Abstract: Democracy was already in peril in the Philippines even before the pandemic began in early 2020. But Covid-19 has appeared to accelerate the decline of democracy as the government took draconian steps to contain the virus. My presentation will tackle two main threads. The first thread will be President Rodrigo Duterte’s response to the pandemic from the lens of law enforcement—including appointing retired generals to run a national task force and ordering one of the longest lockdowns in the world—and what the country has to show for it. In the midst of it all, the government shut down a major television network for political reasons and passed an anti-terror law that threatens basic freedoms. The second thread will look at journalists’ reporting on Covid-19, the difficulties they faced, including adjusting to virtual coverage, coping with economic pressures, and threats of repression from the state.
Bio: MARITES DANGUILAN VITUG has been a journalist for almost four decades and is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished journalists. A bestselling author, Marites has written eight books on Philippine current affairs. She is the former editor of Newsbreak, a pioneering political magazine. Currently, she is editor at large of rappler. Her latest book, Rock Solid: How the Philippines won its maritime dispute against China, won the National Book Award for best book in journalism in 2019. She wrote books on the Supreme Court and the Muslim rebellion in Mindanao, among others. Marites’s works have been published in foreign periodicals including the Nikkei Asia Review, Nieman Reports, Newsweek, International Herald Tribune, and books and journals, including The Politics of Environment in Southeast Asia (Routledge: London and New York), The Journal of Environment and Development (University of California in San Diego) and “Open Justice Philippine Case Study: Transparency and Civic Participation in the Selection of Supreme Court Justices,” in Open Justice: An Innovation-Driven Agenda for Inclusive Societies, Ministry of Justice and Human Rights of Argentina, 2019. In August 2018, Marites was a visiting fellow at the Australia National University, a visiting research scholar at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo in 2016 and, in Kyoto University in 2014.
Bio: Koki Seki is a professor of cultural anthropology and Southeast Asian studies in the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences, Hiroshima University. His research interests include social development, social policy, and welfare under neoliberal restructuring of the Global South, particularly in the Philippines. Some of the current research topics are; urban gentrification and suburbanization of Metro Manila, relocation of the Informal Settlements and social housing projects, and so on. His major publications include: edited volume of Ethnographies of Development and Globalization in the Philippines: Emergent socialities and the governing of pricarity (2020); Anthropology of the “Social”: Globalization, Development, and Connectedness in the Philippines (2017, in Japanese) ; “Capitalizing on Desire: Reconfiguring ‘the Social’ and the Government of Poverty in the Philippines”, Development and Change 46 (6): 1253-1276 (2015); “Identity Construction of Migrant Children and Representation of the Family: The 1.5-Generation Filipino Youth in California, USA” in I. Nagasaka and A. Fresnoza-Flot (eds.) Mobile Childhoods in Filipino Transnational Families: Migrant Children with Similar Roots in Different Routes (2015). Palgrave Macmillan, pp.151-178.