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Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Politics of Change in the Philippines (a review)

By Yuko Kasuya and Nathan Gilbert Quimpo
Reviewed  by Richard Allan B. Borja -418history

The repetition of old patterns appears to be a frequent subject in studies of Philippine political history since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship in 1986. Many political scientists as the authors’ argue have characterised the country's post-Marcos politics as merely being a return to the "elite" or "oligarchic" democracy of the pre-dictatorial era. The authors puts in the book together the articles that explore questions from multiple angles, including the nature of the political regime; democratic consolidation; elections and electoral reform; the reform of other political institutions; reform efforts of civil society and state actors; mass media, information technology and reform; classes and political change; and national-local dynamics.
            As I review this book which was formerly reviewed and presented by Cedric Yoro, my classmate in our Development Studies class, I just formulated questions that I thought would be suitable in looking into the arguments presented by the Authors. Since the book focused in theme of politics, I assume that this would fit to my field of interest hence I am taking up history in college. But aside from me, the other audience that this book will cater are those who are the field of political science, economics and alike. Here are the questions which I tried to answer as I review this book.

Has nothing really transformed in the Philippine politics?

President Ferdinand Marcos engages in the plunder of Philippine resources. Despite of the ouster of the corrupt dictator through people power in 1986, predatory politics has made a comeback in the country over past decade under President Joseph Estrada and GMA. The essay argued that predatory rule resulted to the synergistic relationship of presidency and political parties.
The authors did really have an in-depth analysis of the past events, the trends which transformed the society until the recent event and it was indeed a good job in looking into what is relevant to know and what should be understand throughout the events. Such analysis of the authors leads to discover that Philippine politics didn’t really change a lot as it was expected after the Marcos regime. Take for example the passage which states according to Mark Thompson wherein he pointed out that elite politics in the Philippines was a cycle of populism, clientilism and reformism. Populism was dominated Philippine politics for the decade since Joseph Estrada became president in 1998. He was jailed and populism declined because GMA done a dirty work of bourgeois through neo-traditionalism. Stating such analysis in the book was a powerful statement that will boost the critical thinking of the readers to question if such thing really did occur and therefore can come up a conclusion that is based on own idea.
But come to think about it, did nothing really transformed? Why the authors are pointed much of the problem of elitism to the two former presidents? Such vogue explanation might lead to a conclusion that Philippine politics is in a need for a change radically to transformed it’s oppressive system towards full freedom in political rights.

Are there realistic projections for substantive political and social change in the years ahead?
                As far as the book is concerned, there are realistic projections for substantive political and social change in the years ahead. The hypothesis which the authors presented in measuring the democratic consolidation in the Philippines, they considered namely: subjective competence, civil society and rationality of fear. Strong manifestation of these three hypotheses means that people have a greater tendency in supporting extra-constitutional government change. It was clear as I read it that such proposition would be the best projections for the substantive political and social change but aside from it, modernization was a thing being focused in the book, a good analysis but somehow not different from other suggestion of other authors. Modernization is given and is needed in every aspects towards changing society to keep up with the needs of the people so I presume that this book somehow give partly it’s projections but leave up only to what they think would be the best for the country in developing the Philippine politics.

Critique on the book:
            Lastly, as I conclude this review, I will be straightforward to assert that it was indeed a good source of knowledge. The authors have the great analysis on the issues that is beyond a reader can imagine. One thing the book could offer is the development of the critical thinking skills of the readers like me. Though there were some technicalities that may hinder the readers from accepting the knowledge due to a highly academic approach of the author’s presentation of their arguments, it was by far a tool in changing the perspective of the readers towards what we call the Pilipino politics. This might and I guess would open the mind of the readers on what is really happening and can involve them in the continues debate towards building a more comprehensive solutions in uplifting the politics in the country.

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