Thursday, August 11, 2011

Public Lecture by Koul Panha, 2011 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee

Thursday, September 1, 2011 · 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Pulungang Claro M. Recto (Faculty Center Conference Hall)
Rizal Hall, College of Arts and Letters
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

Mr. Koul Panha of Cambodia, one of this year's Ramon Magsaysay Awardees, will deliver a public lecture entitled, "Citizenship Vigilance from the Grassroots: The Movement for Free and Fair Elections in Cambodia," at the University of the Philippines-Diliman on September 1, 2011.

The public lecture is organized by the Ramon Magsaysay Foundation and the Third World Studies Center and co-sponsored by the University of the Philippines (UP) Office of the Vice President for Public Affairs, the College of Arts and Letters' Office of the Dean, the UP Department of Political Science and the UP Department of History.



Caesar A. Saloma, PhD
University of the Philippines-Diliman
(To be delivered by Ronald S. Banzon, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, University of the Philippines-Diliman)
Alfredo E. Pascual
University of the Philippines


Koul Panha
2011 Ramon Magsaysay Awardee

Maria Elissa Jayme-Lao, DPA
Assistant Professor
Department of Political Science
School of Social Sciences
Ateneo de Manila University




Jose Wendell P. Capili, PhD
Assistant Vice President for Public Affairs 
University of the Philippines


Citation for the 2011 Ramon Magsaysay Award

In many places in the world today, citizens are engaged in a historic struggle to democratize their societies, often under conditions of extreme difficulty and danger. One such place is Cambodia. The country was traumatized by decades of war and the genocide perpetrated by the Khmer Rouge, which left 1.7 million Cambodians dead. The country took its first step to establishing a “multi-party liberal democracy” when it proclaimed a new constitution and embarked on its first democratic elections in 1993. Cambodians have gone through five national and local elections since then. But democracy’s progress has been slow and turbulent, and elections have been undermined by factionalism, fraud, violence, and the threat of a return to authoritarian rule. Many know that the central challenge is for Cambodians to claim the electoral process as their own, by protecting it as an instrument for building a democracy. One of those who have bravely stepped up to this challenge is a Cambodian engineer named Koul Panha.

Koul knows firsthand what brutalities are possible in the absence of a true democracy. He was eight years old when his father and relatives were killed by the Khmer Rouge. The indescribable trauma impelled him to dedicate himself to changing his society. He finished his university degree, taught in Phnom Penh, and was already involved in the human rights movement even in the time of the dictatorship. When Cambodia embarked on its first free elections in 1993, he joined the non-partisan Task Force on Cambodian Elections, and was one of the organizers when this task force became the Committee for Free and Fair Elections (COMFREL) in 1997. Koul assumed the role of COMFREL executive director in 1998; returning home after earning a master’s degree in the Politics of Alternative Development, he threw himself full-time into COMFREL’s mission of assuring that Cambodian elections are free and fair.

Under Koul’s leadership, COMFREL has become the country’s leading independent organization on electoral issues. It aggressively campaigns for responsible voting and electoral reforms, using all available media. In protecting the 2008 electoral process, COMFREL and its partners trained and deployed over ten thousand volunteers, covering 60 percent of the country’s polling stations. For the first time in Cambodia, a citizens’ parallel “quick count,” initiated by COMFREL, helped forestall the manipulation of results by establishing voting trends three days after the elections. They have also proactively campaigned for the wider political participation of women, who constitute half of Cambodia’s population, a campaign that has seen a subsequent increase of women in public office.

Based in Phnom Penh, COMFREL maintains a nationwide network of partners and has mobilized, since its inception, over fifty thousand election volunteers; more than 150,000 Cambodians have participated in COMFREL’s training programs, workshops and other activities. This is an impressive show of civic participation in a democracy still so young. Even more significant is how COMFREL has gone beyond elections—into post-election issues of governance. It actively lobbies for reforms in matters like election campaign finance and the national budget. In 2003 it initiated Parliamentary Watch, which monitors the performance of legislators and officials using benchmarks and concrete indicators in grading government performance at both local and national levels. COMFREL’s monitoring reports are publicly disseminated.

Democracy in Cambodia remains fragile, and the situation complex and dangerous. Koul has experienced harassment, and he knows he has to walk a tightrope for COMFREL to continue doing its work. But despite the legitimate fears of friends and family, he remains committed to using every inch of democratic space to empower his people in building a homeland that is democratic and free. Recalling the tragic experience of millions of Cambodians and his own family, the soft-spoken Koul says: “I think Cambodia has suffered enough. This pushes me to do something as a citizen of Cambodia, to make sure the suffering does not happen again.”

In electing Koul Panha to receive the 2011 Ramon Magsaysay Award, the board of trustees recognizes his determined and courageous leadership of the sustained campaign to build an enlightened, organized and vigilant citizenry who will ensure fair and free elections—as well as demand accountable governance by their elected officials—in Cambodia’s nascent democracy.

Click on this link to access the full text of Mr. Koul Panha's lecture:

Below is a playlist of the video recordings of the public lecture:

Mantra Maintenance: Governance by Slogan, Administration by Spin (A Public Forum)

August 23, 2011 (Tuesday)
9:00 a.m.-11:30 a.m.

Pulungang Claro M. Recto (Faculty Center Conference Hall)
Rizal Hall, College of Arts and Letters
University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

Organized by the Third World Studies Center (TWSC) and co-sponsored by the UP Office of the Vice-President for Public Affairs (OVPPA), the Philippine Political Science Association (PPSA) and the College of Arts and Letters Office of the Dean, this forum is the third installment of the 2011 TWSC Public Forum Series, "The B.S. Aquino Administration: Possible Perversities, Perverted Possibilities."



College of Arts and Letters
University of the Philippines-Diliman

Director, Third World Studies Center            
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy   
University of the Philippines-Diliman


Bagong Alyansang Makabayan

Executive Director
Center for Strategy, Enterprise and Intelligence
(Read his remarks here.)

Malaya and Abante



Malaya C. Ronas
Department of Political Science
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
University of the Philippines-Diliman


In his recent State of the Nation Address, President Aquino intoned: "Let us end the culture of negativism; let us uplift our fellow Filipinos at every opportunity. Why are there people who enjoy finding fault in our country, who find it so hard—as though it were a sin—to say something nice? Can we even remember the last time we praised a fellow Filipino? Let us stop pulling our fellow man down. Let us put an end to our crab mentality. Let us make the effort to recognize the good that is being done." This from the administration that relied on contrast and unrelenting criticism against the previous dispensation to justify its acceptability to the electorate during the May 2010 national elections—the whiff of hypocrisy in this statement is too strong to ignore. In Aquino’s “A Social Contract with the Filipino People,” for example, he put to good use his association, through his mother, former President Cory Aquino, with the touted 1986 People Power Revolution and all its perceived virtues. It would not be too far-fetched to surmise that parallels are drawn between Cory Aquino’s revolutionary government contra the supposedly evil and oppressive Marcos dictatorship and Noynoy Aquino’s transformational leadership against the supposedly corrupt Arroyo government. As such, good governance has been the guiding principle of the Aquino administration, transparency and accountability its accessory catchwords. After Arroyo’s scandal-rocked government, hardly anyone can object to such a scheme. But blaming his predecessor for his present difficulties might appear, in the long run, to be devious—an exercise in misdirection, an element of cheap tricks that works only on the gullible and the inattentive. Rid this nation of wang-wangs, both real and metaphorical, still people will ask if this is the much-vaunted social transformation that we must aspire for. (But why social in the first place? Because we cannot hack an economic one?) Or is this the usual bread-and-circus populism hyped by the government’s media machine as “social transformation” to exude gravitas? The president’s appeal to end negativism is reminiscent of Imeldific hokum that we only look for the true, the good and the beautiful. Criticize others when in campaign, demand only praise when in office. Will platitude and sycophancy soon be state policies? Is this the president’s message for the next five years? Much room for conjecture remains as to whether his administration will succeed in keeping true to its words—and the ultimate effect on its popularity and legitimacy in the event that it fails to do so.

Below is a playlist of the video recording of the forum:

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

India: Rising Economic Giant or Bubble in the Making? (A Public Lecture by Lawrence Surendra)

August 15, 2011 (Monday)

10:00 a.m. - 12:00 noon

Conference Room
Third World Studies Center 
Lower Ground Floor, Palma Hall
College of Social Sciences and Philosophy
Roxas Avenue, University of the Philippines
Diliman, Quezon City

Departing from previously social-oriented policies, India began in the 1990s to develop an open-market economy centered on economic liberalization, industrial deregulation, privatization of state-owned enterprises, and reduced controls on foreign trade and investment. This has accelerated the country's growth, which has averaged more than 7% per year since 1997 and hit 10% in 2010. Services are the major source of economic growth, accounting for 55% of output as India became a major exporter of information technology services and software workers. Its 2010 GDP of $4 trillion ranks it fifth in the world. India now stands, together with China, as the new economic giants set to challenge the long-running hegemony of the West. Problems remain, however. Growth has been accompanied by increasing joblessness and widespread poverty and gross inequality still persist. Access to basic social services still eludes most Indians. Social tensions and communal conflicts fester even as rural-urban migration continues unabated. Ominously, the 2011 growth figures appear to signal an economic slowdown.

Lawrence Surendra is Environmental and Development Economist and Science and Technology Policy Specialist. He is the Planning Commission Chair Visiting Professor at the Department of Economics, University of Mysore. He is a Member of the Karnataka State Environment Appellate Authority. He has worked with UN-ESCAP, the United Nations University and UNESCO, Bangkok; was Adviser to the Stockholm Environment Institute and a scholar-in-residence at the Dag Hammarksjold Foundation, Uppsala. He was the founding Executive Director (1980-1988) of Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives (ARENA). He is engaged in research and advocacy on public policy issues relating to environment and democratic governance, eco-regeneration, eco-sanitation, renewable energy, plant bio-diversity’ local knowledge systems, and sustainable agriculture. He and his wife, Pushpa, live near Mysore on an organic horticultural farm, incorporating ecological principles and design in the maintenance of the farm and natural resource use.


Organized by the Asian Regional Exchange for New Alternatives (ARENA Philippines) and the UP Third World Studies Center.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Organizing to Win: Strategic Impact of Violent Rebel Groups in the Southern Philippines (A Roundtable Discussion)

Organizing to Win: Strategic Impact of Violent Rebel Groups in the Southern Philippines
August 5, 2011 (Friday), 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., TWSC Conference Room, Lower Ground Floor, Palma Hall, University of the Philippines-Diliman

Main Discussant:
Dr. Nori Katagiri
Visiting Research Fellow
Third World Studies Center (TWSC)
Assistant Professor
Department of International Security Studies
United States Air War College

How does the organizational design of insurgent groups affect their military effectiveness? Answering this question is difficult as violent rebel groups are quite diverse across nations in the Third World and it requires us to examine a number of such organizations. However, it also provides a set of important implications for governments contemplating how to fight them effectively and helps them formulate counterinsurgency strategies. Through the survey of the literature of insurgent organizations and military effectiveness, I argue that, while insurgency is a result of a number of internal and external factors, there are several organizational patterns in these groups and that differences in these patterns explain the variation in the level of strategic effectiveness. I seek to illustrate these arguments using a case study of two major active rebel groups in the southern Philippines—the Abu Sayyaf Group and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front.

We invite all with an interest in insurgent groups in the Philippines - particularly those in Muslim Mindanao - to participate in or observe the discussion.

Organized by the UP Third World Studies Center