Transposing emblem by Jay R. Gotera

The political and socio-economic stability in the Philippines appears to be in flux as the Southeast Asian nation comes to grips with escalating tensions inside and outside its borders.

In December 2016, a New York-based think tank said in a report that there was just “moderate” likelihood of political instability in the Philippines in 2017.

Eight months later, in August 2017, another research institute labelled the political risk in the country as “high” even as it branded the economic risk as “moderate.”

Later in the same month, two research institutes came out with a joint report that appeared to have upgraded the level of instability in the country, stating that impunity in the Philippines was the worst of 69 countries.

Manila, Philippines – Street

CFR survey: “Moderate” political instability

In its annual Preventive Priorities Survey released in December 2016, the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) said there was “moderate” likelihood of political instability in the Philippines.

It underscored the potential for armed confrontation between China and the Philippines over their maritime dispute in the South China Sea. It said the United States could be drawn into the conflict if violence erupts. Nevertheless, the CFR described the possibility of armed confrontation in the region as “low” but that the impact would be “high” if it happened.

At the same time, the survey expressed alarm over the “risk of growing authoritarianism and political instability in the Philippines,” which it said stems from local opposition to the domestic and foreign policy agenda of President Rodrigo Duterte.

But despite the allegedly escalating opposition to Duterte’s hard-line policy on illegal drugs, the President’s trust and approval rating among his people remains high at 80 percent as of December, according to the Philippine Star.

Manila, Philippines – Chinatown

Best’s Country Risk Report: “High” political risk

In August, A.M. Best, the oldest and most widely recognized provider of financial ratings, came up with a Country Risk Report that described the political risk in the Philippines as “high.” It noted that Duterte has drawn intense international criticism for allegedly condoning the killing of thousands of suspected drug users and suppliers mostly by the police, who often cite “self-defense” as justification for resorting to violence.

At the same time, the report noted that the criticism has not dented Duterte’s popularity among his people, with the President retaining a large majority in both houses of Congress.

The report said that despite Duterte’s initiatives to improve the lives of his people through the creation of a more equitable society, high levels of poverty persist throughout the country, which serves as a breeding ground for civil unrest.

The Best’s Country Risk Report warned that security risks brought about by the active presence of terrorist groups and the unabated high levels of corruption may slow down potential foreign direct investment growth.

It said irregular contract enforcement, obstacles to credit access, and a graft-ridden system of justice are deterring the growth of the business sector. It noted that the Philippines ranked 99th out of 190 countries in the 2017 World Bank Ease of Doing Business Survey.

Nevertheless, the report cited the Philippine economy as “relatively well diversified and resilient.” It mentioned the “robust consumption, remittances, and exports” as forces that are driving “recent and projected strong growth rates.”

Another favorable factor highlighted in the report was the country’s declining external debt.

Manila, Philippines – Neighborhood in Manila

Country with highest impunity level

In August 2017, the University of the Americas Puebla (UDLAP) and the Center of Studies on Impunity and Justice (CESIJ) released the results of their latest Global Impunity Index (GII) showing the Philippines as the worst of 69 countries in terms of impunity in 2017, a major factor that affects the country’s political and socio-economic stability.

The 2017 GII said the Philippines’ high impunity index is an indication that the country is “going through one of its most critical moments due to the increasing violence connected with organized crime and increased terrorist activities by local gangs linked to the Islamic State (ISIS).”

The Philippine military has been fighting Islamist militants who occupied the southern city of Marawi City more than three months ago. Hundreds have died in the fighting as government forces continue to pound well entrenched militants still holed up in ruined buildings and mosques. The fighting pitting an ISIS-linked group against Philippine government troops is considered to be the most serious terrorist problem to hit Southeast Asia in the past 15 years. The military said its forces have gained the upper hand in the fighting but still could not say when it would end.

The United Nations Commission on Human Rights defines impunity as the impossibility of bringing perpetrators of violence to court because they are not subject to any inquiry that may lead to their arrest, trial and punishment if found guilty.

In the study, the researchers set the measuring range for impunity from 0 to 100 where zero means nonexistent impunity while 100 means the highest level of impunity.

Sison, Philippines – Road accident

The study broke impunity down into two categories—functional and structural dimensions. The Philippines’ impunity score was extremely high in both categories: 94.06 for its structural security system and 99.07 for its structural justice system.

Impunity also has three major dimensions—security, justice, and human rights. The study said that the Philippines had problems in all three areas.

“High rates of impunity can lead to socioeconomic inequality, legal inequality, rule-of-law problems, insufficient economic development, difficulties attracting foreign investment and tourism, as well an increase in human rights violations,” the report said.

According to the researchers, the findings showed that the country has not yet introduced the needed legal and security structures to deliver justice and ensure safety.

Dumaguete, Philippines – Two workers

Duterte’s defense

Ernesto Abella, the Philippine presidential spokesman, reacted to the report on impunity by saying that it should be taken in its proper context.

“Previous governments faced these same problems but it is only under this administration that crime and terrorism are being decisively addressed,” Abella said in a statement released by the Presidential Communications Operations Office.

“The true depth, breadth and magnitude of crime and terrorism, funded by illegal drugs, have only been recently uncovered; resistance from those adversely affected by the current government’s campaign against illegal drugs has been strong, and internal cleansing by organized crime has always had violent results,” Abella added.

Popototan Island, Philippines – A girl

U.S. regime change plot?

Meanwhile, in January 2017, the World Financial Review came out with a report claiming that Washington is preparing plans for a regime change in the Philippines.

It said that before former U.S. Ambassador Philip Goldberg left the Philippines, he wrote a “blueprint to undermine Duterte within 18 months.” In the leaked document, Goldberg was said to have advocated fostering public discontent with Duterte by isolating the Philippines through military assistance and economic “blackmail” relative to other ASEAN member countries. At the same time, the pro-U.S. opposition would be reinforced through aids and grants.

The plan allegedly called on Washington to use economic, political and military measures against Duterte “to bring him to his knees and eventually remove him from office.”

Manila, Philippines – Subway corridor

Daniel Russel, the U.S. State Department’s assistant secretary for East Asian affairs, quickly shot down the allegations, saying there was no such “blueprint.”

Observers pointed out, however, that weeks before the alleged destabilization plot surfaced, the U.S.-based Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) did not renew its $430 million aid grant to the Philippines.

Today, there is another key global player that is keen on maintaining stability in the Philippines: China. After rumors about an “ouster plot” against Duterte surfaced, Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China had confidence in Duterte’s leadership and would continue to support his policies.

Jay R. Gotera

Postcard emblem at 1080

Secondary sources

Best’s Country Risk Report. “Philippines.” August 22, 2017. Retrieved on November 25, 2017:

Council on Foreign Relations. “Preventive Priorities Survey: 2017.” Retrieved Nov. 25, 2017: 

Ortega, Juan Antonio Le Clercq. Global Impunity Dimensions. August 2017. Retrieved on November 25, 2017:

Presidential Communications Operations Office. “On the 2017 Global Impunity Index.” September 22, 2017. Retrieved on November 25, 2017:

Rappler. “Philippines worst in impunity in global index.” November 25, 2017:

Steinbock, Dan. “Philippines 2017 or the Year of Living Dangerously.” The World Financial Review. January 4, 2017. Retrieved on November 25, 2017:

Vilray, Patricia Lourdes. “Think tank: Political instability possible in Philippines.” philstar global. Jan. 10, 2017. Retrieved on Nov. 25, 2017:

Postcard emblem at 1080


Photo 1: Philippines – Ocean – gekatarina

Photo 2: Manila, Philippines – Street – KimChi Images

Photo 3: Manila, Philippines – Chinatown – KimChi Images

Photo 4: Manila, Philippines – Neighborhood in Manila – Keitma

Photo 5: Sison, Philippines – Road accident – Ian Redding

Photo 6: Dumaguete, Philippines – Two workers – Davdeka

Photo 7: Popototan Island, Philippines – A girl – Canonmark

Photo 8: Manila, Philippines – Subway corridor – KimChi Images


Postcard emblem and The Archive of Global Instability on display at 1080 Wyckoff Ave, Queens NY

Emblemovie at

See table of contents for The Archive of Global Instability at

Parts of the Emblem of Instability

Alvisi, Andrea. Political and Social Instability: The Brexit Mess. May 2017.

Bahras. Unstable Air Pollution – Unstable Solutions: Mongolia. June 2017.

Bichen, Svetlana Novoselova. Mental and Cultural Instability: Russia and Turkey. February 2017.

Borghi, Silvana Renée. Living in Inestabilidad. September 2017.

Caetano, Raphael. Instabilidade emocional: Brazil. February 2017.

Çakır, Peren. On the Road in Search of Stability: Argentina and Turkey. June 2017.

Cordido, Verónica. Instability, a Stable Reality: Venezuela and America. April 2017.

Dastan, S.A. The Stability of Instability: Turkey and Syria. March 2017.

D’Adam, Anton. Psychosocial Instability in Argentina and America: El granero del mundo and The Manifest Destiny. January 2017.

Delibasheva, Emilia. Political Instability: Electoral Coups in America and Bulgaria. December 2016.

Ellie. Angry Folk: Korea. June 2017.

Farid, Isis Kamal. Stability Is Not An Option – Egypt. August 2017.

Friedrich, Angelika. Introduction: The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Fondevik, Vigdis. Unstable Nature: Norway and Denmark. October 2016.

Ghadir, Younes. Political Instability – Lebanon. September 2017.

Guillot, Iulianna. Starting and Staying in Instability – Moldova. October 2017.

Gjuzelov, Zoran. The Нестабилност of Transition – Macedonia. November 2017.

Halimi, Sophia. Modern Instabilité: Youth and Employment in France and China. March 2017.

Hernandez, Jonay Quintero. Embracing Instability – Spain. February 2017.

Kelvin, Sera. The Stability in Expecting Emotional Instability: Brazil. April 2017.

Konbaz, Rahaf. The Castaways: On the Verge of Life – Syria. August 2017.

Korneeva, Ekaterina. Instability… or Flexibility? July 2017.

Krnceska, Sofija. Decades of Economic Instability – Macedonia. September 2017.

Kutscher, Karin. Inestabilidad in Interpersonal Relationships – Chile. October 2017.

Larousse, Annabelle. Legal and Emotional Instability in a Transgender Life – Ireland. August 2017.

Larrosa, Mariela. The Very Stable Spanish Instability. April 2017.

Lobos, José. Political Instability: Guatemala. May 2017.

Lozano, Gabriela. Estructuras Inestables: Vignettes of a Contemporary, Not Quite Collapsing Country – Mexico. November 2017.

MacSweeny, Michael. A House on a Hill – America. October 2017.

Mankevich, Tatiana. The Absence of Linguistic Cтабiльнасць: Does the Belarusian Language Have a Future? December 2016.

McGuiness, Matthew. Loving Lady Instability. November 2017.

Meschi, Isabelle. Linguistic Instabilité and Instabilità: France and Italy. November 2016.

Mitra, Ashutosh. The Instability of Change: India. January 2016.

Moussly, Sahar. The Instability of Tyranny: Syria and the Syrian Diaspora. December 2016.

Nastou, Eliza. Psychological Αστάθεια and Inestabilidad during the Economic Crisis: Greece and Spain. December 2016.

Nevosadova, Jirina. Whatever Happens, It Is Experience. May 2017.

Olisthoughts. Stable Instability – Moldova. October 2017.

Partykowska, Natalia. Niestabilność and адсутнасць стабільнасці in the Arts: Polish and Belarusian Theater. January 2017.

Payan, Rodrigo Arenas. Impotence – Venezuela and Columbia. September 2017.

Persio, P.L.F. Social Instabilità and Instabiliteit: Italy and the Netherlands. November 2016.

Pranevich, Liubou. Cultural Instability: Belarus and Poland. March 2017.

Protić, Aleksandar. Demographic Instability: Serbia. July 2017.

Romano, Mavi. Unstable Identities: Ecuador and Europe. October 2016.

Sekulić, Jelena. Нестабилност/Nestabilnost in Language – Serbia. August 2017.

Sepa, Andreea. Instabilitate vs. Stabilität: How Important Are Cultural Differences? – Romania and Germany. September 2017.

Shunit. Economic Instability: Guinea and Gambia. April 2017.

Shalunova, Marina. Language Instability: Russia. June 2017

Sitorus, Rina. Instabilitas Toleransi: Indonesia. May 2017.

Skrypka, Vladyslav. National нестійкість: Ukraine. July 2017.

Staniulis, Justas. Nestabilumas of Gediminas Hill and the Threat to the Symbol of the State: Lithuania. July 2017.

Sousa, Antonia. Social and Economic Instabilidade: Portugal. January 2017.

Vuka. My Intimate Imbalanced Inclination. March 2017.

Walton, Éva. Historical and Psychological Bizonytalanság within Hungarian Culture. January 2017.

Yücel, Sabahattin. The Instability of Turkish Education and its Effect on Culture and Language: Turkey. July 2017.

Zadrożna-Nowak, Amelia. Economic Instability: Poles at Home and the Polish Diaspora. November 2016.

Zakharova, Anastasiya. Instability in Relationships: Russia. April 2017.

To follow: emblems by Ukrainian, Cuban, Peruvian, Italian, Uruguayan and Paraguayan writers and translators.

Further reading

Azazeal, Alex. Отражение Spiegelt Reflection. 2014.

Friedrich, Angelika. The Emblem of Instability. September 2016.

Friedrich, Angelika. Sub-Under-U-метро-Bahn-Ground-Way. 2014.

Gergiev, Vladimir. Street – Straße – Улица. 2014

Metivier, Anthony. Kunstart. 2014.

Smirnov, Yuri. Art de streetулица. 2013.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem – Junk Culture – Müll Trashed Мусор (Part I). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem – Junk Culture – Müll Trashed Мусор (Part II). August 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry, et al. Transposing Emblem – Junk Culture – Müll Trashed Мусор (Part III). September 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Forward to Next Transposing Emblem. January 2016.

Whittlesey, Henry. Changes to Transposing Emblems. November 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Excerpt of new emblem transpoзиция on trash. September 2015.

Whittlesey, Henry. Müll trashed мусор. 2013

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