Lisandro Claudio is Associate Professor at the Departments of History and Literature at De La Salle University, Manila. He obtained his Ph.D. at the University of Melbourne’s School of Historical Studies. Prior to his appointment at DLSU, he was Assistant Professor at the School of Social Sciences, Ateneo de Manila University and a post-doctoral fellow in Kyoto University’s Center for Southeast Asian Studies. An intellectual historian, he is presently working on two separate projects: the history of postcolonial liberalism and the legacies of austerity economics in the Philippines. His book, Liberalism and the Postcolony: Thinking the State in 20th-Century Philippines (2017), is the first full volume to examine a Southeast Asian variant of liberalism.

Project Summary

The Re-erosion of the Philippine liberal state?

Liberalism has played a central role in the formation of the modern Philippine state. In short: in the 19th century, liberalism was the language of nation-building, and in the 20th century it became the discourse of statecraft. Despite deep historic roots, political liberalism in the Philippines remains a fragile experiment. This research project will examine the two major challenges to Philippine liberalism in the past half century: the assault on liberal institutions by President Ferdinand Marcos in the 1970s and President Rodrigo Duterte’s in the present. It seeks to explain why the most liberal democratic state in Southeast Asia undergoes this kind of democratic crisis. It also compares and contrasts the differing approaches that Marcos and Duterte have taken as they challenge the Philippine liberal tradition. Marcos’s was a slow, deliberate destruction and exploitation of the constitutional system, done through legal tact and the systematic corruption of the military. Duterte, on the other hand, is a political storm and a disruptor—a populist who thrives on unconventionality.