History of Philippines and Country Analysis
Before colonization the Philippines was inhabited by migrants groups that settled sporadically across the nation. Eventually these small groups developed into larger settlements known as barangays, independently of each other with no centralized government, acting within defined social hierarchy (History of the Philippines). As the islands developed maritime ports, trade relations were established between the islands and with neighboring East Asian countries, their biggest exporters being Japan and China. Ancient inhabitants of the islands became a minority and their religions were replaced by others. Buddhism infiltrated the Sumatra islands as it made its way across the surrounding city states of the Srivijaya Empire (Strom). Islam crossed over into in the Sulu and to the southern region of Mindanao, which remains a majority Muslim distict to this day, eventually making its way to Manila in the late 1500s around the same time as Catholicism was introduced to the island nation (History of the Philippines).
Magellan discovered the Philippines during his circumnavigation of the globe in 1521, but it was not until 1565 that Spain set up its first settlement in Cebu (History of the Philippines). Miguel Lopez de Legazpi was named the Governor-General of the Philippines seizing Manila from muslim sultanates, making it the capital of their operations. Through their conquest of the island the Spaniards planned to 1) enter the spice trade using the Philippines to link Europe to the Americas, 2) develop relations with China and Japan, and 3) spread Catholicism. Almost immediately Roman Catholic religious orders infiltrated barangays to monitor and convert native populations.
How it works
The onset of Spanish trade in the Philippines was dependent on the Galleon trade via ships. Manila was used as a conduit to connect China to Mexico, formerly known as New Spain. Chinese and Mexican traders met in Manila where the Spaniards made profits on import tax. As the trade system continued to flourish, so too did the dependence on China along with an increase in Chinese immigrants, at one point outnumbering the Spaniards (History of the Philippines). Stark wage gaps between the Chinese and other ethnicities on the island led to increased tensions on both sides until things came to a head in the Chinese Massacre of 1603 (Chan). In 1815, the Galleon trade network was abandoned and replaced with The Royal Company of the Philippines in an effort to decrease on Mexico and solely focusing on trade between the colony and Spain during the reconstruction era after the Seven Years War. The new trade system was tariff free relying on cash crops as their main export to other Spanish colonies until most of them gained independence in the early 1800s. In 1834, trade ports in Manilla were opened to Asia, Europe, North America, and eventually other foreign regions maintaining tobacco, acaba, and sugar as top exports (History of the Philippines).
American Colonization and Independence
Nationalist movements were headed by the growing number of Filipino ilustrados, educated Filipinos, who brought back liberal ideals from abroad and the secular Filipinos who had been experiencing discrimination in the religous community. Dr. Jose Rizal was a prominent leader in the nationalist movement contributing writings as a member of the Propaganda Movement, later founding La Liga Filipina in 1892. After Rizal’s execution by the Spaniards, La Liga was dismantled, the nationalist movement split into two factions: conservatives and rebels. The rebels went on to create a secret society known as the Katipunans, led by Aguinaldo, joining forces with the United States to defeat the Spanish. The Treaty of Paris ceded Soon after Aguinaldo declared independence for the Philippines in 1898 the Treaty of Paris gave the Philippines to the United States upsetting the independence already declared by nationalist movements.
American colonization began amisdt guerilla war between the Filipinos and the United States as well as a separate Muslim revolution in the south until 1914. In 1916 the Jones Law allowed for the creation of a Filipino government followed by the Tydings McDuffle Act that planned for Philippine Independence by 1946. This plan was interrupted by Japanese occupation during World War ll, the Philippines taking a huge hit economically experiencing inflation and periods of famine (Library of Congress). Nonetheless independence started with the election of Manuel Roxas as the first president of the Philippines.
Much of the latter half of the 20th in the Philippines was spent dealing with postwar insurgency groups and waning their dependence on the United States. Continuing into the 21st century, the presidency followed a long line of corrupt leader starting with Ferdinand Marcos in 1965. Initial public work projects under his administration were derailed to protect the landowner elite. His second term brought with it slowed economic growth, an increase in crime rates, along with communist insurgencies including the Communist Party of the Philippines-marxist-Leninist, the New People’s Army, and the Moro National Liberation Front. Declared martial law in 1972-1981 after which corruption became so bad that he was overthrown by the People Power movement ().
Joseph Estrada elected in 1998 was accused of cronyism and eventually impeached in 2001 after accepting bribes from businesses participation in illegal gambiling. Gloria Macapagal- Arroyo was elected despite large scale voter fraud and spent her first time fighting again political and military uprising. She did manage to implement economic reforms in her second term. Succeeded by Benignos Aquino III whose presidency is highlighted by the peace agreements with the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) https://www.britannica.com/biography/Benigno-Aquino-III. Now the newest president elected in 2012 is setting the country up for another dictatorship like regime.
The Philippines and Sri Lanka are both medium level island nations. The Philippines, passing from Spanish rule to a United States territory, gained its independence in 1946 (Central Intelligence Agency: Philippines). Sri Lanka, formerly known as Ceylon during British colonization, gained independence just two years after in 1948 (Central Intelligence Agency: Sri Lanka). As both were post WWll nations formerly aligned with the allied powers, their Presidential Republic governments modeled those that are rooted in democracy. They differ in that Sri Lanka is a semi presidential system where there is a president and a prime minister but no vice president. Presidents serve for 6 years in the Philippines and only 5 in Sri Lanka. Also different is that the president and vice president are voted separately into their position.
Social Inequality Indices
Currently the Philippines is ranked 113th in human development at 0.699 slightly higher than the average for a medium level country (United Nations). In comparison, Sri Lanka’s HDI is .171 points higher at 0.770 ranking 76th out of 189 countries. Recent urbanization and industrialization has advanced the Philippines but government reconstructions is taking money away from things like education and human services likely resulting in the difference in human development. The Philippines had a GDP of $2989 (per capita) in 2017, an average of 6.7 percent growth from the previous year, which was largely backed by a dramatic increase in exports and new infrastructure (World Bank). Like the Philippines, Sri Lanka is transitioning from an agricultural dependent economy towards a more industrialized economy centered around manufacturing and services. Sri Lanka is doing better than the Philippines, with a GDP per capita of $4,073 in 2017 (World Bank: Sri Lanka).Their economy is benefiting from the post 2009 civil war boom growing 5.8 percent between 2010-2017 due to an increase in tourism construction, balancing inflation prices spurring higher wages. (World Bank). Unemployment has reached the lowest level it has been in the Philippines, but despite the government’s conditional cash-transfer program which provides conditional cash grants to the poorest of the poor in the Philippines, it still hovers around 18-20%. As the divide between rural and urban areas continue to concentrate wealth, contributing to their 44.4 GINI coefficient, inequalities will grow deeper (cia).
As of the first quarter of 2019, the Philippines’ national debt has risen to 79 billion, declared by Benjamin Estoista Diokno, current Governor of the Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (Philippine News Agency). The 8% growth from $73.1 billion level in 2017, is likely the result of increased spending in infrastructure and social development programs. As for Sri Lanka most of their debt comes from recovering from war and the 2007-2008 financial crisis. As a member of both the World Trade Organization (WTO) and of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), the Philippines own and operate a variety of export processing zones (EPZ) in an effort to increase investment. (http://www.intracen.org/country/philippines/). Paling in comparison, Sri Lanka is expecting to add four more EPZ to their existing 12 to in an effort to increase investment (https://www.newsfirst.lk/2018/03/27/boi-to-establish-four-new-export-processing-zones/). Exports consist of fuel, electronic products, transport equipment and industrial machinery with Japan, the United States and China as biggest trade partners. However, in recent years, the freedom of these zones have been breeding grounds for smuggling operations.
According to the 2011 Survey on Children, there are roughly 3.2 million child workers in the Philippines between the ages of 5-17, of which 7.5 percent are below the legal working age of 15 years old (United States Dept of Labor). 7.8 percent of children in the Philippines, aged 7-14, work and attend school compared to the 0.9% of children under the legal working age in Sri Lanka (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/philippines). Child work includes the production of bananas, corn, rice, tobacco, sugar cane and gold mining across a variety of sectors however, most prevalent within agriculture (https://www.dol.gov/agencies/ilab/resources/reports/child-labor/philippines). As the Philippines and Sri Lanka are both countries moving away from agriculture dependence, a vast majority of child workers come from families that live in rural-agricultural areas. The government has efforts to eradicate child labor with the Free Internet Access in Public Places Act, which aims to prevent and combat the online sexual exploitation of children. The government has also amended the Guidelines in Assessing and Determining Hazardous Work in the Employment of Persons Below 18 Years of Age Act to crack down on the abuse of children in agricultural work (). In addition, the Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) piloted a referral system to connect children engaged in small-scale gold mining to social services. Despite efforts to eliminate the abuse of child labor children within drug trafficking and child soldiering predominantly in the southern island of Mindanao, have struggled.
Following the 2014 law mandating that all people over the age of 60 have life insurance, health coverage in the Philippines covers 92% of the population (WHO Country Cooperation Strategy). Access to preventative care has led to major health improvements. Life expectancy has increased to 69.9 years, maternal and child health services have improved, with more children living beyond infancy, decreasing infant mortality by 8 percent to 20.1 deaths per 1,000 women, due larger to a higher number of women having access to proper health facilities (Central Intelligence Agency Philippines, WHO Country Cooperation Strategy). Stunted economic growth among the country’s poor has led to 63-75% improper employment rate citing urban poverty at 14 percent in 2014 (Bredenkamp, Buisman). With 46.9 percent of the population living in urban areas, the divide between the rich and poor will continue to increase as the large adolescent population reach child bearing years (Central Intelligence Agency Philippines).
Poverty and Inequality
The Philippines ranks in 71st on the Central Intelligence Agency’s list of maternal mortality place with 114 deaths per 100,000 in 2015, compared to Sri Lanka in 114th place with 30 (Central Intelligence Agency: Maternal Mortality). Christianity has embedded itself into the country since Spanish colonization, currently 80.6 percent of the population is Rman Catholic. That being said they see contraceptives as abortion, therefore condoms and birth control are not made available to the population increasing the likelyhood of pregnancy. Death rate in the Philippines is 6.1 deaths per 1,000 people in 2018, lower than 6.3 per 1,000 in Sri Lanka. Many deaths can be attributed to high smoking rates, natural disasters, human trafficking and ongoing rebellions in the south that recruit children as child soldiers. UNICEF has been working in both the Philippines and Sri Lanka to eradicate child soldiering. Recently Republic Act 11188 Special Protection of Children of Armed Conflict Act was enacted to save children who have been forced into child soldiering, typically concentrated the Mindanao region following communist insurgencies. The law prohibits killing, torture, intentional maiming, rape, abduction, recruitment of children into government armed forces and denial of humanitarian access of children under 18 (UNICEF Philippines). This bill was implemented following peace plans between the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF) with UNICEF to retire recruitment of child soldiers. So far 1,869 children have been discharged the MILF’s armed forces.
At least 60% of the 7,000+ islands in the Philippines is at risk to cyclones, earthquakes, floods, landslides, tsunamis, volcanic eruptions, and wildfires leaving 74% of the population in danger (GFDDR Philippines). The effects of these natural disasters are being exacerbated by climate change and rapid urbanization causing more storms with increased severity and more financial damage. Less severely, Sri Lanka experiences only occasional cyclones and tornadoes compared to the annual 15 typhoons and 5-6 cyclones in the Philippines (GFDDR Sri Lanka). Environmental problems in both island nations center around deforestation and pollution. Between 2001 and 2017 ten regions were responsible for 44% loss of tree coverage in the Philippines. To cut down on rates of illegal logging, responsible for the loss of two-thirds of the mangrove population, 90% of the forests are now protected by the government. Mangroves help keep water in watershed. Because of deforestation, water, agriculture and animal species are in danger (Country Report). The use of harmful pesticides and chemicals has caused runoff and contamination of water sources. A study done by Greenpace on areas in the Philippines and Thailand says that 30% of all water in agricultural areas have nitrate levels that are above the standard set by the World Health Organization (Greenpeace).
The probability of reaching 65 in the Philippines is lower than Sri Lanka, with womens survivability at 78% and 87.8% while males average 62% and 73%, respectively (Work Bank Survivability). Both the Philippines and Sri Lanka’s leading cause of death are coronary heart disease and stroke. However, social factors like smoking contribute to the large presence of tuberculosis and lung disease in the Philippines. Smoking prevalence within both male populations is 41 percent in the Philippines and 27 percent in Sri Lanka, while women average 8% and .3% respectively (World Bank Smoking Prevalence). In the 2016 National Tuberculosis Prevalence Survey Findings and Country Efforts reported that the risk of contracting TB through smoking is at 3.3% among males and 1.9 among females (Montemayor). Still there is the issue of water availability. According to the Central Intelligence Agency 2015 figures, 91.8% of people have access to improved water sources. One of the leading causes of death in the Philippines in 2016 was acute watery diarrhoea and still 1 in 10 people do not have access to improved water (World Health Organization). Slightly better in Sri Lanka 95.6% have access to improved drinking sources however pollution and climate change is expected to decrease these numbers (Central Intelligence Agency: Sri Lanka).
Crime and Violence
Since recent president elect Rodrigo Durete started his war on drugs in 2012, prisons are being overpopulated with populations reaching 179 per 100,000 in 2018, rising 48% (Walmsey). Intense government activity and a lagging judicial system is tipping the balance between prisoners and guards, forcing guards to partner with gangs for protection. Prison populations in Sri Lanka average is a little over half the Philippines’ at 94 per 100,000 (Walmsey). The Philippines is host to a myriad of separatist and communist groups with altercations that date back to colonization. Communist insurgency are led by the Communist Party of the Philippines’ (CPP) military wing, the New People’s Army (NPA) who started peace talks with the government in 2011 with no current agreement. Separatist groups are comprised of three Muslim groups in the south fighting towards an independet Muslim state: the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF), the Moro Islamic Liberation Front (MILF), and the Abu Sayyaf (BBC Guide). In 2017 the Battle of Mawari taking place in the southern district of Mindanao between the Philippine government and the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant displaced 170,000 people and resulted in 170 deaths (BBC Philippines Conflict). In Sri Lanka ethnic disputes between Sinhalese and Tamil boiled over into the creation of the insurgent group Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) (BBC Sri Lanka). Conflict between the Sri Lankan government and LTTE ended in 2009 when all LTTE districts were taken over by the government.
After the Kindergarten Education Act of 2011 mandated kindergarten as pre-primary education and The Basic Education Act of 2013 was passed extending secondary education for two more years, school enrollment rates in the Philippines has increased (UNESCO). As both Sri Lanka and the Philippines are middle level island nations, underfunding has caused a dip in education in the Philippines with net attendance in primary school averaging 95.72 percent as opposed to 98.92 percent in Sri Lanka. As for secondary education, net attendance is 65.92 percent in the Philippines and 85.42 percent in Sri Lanka (UNESCO). The World Bank notes that gender parity in education at 1.32 in the Philippines. This disparity is rooted in the sexist generalization that boys are perceived to have natural talent that does not require higher education. Girls in the Philippines are expected to look after their parents and education is used as leverage to get higher paying jobs.
The problems facing the Philippines now is a direct result of the Rodrigo Duterte regime. He kicked off his presidency by initiating the controversial “war on drugs” that uses extrajudicial killings as punishment against suspected drug dealers. According to the Philippines National Police, the death toll is about 22,983 people since it began in June of 2016, most of which are being ruled “homicides under investigation” due to lack of information being released to the public (Human Rights Watch). Duterte’s commitment to the cause has led him to silence his critics by censoring and threatening to shut down newspapers who publish critical articles, and result to revenge tactics by publishing a list of suspected Communist Party members that include many government officials who have been critical of him. The government is seeking to implement mandatory drug screenings for children in school (Human Rights Watch). He has even pulled out of the International Criminal Court (ICC) following their pending investigation into the war on drugs to prevent further interference in the campaign.
The other problem that comes from the new administration is rapid urbanization and poverty. Urbanization is on the rise in the Philippines with almost half of the population, 46.9 percent, living in urban areas, leaving large rural populations underdeveloped (Central Intelligence Agency: Philippines Country Profile). The government’s “Build, Build, Build” plan is suppose to build up the country’s infrastructure, increase foreign investment and increase income. Although urbanization stimulated economic growth had a lot to do with the 6.7% growth wages have remained stagnant despite and increase in consumer taxes of 3.2 percent, leading to and increase in poverty (Philippines Economic Update). The cash transfer program has reduced poverty by 25 percent by investing in poor families who keep their children in school, however, 21.6% of Filipinos still live below the poverty line (Borgen project). Currently the job is on hold due to lack of skilled laborers. In an effort to find more stable employment, workers are leaving the country to seek better payment and job benefits including health insurance, resulting in a drain of skilled workers.
HIV has become a health problem on the rise in the Philippines. Cases of HIV has increased from 4,400 in 2010 to 12,000 in 2017 where currently 68,000 Filipinos are living with the disease (UNAIDS). The government refusal to address the epidemic is because it mainly affects men and transgenders and has been labled as a gay disease in a majority Christian state. Attempts at prevention and protection from HIV was instilled in the Responsible Parenthood and Reproductive Health law implemented in 2012 that requires Comprehensive Sexual Education in schools. However it has not been put into full effect due to the Department of Education’s lack of progress in developing the curriculum (Geronimo).
Looking towards the future the Philippines should seek to place stronger limitations on the presidency and seek to prevent further corruption in the government. Despite pulling out of the ICC they still have jurisdiction over instances that happened before the Philippines opted out. The war on drugs should be stopped until their investigation is over. As for poverty and increasing urbanization, need to look towards jobs that create more stability for citizens especially since their largest industry is still agriculture and the work is seasonal and subject to change as climate change progresses.