There are few times in life when you get to sit down with one of the world’s leading experts on a particular topic for a cup of tea and a chat. Recently students from ANU College of Asia and the Pacific Students’ Society (CAPSS) got to do just that with Dr Imelda Deinla, Director of ANU Philippines Project.
Over tea and biscuits, students asked Dr Deinla, about her thoughts on the latest developments under Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte and her research into the rule of law.
Like in other countries in the region, the impact of social media on the national discourse has been substantial.
“The discourse and the battle ground of norms and ideas is now actually being played out in social media rather than in the mainstream media or scholarly fora,” she explained.
Dr Deinla said the reaction on social media to viral interview she recently gave on Sky News is illustrative of this battle and provides an insight in to the current state of civil society in the Philippines.
Imelda explained because the video went viral, receiving over 17,000 views, she was trolled by people she suspects were a part of a “propaganda machinery.”
“The Duterte campaign has employed this machinery since his election… There is a clandestine army of trolls and propagandists that work for the government and its allies,” she said.
“The Philippines has been known for having one of the most vibrant civil societies in Asia and probably the world. With Duterte…that has been fragmented.”
Dr Deinla also explained her research into the peculiar nature of the legal system operating in the Autonomous Muslim Region in Mindanao.
“In Mindanao we have what you would call a hybrid justice system and one component is a formal shariah court system,” she said.
“As part of the 1976 negotiation, [with the Moro National Liberation Front], the government created a system where shariah law will be established in that region… But we only implemented the personal and family relations component of shariah law and only for the Muslims.”
She described how the system interacts with civil law procedures, with other non-state led mechanisms and with the customs of the families and clans that predominate in the ethnically diverse region.
“The most preferred dispute resolution provider in Mindanao is actually the family and clans,” she said.
“In the context of conflict, state laws and institutions are weak and have to work with other systems. It is actually the family and clans that you can count on. They are the ones who can negotiate for you.”
CAPSS regularly holds events at ANU, including the CAPSS Chats series. Follow them on Facebook to stay up to date with all of their programs.
By CAP Student Correspondent Georgie Juszczyk.