Rule of Law in the Philippines: The Reproductive Logic of Elite Democracy*

Fernando P. Gonzaga

Abstract

Confronted by mounting allegations of corruption, electoral fraud, andabuse of executive power, the government of Philippine President GloriaMacapagal-Arroyo (2001–2010) called on critics and demonstrators tocease their dissent and uphold the “rule of law.” Amid this unsettling voidin political authority, the Philippine Supreme Court used its judicial powerto promulgate rules that would enforce the “human rights” of citizens. Byanalyzing the speeches of President Arroyo and Supreme Court ChiefJustice Reynato S. Puno (2006–2010), the paper will examine how thisdynamic plays out on the terrain of signification, where large politicalbodies, which claim to speak for the multitude of Filipinos, struggle overthe parameters of sovereign power or the idea of what the government“should do” and “cannot do.”

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