The Catholic Church’s Deconstruction of the Philippine President’s War on Drugs

Monday, 16 July 2018: 15:45
Oral Presentation
Patria Gwen BORCENA, Greenresearch Environmental Research Group, Inc., Philippines
This research critically examines the Catholic Church’s responses to an on-going major societal problem plaguing the Philippines which has even attracted the attention of foreign media and worried some nations and international organizations. Our study describes this “war on drugs” as a dominant discourse and contemporary powerful “text” dictated by the Philippine President Rodrigo R. Duterte. His declaration and use of the word “war” already set the stage for a violent approach in addressing the drug menace. It has become in Jacques Derrida’s language, a “theatre of cruelty.” The underlying script for the “war on drugs” has been written and directed by the Philippine President himself and acted by certain units in the government bureaucracy.

Amidst this context, the “decentering” and “deconstruction” processes emerged. During the Duterte administration, the Catholic Church and other civil society organizations (CSOs) have developed more proactive non-violent responses to the drug issue. At a certain point, Catholic Church hierarchy, its affiliated religious and lay organizations began to actively engage in creative and “unconventional resistance” against the Philippine government’s war on drugs. This study analyzes their writings, pronouncements, processes, strategies, and tactics geared to unmask, decenter, and deconstruct the “war on drugs” and/or drug-related killings. This study includes an assessment of the Catholic Church‘s strides and limitations, as well as external factors (i.e. socio-cultural realities) affecting their promotion of human rights and attainment of justice for many extra-judicial killings (EJKs).

Research methods include textual analysis, interviews, focus group discussions, participant observation, and visual sociology. Theory triangulation, the use of multiple perspectives from Jaques Derrida, Michel Foucault, and Pierre Bourdieu will be attempted to interpret different sets of data. An interdisciplinary and reflexive approach has been used given the investigators’ diverse expertise and engaged research praxis as among leaders in religious communities and other civil society organizations.