Dynamics of Change and Continuity in Philippine Political Economy

Martial Law and the Marcos Restoration

February 23-24, 2023 via Zoom

Poster: Dynamics of Change and Continuity in Philippine Political Economy: Martial Law and the Marcos Restoration. Register at: https://msuiit-edu-ph.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_1x1gtA7bRNG6W0irPdKT7A

The Department of Sociology,  Mindanao State University – Iligan Institute of Technology and Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Kyoto University are convenors of the conference. Other institutions such as the Ateneo de Manila School of Social Sciences, Martial Law Museum, and the University of the Philippines – Diliman’s Department of Political Science are also co-convenors.

Conference website

Half a century after Ferdinand Marcos Sr. put the Philippines under the grip of authoritarian rule, his son is elected as the republic’s 17th president. The election of Ferdinand Marcos Jr. to the nation’s highest office, on the same year that the 50th anniversary of Martial Law is being commemorated, heralds a turning point in Philippine history necessitating a critical reassessment of the country’s darkest years in the 20th century. What has the historic authoritarian turn, embodied by the enactment of Martial Law, meant for the political economy of development in the Philippines? This question gathers particular significance as the return of a Marcos to national power fuels fears of historical revisionism, particularly in the portrayal of touted achievements of Marcos Sr. The deployment of political economy lens in assessing the consequences of Martial Law also enriches contemporary debates on industrialization, sustainable development, neoliberalism and global market integration, and inclusive growth.   

The conference explores three important tropes of political economy research to unravel consequences of the authoritarian turn and ensuing years of liberal democratic consolidation in contemporary Philippines. Firstly, it is important to recognise the shortcomings of the so-called Edsa Republic (1986-2016), which is increasingly characterized by an embrace of neoliberalism as a hegemonic ideological paradigm that guides development planning and economic policies. Many scholars have already criticized the limitations of free market economics as a guide to development strategies for growth and inclusion, for example, by emphasizing the lack of trickle down effects of development policies; the subversion of environmental goals to economic interests; the growing concentration of economic wealth among families with intimate connections to national political elites;  and the near absence of industrial manufacturing capacity otherwise seen in  East Asian developmental states (Bello et al. 2005; Bello et al. 2015; Ofreneo 2015; Sidel 1999; Thoburn and Natsuda 2018).

Secondly, notwithstanding the failures of the Edsa Republic, one must not lose sight of the critical juncture in contemporary Philippine politics: the rise of Rodrigo Duterte, and  the accompanying amplification and legitimation of conservative-authoritarian and populist praxis as a central tenet of an emergent political economy model (Ramos 2020; 2021). Whilst earlier scholarship explains the populist base of his electoral victory (Curato 2017; Kusaka, 2017; Garrido 2022), further studies are needed to unpack the coalitional politics and the emergent political economy model(s) characterizing his regime (see for example Camba 2020; 2021). A new agenda within political economy scholarship must explore the institutional configurations, elite bargaining and coalitional alignments, and the multiple developmental strategies across sectors.

Finally, the rise of Marcos Jr. requires a more nuanced contextualization in historical and comparative terms. Starting with the origins of Martial Law, scholars must locate the rise and fall of Ferdinand Marcos Sr. in the wider 20th century, thereby, identifying how authoritarian, corporatist nationalisms in the “Third World” laid the foundations for the fascisms of the 21st century. In so doing, we can build on existing scholarship that characterized the Marcos years in terms of corruption, rent-seeking, and plunder as well as the continuing role of clan politics in maintaining regime stability post-1986 (Kang 2002; McCoy 1994; Purdey, Tadem, and Tadem 2016). In identifying the continuities and change in economic policymaking over the long durée, scholars can reflect more effectively on why Duterte and Marcos emerged as the preferred alternative to the Edsa Republic. The rise of both regimes also occurred and should be situated within a wider global context, particularly the shift from aid to soft infrastructure, the rise of the Belt and Road Initiative, and the growing significance of China as an alternative foreign financier.

The convenors and the organising committee of the conference seek panels and papers that explore any of the following themes:

  • Historical political economy analysis of the Philippines, with emphasis on the 20th century and the Marcos years;
  • Political economy analysis of sectoral development policies;
  • Poverty, inequality, and growth in the Philippines;
  • Corruption, rent-seeking, and plunder in comparative and historical perspectives;
  • The political economy of development finance, particularly from China and Japan;
  • The development ramifications of foreign-funded projects; 
  • Political economy of infrastructures and other forms of investments; 
  • Political economy of disinformation;
  • Energy transition and (socio)environmental transformations;
  • Issues of transitional justice and human rights;
  • Accountability of institutions that contribute to the Philippines’ defective democracy;
  • The role of political education and what can the academe do; and
  • Local elites and regional dynasties and their role in the return of the Marcos family.

We are seeking high quality papers which will be prepared for a special issue collection in an international political economy journal as well as an edited collection with a university press.

If you are interested to participate in the event, please fill in this google form together with your abstract (500 words max)

The deadline for submission will be on December 10, 2022. We will announce the panels and confirmed participation by December 20, 2022. Papers are expected to be submitted on February 10, 2023, which will be circulated to all panel members for discussion. 

Conference program

The on-line conference will be held on February 23-24, 2023.

The Organising Committee:

Carmel Abao, Ateneo de Manila University, Philippines

Arnold Alamon, Mindanao State University-Iligan Institute of Technology, Philippines

Cleo Anne A. Calimbahin, De La Salle University, Philippines

Alvin Camba, University of Denver, USA

Kenneth Cardenas 

Julie De Los Reyes, Kyoto University, Japan

Sol Iglesias, University of the Philippines-Diliman

Jewellord Nem Singh, International Institute of Social Studies, the Netherlands

Charmaine Ramos, Utrecht University, the Netherlands


Bello, W., De Guzman, M., Malig, M., and Docena, H. 2005. The Anti-Development State: The Political Economy of Permanent Crisis in the Philippines. New York: Zed Books.

Bello, W., Cardenas, K., Cruz, J.P.D.R., Fabros, A., Manahan, M.A., Militante, C., Purugganan, J., and Chavez, J.J. (2014). State of Fragmentation: The Philippines in Transition. Bangkok: Focus on the Global South and Friedrich Ebert Stiftung.

Camba, A. 2020. The Sino‐centric capital export regime: State‐backed and flexible capital in The Philippines. Development and Change51(4), 970-997.

Camba, A. 2021. How Duterte Strong-Armed Chinese Dam-Builders But Weakened Philippine  Institutions. China Local/Global.

Curato, N. 2017. Flirting with authoritarian fantasies? Rodrigo Duterte and the new terms of Philippine populism. Journal of Contemporary Asia47(1), 142-153.

Garrido, M. 2022. The ground for the illiberal turn in the Philippines. Democratization, 29(4), 673-691.

Kang, D.C. 2002. Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines. New York: Cambridge University Press.

Kusaka, W. 2017. Moral Politics in the Philippines: Inequality, Democracy, and the Urban Poor. Singapore: NUS Press, in association with Kyoto University Press.

McCoy, A. 1994. An Anarchy of Families: State and the Family in the Philippines. Manila: Ateneo de Manila University Press.

Ofreneo, R.E. 2015. ‘Growth and Employment in De-Industrializing Philippines’. Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 20 (1): 111–29. https://doi.org/10.1080/13547860.2014.974335.

Purdey, J, Tadem, T.S.E., and Tadem, E.C. 2016. ‘Political Dynasties in the Philippines’. Southeast Asia Research 24 (3): 328–40. https://doi.org/10.1177/0967828X16659730.

Ramos, C.G. 2020. ‘Change without Transformation: Social Policy Reforms in the Philippines under Duterte’. Development and Change 51 (2): 485–505. https://doi.org/10.1111/dech.12564.

Ramos, C.G. 2021. ‘The Return of Strongman Rule in the Philippines: Neoliberal Roots and Developmental Implications’. Geoforum, April. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.geoforum.2021.04.001.

Sidel, J. 1999. Capital, Coercion, and Crime. Bossism in the Philippines. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Thoburn, J., and Natsuda, K. 2018. ‘How to Conduct Effective Industrial Policy: A Comparison of Automotive Development in the Philippines and Indonesia’. Journal of the Asia Pacific Economy 23 (4): 657–82. https://doi.org/10.1080/13547860.2018.1503768.

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