Ilang Taong Bakwit: A Review of Post-Marawi Crisis Rehabilitation and Reconstruction, 2017-2020

Back in early 2020 I was asked by several Mranaw civil society leaders to help them put together a technical stock-take of available data on post-Marawi Siege reconstruction efforts. At the time, the report of the BTA Special Committee on Marawi had not been written yet, and there was a very real fear that commitments for rebuilding the city and helping residents return home and get back on their feet would be forgotten after the Duterte administration and if the BARMM extension were not approved. Although it seems that the BARMM transition will continue until 2025, these fears of abandonment are still very real particularly with election season in full swing and no Compensation Bill in sight. Everything is still a moving target (just ask the residents of Jolo about what happened to them since the 1970s).

In other countries the standard practice for public responses to massive crisis events would be to conduct a serious assessment, my favorite example being the Multi-Stakeholder Review done three years after the Aceh reconstruction process, covering both tsunami relief and peace agreement implementation with the GAM/Free Aceh Movement. For that to happen in the Philippines, that means that the national government, along with regional and local actors, the private sector and the international development community will need to be open and frank about hard questions that need answering. All we can hope for is that the current commitment of allowing residents to return by December 2021 will be honored, and a real Compensation bill passed into law ASAP.

In the meantime, everything in this report, published by INCITEGov with support from Friedrich-Ebert-Stiftung Philippines, is a small yet hopeful initial contribution to the transitional justice and reconciliation agenda. It is by no means definitive, but we try to ask the right questions and point to all the key analysis out there, particularly the BTA SCM report, which is informed by extensive consultations and notably, Mranaw economist Assad Baunto’s thorough analysis; reports from the many CSOs/NGOs and donors working on the ground (including citizen group MRCW and law group IDEALS); by journalists and truth-tellers Criselda Yabes and Carmela Fonbuena; not to mention the thousands of accounts of Mranaw residents and community leaders over the years. The report also benefits immensely from the budget analysis of the NDRRM fund by the Institute for Leadership, Empowerment and Democracy led by Zy-za Nadine Suzara. I’m just sorry that this does not include analysis regarding procurement and implementation quality, or much after year end 2020, which I hope that others can do. All of this is meant to be constructive technical engagement in good faith, which must continue now and well beyond the next few years. And no, this is not about what color you’re wearing or not wearing for the elections—this is about making sure that people get to go home, and that future commitments to all IDPs everywhere will be honored regardless of whoever is in power in Cotabato and Malacanang.

The report is now available for download on the following platforms:

– as PDF bit.ly/IlangTaongBakwitPDF

On Google Play Books: bit.ly/IlangTaongBakwitGPB

P.S. Our service is to the living, but this too must honor the dead, including the peaceworkers who made this possible — birthday celebrant sa langit ma’am Linky, ma’am Dinky Soliman, and sir Gus C.

2020 Stock-take

The last year has been horrifyingly difficult, and for my main collaborators and myself, the path towards survival seems to be channelling the rage and frustration from all of these things into working as hard as possible. Since the Philippine population will only get mostly-vaccinated by 2023 I’m not sure how long we’ll be able to keep this up. Maybe we can survive (and thrive) out of spite?

In the meantime this is a rundown of a few publicly-available things that’s been released in my world(s) in the last twelve months:

COVID-19 work/as UrbanisMO.Ph

  1. March 2020, as UrbanisMO.ph – “In Metro Manila, Fighting COVID-19 Requires Helping the Poor—Now” Published by the Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism and other major news networks. https://pcij.org/article/3890/saving-metro-manila. This was picked up by GMA’s documentary group into a spin-off episode + we’ve got a few COVID-focused episodes on the UrbanisMO Podcast, in partnership with Young Public Servants.
  2. August 2020, with Tanya Quijano and Abbey Pangilinan – “Misplaced Priorities, Unnecessary Effects: Collective Suffering and Survival in Pandemic Philippines. ” The Asia-Pacific Journal 18(16). Available at: <https://apjjf.org/-Abbey–Pangilinan–Maria-Carmen–Ica–Fernandez–Nastassja–Quijano/5435/article.pdf>
  3. ·October 2020, with Justin Muyot, Abbey Pangilinan, and Tanya Quijano – “A Hero’s Welcome? Repatriated Overseas Filipino Workers and COVID-19.” Published by the London School of Economics SEAC. [online]. https://blogs.lse.ac.uk/seac/2020/10/08/a-heros-welcome-repatriated-overseas-filipino-workers-and-covid-19/

Policy-directed work in Mindanao/Bangsamoro

  1. Long-running work released in June 2020 with Maripaz Abas, Tirmizy Abdullah, Hadzer Birowa, Bam Baraguir and Ombra Imam – “Children of War: A Rapid Assessment of Orphans in Muslim Mindanao.” Published by The Asia Foundation with support from the Australian Embassy. https://asiafoundation.org/publication/children-of-war-a-rapid-needs-assessment-of-orphans-in-muslim-mindanao/ I’m pretty happy that we were finally able to get this out, and that there’s interest amongst the BTA and other parties to take the work forward.
  2. The public version of a strategic review of Australia’s support to peace in Mindanao, released in November 2020 with the management response. Worked on this just before the pandemic hit with Fermin Adriano and Noor Saada – https://www.dfat.gov.au/publications/development/strategic-review-and-management-response-australias-support-peacebuilding-conflict-affected-mindanao-2020

There’s quite a few other projects that’s still in the pipeline/embargoed for various reasons, as usual, pero pwede na muna to.

2021 seems like 2020 redux–but still let’s try to be useful in the meantime, despite?

Examining the effects of drug-related killings on Philippine Conditional Cash Transfer beneficiaries in Metro Manila, 2016-2017

After more than two years of work, Abbey Pangilinan, Nastassja Quijano and I are releasing a first paper on the early effects of the so-called Philippine Drug War on conditional cash transfer beneficiaries in Metro Manila from 2015-2016. The full preprint is available for download here, with coverage available from the Southern China Morning Post, The Asean Post, and Rappler. Many of these threads appear in the hip-hop album Kolateral, but there are certain things that even the best works of art cannot completely convey.

There are so many things that I wish we could have done methodologically given constraints on time, resources, and data access. Realistically only the Department of Social Welfare and Development and its development partners will have the ability to do a full-scale review across all regions–which I hope they will do, as a first step towards designing support interventions for the families left behind.

 

Abstract  

Is the Philippine War on Drugs truly a ‘War on the Poor’? Focusing on beneficiaries of the Philippine conditional cash transfer (CCT) or the Pantawid Pamilyang Pilipino Program, we examine the effects of anti-illegal drug operations on poor families in Metro Manila from April 2016 to December 2017. From field validation and interviews with families affected by drug-related killings (DRKs), we find that at least 333 victims out of 1,827 identifiable DRK cases in Metro Manila from June 2016 to December 2017 were CCT beneficiaries. This is equivalent to anywhere from 1,365 to 1,865 affected household members, including at least two children per family. At least 12 cases involved multiple killings within the same family. These are extremely conservative figures since field validation did not saturate all cities in Metro Manila and does not include deaths after December 2017 or other poor families that are not covered by the CCT. The findings illustrate that drug-related killings negatively affect CCT beneficiaries and their families. Most victims were breadwinners, leading to a decrease in household income. The reduced available income, as well as the social stigma of having a drug-related death in the family, causes children covered by the CCT to drop out of school. Widowed parents often find new partners, leaving the children with aging paternal grandmothers. Drug-related killings are often bookended by other hazards such as flooding, fires, and home demolitions. The direct effects of these killings, compounded with disasters and other socioeconomic shocks, traumatizes CCT families, erodes social cohesion, and pushes them further into poverty. We conclude with recommendations for the design of support packages to mitigate untoward effects on families, children, the elderly, as well as single parent households.

See https://www.researchgate.net/publication/336317469_Examining_the_effects_of_drug-related_killings_on_Philippine_Conditional_Cash_Transfer_beneficiaries_in_Metro_Manila_2016-2017

EDIT: Popular coverage of the research project can be found here:

  1. Southern China Morning Post – “As Duterte’s drugs war rages on in the Philippines, nation’s children are paying the price”
  2. The Asean Post – “Who are Duterte’s real victims?”
  3. Rappler.com – “How Duterte’s drug war is negating key anti-poverty programs”
  4. Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism – “Between Two Wars” [an illustrated piece supported by the PCIJ Story Project]