissioned by China Report ASEAN.

Introduction

China and the Philippines have reached 45 years of relationship.  Like many other relationships, the Philippines and China have their own stories of ups and downs.  Yet, they remain friends as permanent neighbors as they were many centuries ago.

Normalization Period

Since 1975, the Philippines has been pursuing a policy of maintaining friendly ties with China, a policy wisely established by then President Ferdinand Marcos (1975-1986).   Marcos saw the importance of cooperating with China as matter of national survival during the cold war while at the same time getting along with the United States as a security ally.   

When Marcos visited Chairman Mao Tse Tung in June 1975 to formalize their ties, Mao exclaimed, “it takes two hands to clap” and that their two nations  “are one family now”.  Thereafter, they enjoyed the normalization period where they entered into various bilateral cooperation agreements covering broad areas of trade, investment, tourism, air services, cultural exchanges, scientific cooperation, technical collaboration, agricultural development, avoidance of double taxation, postal and parcel agreements, educational partnerships, and even military-to-military ties. They also became important trade partners in Asia. From a trade volume with China of US$20 million in 1974, the figure spiked to US$300 million in 1984 making China the Philippines’ 6th largest trading partner in 1985 historically surpassing Taiwan.

Improved economic ties were products of better political ties.  China supported the Philippine government in its campaign against the New People’s Army (NPA) by not interfering in each other’s domestic affairs.  During the oil crisis in the 1970s, the Philippines received friendly price of oil from China to ameliorate Philippine economic crisis. Though Marcos became assertive of Philippine territorial claim in the South China Sea by creating in 1978 the Municipality of the Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in the Spratlys, China’s military attention was the Vietnamese invasion of Cambodia, which led to the Sino-Vietnamese War or the Third Indo-China War of 1979.

Under Chairman Deng Xiaoping, China began economic reforms by opening up to the world in 1979.  The Philippines has benefited from this opening up policy through greater improvements in trade, investment, and tourism relations.

President Corazon Aquino (1986-1992) sustained this level of friendship with China despite the preference of her administration to strongly embrace the Philippines’ long-standing security alliance with the United States.   China was even one of the first few countries in the world that recognized the legitimacy of the Aquino government.

But during the Aquino administration, Philippines-China relationship was in the state of uncertainties arising from the arduous process of democratic restoration in the Philippines and bothering democratic challenges in China, especially in 1989 during the Tiananmen incident and the breakdown of the Berlin Wall. This was a difficult period in Philippines-China relations as both needed to confront their respective security challenges in the post-cold war.  The difficulty was exacerbated by the fact that Aquino gave more accommodations to Taiwan, which became the Philippines’ 4th trading partner during her term relegating Mainland China behind.

Yet, they committed to remain friendly not only at the government-to-government level but more so at the people-to-people level.  The Aquino government intensified economic, cultural and educational exchanges with China and opened up closer relationships among their non-governmental organizations.  When Aquino visited China in April 1988, she acknowledged her roots to Fuijian province where her ancestors originated.  Aquino even stressed the ancient origin of Philippines-China relations where they shared unbroken friendship.

Troubled Ties

Philippines-China relations became troublesome during the administration of President Fidel V. Ramos (1992-1998) arising from the lingering territorial disputes in the South China Sea.  In 1992, China passed the Law on Territorial Sea and Contiguous Zone.   This created security anxieties not only in the Philippines but also in the Asia Pacific region.  

Given this situation, President Ramos visited China in 1993 with the intention to expand economic relations and to manage territorial disputes with China.  Ramos wanted to improve economic ties with China in order to overcome their political differences on the South China Sea.  Ramos even established personal ties with President Jiang Zemin who assured the Philippines that China would settle their disputes with neighbors peacefully in order promote mutual economic prosperity.

In 1995, however, China established its control of the Mischief Reef. This aggravated the growing security concern of the Philippines. To surmount this trouble, the Philippines signed with China in August 1995 the Joint Statement on Philippines-China Consultations on the South China Sea and other Areas of Cooperation to emphasize the need for bilateral consultations and cooperation to peacefully manage their conflicts in the South China Sea.   Ramos believed that bilateral cooperation could undermine bilateral conflicts.

Despite their troubled relations in the South China Se, their over-all trade and investment relations interestingly improved.  From a trade volume of US$457 million in 1994, it increased to US$1,306 million at the end of 1995.  This was a 65% increase in just one year despite the Mischief Reef incident.  Even Filipino-Chinese businessmen were encouraged to invest in China despite the two countries’ political problems in the South China Sea.  This demonstrated that troubled political relations in the South China Sea did not affect good economic relations between the two countries. Although the territorial disputes encouraged the Ramos government to sign the Visiting Forces Agreement (VFA) with the United States in February 1998 at the tail end of his presidential term, it was business as usual between the two countries in the area of trade, investment, and tourism. 

During the administration of President Joseph Estrada (1998-2001), political troubles in the South China Sea did not disappear.   The political problem became more complicated in 1999 when China fortified its structures in the Mischief Reef.  This encouraged the Philippine Senate to ratify the VFA in to play the American card with China. At the same time, the Estrada government pursued greater bilateral cooperation with China when he visited the country in May 2000. There he met President Jiang Zemin to sign the “Framework of Bilateral Cooperation in the Twenty-First Century”.  This framework elevated the status of Philippines-China relations to the higher plane.

Golden Age of Bilateral Relations

But the Estrada government was short live.  It was during the administration of President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo (2001-2010) when the Philippines and China enjoyed the “golden age” of their relations.  

At the regional level, China improved its relations with the members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) when they signed in 2002 the Declaration on the Conduct  (DOC) of Parties in the South China Sea.  The DOC aims to pursue cooperation and avoid conflicts in the South China Sea.  In 2005, then Chinese President Hu Jintao visited the Philippines where both countries decided to set-aside territorial dispute in order to pursue economic cooperation and joint development. This led to the adoption in 2005 of the Joint Seismic Marine Undertaking (JMSU) by China, the Philippines and Vietnam.  However, the Philippines stopped the implementation of JMSU because of domestic controversies.

Nonetheless, President Arroyo pursued the policy of comprehensive engagement with China ushering in the golden years of their bilateral ties.    In 2007, the Philippines and China reached the highest level of their trade relation when it reached US$30.6 billion. By the end of Arroyo term in 2010, China became the Philippines’ third largest trading partner and the greatest provider of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to the Philippines. From 2001 to 2010, China committed a loan of US$1.3 billion to the Philippines and signed 65 agreements covering broad areas of cooperation.

Lowest Moment of Bilateral Ties

Sadly, Philippines-China relations severely deteriorated under President Benigno Simeon Aquino III (2010-2016).  The Scarborough Shoal standoff in 2012 and the subsequent filing of an arbitration case by the Philippines against China in 2013 led to the worsening of their bilateral ties under the Aquino III administration.

This was the lowest moment of Philippines-China relations. The Philippines received no ODA from China.  Investment and trade relations severely declined. Official channels of communication practically cut. President Aquino III even pursued the military balancing policy against China when Manila solidified its security alliance with the United States through the signing of Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) in 2014. It was the dark of period of their bilateral ties. It was a very stormy relationship.

Comprehensive Strategic Cooperation: Greatest Heights in Bilateral Friendship

But there is a rainbow after the rain.  When President Rodrigo Roa Duterte (PRRD) assumed office in 2016, the Philippines and China have started to enjoy a new era of closer friendship like the blooming of a big and beautiful flower.    PRRD’s policy of paradigm shift to China ushered in the new age of cooperation between the two countries.   When President XI Jingping visited the Philippines in 2018, the two countries declared their comprehensive strategic cooperation to have an all around relationship, which is a rapid turn-around in their bilateral ties.  As Xi aspires the China Dream for the great rejuvenation of the Chinese nation, he also aspires for the rejuvenation of centuries-old friendship between the Philippines and China.  

Under Xi and PRRD, the Philippines and China are enjoying the highest moment of their bilateral relations, so far.  It is another golden age of their bilateral ties. 

At present, China has become the Philippines’ top trading partner and the largest source of imports with a trade volume reaching close to US$56 billion in 2018 alone.  China has become the Philippines’ largest foreign investment origin reaching at least US$ 67 million in 2018 and the largest source of net equity capital allocation of around US$100 million in 2019.  China has become the largest source of foreign tourists reaching 1.5 million in 2019.  China has become the Philippines’ largest source of foreign assistance to support infrastructure projects of PRRD under its Build Build Build (3B) Plan.  At least 75 projects are earmarked for China funding under the 3B Plan with at least US$24 billion investments and credit line pledges from China.  Under PRRD, China is now the Philippines’ third largest export destination and the largest export market for Philippine bananas. 

Politically, PRRD made a landmark decision in 2018 when he entered an agreement with China for joint development of oil and natural gas resources in the South China Sea.  Xi and PRRD also initiated in 2017 the Bilateral Consultative Mechanism in the South China Sea (BCM) to manage peacefully their territorial disputes. Both countries held their 5th BCM meeting at the end of 2019.  Their five meetings resulted in bilateral commitments to pursue joint marine environmental protections, joint search and rescue operations, and joint fishery managements in the South China Sea.  

Conclusion

After 45 years, China and the Philippines have gone a long way in their bilateral ties. Despite their ups and downs, the two countries have committed to remain friends not only now but in many years to come. 

Deepening this friendship towards comprehensive strategic cooperation is the current and future direction of Philippines-China relations. 

Dr. Rommel C. Banlaoi is the President of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies and the Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research.

Photo Credit: CGTN.

45 Years of Bilateral Relations: Jointly Embracing a Better Future of China-Philippines Friendship and Partnership

China and the Philippines have drawn closer together under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. Image: Facebook/Chinese Embassy in Manila

by  Huang Xilian*

9 June 2020

Midsummer is a good season to indulge in the beauty and fragrance of the pristine white Sampaguita flowers. It is also high time to tell the story of a blooming friendship between China and the Philippines. On the day of 9 June 45 years ago, the People’s Republic of China and the Republic of the Philippines formally established diplomatic relations, which has renewed and continued the millennium-old friendship between the two nations. 

China and the Philippines are close neighbors sharing time-honored bonds of kinship and friendship. Back to more than a thousand years ago, the two peoples jointly paved the way to the flourishing Maritime Silk Road with diligence, bravery, and wisdom. The Maritime Silk Road has not only successfully promoted unimpeded trade and transportation, but also deepened mutual understanding and friendship between the two countries. From then on, our peoples have been good neighbors, close relatives as well as trusted friends. Since the establishment of diplomatic ties, bilateral relations have made substantial headway with the joint efforts of both sides over generations, with sincere friendship and win-win cooperation always being the main theme of our relations. 

Over the past 45 years, China and the Philippines have continually deepened mutual political trust. The bilateral relationship has been steadily upgraded, from 21st century-oriented cooperative relationship of good neighborliness and mutual trust to the strategic and cooperative relationship for peace and development, and then the relationship of comprehensive strategic cooperation. President Xi Jinping and President Duterte have drawn up strategic blueprints for China-Philippines relations and ushering the relationship into the New Golden Age for the two countries. 

Over the past 45 years, China and the Philippines have reaped nourishing fruits of practical cooperation. Bilateral trade volume increased from around US$72 million in 1975 to US$60.95 billion in 2019, with an increase of more than 800 times. China is now the Philippines’ top trading partner, the largest source of imports and the third largest export market. The synergies between the Belt and Road initiative and the Build, Build, Build program have been deepened, unleashing tangible potential in practical cooperation. A number of major infrastructure projects such as bridges, railways, water conservancy and telecommunication, are continuously making headway. Last year, the total value of China’s newly signed contractual projects in the Philippines reached US$6.24 billion, up 102% year on year. China has become a salient partner in supporting the Philippines’ economic and social development.

Over the past 45 years, China and the Philippines have enjoyed thriving people-to-people exchanges. So far, 34 pairs of sisterhood cities or provinces have already been established. China has been the second largest tourist origin of the Philippines for years, with over 1.74 million Chinese tourists visiting the Philippines last year. As exchanges and cooperation between the two countries in science, education, culture, art, media, think tanks, youth and other fields become increasingly vigorous, our traditional friendship has been full of vitality in the new era.

Over the past 45 years, China and the Philippines have been dedicated to maintaining peace and stability in the South China Sea. The two countries established mechanisms such as the Bilateral Consultation Mechanism (BCM) to exchange views, manage differences and explore practical cooperation. With joint efforts of China and ASEAN countries including the Philippines, the consultation of the Code of Conduct in the South China Sea is proceeding smoothly and effectively. Recently, ships and planes carrying critical medical supplies are sailing and flying over the South China Sea, making it a sea of friendship, mutual support and cooperation. 

The year 2020 witnessed profound changes in our lives. The ruthless coronavirus disease (COVID-19) wreaked havoc in many countries around the globe, severely threatening humanity and global public health security. Facing the common challenge of the COVID-19, China and the Philippines have been supporting and helping each other, demonstrating our long-standing profound friendship. At the height of China’s battle with COVID-19, the Philippine government and people from all walks of life provided valuable support and assistance to China, which we will always be grateful and hold dear to the heart. In light of the pandemic situation in the Philippines, we feel keenly for the Philippine people amid the trying times. China extended every help and support to the Philippines to the best of its ability. 

China has unreservedly shared its hard-earned experience in the fight against the pandemic with the Philippines. All these first-hand feasible information and knowledge have been collected through arduous efforts and with tremendous sacrifice, and would hopefully help save more lives in the Philippines. Upon the request of the Philippine government, the Chinese government dispatched an anti-pandemic medical expert team with front line experience, to assist the Philippines in its battle against the COVID-19. 

Despite its own difficulty, China has promptly provided well-needed medical supplies to the Philippines within the best of its ability amid the pandemic outbreak. At the early stage of the outbreak here, the Chinese Embassy in cooperation with the China Mammoth Foundation, donated 2,000 test kits to the Philippine Government. The Chinese government then donated three batches of medical supplies to the Philippines, including 252,000 test kits, 130 ventilators, and 1,870,000 surgical masks. A large number of Chinese local governments, enterprises and civil groups donated millions sets of personal protective equipment and other medical supplies to different local units of the Philippines. Recently, the Embassy has also donated thousands of “Friendship Packages” containing assorted relief goods to Filipino families in need across the country to help them get through the current difficult time. 

China has provided assistance to the Philippines to procure medical supplies in China. We have made every effort to prioritize the production and supply of medicine and medical equipment urgently needed by the Philippines. Over 10,000 cubic meters of anti-pandemic medical supplies and a large amount of medicine have been purchased and transported from China and distributed to the front-liners in the Philippines. In light of the temporary suspension of commercial flights between the two countries, we have issued permit for the Philippine military aircrafts and vessels to land and dock in China for the transportation of medical supplies, and chartered “Goodwill Flight” to deliver anti-pandemic supplies to the Philippines. All these efforts have secured the life channel by air/sea between our two countries. 

Under the new normal of day-to-day pandemic response, China will continue to engage with the Philippines in joint COVID-19 prevention and control, exchanging experience on resumption of work and production to ensure supply and industrial chains, and implementing projects pertaining to the Belt and Road initiative and the Build, Build, Build program, so as to accelerate the recovery and growth of our economies in the post-pandemic era.

True friendship endures trial and hardship. Through joining hands to fight against the COVID-19, the foundation of China-Philippines relations have been further cemented, people-to-people ties strengthened, and the sense of building a community of shared future deepened. We have every reason to believe that, under the leadership of President Xi Jinping and President Duterte, with the concerted participation and support from both governments and peoples, China-Philippines friendship and partnership would embrace an ever better future in the new era.

Source: The Chinese Embassy in Manila

*The author is currently the Chinese Ambassador to Manila. Thus far, he worked with China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) for 30 years. He also served as China’s Ambassador to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN).  Read more.

Photo Credit: Manila Bulletin

RP-China Relations at 45 Under the Covid-19 Pandemic

by Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD

9 June 2020

Today is the 45th anniversary of the official establishment of Philippines-China relations. It also marks the Philippines-China friendship Day. The COVID-19 pandemic has strongly demonstrated that friendship is solidified amidst crises and difficulties.

When the Philippine government declared quarantine measures to deal with the coronavirus pandemic, China, as a long-time friend, immediately offered its assistance and unwaveringly expressed its willingness to cooperate with the Philippines.  In one of his public statements, President Rodrigo Duterte thanked China for supporting the Philippines in its battle against the infectious disease.  Duterte also dismissed rumors that the novel coronavirus originated in a Chinese laboratory, which was the same conclusion reported by the World Health Organization, top Western scientists and even the United States Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Mark Milley.  Counting on China’s helping hand, Duterte has even urged Beijing to prioritize the Philippines once it develops an antibody against the coronavirus disease 2019.

Upon request of the Philippine government, Beijing quickly responded by sending to Manila 12 members of its Anti-Epidemic Medical Expert Team on April 5 in order to support the Philippines in its battle against Covid-19.  The Chinese Ambassador to the Philippines, Huang Xilian, said China deployed its medical team to the country in order to “exchange experience and practice, with the aim to further improve the Philippines’ epidemic prevention and control policies and enhance the diagnosis, treatment and executive ability.” Most members of this medical team had their frontline experiences in Wuhan of China’s Hubei province.

Aside from the medical team — which already left on April 19 after two weeks of engaging with Filipino health officials and experts in the Department of Health (DoH), Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM), Lung Center and Philippine General Hospital and also the general public in an online Q&A session — China also donated medical supplies to the Philippines in the form of 102,000 test kits, 400,000 surgical masks, 40,000 medical N95 masks, 15,000 medical protective suits, 5,000 medical face shields and 30 non-invasive ventilators.  Moreover, it assisted the Philippines in purchasing around 10,000 cubic meters of anti-epidemic supplies and  “a large amount of medicine,” not to mention donations coming from China’s private big corporations and local authorities. The Philippines also requested the assistance of China to prioritize the delivery of the Beijing Genomics Institute laboratory equipment worth $2.5 million (around P126.9 million), which arrived on April 22, to help fast-track the much-needed testing of Filipinos.

A number of enterprises and civil society groups, such as Jack Ma Foundation, Hong Kong Prudential Enterprise, Huawei Corp., Bank of China and Panhua Group, also donated large quantities of medical supplies, including millions of personal protective equipment (PPE), to the Philippines. China’s local authorities like Fujian, Hainan, Shangdong, Guangzhou, Nanning and others  donated large quantities of medical supplies to their corresponding sister provinces and cities in the Philippines like Ilocos Norte, Manila, Cebu City and Davao City.

The Covid-19 pandemic provided opportunities for the Philippines and China to strengthen bilateral ties despite China’s low popularity ratings in the Philippines compared with the United States and Japan.  In fact, China’s low popularity in the Philippines, notwithstanding Beijing’s efforts to deepen friendship with Manila, is posing a challenge in Philippines-China relations. In the latest survey of Social Weather Stations in September 2019, 70 percent of Filipino respondents expressed strong worries about China, particularly in the context of the surge of Chinese working in the Philippines. The same survey said 78 percent of the respondents regarded Philippine relationship with the United States as more important than that with China.

Opposition forces in the Philippines even doubted China’s sincerity in helping the Philippines in the time of Covid-19 pandemic because of China’s continuing activities in the South China Sea.   China recently named 25 islands and reefs in the South China Sea in its efforts to bolster its territorial claims.  In mid-February 2020, a Chinese Navy ship pointed its fire control radar at a Philippine Navy ship conducting routine patrol at Commodore Reef.  This prompted the Philippine government to file a diplomatic protest with China on April 22, 2020 over the incident and for China’s current move to include parts of Kalayaan Island Group (KIG) in one of the new districts of Sansha city of Hainan province.

Amid the pandemic and recent developments in the South China Sea, one Philippine senator demanded China to cover the Philippine government’s expenses in responding to Covid-19 as payment for China’s alleged destruction of Philippine reefs in the KIG.  But the Chinese Embassy in Manila responded, “At this trying time, it is ridiculously absurd and irresponsible to make such remarks for the sole purpose of catching eyeballs and for selfish political gains.”

In other words, the Philippines-China relation continues to be dynamic in the time of the pandemic. On the one hand, there is cooperation in Philippines-China relations to overcome the scourge of Covid-19.  On the other hand, conflict in Philippines-China relations remains as a result of the South China Sea dispute.

As both countries commemorate the 45 years of their bilateral ties on June 9, 2020, it is paramount for the Philippines and China to pay greater attention to the development of a strong people’s diplomacy to reinforce and complement government-to-government diplomacy.    Despite its current efforts to remain friendly with the Philippines, China remains unpopular in the Philippines because of its lack of effective strategy to communicate with Filipinos.

Filipino reactions against China’ music video, “Iisang Dagat” (One Ocean), were indications of Beijing’s difficulties in communicating with the Filipinos during the pandemic despite their centuries-old friendships.  China, therefore, needs to learn innovative and sensitive ways on how to talk to the Filipino public so that Filipinos can better understand China’s intentions and actions, appreciate China’s current attitude and empathize with China’s visions for the world — a community of shared future  for the whole humanity.

The author is the President of the Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS) and a member of the Management Board of the World Association for Chinese Studies (WACS).  He is a Professorial Lecturer at the Department of International Studies at Miriam College, the Philippines. This piece is an updated version of an article published in Manila Times on 3 May 2020. Photo Credit: Manila Times.

On the New Anti-Terrorism Bill/Law: Some Initial Notes

by Soliman M. Santos, Jr.*

Naga City, 8 June 2020

These are only some initial notes relevant to, not a comprehensive assessment of,  the new Anti-Terrorism Bill (ATB, Senate Bill No. 1083/ House Bill No. 6875)  poised to be passed as “The Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020” (ATA) which would repeal R.A. No. 9372, the Human Security Act of 2007 (HSA).

1.  Much concerns have been raised not only in Congress but also in various media about the ATB passing soon into the ATA, be these concerns in terms of its substantive content, its legislative process, its timing, its prioritization amidst a pandemic lockdown and, perhaps most importantly, its likely significant consequences for Philippine democracy, fundamental freedoms, civil liberties and human rights, especially about the Sec. 29 Detention Without Judicial Warrant of Arrest on mere suspicion of committing terrorist acts or of membership in a proscribed terrorist organization.  We need not repeat, for the most part, those raised concerns which are serious.  If only to give just due to these serious concerns, which are not limited to issues of constitutionality, the prudent thing now would be for the Congress leadership to withhold transmitting the ATB to the President for him to sign it into law but instead reopen legislative deliberations (like was done for the ABS-CBN franchise renewal) OR, IF the ATB has already been transmitted to the President, for him to veto it purposively to reopen legislative deliberations.  It will not do for him to merely not sign it, as it would then automatically lapse into law 30 days from transmittal to him.          

2.  In the meantime, the HSA will still be there as the existing anti-terrorism law which is the domestic law which primarily addressees terrorism, aside from R.A. No. 10168, The Terrorism Financing Prevention and Suppression Act of 2012 (TFPSA).   It is interesting to note that the TFPSA makes reference to the HSA such as when it comes to designated terrorist organizations and persons.  However, while the ATB would repeal the HSA, it would not repeal the TFPSA which the ATB in fact reiterates in Secs. 16, 35 and 36 when it comes to  surveillance of suspects and interception of communications, and to investigation and freezing of bank deposits, related to the financing of terrorism.   So, even without an ATA, there will still be an anti-terrorism law which is the HSA.  As it is, there has not been much implementation experience of this 2007 anti-terrorism law, not much cases filed, hardly any jurisprudence on it and no congressional oversight review that would ordinarily be the basis for the amendment and especially repeal of the HSA.     

3.  The only Supreme Court Decision on the HSA that I am personally aware of, as the lead individual petitioner, is that in Southern Hemisphere Engagement Network, Inc. vs. Anti-Terrorism Council, 632 SCRA 146 (2010), which dismissed several petitions, including those of KMU, BAYAN, KARAPATAN et al., questioning the constitutionality of the HSA immediately after its passage, declining to rule on this on procedural grounds basically of un-ripeness for adjudication.  The Decision practically required that the petitioners must first be charged with violation of the HSA so that they may be said to have legal standing in an actual controversy and only then can the Court take cognizance of the case.  My old friends Atty. Edre U. Olalia of the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers and Rep. Carlos Isagani Zarate of the Bayan Muna party-list group who have announced their intentions to challenge the ATA’s constitutionality upon its signing by the President should take that requirement into consideration.   

It may be also interesting to note that there is a pending (?) February 2018 Petition by the Department of Justice (DOJ)   against the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) and New People’s Army (NPA) for their proscription as terrorist organizations under Sec. 17 of the HSA docketed as Case No. R-MNL-18-00925-CV before RTC Branch 19 Manila.  I am not aware of any successful service of summons to the respondents CPP and NPA which have no permanent address, much less of any entry of appearance by any counsels for respondents and their submission of a Comment.  If the HSA is repealed shortly, that proceeding would no longer proceed.  If ever, a new Petition for proscription of the CPP and NPA as terrorist organizations, this time under Sec. 26 of the ATA,would have to be filed.   And again, there will be interesting questions of service of summons, appearance of counsels for respondents and their Comment against the Petition.   Or it could be a default Order of Proscription?!?

4.  Unlike the HSA which has only Sec. 17 on Proscription of Terrorist Organizations involving proceedings before a competent Regional Trial Court (RTC), the ATA would have Sec. 25 on Designation of Terrorist Individuals and Organizations, and Sec. 26 on Proscription of Terrorist Organizations.  Under the ATA Sec. 25 on Designation, there are basically three modes, all unilateral by the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC, with the Executive Secretary as Chairperson and the National Security Adviser as Vice-Chairperson) and with no court proceedings:

a.  The ATC shall automatically adopt the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Consolidated List of designated terrorist individuals and organizations.

b.  The ATC may adopt requests for designations by other jurisdictions after determination that it meets the criteria in UNSC Resolution 1373.

c.  The ATC may designate an individual or organization upon a finding of probable cause that the latter commits, or attempts or conspires to commit, acts defined and penalized under the ATA Secs. 4 to 12.   

Under the ATA Sec. 26 on Proscription, this is upon application by the DOJ before the authorizing Division of the Court of Appeals against organizations which commit the same acts under the ATA Secs. 4 to 12, or which are organized for the purpose of engaging in terrorism.  The application must be with the authority of the ATC upon recommendation of the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) which shall be the Secretariat of the ATC.  The Court shall give due notice and opportunity to be heard to the organization sought to be declared as terrorist.  Under Sec. 27, the Court shall issue a Preliminary Order of Prescription within 72 hours from the filing of the application where it has determined that probable cause exists on the basis thereof.

Aside from the different procedures for designation under the ATA Sec. 25 (unilateral by the ATC and covering both individuals and organizations) and for proscription under Sec. 26 (with court proceedings and covering only organizations), it is not so clear whether there are different implications or consequences between designated terrorist organizations  and proscribed terrorist organizations.

5.  It is interesting to note that there is an existing Presidential Proclamation No. 374 dated 5 December 2017 “declaring the CPP-NPA as an entity designated and/or identified as a terrorist organization pursuant to Section 3(e)(1) of RA No. 10168” [the TFPSA].  It cites as basis for this that “on 09 August 2002, the United States of America (USA) designated the CPP-NPA as a foreign terrorist organization (FTO) and to date continues to include the CPPA-NPA in its list of FTOs” and also “Article VII, Section 17 of the Constitution [which] provides that the President shall ensure that the laws are faithfully executed.”  The obvious questions are:  given this, would a designation or proscription of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization under the ATA Secs. 25 or 26 still be necessary?  And would Presidential Proclamation No. 374 be already sufficient basis to apply the rest of the ATA to the CPP-NPA? 

6.  While we are at it, we might as well bring into the discussion the “twin” Presidential Proclamation No. 360 dated 23 November 2017 “declaring the termination of peace negotiations with the National Democratic Front (NDF)-CPP-NPA and all its adjuncts and organizational units.”  It cites as basis for this that “in spite of the best efforts exerted by this Administration, the NDF-CPP-NPA failed to show its sincerity and commitment in pursuing genuine and meaningful peace negotiations as it engaged in acts of violence and hostilities…” and also “Executive Order No. 292 (s. 1987) [the Revised Administrative Code] provides that the President may, by way of proclamation, declare a status or condition of public moment or interest.”  Obviously, the stated basis did not include the declaration of the CPP-NPA as a terrorist organization, for the proclamation of which came 12 days later.  But the latter declaration can be reasonably expected to be an additional impediment to the resumption of peace talks, an important concern expressed by a close family friend Filomeno S. Sta. Ana III of the Action for Economic Reforms.     

In theory, the conventional wisdom is that “we do not negotiate with terrorists.”  But in practice, it happens.  Even after Proclamations Nos. 360 and 374 in late 2017, the have been urong-sulong or atras-abante peace talks resumption explorations (currently, it is urong or atras) and actual short-term ceasefires on the local communist armed conflict front up until the end of April 2020, including attempted “Local Peace Engagements” with local units of the “Communist Terrorist Groups” (CTGs) at the local level pursuant to Presidential Executive Order No. 70 dated 4 December 2018 on the “Whole-of-Nation Approach in Attaining Inclusive and Sustainable Peace and… to End the Local Communist Armed Conflict.”  In other words, terrorist designation in itself is not a decisive counter-factor against peace negotiations.  There are other, more decisive factors, like lack of trust and confidence and the politico-military situation.  Perhaps the best recent counter-example to the said conventional wisdom is the breakthrough agreement between the U.S. and the Afghan Taliban, a U.S.-designated FTO, for peace in Afghanistan.   Negotiating with so-called “terrorists” (just like successfully done with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front once tagged as “terrorist”) may soon become the “new normal.”

7.  Speaking of so-called “Islamist terrorist organizations,”  like say the most notorious Abu Sayyaf Group (Al-Harakatul Al-Islamiyyah) or the remnants of the Maute Group (Daula Islamiya fi Ranao),  I doubt whether there will be any  real fuss about their designation or proscription under the ATA or under whatever purported legal basis.  It seems different as far as the current strong critical voices against the ATA are concerned, whereby there is even an expectation that the ATA is primarily intended against the CPP-NPA “and all its adjuncts and organizational units.”  Let us not kid each other about this.  The CPP-NPA is the first to admit that expectation, given the most recent Presidentially declared “all-out war” against them, “you S.O.B.s… [English translation, with much of the bile lost in the translation].”

Those current strong critical voices who are not CPP-NPA “and all its adjuncts and organizational units,” because of their serious concerns about the ATA’s likely significant consequences for Philippine democracy, fundamental freedoms, civil liberties and human rights, are perhaps well aware of German Lutheran pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous 1946 post-war confession:  “They came first for the Communists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Communist. Then they came for the Jews, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a Jew. Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn’t speak up because I wasn’t a trade unionist. Then they came for the Catholics, and I didn’t speak up because I was a Protestant. Then they came for me, and by that time no one was left to speak up.”  If a communist revolution can swallow its own children, so can a fascist dictatorship. 

8.  The mention of the Abu Sayyaf Group, the Maute Group and the CPP-NPA in the same breath brings us to the definition of terrorism, especially its legal definition, which should be the basis for the designation or proscription of terrorist organizations.  The current strong critical voices against the ATA contend that the definition of terrorism in Sec. 4 of the ATA is over-broad or vague (constitutional issues to be raised) such as to endanger even what are truly non-terrorist organizations and individuals.  The key to the ATA Sec. 4 definition is not the five enumerated acts (a) to (e) in the first part of the Section (e.g. “Engages in acts intended to cause death or serious bodily injury to any person, or endangers a person’s life”) but rather the “purpose of such act, by its nature and context” which may be any of the following that would make it terrorism

>  “to intimidate the general public or a segment thereof”

>  “create an atmosphere or spread a message of fear”

>  “to provoke or influence by intimidation the government or any of its international organization (sic)”

>  “seriously destabilize or destroy the fundamental political, economic or social structures of the country”        

>  “create a public emergency”

>  “seriously undermine public safety”

These formulations appear to be in accord with the UN’s 2004 description of terrorism as “any action, in addition to actions already specified by the existing conventions on aspects of terrorism, the Geneva  Conventions and Security Council resolution 1566 (2004), that is intended to cause death or serious bodily harm to civilians or non-combatants, when the purpose of such an act, by its nature or context, is to intimidate a population, or to compel a Government or an international  organization to do or to abstain from doing any act.”

From my own earlier study of the matter, I had in 2002 come up with this proposed  core legal definition of terrorism:  “the systematic employment by states, groups or individuals of acts or threats of violence or use of weapons deliberately targeting the civilian population, individuals or infrastructure for the primary purpose of spreading terror or extreme fear among the civilian population in relation to some political or quasi-political objective and undertaken with an intended audience.”  You will see at the outset that the concept that states are just as capable of committing terrorist acts as are non-state armed groups.  And so, if the Philippine government, particularly Congress, is truly sincere in suppressing terrorism in all its forms or sources, including state terrorism, I challenge it to incorporate this concept in our anti-terrorism law.   Of course, this would need more legislative as well as public deliberation and , yes, debate, for which reasonable time should be given. 

But going back to the ATA Sec. 4 definition of terrorism, to its credit, it makes clear that it “shall not include advocacy, protest, dissent, stoppage of work, industrial or mass action, and other similar exercises of civil and political rights, which are not intended to cause death or serious physical harm to a person, to endanger a person’s life, or to create a serious risk to public safety.” (underscorings supplied)  This is a clear improvement over the HSA definition of terrorism.  

9.  While non-state armed groups or rebel groups are capable of committing terrorist acts, not all such groups are ipso facto terrorist organizations.  It depends on their conduct of armed hostilities, on whether or not its acts of armed violence meet the elements of terrorism, as discussed above, especially in terms of deliberately targeting the civilian population, individuals or infrastructure for the primary purpose of spreading terror or extreme fear among the civilian population in relation to some political or quasi-political objective.   The group’s track record on this must be fairly examined.  Only if there is a clear and consistent pattern, plan or policy (in short, something systematic) of terrorist acts or methods by the group would it be justified to designate it as a “terrorist organization.”   One terrorist act does not necessarily make a terrorist organization, unless the act is based on a policy of employing terrorist acts (for example, a policy of suicide-bombing targeting innocent civilians, or a policy of reprisal aerial bombing or artillery/tank shelling targeting the civilian mass base of the enemy).

As I said, there would likely be not much fuss when it comes to designation or proscription of the Abu Sayyaf Group or the remnants of the Maute Group as terrorist organizations.  They may even welcome it as some sort of perverse badge of honor.  But there would likely be much fuss when it comes to the CPP-NPA, also because of the possible impact on those who might be deemed its accessories or its support or front organizations in case it is designated or proscribed as a terrorist organization under the ATA.  The CPP-NPA will definitely oppose any further designation or proscription of it as a terrorist organization under the ATA.  It will likely again cite, among others, what it had previously dishonestly referred to as a United Nations Development Program (UNDP) report in 2005 that stated “In fairness to the CPP-NPA’s historical record of armed struggle, it has not, as a policy – and has not generally in practice – engaged in terrorism or acts of terrorism by deliberately targeting civilians.”  This did not come from a UNDP report but from the Philippine Human Development Report 2005: Peace, Human Security and Human Development in the Philippines done by the independent local academe-based NGO Human Development Network (HDN) with only the cooperation support of the UNDP;  it is not a UNDP report as the CPP-NPA made it out to be.  At any rate, the quoted HDN statement was only one, albeit informed, view as of 2005. The ATA itself in its Sec. 27 provides that a Permanent Order of Proscription shall be valid for only 3 years, after which a review shall be made on whether it is to be extended or lifted. Because of the serious implications of designation or proscription of terrorist organizations under the ATA, this process must be characterized by fairness, perhaps academic-like or judicial-like rigor, and indubitable historical evidence.

10.  At this point, there should be no issue about terrorism being among the most serious crimes of concern to the international community as a whole, including the Philippines which has its international obligations to cooperate in its suppression.  Terrorism violates the basic right to life and the fundamental freedom from fear.  The May-October 2017 Marawi Siege and the January 27, 2019 Jolo Cathedral Bombing are still fresh wounds to remind us of this.  There should be no issue about the need for a domestic law defining and penalizing terrorism.  This was among the rulings in the Supreme Court Decision in David vs. Arroyo,  489 SCRA 160 (2006).  Thus, the HSA of 2007.

11.  Comes now the ATA of 2020 to replace the HSA in our statute books.  To somehow counter-balance the current strong critical voices against the ATA, another friend Prof. Rommel C. Banlaoi of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research, proffers what he admits to be a “very unpopular” view of “progressive provisions” in the ATA.  Foremost to him is its Sec. 2 Declaration of Policy, particularly these aspects:

>   “… to make terrorism a crime against the Filipino people, against humanity, and against the law of nations.”

>     “In the implementation of the policy stated above, the State shall uphold the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined in the Constitution.”

>  “The State recognizes that the fight against terrorism requires a comprehensive approach, comprising political, economic, diplomatic, military and legal means duly taking into account the root causes of terrorism…”

>  “Such measures shall include conflict management and post-conflict peacebuilding, addressing the roots of conflict…”

“… shall not prejudice respect for human rights which shall be absolute and protected at all times.”

ATA provisions to ensure respect for human rights include Secs. 17 & 19 on Judicial Authorization by the authorizing division of the Court of Appeals, Sec. 23 on inadmissibility or exclusion of evidence secured in violation of pertinent provisions,  Sec. 24 on penalty of 10 years imprisonment for law enforcement agents or military personnel for unauthorized surveillance and making available to the aggrieved party any information maliciously procured, Sec. 29 on written notification of the judge nearest the place of apprehension of the latter’s details, Sec. 30 on rights of a person under custodial detention, Sec. 31 on penalty of 10 years imprisonment for violations of the rights of a detainee, Sec. 33 on no torture or coercion in investigation and interrogation with reference to R.A. No. 9745 or the Anti-Torture Act of 2009, Sec. 37 on penalty of 4 years imprisonment for malicious or unauthorized examination of bank accounts, Sec. 41 on penalty of 4 years imprisonment for unauthorized revelation of classified information, Sec. 43 on penalty of 6 years imprisonment for furnishing false evidence, forged documents or spurious evidence, Sec. 47 on the Commission on Human Rights to “give the highest priority to the investigation and prosecution of violations of civil and political rights of persons in relation to the implementation of this Act,” Sec. 48 on ban on extraordinary rendition to another country, and Sec. 51 on protection of most vulnerable sectoral groups.

There is, however, a dearth of ATA provisions that flesh out its declared policy of a “comprehensive approach, comprising political, economic, diplomatic, military and legal means,” except for the latter which constitutes the meat of the ATA.  There is nothing that fleshes out in particular “Such measures… [as] conflict management and post-conflict peacebuilding, addressing the roots of conflict…  duly taking into account the root causes of terrorism…”  This dearth warrants the reopening of legislative deliberations in order to address it.

12.  In the final analysis, only implementation and practice will tell whether  “the basic rights and fundamental liberties of the people as enshrined in the Constitution” would be upheld, and whether “respect for human rights, which shall be absolute and protected at all times,” would not be prejudiced, pursuant to the ATA’s declared policy.  The general and historical experience in the Philippines has been that the law and its implementation two, sometimes very, different things.  The difference may be attributed to the criminal justice system and its several pillars, most crucially that of law enforcement led by the police.  And in the particular case of the ATA, it is “law enforcement agents or military personnel” who would be the front-liners in its implementation.  Given particularly the recent experience of this administration’s “war against drugs,” it should not be seen as asking too much that a certain necessary measure or level of police reform be achieved first before passing or implementing the ATA. Let this be our counter-part to the call for police reform in the U.S. now arising from the killing of George Floyd, one too many among Blacks who have lost their lives in the brutal hands of predominantly White policemen, as a function of systemic racism. 

Both police and military personnel who will be assigned to ATA implementation work, such as surveillance of suspects, interception and recording of communications, filing of written applications with the authorizing division of the Court of Appeals, custody of intercepted and recorded communications, joint affidavits for this purpose, written notifications of the judge nearest the place of apprehension, informing detained persons of their rights, maintaining an official custodial logbook, and filing of the appropriate cases before the Public Prosecutor’s Office, will need some special training for this.  There  is no ATB provision for this as well as for the special training of designated specific divisions of the Court of Appeals or certain branches of the RTC as anti-terror courts to handle ATA cases.  As a rule, the Implementing Rules and Regulations cannot fill the substantive gaps in the law itself.

And so, all told, the better part of anti-terror valor is some prudence. To reiterate our call, reopen legislative deliberations on the ATB for a better and more socially acceptable ATA, and for the necessary institutional preparation for its implementation, in the interest  of Philippine democracy, fundamental freedoms, civil liberties, human rights, and the right fight against terrorism.

*SOLIMAN M. SANTOS, JR. is presently a Judge of the Regional Trial Court of Naga City, Camarines Sur.  He is a long-time human rights and IHL lawyer;  legislative consultant and legal scholar;  peace advocate, researcher and writer;  and author of a number of books.

This piece was also published in Eurasia Review and Global Security Review.

Photo Credit: Philippine Navy Special Warfare Group. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Special Warfare Operator 1st Class (SEAL) Joel Beam as used in Eurasia Review.

The Philippines’ New Anti-Terrorism Law: Fighting Terrorism with Justice

by Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD

4 June 2020

While still struggling in waging a war against the COVID-19 pandemic, the Philippine government intensifies its already protracted war against terrorism by decisively pushing for the adoption of a new anti-terrorism law. 

On 3 June 2020, the Philippine House of Representatives approved the House Bill 6875 or the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020, which is identical with the Senate Bill 1083 adopted in February 2020.   Both bills aim to repeal the 2007 Human Security Act (HSA) that is considered by Filipino lawmakers and law enforcement authorities to be obsolete in fighting the current threat of terrorism in the Philippines.

Anti-Terrorism Law:  Certified Urgent, A Done Deal

President Rodrigo Roa Duterte certified on 1 June 2020 the passage of the anti-terrorism bill as urgent emphasizing the “need to strengthen the law on anti-terrorism in order to inadequately and effectively contain the menace of terrorist acts for the preservation of national security and the promotion of general welfare.”   

With the President’s certification of the passage of the bill, signing the anti-terrorism bill into a law is already a done deal or a mere formality.

New Provisions to Fight New Face of Terror

The new anti-terrorism law has three very important provisions that amend the HSA. These three new provisions are deemed essential to strengthen the power of the Philippines’ anti-terrorism authorities in countering the persistent and evolving threat of terrorism in the country.  With a strong lobby from intelligence and security sectors involved in counterterrorism, majority of the lawmakers recognize that the HSA is no longer responsive and effective in fighting the current terrorist threat in the Philippines.

First, the new law removes the requirement of the HSA the payment of P500,000.00 per day to suspects for wrongful arrest. This requirement discourages Philippine law enforcement authorities to apply the HSA in their counterterrorism operations to avoid the penalty for the erroneous detention of terror suspects.    Critics denounce the removal of this requirement as they regard this as a safeguard against abuse and arbitrary arrest. 

Second, the new anti-terrorism law extends the period of preventive detention from three days to 14 days, with a possibility of another 10-day extension upon approval of appropriate Philippine courts.    The main reason for the extension is the view from law enforcements that extracting actionable information from terror suspects in three days is utterly difficult if not impossible.  Extending the detention period to 14 days will allow more time for investigators to get valuable information from the terror suspect.   A longer detention period can also provide ample time to facilitate interrogation.   It can also incapacitate the suspected terrorist from wrecking havoc.  Most importantly, longer preventive detention can lawfully hold suspect when usual criminal charges cannot be filed for some technical considerations.

The idea of extending the period of preventive detention to 14 days is based on the Australian counterterrorism law.   By adopting the practice of Australia, which is a democratic country, drafters of the new Philippine anti-terrorism law find the 14-day preventive detention period as a democratic approach.  This can allay some fears that the new preventive detention period can be used for authoritarian purposes, particularly in the context of the leadership style of President Duterte.  

The 14-day period, in fact, is very short compared with the practice in neighboring Malaysia (with an indefinite preventive detention period) and with Indonesia (reaching almost one year of preventive detention).  The United States, though a democratic country, even holds and detains terrorist suspects indefinitely as the war on terror goes on.

Critics opposed the 14-day preventive detention period for violation not only of human rights but also of the Philippine Constitution, which only requires three days of detention during the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus.

But what is not stressed by critics is the requirement of the new anti-terrorism law to protect all the rights of suspects during detention including rights against torture. If law enforcement authorities or arresting officers are found violating the human rights of the suspect during detention, the said officers can be penalized up to 10 years of imprisonment. This penalty aims to deter law enforcement officers from committing human rights violations.

Third, the new anti-terrorism law authorizes counterterrorism units of the Philippine government to conduct a 60-day surveillance of suspected terrorist through the use of wire tapping technologies.    A 30-day extension for surveillance activities can be granted upon written approval of the Court of Appeal.

The use of wire tapping in anti-terrorism is not unique to the Philippines.  Democratic countries like the United States have legislations allowing the lawful use of wire tapping to gather actionable intelligence information for counterterrorism.   When authorities use wire tapping for illegal purposes, then it should be punishable.  The new Philippine anti-terrorism requires punishment for illegal use of wire tapping by authorities.

An Anti-Terrorism Court and Anti-Terrorism Council

An important innovation of the new anti-terrorism law is the creation of anti-terrorism courts.  Existing Regional Trial Courts can be designated as anti-terrorism courts in order to speed-up trials of terrorism cases.   In the developing world, Pakistan has the record of establishing an anti-terrorism court as early as 1997 to deal with crimes associated with terrorism.  Philippine authorities see the need for the Supreme Court to designate anti-terrorism courts whose jurisdiction is to exclusively handle terrorism cases.

Like the HSA, the new anti-terrorism law requires the establishment of the Anti-Terrorism Council (ATC) chaired by the Executive Secretary.   Unlike the HSA, however, the new law strengthens and professionalizes the ATC by creating The Program Management Center (PMC) to serve as the main coordinating and program management arm of the ATC.  Under the new law, the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA) serves as the secretariat of the ATC.

Proscription of Terrorists

Upon the authority of the ATC and recommendation of NICA, any organization, association, or group of persons, can be proscribed as terrorist organization for committing acts of terrorism identified by the new anti-terrorism law.  This means that persons associated with or belonging to (and even professing to belong to) proscribed organizations can be charged of terrorism.  

Proscription offences can be in the form of actual acts of terrorism, providing financial and material support to carry out acts of terrorism, and even expressing an opinion or belief in support of proscribed organizations can be criminally charged of terrorism. Penalties for proscription offences (particularly conspiracy, planning, preparing, training and facilitating the commission of terrorism, among others) shall suffer the imprisonment of 12 years.

Human Rights Worries

Because of these new features, opposition leaders, cause-oriented groups, human rights organizations, and individual activists have expressed enormous worries that the new anti-terrorism law can lead to blatant violations of human rights. 

As a country with bitter experiences of human rights violations under a fragile democracy in a still developing political system, there are indeed many valid reasons to be worried about. These reasons are coming from the track records of intelligence and security sectors in the Philippine in protecting human rights while dealing with the country’s existing international armed conflicts.

Though the new anti-terrorism law empowers the Commission of Human Rights in its implementation, without an accountable and responsible intelligence and security sectors, the new law can really be prone for human rights abuses. 

It is therefore essential to transform the intelligence and security sectors in the Philippines to make them more responsible and accountable in implementing the new anti-terrorism law to allay fears of the public for possible abuse of human rights.

Intelligence Reforms

Fear of the new anti-terrorism law is based on the negative perception on Philippine intelligence authorities.   There were cases where individuals from the intelligence sector used the resources of the government to spy not only on the enemies of the state but the enemies of the government in power, particularly during the Martial Law period.  Thus, the Philippine intelligence sector received negative public reputation.

To overcome this negative perception, it is imperative to reform the intelligence sector to make it more responsible and accountable.   In 2004, in the midst of the global war on terror, the United States enacted into law the Intelligence Reform and Terrorism Prevention Act.  The Philippines can learn lessons from this measure. 

But most importantly, intelligence reforms in the Philippines must strengthen the legal and institutional systems that empower civilian oversight and control.   Without a strong civilian oversight, any anti-terrorism laws anywhere in the world will be prone to abuse.

Security Sector Transformation

Intelligence reforms must also proceed in tandem with security sector transformation.  Fear of the new anti-terrorism law also comes from the track record of the Philippine security sector of committing lapses in protecting human rights during counter-insurgency and anti-terrorism operations (not to mention the war on drugs).   To avoid these lapses, security sector transformation is not only warranted but also an urgent task.

Security transformation promotes good governance of the security sector.  The process empowers civilian institutions to perform effective oversight of the security sectors, particularly the military, the police and paramilitary units of the government.  Like intelligence reforms, security sector transformation requires the security sector to be responsible and accountable to civilian government institutions.  The process does not only entail military and police reforms.  It also requires criminal justice reforms to establish a norm of security sector governance that is responsible and accountable.   The process, therefore, also requires judicial, legislative, and bureaucratic reforms.

Fighting Terrorism with Justice

Fighting terrorism does not only mean putting terrorists to jail.    Defeating terrorism needs to address the underlying conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism and without using these underlying conditions to justify acts of terrorism. 

The new anti-terrorism law has a very important provision requiring the Philippine government to implement a program on countering and preventing violent extremism (CPVE).    This provision is not found in the HSA.   The provision states that the CPVE shall address the conditions conducive to the spread of terrorism, which include among others the following:

  • Ethnic, national, and religious discrimination;
  • Socio-economic disgruntlement;
  • Political exclusion;
  • Dehumanization of victims of terrorism;
  • Lack of good governance; and,
  • Prolonged and unresolved conflicts by winning the hears and minds of the people to prevent them from engaging in violent extremism

If the Philippine government will prioritize CPVE in the implementation of the anti-terrorism law while pursuing intelligence reforms and security sector transformations, this law will not scare the public.  The government will even get the needed public approval and support in order to fight terrorism in the Philippines with justice.

The author is the Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (www.pipvtr.org) and a Professorial Lecturer at the Department of International Studies, Miriam College, the Philippines. He is also the President of the Philippine Society for Intelligence and Security Studies (PSISS. See https://pipvtr.org/philippine-society-for-intelligence-and-security-studies-psiss/).

Also published in Southeast Asia Review and Eurasia Review.

Promotional photo for Philippine Army. Photo Credit: Philippine Army as used in Eurasia Review.

Hazards of COVID-19 to Human Security

by Kathrina Angela P. Gonzales*

4 June 2020

The word ‘security’ has evolved overtime and has been shaped by national and historical context. Security as defined by Malik (2015) “refers to the protection of values we hold dear”, implying that people may have different perspectives on the meaning of ‘security’, depending on what they deem as important for them that they must protect.

Similarly, “peace” does not have an exact definition. The most common definition used today is Mahatma Gandhi’s vision of ‘positive peace’, which refers to the ‘absence of violence’ (UNESCO, 2018). This concept of positive peace was, in fact, first conceptualized by Johan Galtung. He argues that peace does not only mean the absence of conflict or violence but the presence of justice.

Buzan (1945) explains that peace “represent durable and coherent domains of concern [that] have their own set of norms and assumptions” and conflicts with its meaning prohibits a universally accepted definition (from UNESCO, 2018). Dietrich (2012) then emphasizes that peace should be able to adapt to different cultures and marginal strata of society (from UNESCO, 2018), in order for those who have their own meaning of peace positively influence others who are still in the process of figuring out their definition.

It can be argued that security and peace are interdependent, in a sense that in the absence of the other, immediately indicates that the other could not be achieved.

Wallensteen (2015) introduces ‘quality peace’ that removes the barrier or separation between negative and positive peace, which entails post-war conditions for individuals that allows them to have a secure life and dignity (from UNESCO, 2018). Moreover, it pertains to “…maintaining conditions that don’t produce wars in the first place…” (Wallensteen, 2015 [from UNESCO, 2018]).

With that said, peace does not necessarily refer to the absence of war, while security does not only imply developing and using military measures to ensure peace. Rather, peace ensures a quality life among people by protecting their values. This is the centerpiece of human security where concepts of peace and security are intertwined like two sides of the same coin.

The concept of human security came along the United Nations’ Human Development Report in 1994 that transcends conceptual frameworks of security, by looking at human rights and development (Malik, 2015). From the traditional view of security, which is state-centric, human security as an alternative concept is people-oriented.

This alternative view of security allows policy makers to recognize social and economic issues, such as poverty, as roots or causes of conflict. This also encompasses Food Security, wherein it looks at how poverty and unfair distribution of food and resources drive people into famine and leads global failure (Hough, 2015). Health, as well, is an important topic when discussing security, Hough (2015) discusses how globalization has enabled States to disseminate and acquire medical information and acknowledge that global health governance is vital for national and human security.

The economic, political, and social problems that arose during the COVID-19 pandemic, such as hunger, lax political responses or inefficient policies, unequal distribution of resources and food, global recession, loss of income and jobs, and unequal dissemination of medical knowledge, has caused turmoil in the society, thus, posing a grave threat to international peace and security. Enforcing and providing security is the main responsibility of sovereign states to its people, especially during crises.

According to Smallman and Brown (2011), a government that fails to ensure security among its citizens “…faces not only the risk of external takeover but also the loss of legitimacy among its people”. The World Health Organization (WHO) Guidance Book emphasizes that although all of society should be involved in national preparedness response in cases of a pandemic, governments must assume leadership roles in facilitating, identifying, appointing and coordinating for responses and providing resources.

However, governments must ensure that their responses are inclusive and sustainable to prevent discord among citizens and to be able to take up the same measures in the future.

While the United Nations must ensure that all Member States abide by its policies and treaties in safeguarding the people’s rights and maintaining peace and security, the WHO is responsible for leading in cases of pandemic crisis. Under the WHO Guidance Book, it states that World Health Assembly resolutions mandates them to provide guidance and technical support among its Member States, which includes preventing and controlling influenza pandemics and annual epidemics, strengthening pandemic influenza preparedness and response, sharing of knowledge about influenza viruses and access to vaccines and other benefits.

It is, therefore, paramount for WHO to work very hard on creating and providing vaccines against the COVID-19 to ensure not only the health security of the affected persons but also the human security of the people of the world.

*The author is a Graduate Student at the Department of International Studies, Miriam College, the Philippines. Email kthrna.gnzls@gmail.com.

Photo Credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

PIPVTR publishes this essay to encourage graduate students to share their scholarly thoughts on the topic. This essay articulates the personal view of the author and not the position of PIPVTR and Miriam College.

References:

Hough, P., et al. (2015). International Security Studies: Theory and Practice. Routledge Taylor & Francis Group, London and New York.

NCBI. (n.d.). Pandemic Influenza Preparedness and Response: A WHO Guidance Document. Retrieved from https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK143067/

Smallman, S. & Brown, K. (2011). Introduction to International & Global Studies. TheUniversity of North Carolina Press.

United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization. (2018). Long Walk of Peace Towards a Culture of Prevention.

COVID-19 as a Threat to International Peace and Security

by Maria Stephanie C. Garcia*

3 June 2020

The concepts of peace and security are inextricably linked. The broadening scope of security as well as the conceptualization of human security made peace and security to be an inseparable dimension, where one is not possible without the other. The new concept of security encompasses the freedom of fear or peace ( i.e. conflicts, violence, crime), freedom from want or development (i.e poverty, infectious diseases, environmental degradation), and freedom of indignity or human rights (i.e discrimination and exclusion).

Simultaneously, peace is not only limited in the mere absence of war, but its realization requires the creation of conditions that eliminates the causes of violence including the direct, cultural, and structural causes (Galtung, 1964), which then constitutes the concept of security in the 21st century. 

With these into consideration, it can be inferred that global challenges and crises such as the COVID-19 pandemic, is a grave threat to international peace and security. This is mainly because it becomes a source of threat to the survival and total well-being of humankind and undermines the vital aspect of state security such as peace, development, and human rights. As further declared by the United Nations (2004), “any event or process that leads to large-scale death or lessening of life chances and undermines States as the basic unit of the international system is a threat to international security.”

The COVID-19 pandemic has spread to over 200 countries, infecting 5.3 million people, and claiming more than 300 thousand of lives, and causing suffering, especially those in already vulnerable situations (WHO, 2020). Significantly, it also put immense damages to future scenarios of political, social, and economic structures that negatively affect growth and equality. That, in turn, may eventually trigger and increase the likelihood of conflict around the world. 

In order to avoid the furtherance of threat, an individual sovereign state has the responsibility to take measures and actions to protect its population and contain the spread of the virus. They are responsible to ensure that a well-functioning public health system is at hand in order to offer the appropriate treatment and to provide the necessary care for those who will be diagnosed and infected. Most importantly, they should also identify sectors of society who will be hard hit and disproportionately bear the socio-economic impacts. In this way, proper response and effective interventions can take place.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic is a transnational crisis that knows no borders, an individual government has inherent duties to consistently foster cooperation and communication with other states, actors, and international institutions. As history aptly tells us, no state can achieve a degree of containment of the disease in isolation.

The United Nations, as a custodian of international peace and security, is responsible to initiate collective strategies and actions for all states. It shall work closely with governments, experts, and other non-state actors to further expand the scientific knowledge in regards to the virus and vaccination, to provide data and surveillance worldwide, and to advise states on appropriate actions in order to prevent and further spread the virus. Notably, the organization has an essential role to take strong initiative in encouraging states to vigorously build and establish improved public health defenses where infectious disease monitoring, detection, response, and security planning can be operationalized.

Sovereign states and the United Nations should, therefore, work hand in hand in taking the necessary measures to decisively put an end to the pandemic towards the maintenance of international peace and security.

*The author is a Graduate Student at the Department of International Studies, Miriam College, the Philippines. Email tephaniegarc13@gmail.com.

Photo Credit: US Food and Drugs Administration

PIPVTR publishes this essay to encourage graduate students to share their scholarly thoughts on the topic. This essay articulates the personal view of the author and not the position of PIPVTR and Miriam College.

References:

Galtung, J. (1964). An Editorial. Journal of Peace Research, 1 (1). 1-4.

United Nations (UN). (2004). A More Secure World: Our shared responsibility. United

Nations Department of Public Information

World Health Organization (WHO). (2020). WHO Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19)

Dashboard. Retrieved from https://covid19.who.int/

Role of Traditional Medicine and Acupuncture in the Prevention and Control of COVID 19 in China and the Philippines: NGO Perspectives

2 June 2020

Cooperation among non-governmental organizations (NGOs) worldwide plays an important role in the prevention and control of COVID-19. Thus, NGOs from the Philippines and China took the much needed initiative of upholding this very important role as the world continues to overcome the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Philippine Association for Chinese Studies (PACS) in cooperation with the Amity Foundation, KAISA Para Sa Kaunlaran, the Philippine Acupuncture Academy Inc. and the Philippines-China Friendship Association successfully co-organized the NGO webinar on 29 May 2020 on “The role of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) and acupuncture in COVID 19 Prevention and Recovery”.

The event attracted nearly 200 participants from 121 organizations in 15 countries that included Japan, Australia, Thailand, Myanmar, Nepal and the USA. Most participants were professionals in health care, research and social development work. More than half of the participants were practitioners of acupuncture.

In his opening remarks, PACS president Dr. Rommel Banlaoi said the conference was timely and relevant, not only in raising  awareness of the efficacy and wealth of knowledge in acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine, but also in maintaining and strengthening personal and professional linkages among peoples amidst lockdowns and quarantines. In such difficult times, distance should not be a barrier, and countries should come together to face common challenges. The event will not only help strengthen medical exchanges between China and the Philippines, but also strengthen people-to-people exchanges between land and maritime neighbors in the Silk Road region.

The two keynote speakers were Dr. Shen Jia, Deputy Director of the Health Management Center of the 2nd Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing University of Traditional Chinese Medicine, and Dr. Liu Lanying, Director of Acupuncture Rehabilitation Department of Jiangsu Provincial Hospital. Ms. She Hongyu, an Associate General Secretary of Amity, an NGO with headquarters in Nanjing, was the conference moderator.

In his well-illustrated lecture, Dr. Shen Jia, author of several TCM books, combined TCM theory and case studies to explain the practical role of Chinese medicine and herbs during the COVID 19 outbreak in China as well as the efforts carried out in the post-lockdown period related to the resumption of work.  

Focusing on acupuncture, Dr. Liu Lanying, explained the different stages undergone by COVID19 patients including the period of medical observation, clinical treatment, recovery and home isolation. Sharing the research and case studies of the medical team sent to Hubei by the Jiangsu Provincial Hospital, she introduced in detail the corresponding acupuncture points, techniques and alternative therapies in responding to the various symptoms of pneumonia caused by COVID 19.

The lectures were enthusiastically received by practitioners and helped raise the knowledge and interest of non-practitioners. In response to questions from participants, the two experts offered advice on how to adapt TCM and acupuncture practice to the local climate and environment.

In her concluding remarks, Amity’s General Secretary, Ms. Ling Chunxiang recalled the long-standing cooperation between Amity and a number of non-profit organizations in the Philippines over the past 30 years. More recently, there has been solidarity and mutual donations of PPES in the time of need from both sides. Amity received donations of masks from KAISA and the Philippine Liok Kui Fraternity in March and in May, donated protective gowns and masks to the Philippines through KAISA. Ms. Ling stressed the importance of removing national and ethnic barriers and the need for mutual cooperation in overcoming the current pandemic. Amity will continue to work with people around the world to confront global challenges in the spirit of agape and the understanding that we all constitute a community with a shared destiny.

After the meeting, there was enthusiastic feedback from participants.

Mr. Alberto from the Pastoral Bible Society, excitedly described how Chinese medicine and acupuncture had greatly alleviated his own pains and aches. He was impressed by the breadth of information provided and the extensive network that was represented in this meeting. He was eager to share the lecture contents with his TCM practitioner friends.

From the Philippines Claretian Communication Foundation, Mr. Lhai said that he had many friends who had undergone acupuncture treatment to cure a variety of health problems. He learned from this meeting that TCM and acupuncture can provide preventive and rehabilitation treatment for those infected by COVID19 and feels this is very beneficial.

Read Chinese version of this article here. Also read more here.

Photo Credit: Based on the Report by the Amity Foundation

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COVID-19 Pandemic: A Threat to Philippine Security

by Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD

28 May 2020

Despite the Philippine government’s best efforts to effectively address the various impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, security anxieties of the Filipino people still prevail, if not getting worse. 

Based on the recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Station (SWS) released on 24 May 2020, 87 percent of Filipinos expressed enormous worries to catch the coronavirus.    Security anxieties of Filipinos are, in fact, much higher compared with results of similar surveys conducted in other countries like Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

Hunger Amidst Pandemic

The SWS survey also disclosed that the number of Filipinos who suffered hunger as a result of quarantine measures against the pandemic has almost doubled the figure recorded in December 2019.   Close to four million respondents claimed to have suffered hunger during the first two months of the pandemic.  This was the highest figure of hunger ever recorded, thus far, during the administration of President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

Unemployment Woes

Aside from hunger, loss of livelihood is also exacerbating the insecurities of the Filipinos during the pandemic.  When the Philippine government implemented one of the world’s most stringent measures against the pandemic, almost three million Filipino workers immediately lost their jobs. 

Work stoppage and unemployment as a result of quarantine measures suddenly displaced many Filipino laborers.  With no jobs to feed their families, affected individuals are now compelled by the current circumstances to beg for food.  Unemployment problems can get worse as the pandemic can still persist in coming months until an anti-virus is found.

Social Unrests

The deadly combination of hunger and fear is a perfect recipe for social unrests. If not properly prevented, social unrests can challenge the existing political order.  The economic downturn caused by the pandemic can also encourage political conflicts and unleash many other security problems like food security, job security, health security, environmental security, economic security, and political security.

As a result of the pandemic, protests and violent conflicts already took place in other countries.  Aside from the Philippines, social unrests were already seen in Brazil, India, Indonesia, Kenya, and South Africa, among others.

Threat to International Peace and Security

In its document, A More Secure World, the United Nations identifies the spread of infectious disease as one of the major threats to international peace and security. The World Economic Forum stresses that with the current pandemic, the international community is now facing a volatile and unstable situation worse than the agony caused by the Great Depression of the 1930s.  If the current situation persists, greater risks of violent conflicts can occur in the most vulnerable countries with already preexisting security problems.

The Philippines and Non-Traditional Security Threats

The COVID-19 pandemic has made the spread of infectious diseases more real rather than an imagined threat to Philippine security, particularly in non-traditional sense.  

Non-traditional security threats are issues presenting clear and present danger to the survival and wellbeing of peoples and even of states.   They come primarily from non-military sources like natural disasters, environmental degradation, climate change, transnational crimes, terrorism and the spread of infectious diseases like the COVID-19. 

Human Security in the Time of the Pandemic

Non-traditional security threats are threats to human security where the people rather than the state is the referent for security.  This people-oriented view of security is an alternative paradigm of security that privileges human welfare as the cornerstone of security policy.  COVID-19 is a grave threat to human security.

The Philippine government has already acknowledged the importance of human security in its existing National Security Policy (NSP) for 2017-2022.  Human security also informs the Philippine Development Plan (PDP) for 2017-2022.   These documents regard infectious diseases as threats to human security that require effective economic planning and appropriate security measures. 

Philippine Government Flat Footed,  Philippine Society Unprepared

However, the Philippine government was still caught flat-footed with the onslaught of the COVID-19 pandemic.  This indicated that despite the government’s acknowledgement of this problem in various official policy documents, capacities to respond to this problem were limited, if not lacking. The Philippine even admitted that its imposition of quarantine measures caught many sectors of the Philippine society unprepared.   

Quarantine Measures: Protecting or Threatening Lives?

Though the main purpose of quarantine measures is to protect lives, uncertainties associated with conflicting information about COVID-19 situation in the country and limited capacities of the government to overcome the pandemic are, in fact, threatening lives.   After almost three months of community quarantine, a sanitized term for lockdown, the Philippine government has yet to finalize a comprehensive plan to recover from the pandemic.

Response to COVID-19

The Philippine government created the Interagency Task Force (IATF) on Emerging Infectious Disease (EID) as early as 2014 during the administration of President Benigno Simeon Aquino III to assess, monitor, contain, control and prevent the spread of any potential epidemic in the Philippines.   President Duterte convened the IATF-EID in January 2020 amidst the coronavirus outbreak in China.   

On 25 March 2020, the IATF-EID launched the National Action Plan (NAP) against COVID-19.  The NAP included the creation of the COVID-19 National Task Force (NTF) headed by the Secretary of National Defense (SND) who has the overall supervision of the Office of Civil Defense (OCD) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP).   This strongly demonstrated that overcoming the COVID-19 pandemic is inevitably an essential agenda for national defense and security.

Recovering from COVID-19

While the Philippine government is exerting its best efforts to effectively respond to COVID-19, recovering from the pandemic is equally important.   The COVID-19 has revealed the awful limitation of Philippine governance capacity in responding to the pandemic.    Recovering from the pandemic presents another major challenge to the Philippine government.

It is therefore imperative for the Philippine government to set out an effective recovery plan that is mindful of security aspects and consequences of the pandemic.   

With an effective recovery plan, the government can hopefully bring the Philippine society in a new normal situation where the welfare, well being and ways of life of the Filipino people are duly protected and enhanced.

*Rommel C. Banlaoi, PhD, is the Chairman of the Philippine Institute for Peace, Violence and Terrorism Research (PIPVTR) and a Professorial Lecturer at the Department of International Studies, Miriam College, the Philippines. He was a Professor of Political Science and International Relations at the National Defense College of the Philippines (NDCP) where he also served as Vice President.

This piece also appeared in Eurasia Review and Global Security Review.

Photo Credit: Capacity Media as used in Eurasia Review.