Friends and Foes: Human Rights, the Philippine Left and Duterte, 2016-2017
Author(s): Jayson Lamchek
The Philippine left’s short-lived association with the government of Rodrigo Duterte from 2016 vexed political observers, whether sympathetic to or critical of the left. Against the charge that the left was simply subordinated as a political force to Duterte’s multi-class populist-cum-fascist project, this article argues that the left was both friend and foe of Duterte, who promised an aggressive War on Drugs as well as socioeconomic reforms. It situates the left–Duterte relationship within the history of engagement by new political actors with elite democracy in the Philippines since 1987. The friend-and-foe or dual strategy analysis uncovers some of the richness of the left’s progressive engagement with Duterte. This contributes to an understanding of Philippine political history by providing a profile of progressive engagement involving a set of actors different from those who have previously been analysed – viz. national democrats rather than social democrats – and an increasingly authoritarian administration explicitly espousing anti-human rights rhetoric. We specify the conditions for the emergence of the left–Duterte relationship, how it unfolded, and the tipping points that led to its collapse. The findings underscore the complexities and extreme difficulty of transforming Philippine politics through progressive engagement.
Research theme: Human Rights Law and Policy
The Dangers of Human Rights-Compliant Counterterrorism: A Critical Review of the Indonesian Approach
Author(s): Jayson Lamchek
Against the prevailing wisdom that legal frameworks can make the fight against terrorism compatible with human rights, the paper offers an extended pause to draw out the bases for disbelief in the power of constitutional law to tame counterterrorism in Indonesia. It argues that the idea of human rights-compliant counterterrorism partakes of a fantastical quality and involves a great deal of unawareness of counterterrorism as a hegemonic order. The identification of counterterrorism with human rights action is a defining feature of this counterterrorism hegemony. The paper contextualizes this argument in Indonesia. It offers explanations for how Indonesia’s counterterrorism achieved acceptability despite the Constitutional Court having had no role to play in shaping it and despite the counterterrorism legal framework lowering human rights standards. Three characteristics of Indonesian counterterrorism, namely, its focus on Islamist militants, that it is police-led and criminal justice-based, allow it to be presented as consistent with constitutional values. The rhetoric of counterterrorism as fundamentally consistent with human rights helps maintain impunity for extralegal killings and torture of terrorism suspects by police. The paper concludes with an invitation to develop a human rights practice that rejects rather than seeks accommodation with counterterrorism hegemony.