The Great Unhinging: The Erosion of Rule of Law in the Philippines

Event details


Date & time

Thursday 23 August 2018


Coombs Extension 1.04
ANU Canberra


Marites Vitug


Kent Primor
+61 2 6125 5484

Under President Duterte, the rule of law is fast eroding, as the three pillars of his strongman rule show. First is his centerpiece program, the war on drugs, the rock on which his strongman rule stands. Annihilating suspected drug users will not solve the problem of illicit drug use. But that is not the point of Duterte’s war. It is meant to intimidate and sow fear in the public, a means of control. More than 4,000 have been killed in what the police claim are  “legitimate” operations. Cases questioning the constitutionality of the drug war are pending in the Supreme Court which is dominated by pro-Duterte justices.

Second, Duterte does not brook dissent. He has sent his fiercest critic to jail and has urged his allies to impeach the Supreme Court chief justice. Duterte attempted to suspend a ranking official of the Ombudsman’s Office, an independent body, for starting a probe on his bank accounts. He fired the head of the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency for not following Duterte’s 4-million drug users figure plucked from thin air. Outside the government, he has threatened media organizations that do their jobs without fear and used state agencies to squeeze them.

Third, he has disregarded the legal victory of the Philippines in its maritime dispute versus China, not using this landmark decision as leverage in dealing with the regional power. In doing so, he has weakened the country’s sovereign rights. Marites’ latest book, Rock Solid: How the Philippines won its maritime case against China, is the first to tell the story of this historic victory. It will be launched during the seminar forum, and book signing will follow thereafter.

Professor William Tow of the ANU Cora Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs will give his vote of thanks and review of the book.

About the Speaker

MARITES DANGUILAN VITUG is one of the Philippines’ most accomplished journalists, winning awards and public recognition for her reportage. A bestselling author, Marites has written several books on Philippine current affairs. Currently, she is editor at large of

Her books include Hour Before Dawn: The Fall and Uncertain Rise of the Philippine Supreme Court, a sequel to the bestselling Shadow of Doubt: Probing the Supreme Court, the first to lift the veil of the Supreme Court.

Marites’s works have been published in the Nikkei Asia Review, Nieman Reports, International Herald Tribune, Christian Science Monitor, Newsday, Newsweek and Asahi Shimbun, and books and journals, including The Politics of Environment in Southeast Asia (Routledge: London and New York) and The Journal of Environment and Development (University of California in San Diego).

She was a visiting research scholar at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies in Tokyo and Kyoto University, and a Nieman Fellow at Harvard University. She earned a diploma in world politics at the London School of Economics and Political Science, and received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Broadcast Communication from the University of the Philippines.


3:00 - 3:10 pm  —   Registration
3:10 - 3:15 pm  —   Welcome remarks
3:15 - 3:45 pm  —   Seminar talk
3:45 - 4:15 pm  —   Book launching and vote of thanks
4:15 - 4:30 pm  —   Open forum
4:30 - 4:50 pm  —   Closing and book signing

  • Snacks and refreshments will be provided.
  • Registration is required.

Rock Solid: How the Philippines Won Its Maritime Case Against China presents a comprehensive account of the epic legal success of the Philippines’ territorial claim over that of China. the arbitral ruling is paramount to the protection of Philippine sovereignty and territorial integrity. Readers will appreciate the unpacking of the complex nature of Philippine national interest, stretching from fishery and natural resources to security concerns and territorial integrity of the nation .

Order your own copy of the book HERE.

Updated:  10 August 2017/Responsible Officer:  Director, RegNet/Page Contact:  Director, RegNet