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Steven Rood


Marawi and Beyond: A Look at Violent Extremism

June 28, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Given the continued chatter on social media about the tragic attack by a gunman at Resorts World Casino on June 2, it is worthwhile to begin this piece by debunking the notion that it might be connected to Islamic State. Granted, ISIS tried to immediately claim that this was one of their “lone wolf” attacks, but that was clearly not the case. Close… Read more


Unpacking Martial Law in Mindanao

May 31, 2017

Blog and Podcast

Even by Philippine standards, the past week has been a tumultuous one. Militants linked to Islamic State fought security forces in the Islamic City of Marawi, President Duterte cut short a state visit to Russia and declared Martial Law in Mindanao, and peace negotiations with the Communist insurgents seem on the verge of breakdown. President Dutert… Read more


Reflecting on 17 Years as Country Representative in the Philippines

January 18, 2017

Blog and Podcast

After more than 17 years as The Asia Foundation’s Philippines country representative, I’m moving on to spend a year as a Distinguished Visitor at the Australian National University as part of the partnership between the two institutions. Rood participates in a panel discussion at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on political approache… Read more


What a Duterte Win Means for Philippines

May 11, 2016

Blog and Podcast

In 2010, the Philippines conducted its first-ever automated poll, and I wrote that “elections had changed, but politics didn’t.” This year for a second time, a general election, including the presidency, was automated. Again we had concessions from presidential candidates the day after the polls instead of having to wait weeks for a manual count. T… Read more


Personalities and Issues Emerge Ahead of Philippines General Elections

February 17, 2016

Blog and Podcast

Formal campaigning officially began last week for the May 9 general elections in the Philippines, with much flurry of advertisements and activities as candidates scrambled for last-minute publicity before campaign spending limits took effect. The informal campaign had already been going on for months with the list of five formal candidates…


Energy Crisis in the Philippines: An Electricity or Presidential Power Shortage?

March 18, 2015

Blog and Podcast

As predicted, the Philippines is heading into a severe “summer” power crisis. One peculiarity of the widespread use of English in the Philippines is the mismatch between seasonal names and the months of the year. Leaves start falling from trees in March – is it “autumn?”


One Year After Siege, Zamboanga Critical to Success of Any Peace Agreement

September 10, 2014

Blog and Podcast

On Sept. 9, 2013, Zamboanga City woke to an unfolding nightmare. Some 200 Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF) fighters under the charismatic commander Ustadz Habier Malik had landed. They professed, despite the fact that they were fully armed, an intention merely to have a peaceful march in support of independence for Muslim-dominated areas in the southern Philippines. When government security forces halted their march, MNLF forces took hostages as a string of human shields, tying them together with rope. As a nightmare, this was a recurrence…


Minorities within the Minority: Indigenous Communities in the Bangsamoro

August 6, 2014

Blog and Podcast

In March this year, a major milestone passed in the 40-year effort to end hostilities in the Philippines between the national government and Muslim separatist fronts. The government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) signed a Comprehensive…


Implementation of Bangsamoro Holds Lessons for Philippines as a Whole

March 26, 2014

Blog and Podcast

As we prepare for the long-awaited March 27 signing in Manila between the Philippine government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) of the Comprehensive Agreement on the Bangsamoro, one of the striking things of the peace process…


Survey of Victims of Super Typhoon Haiyan Defies Preconceptions

February 5, 2014

Blog and Podcast

It is perhaps unusual for survey research to provoke demonstrations denouncing the results, but that is precisely what happened last month when Social Weather Stations issued a survey release showing that victims of Typhoon Haiyan, “Yolanda” in the Philippines…


Philippines 2014: The Best of Times or the Worst of Times?

January 8, 2014

Blog and Podcast

January, named after the two-faced Roman god Janus, is a time that invites us to look back and look ahead. Here in the Philippines, excitable headlines make it hard to discern if 2013 was the worst of times, or the best of times – but either way, Filipinos seem to be looking forward to 2014 with optimism.


Is Aquino Moving the Philippines Closer to Good Governance?

May 29, 2013

Blog and Podcast

Philippine President Benigno Aquino secured big wins in the May midterm elections, which were seen as vital to his ambitious reform agenda. Aquino now marks the midpoint of his single six-year term as president, and while it might be clear that politics has yet to change in the last three years…


Families, Not Political Parties Still Reign in the Philippines

May 22, 2013

Blog and Podcast

There has been some controversy about the quality of the May 2013 general elections in the Philippines, during which some 18,000 local and national positions were elected. But the fairest verdict of this exercise in electronic voting would seem to be that, like in May 2010, elections changed…


Civil Society More Ready Than Ever to Play Role in Forging Peace in Mindanao

February 20, 2013

Blog and Podcast

In a study I wrote a number of years ago, I quoted a peace activist in Mindanao lamenting the lack of success in ending the war between the government and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF). He was speaking in the wake of President Estrada’s 2000 “all-out war” offensive that overran fixed positions of the MILF.


Fighting Corruption in the Philippines: Models for Long-Term Success

May 16, 2012

Blog and Podcast

The issue of corruption in the Philippines has once again hit international newspapers with reports that the chief justice of the Supreme Court, Renato Corona (currently undergoing an impeachment trial before the Philippine Senate), had dozens of dollar accounts…


How Do You Get Reform in a Country Like the Philippines?

April 25, 2012

Blog and Podcast

In previous posts, the nature of politics in the Philippines has been explored from many angles. We’ve examined the history of a weak state, how local politicians have difficulty making a national impact, and trials and techniques of Philippine presidents in the face of this situation.


Taking a Hard Look at Formal and Informal Justice Systems in the Philippines

April 11, 2012

Blog and Podcast

It is always exciting to be able to take a break from program implementation to think more deeply about the theories that underlie development practice on the ground. That is of course the whole point of a teaching sabbatical, and it is what we both enjoyed about the “Experts’ Roundtable on Local-Level Justice in Conflict-Affected and Fragile Regions.”…


Political Families in the Philippines: Where Are They Now?

March 14, 2012

Blog and Podcast

Given that I’ve written that kinship is the idiom of social organization in the Philippines, it’s probably not surprising that when asked for one book to read about the Philippines I often recommend An Anarchy of Families: State and Society in the Philippines, edited by Alfred W. McCoy.


Early Feminism in the Philippines

March 7, 2012

Blog and Podcast

The Philippines has been noted as having one of the smallest gender disparities in the world. The gender gap has been closed in both health and education; the country has had two female presidents…


Religion and Politics Mix in the Philippines

February 29, 2012

Blog and Podcast

Religion is once again in the headlines about the Philippines as 600,000 members of the home-grown Iglesia ni Cristo (INC – Church of Christ) held a prayer rally in Manila yesterday. Meanwhile, Catholics cheered the Vatican’s formal announcement last week that the second Roman Catholic Saint from the Philippines, Pedro Calungsod (soon to be known a… Read more


Have Philippine Presidents Overcome the Governance Impact of the ‘Hollywood Years?’

February 15, 2012

Blog and Podcast

The Philippines has many cultural similarities to the rest of Southeast Asia. Some similarities, take cockfighting for example, puzzle some Filipinos and give great pride to other Filipinos (particularly males). Cockfighting is pre-colonial (as the chronicler of Magellan’s voyage when it arrived in the Philippines, Antonio Pigafetta observed) and is shared with Southeast Asia…


The Philippines in the Context of Southeast Asia’s History

February 8, 2012

Blog and Podcast

One of the interesting things about team-teaching a course on “The Domestic Politics of Southeast Asia: The Philippines and Thailand” is that I myself have never taken a course on Southeast Asia. I was an American politics specialist as a graduate student, with a dissertation on “Interpretation and American Electoral Studies.” On the Philippines in particular…


U.S. Military and the Philippines: What do Philippine Citizens Really Think?

February 1, 2012

Blog and Podcast

No sooner did I warn in last week’s blog on my way to Washington, D.C., that there is “a danger that U.S.-Philippine relations will be viewed entirely through the lens of ‘the rise of China'” than I was greeted upon arrival by the morning front-page story in The Washington Post entitled, “Philippines may allow greater U.S. military presence in reaction to China’s rise.” The article stated that “the sudden rush by many in the Asia-Pacific region to embrace Washington is a direct reaction to China’s rise as a military power and its assertiveness in staking claims to disputed territories, such as the energy-rich South China Sea.”


Social Media in the Philippines is Widespread, but what is its Impact?

October 12, 2011

Blog and Podcast

The Philippines long had a terrible reputation for telecommunications, with Singapore’s Lee Kuan Yew famously saying that in 1992, 99 percent of the population in the Philippines was waiting for a phone and 1 percent was waiting for a dial tone. However, beginning with the administration of Fidel Ramos (1992-1998) and followed by President Estrada (1998-2001), the telecoms industry was liberalized, and phone ownership skyrocketed.


Philippine Senator Resigns Seat in Election Controversy with Deep Roots

August 10, 2011

Blog and Podcast

On August 3, in a nationally televised speech, Senator Juan Miguel “Migs” Zubiri resigned his seat in the upper house of the Philippine Congress. While he stated emphatically that he did not cheat, or ask anybody else to cheat, when he ran in the 2007 election, Zubiri said that rising speculation and publicity about fraud…


Egypt and the Philippines: Bridging 25 Years

March 9, 2011

Blog and Podcast

Many are wondering what lessons the 1986 People Power Revolution in the Philippines, which ousted Ferdinand Marcos after 14 years of strongman rule (which followed two terms as elected president), might hold for the current “fourth wave” of democratization sweeping through North Africa and the Middle East.


Philippine Election Update: Results Reported in Record Time, Largely Peaceful, Now What?

May 12, 2010

Blog and Podcast

The fact that an In Asia blog piece was scheduled to appear just two days after polls closed for the May 10 general elections in the Philippines was enough to cause anxiety for this writer. In the past, it was literally weeks before results of manual counting of handwritten ballots would produce results. This time, though, two days is enough to ana… Read more


Philippine Voters Deluged by Election Surveys: But What Do They Measure?

May 5, 2010

Blog and Podcast

As the Philippines enters the final stretch before elections on Monday, May 10, competing survey results continue to deluge the public. The Philippines is well-endowed with respected, technically sound public opinion pollsters (as well as long-standing market researchers). So much so, that many suggest a “poll of polls” approach is necessary to mak… Read more


Looking Back as May 2010 Philippine General Elections Approach

April 28, 2010

Blog and Podcast

In the Philippines, there is a well-known saying by Jose Rizal: Ang hindi lumilingon sa pinanggalingan ay Hindi makararating sa paroroonan. “One who does not look back from where she came will never reach her destination.” So, as we prepare for the May 10 general elections here, we should review the past – but how far back need we go? The history o… Read more


Examining the Arroyo Legacy in the Philippines

April 7, 2010

Blog and Podcast

President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo has dominated Philippine politics this entire decade, first in January 2001 as a vice president who succeeded President Joseph Estrada on the heels of a “people power” protest (triggered by the suspension of the impeachment trial of President Estrada) – a succession that was confirmed by the Supreme Court. She then… Read more


Philippine Election Campaign Starts; Entertainment Industry Threatened

February 17, 2010

Blog and Podcast

It’s SHOWTIME!  In the Philippines, politics is entertainment and elections are fiestas. This proved to be true once again with the start of the official campaign season on February 9. At campaign kick-offs in various parts of the country, presidential candidates were joined with celebrities, singers, and dancers at the campaign sorties. Manny Vill… Read more


Ondoy’s Onslaught: Philippines Battered By Typhoon

September 30, 2009

Blog and Podcast

The international media tracked Tropical Storm Ketsana as it moved westward through the Philippines, Vietnam, and Cambodia, and then into Laos where it was finally degraded to a tropical depression. The impact of Tropical Storm Ondoy (as it is known in the Philippines) on Metro Manila and its surrounding provinces has been severe. Over 600,000 peop… Read more


Corazon C. Aquino 1933-2009, now history

August 5, 2009

Blog and Podcast

The passing of former Philippine President Corazon Cojuangco Aquino has evoked strong emotions. Many – Filipino and foreigner alike – have written their thoughts and assessments since she died last weekend, some with mixed feelings one has when powerful memories have been stirred. Like most Filipinos, I never met “Cory” but came to know her first b… Read more


In the Philippines: Harmony in Religious & Cultural Diversity

October 1, 2008

Blog and Podcast

Good morning, magandang umaga, Assalamu Alaykum. I’m very happy to be here today once again at the invitation of the Young Moro Professionals Networks to be part of the Opening Program of the International Ramadan Fair 2008. Each year The Asia Foundation supports this event due to its crucial importance for our times, as the Young Moro Professional… Read more


In the Philippines: Texting Tragedy

June 25, 2008

Blog and Podcast

The Philippines is often called the “texting capital of the world,” since perhaps the main means of interpersonal communication is sending SMS “text” messages. The average cellular user sends 10 texts for each time a voice call is made, so it is not surprising that the bad news about typhoon “Frank” (Fengshen is the international name) began to spr… Read more


Forging Sustainable Peace in Mindanao: The Role of Civil Society

January 1, 2005

A study by The Asia Foundation’s Philippines Representative Steven Rood, published by the East-West Center