PERSISTENCE OF PRIVATE ARMIES IN THE PHILIPPINES
Malley, Michael S.
Mabry, Tristan J.
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Private armies and electoral violence are persistent phenomena in Philippine society. Together they have cost thousands of lives and sowed fear among politicians and voters alike, weakening democracy in the country. Defenders of private armies note their critical role in counterinsurgency operations against the communist and Muslim separatist groups. Nonetheless, Filipinos generally perceive private armies to be a menace, which has prompted the government to establish mechanisms to eliminate them. Although the 1987 Constitution gave the government a framework to abolish private armies, a substantial number still remain, especially in the countryside. This thesis examines the contributing factors that have led to the decline of private armies and, at the same time, their persistence. The research shows that the utility of private armies declined because other electoral tactics emerged in the more-developed areas of the country and because the twin insurgency threat largely diminished. Meanwhile, however, local politicians continue to use private armies’ counterinsurgency operations as a cover to legitimize their presence in rural areas.
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