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.
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.
EDIT: Popular coverage of the research project can be found here:
- Southern China Morning Post – “As Duterte’s drugs war rages on in the Philippines, nation’s children are paying the price”
- The Asean Post – “Who are Duterte’s real victims?”
- Rappler.com – “How Duterte’s drug war is negating key anti-poverty programs”
- Philippine Centre for Investigative Journalism – “Between Two Wars” [an illustrated piece supported by the PCIJ Story Project]
Writing this quick note to process one of the many strange developments of the week, which included my being roped in last minute to present a study conducted by the World Bank and the International Organization for Migration on marginalization through land dispossession in the Bangsamoro region. Presentations are part of my usual day-to-days but this was unusual—it was a launch at Camp Darapanan, the present headquarters of the largest armed revolutionary group in the Philippines, the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (or MILF, read as M-I-L-F, not the lewd joke familiar to most westerners).
It just so happened that our lead author, Dr. Fermin Adriano, was unable to fly to Cotabato and our rather crazy and generous team leader, Matt, chose to gleefully task me with translating the key technical messages in a vernacular that would be understood by the larger audience, and not just the international actors and VIPs present in the room. And that entailed being the lost young female non-Muslim, non-Mindanawon pseudoacademic on the dais with Mindanao peace process heavy hitters such as Ishak Mastura, Guiamel Alim, Rufa Guiam, peace panel chairs Mohagher Iqbal and Irene Santiago, plus the amerul mujahid himself, Al-haj Murad Ebrahim. Kumbaga sa Tagalog, pinabili lang ng suka, napadpad na sa Darapanan. (Which actually describes a fair chunk of the seven years of this life, to be fair.)
Continue reading “Lupa”
Note: Shorter versions were published on Rappler.com and as part of the Resbak zine released in February 2017.
Disclaimer: I am not a lawyer nor a transitional justice expert. This was not written in any professional capacity. I am a private citizen of the Philippines attempting to get some nagging questions out of my head as fast and raw as I can. Any alternate options? Disagree? Feel free to add!
Consider this a work of speculative fiction.
It is 2032, ten years after Rodrigo Roa Duterte successfully terminates his term as President, and with it, the lives of the estimated 4-5 million ‘drug personalities’ in the Philippines, plus change. A Marcos or two may have succeeded him as head of state. Maybe not. But somehow, conditions have made it so that the Sovereign People of the Philippines are calling out for ‘transitional justice and reconciliation,’ a term first bandied about in the wake of Martial Law, and later popularised as part of the convoluted Bangsamoro peace process.
The United Nations—Tatay Digong’s favorite international body—defines transitional justice as the ‘full range of processes and mechanisms associated with a society’s attempt to come to terms with a legacy of large-scale abuses committed in the past, in order to achieve accountability, serve justice, and achieve reconciliation.’ The word ‘abuses’ remains hotly contested, of course, triggering accusations of bias and various political colorings and retardations from all sides. But on a more concrete level, it asks two questions. First, what makes people deeply hurt and angry? And secondly, what will it take to address that hurt and anger?
Continue reading “The costs of memory: options for transitional justice and reconciliation, ten years after Tokhang”