I’m plotting the logistics of my project in southern Philippines. In this next trip, I’ll have the time to fully dedicate myself to investigating the human rights violations and corruption of the Philippine government and military. When I began the initial research work for this project, Benigno Aquino III was still the president. However, my research scope went all the way back to the Gloria Arroyo presidency. So now the entire investigation spans 3 presidential administrations. Each one of them–Noy, Gloria and Roddy–offers their own unique flavor to the smorgasbord of political ineptitude.
This is to say that I will be hitting each administration hard, regardless of their political party or ideology. This is also to say that I have my work cut out for me. Here’s a sample of what I will be investigating:
+ Theft of international disaster relief donations.
+ Misuse of tax funds.
+ Kidnappings and torture of political activists, NGO volunteers and witnesses.
+ Contract killings of journalists.
+ Assassinations of political opponents.
+ Police bribery and general corruption.
+ Corporate influence on politicians (bribery; kickbacks).
Now with major foreign terrorists establishing their presence in Mindanao, this whole project just became more complicated. I’m technically not investigating them. They’re terrorists. What’s there to investigate? They’re out in the open and showcase their grisly acts with pride. But this makes my field work more dangerous than it already was.
I’m not doing this project for a news company. I’m not even freelancing for a newspaper. The findings of this investigation will exclusively be featured in a bi-annual journal that I own and publish, called Dissertation, and which I will send to various human rights organizations and media outlets. This means I will not have the financial, legal and political connections of an organization like The New York Times, BBC or Al Jazeera English.
I’m on my own. I’ll have to supply my own bulletproof vest (not that I’ll ever wear it anyways). My own driver (which is fine since it’s easy to hire one in the Philippines). I’ll have to establish my own contacts, because I don’t have the expansive catalog of sources and fixers that a large news organization has. This is why I have to prepare everything in advance and make the right decisions now. My margin of error is very slim. I have to be on point with everything I do in this investigation.