Maria Ela L. Atienza

Maria Ela L. Atienza, PhD

Professor of Political Science
UP Scientist III
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Maria Ela L. Atienza is Professor and former Chair of the Department of Political Science, University of the Philippines (UP) Diliman. She is also the Editor of the Philippine Political Science Journal, the Scopus journal of the Philippine Political Science Association, and Co-Convenor of the Program on Social and Political Change of the UP Center for Integrative and Development Studies. She is currently the President of the Pi Gamma Mu International Honor Society in the Social Sciences – University of the Philippines (Philippine Alpha) Chapter. She also served as Director of the UP Third World Studies Center (2010-2013) and President of the Philippine Political Science Association (2007-2009).

She is a recipient of the Gawad Chancellor for Outstanding Instructor (1999) from UP Diliman; the first Young Scholar Dissertation Award (2006) from the International Society for Third Sector Research for her dissertation entitled “The Politics of Health Devolution in the Philippines with Emphasis on Experiences of Municipalities in a Devolved Set-up”; the Yasuhiro Nakasone Incentive Award (2007) from the Institute for International Policy Studies, Japan; Centennial Faculty Development Award (2011) from the UP Alumni Association-New Jersey Chapter; several Centennial Professorial Chair Awards from UP Diliman; and several International Publication Awards from the UP System. She is the 2014 National Research Council of the Philippines Achievement Awardee for the Social Sciences (Division VIII), One UP Professorial Chair Awardee for Teaching and Research (2016-2018), One UP Professorial Chair Awardee for Research and Public Service (2019-2021), and One UP Professorial Chair for Awardee for Teaching and Research (2022-2024). She was awarded the rank of Scientist III (2020-2022) under the UP Scientific Productivity System.

She teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on qualitative research methods, political science research, comparative politics, and local politics. Her recently concluded research projects are performance assessment of the 1987 Constitution, including during COVID-19; prospects for alternative institutional arrangements in Metro Manila for health service delivery in the midst of federalism and charter change debates; and the role of local civil society organizations in humanitarianism. She is now doing research on assessments of the performance of the judiciary and local governments since 1987, and an analysis of attempts at constitutional change and/or amendments during the Duterte and Marcos II administrations. She headed the Department of Political Science’s extension project “UP sa Halalan 2019”, which aimed to provide more evidence-based data and information on election-related matters through social media, lectures, public fora, and media engagements. She is also active in training programs for social sciences and political science teachers, policy staff, development workers, personnel of government agencies, and local government officials as well as serving as a resource person on political and social issues for several Philippine legislative committees, executive agencies, professional associations, the private sector, and various media.


  • PhD Political Science, Graduate School of International Cooperation Studies, Kobe University, 2003
  • Executive Masters in European and International Relations (with distinction), Amsterdam School of International Relations (ASIR), University of Amsterdam, 1998
  • MA Political Science (Honors), University of the Philippines, Diliman, 1993
  • BA Political Science (Honors), magna cum laude, University of the Philippines, Diliman, 1992

Research Interests

Local politics and governance, devolution and central-local relations, human security, health policy and politics

Recent Publications

  • Atienza, Maria Ela L. 2022. “Addressing corruption and pursuing democratic governance in the Philippines”, pp. 8-14. In Ryan Hass and Patricia M. Kim (eds.), Democracy in Asia. Washington, D.C.: The Brookings Institution, December. Available at:
  • Atienza, Maria Ela L. 2022. “The Philippines under Lockdown: Continuing Executive Dominance and an Unclear Pandemic Response”, pp. 445-456. In Joelle Grogan and Alice Donald (eds.), Routledge Handbook on of Law and the COVID-19 Pandemic (1st ed.). Routledge. Available at:
  • Atienza, Maria Ela L. and Quilala, Dennis. 2021. “Nongovernment Organizations in Humanitarian Activities in the Philippines: Local Contributions in Post-Disaster Settings and Implications for Humanitarian Action and Diplomacy”. Asian Journal of Comparative Politics (6) (4) (December): 345-359. Available at:
  • Atienza, Maria Ela L. and Quilala, Dennis. 2021. “The Role of Civil Society in Disaster Response—The Philippine Experience”, pp. 79-83. In A. D. B. Cook and L. Gong (eds.), Humanitarianism in the Asia-Pacific: Engaging the Debate in Policy and Practice. SpringerBriefs in Political Science. Singapore: Springer.
  • Tan-Mullins, May; Eadie, Pauline; and Atienza, Maria Ela L. 2021. “Evolving social capital and networks in the post-disaster rebuilding process”. Asia Pacific Viewpoint 62 (1) (April 2021): 56-71. Available at:
  • Eadie, Pauline; Atienza, Maria Ela; and Tan-Mullins, May. 2020. “Livelihood and vulnerability in the wake of Typhoon Yolanda: lessons of community and resilience”. Natural Hazards 103 (1) (August 2020): 211-230. Available at:
  • Atienza, Maria Ela L. 2020. “The Philippines in 2019: Consolidation of Power, Unraveling of the Reform Agenda.” Asian Survey Vol. 60 No. 1 (January/February): 132-139. Available at:
  • Atienza, Maria Ela L. 2019. “The Philippines in 2018: Broken Promises, Growing Impatience.” Asian Survey 59, no. 1 (January/February): 185-192. doi:
  • Atienza, Maria Ela; Eadie, Pauline; Tan-Mullins, May. 2019. Urban Poverty in the Wake of Environmental Disaster: Rehabilitation, Resilience and Typhoon Haiyan (Yolanda). London: Routledge (Taylor and Francis Group). doi:
  • Atienza, Maria Ela L. 2019. “Human Security in Practice: The Philippine Experience from the Perspective of Different Stakeholders”, pp. 159-181. In Human Security Norms in East Asia, edited by Yoichi Mine, Oscar A. Gómez and Ako Muto. Palgrave Macmillan. doi:

Courses Taught

  • POLSC 11: Introduction to Political Science
  • POLSC 14: Philippine Politics
  • POLSC 110: Political Analysis
  • POLSC 111: Qualitative Research Methods
  • POLSC 154: Philippine Local Politics
  • POLSC 160: Society, Government & Politics
  • POLSC 133: European Politics
  • POLSC 199: Research Design in Political Science
  • POLSC 211: Advanced Qualitative Research Methods
  • POLSC 254: Philippine Local Politics
  • POLSC 270: Theories in Comparative Politics
  • POLSC 274: European States