Archive for category Challenges

What real effect

Rappler Logowill #StandWithRappler and #BloggersForFreedom (link) have for the Philippines? We shall see. The Black Friday Protests today were well-attended by journalists, students and others (link) but will that even reach the general Filipino public? Will they care at all. Or will it be more like (link): Ayaw nilang makarinig ng ibang balita. Palakpak ang masarap sa tenga nila. Makuntento na sa mga balita sa patayan, naholdap, nagahasa, nasunugan at tingay ng baha, buhay ng artista at drama sa telenobela. Pagkatapos, makinig sa update nina Mocha, Andanar at Roque… This is about the so-called masa, the majority that Presidential Legal Counsel Panelo sees as “not educated” enough to vote on Charter Change (link) and who Speaker Alvarez claims to truly represent (link) – but who threatens provinces that do not cooperate with “no-funds” (link).

But even most of the “educated” Filipinos might care more about their material comfort and security than their freedom. In a country of rote learning, most lessons probably never were more than skin-deep – Christianity, rule of law, democracy. Maybe what stuck was more like this (link): “Many of the things you heard about Davao were about extrajudicial killings, but look at Davao. I invested a lot. Lives? Yes. You have to kill to make your city peaceful,” Duterte said. Rest in Peace. Recently, 2 hit men who killed 2 jail guards in Muntinlupa – turned out to be policemen (link).

Charter Change may be the point of no return for Philippine democracy, as local politicians may want to secure their rule by keeping populations misinformed and intimidated. This might after all be what Filipinos really want, who knows? A smiling population ruled by a dirtily smiling Alvarez.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 19 January 2018

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Black and arrogant

Obama Portrait 2006is what Duterte called Obama (link). Or what he said to jeepney drivers (link) makes it even weirder. Misguided pro-poor, pro-Filipino officials, journalists and academics have gone too far at times in blaming the rich, educated (link) or white people (link) for everything, reasoning with “oppression”. But this is more like the attitude some Filipino upstarts show, claiming higher rank where possible. Lorraine Badoy’s (link) or Krizette Laureta Chu’s (link) towards Pinoy Ako Blog are very similar. So much for a group ostensibly against “elitism and pretentiousness.”

The Duterte crowd looks more and more like a group of wannabes who want privilege without any of the usual reasons for it: performance in the case of a meritocracy, service to the people in the case of a truly pro-people movement – or self-control and bearing for traditional, aristocratic elites. Duterte will have seen the degree of self-control the Japanese imperial couple exercise at all times. He will have seen the performance of Prime Minister Abe, what a work schedule he keeps, while Duterte is reportedly often two hours or more late for speeches in Manila (link) for no reason.

What remains if there is no performance, service or bearing. Pure force? Possibly intimidation. Force will hardly work since the military is not going to help with a revolutionary government (link) while low-key intimidation through continued “drug” killings and political chicanery might work. And Philippine territory shall not remain protected, as recent events are showing (link) – and now? Those who voted him will have to ask themselves whether all of that was worth a few junkies less. The economic situation may even go to worse (link) and if it does, what was this bumpy ride all for?

To hit back, even if it is just with jokes, against the “colonialists” of yore (link). Or to feel like the “white man” just for a short time by making stupid comments about Obama? Or feel like oligarchs by making comments about Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog who looks like – an average Filipina!? To feel like the sidekicks of the rising superpower China, when all they want is access to sea lanes? Which is what everybody coming to the islands wanted – Brunei, Spain, England, the USA, Japan – and China. Is basking fake victories satisfying – while all one has for the MRT is a prayer (link)?

That is as fleeting as the high of a drug addict. Based on the assumption of no real achievements. This includes the constant misleading nonsense propagated by trolls. And the planned reliance mainly only loans from abroad, and trains one has no capability to maintain, like with the MRT. Why not work in small steps and enjoy the small victories, like VP Leni with her programs (link)? That finally leads to solid successes. But many a Filipino has a wounded ego, similar to Duterte. Dislikes confidence and basks in mediocrity as if nothing else were possible. But is that a solution?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 11 November 2017

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Morals and Action

Daraga Church Albayoften seem incompatible in the Philippines. Women pray rosary, men act. Read the Bible or Constitution for theory, use the gun or fake witnesses to get things done. Be concerned about what the UN and the US think and deny EJKs – boast about them when one is with one’s “own people”. Colonial residues, when some Spanish priests used morality to make people subservient, while sneaking up on the wives even of chieftains – alluded to in the Noli with respect to Padre Damaso and the mother of fair-skinned Maria Clara, officially the daughter of dark-skinned Kapitan Tiago.

While Padre Damaso was sad when Maria Clara decided to become a nun after Ibarra was “dead”, Kapitan Tiago increased his consumption of opium until he eventually died. A barangay captain who was a drug addict, in Rizal’s novel? Yes! Nothing is really new under the sun. Or in Pilipinas. Will the disente people always be not decent as in good, but simply the rich who hobnob with the hypocritical Church, while the poor are subjugatedly obedient and polite? While the true heroes are pistoleros who tell Church and the disente to fuck themselves, and free the people into rudeness?

This simplistic interpretation has been handed down by generations of educators and activists, ignoring for example the role of Filipino priests in helping free their own people since the First Propaganda Movement – before the Second Propaganda Movement (link) of the intellectuals. Completely going back to the Philippines before 1521 is impossible, and stripping the country of elites developed during colonialism leaves us with Kapitan Tiago, probably on a stronger opiate, making rape jokes about a white missionary, or a mestiza (link) – to get even with Padre Damaso?

One would forget how the Filipino church has gone native since the Second Vatican Council, developing Filipino liturgy and preaching not in Latin anymore, but in a language the people understand. Like today’s homily by Archbishop Socrates B. Villegas (link): Kapag ibinuhos ng tao ang dugo ng kanyang kapwa, wala itong dulot na biyaya, kundi sumpa at parusa. One would forget that the time a socialite beauty contestant said “I speak Tagalog only to the maids” is past. But yes, the gap between action and morals remains. Nice words in theory, shortcuts in practice.

The ruling groups have taught the Filipino to be so obedient, so patient – until he no longer is, like in a recent riot (link) in the Quezon City jail. Was the rage that led to Duterte something similar? Morals is not about being nice always, especially not to Padre Damaso or Kapitan Tiago on opiates – they can also mean saying NO, setting limits. The Filipino I think is still learning to resist steadily – instead of exploding in useless rage. Grassroots groups against drug killings (link) or VP Robredo’s projects (link) are examples. The future may yet come, not loudly but in small steps. Let us see.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 5 November 2017

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A stable country

Philippine Eagle Pithecophaga jefferyinecessitates stable institutions, first and foremost. Then it needs stable politics. If politics are like in the Philippines, winner-take-all and leave nothing for those outside one’s group, there can never be enough trust to be able to work together. Germany is able to have varying coalitions of colors not because all parties are basically the same (the extreme right and the extreme left would disagree) but because there is enough self-discipline to stick to the commonly agreed rules and not to be sophists about them like Filipinos often are. And to negotiate in good faith when making coalitions.

Engage or Avoid?

Contrast that with the bad faith which I think was present from the very beginning between the Philippine Left and the Duterte government. Dealing with Filipinos can sometimes mean that you are on very shifting ground. Transactional, one-off stuff works better, longer-term cooperation for mutual benefit is not easy to establish. Extortion attempts, reinterpreting rules and possibly even whining about unfairness can happen easily. And then getting mad because you tell them to stick to their part of the deal, or even trying to insult or intimidate the other side – tiring power games.

Which brings us to the major part of stability – stable people. If you are dealing with people who shift the goalposts all the time, forget it. It is the kind of Filipino mentality the leaders of today represent. PLUS the narcissistic rage than some may know who have heard of “My Way” killings or white foreigners getting bludgeoned because they accidentally pissed off someone drunk or high. Possibly just wounded his fragile ego, maybe even so long ago that they forgot about it, but not the man who waited for them in the night with a knife in his hand. Why deal with that willingly?

Dangerously unstable egos

Who knows why Jee-Ick Joo, the Korean they wanted to extort money from, was strangled in Camp Crame? Did he get fed up and ask why are you doing this to me, thereby pissing of the cop’s egos and they just killed him. How about Kian Delos Santos? All he asked the police who were hurting him was to go home as he had to review? Did they take his forthrightness as “arrogance”, thinking “who is he to mention that he is studying, does he think he is better than us”? People have indeed gotten beaten up by security guards and cops in the Philippines for “answering disrespectfully”.

An unstable President who has the same hang-ups as many a Filipino drunk (link): “So you think that you are the conscience of the people? That you are the right ones because you are the white? Excuse me. Are we talking of a monkey here or…” will of course bring out the worst in his people. The threats against the more Westernized and educated sections of the population (so-called “yellows”) at present might only be the beginning, just like Hitler’s propaganda only gradually led to more and more harassment legal and illegal, then expropriation and finally killing of its targets.

Cut the excuses

Colonial centuries are excuses even some very intelligent Filipinos use as a bargaining chip, again one more example from Duterte’s recent ramble: “When you left my country after 400 years, you brought home the best of everything in this country. Tapos ganunin ninyo ako? [laughter]”. Probably the worst logging in the Philippines took place during Marcos times with forest cover visibly reduced. There are indications that some of the most rapacious mining has taken place in the last 20 years. And population increased 5 times since the 1950s, when Manila was still spacious.

So there certainly was colonial exploitation, but the stewardship of the land by its own people was not much better. Who is apparently allowing the Chinese to take soil from the Philippines to build islands on atolls in the West Philippine Sea? Of course many Filipinos think that wealth is usually stolen – again Duterte’s rant: “You were ahead in the industrial race of the planet Earth because you stole the greatest resource of the Arabs and that was — that’s oil.” Wrong. The English mined coal in the late 18th century, had to drain mines, and invented the steam engine to help in this.

That started the Industrial Revolution, including steamships and the Suez Canal. Later on, different kinds of internal combustion engine were invented, making oil interesting. Germany probably also was calculating when it helped its ally, the Ottoman Empire, build the train line from Istanbul to Baghdad. To blame Western powers alone for the chaos after the Ottoman empire disintegrated is foolish, but so is most of Duterte’s half-analyzed history. Or not to see that China is very calculating in helping the strategically located, mineral-rich Philippines. And play one’s cards better.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 14. October 2017

 

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Gleichschaltung

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Serenoput Germany under totalitarian control until 1937 (link) – is Dutertismo doing something similar? Hitler had Social Democrats banned first, and then all other parties disappeared. The Philippine Congress is run by a supermajority which is pro-Duterte. The Senate has a pro-Duterte majority, even if its opposition minority is more powerful and sometimes sways the less decided colleagues (link) like with the recent resolution against the killing of minors. The Philippine National Police seems to be firmly pro-Duterte, while the Army is for the most part I think perfunctorily obedient.

Rivals and Press

Hitler practically eliminated the left wing of his party in the Night of the Long Knives in 1934 (link). One must remember that National Socialism had both left-wing (socialist) and right-wing (nationalist) aspects. The Philippine Left is now outside of Duterte’s Cabinet and seems to now have turned full force against him. The Ombudsman and the Commision on Human Rights are still occupied by appointees of the previous administration – Carpio and Beltran. Even Chief Justice Sereno is seen as an annoyance – and is presently fighting against her impeachment by Congress.

The press seems to have become quieter in its criticism (link), even neglecting to put fact checks on patently absurd statements like the recent varied statements on Trillanes’ alleged offshore accounts – from “it was a trap” to “he closed them online” to “this is now the real list”. Are Filipinos gullible (link)? Germans also were at some point, and some are still or again as the recent election shows. The equivalent of the yellow conspiracy many Dutertians think is real was “Jewish Wall Street” and “Jewish Bolshevism”. Yes, both Wall Street and Communism were the fault of Jews for some Nazis.

Foreigners and Filipinos

Germany left the League of Nations at some point during Gleichschaltung. The Philippines has not yet left the UN, even if 39 countries have now expressed serious concern over its drug war (link). The relationship with the West may already have a serious dent though, including long-term repercussions for trade. I know a German who once headed a BPO outfit in Manila who put in a word for Filipinos as being highly Westernized and therefore more compatible to work with Westerners than other Asian peoples. Filipinos may yet know what they had when it is finally gone.

Back to discussions among Filipinos. Pinoy Ako Blog (link) has been under attack in social media. Probably because the tone of the blog’s articles is as understandable to the Filipino man on the street as Mocha Uson is. Let’s say PAB is street with coffee to go, while Mocha is gutter with curses. But it seems that Dutertians now fear losing the man on the street, and even worse the defining power over “who is a true Filipino”. Because a Filipino is not just an inutile hangdog thrilled by free food and gyrating Viva Hotbabes, cursing like Duterte. That would be mental Gleichschaltung.

Dealing with Today

And besides, all the propaganda, that undefined smelly stew of resentments and inferiority complexes, slogans and half-truths doesn’t solve any problems. Hitler’s brown stew did not do it for Germany. Duterte’s weird version of adobo I am happy I cannot smell – does it have durian in it – will not bring the Philippines forward in any way whatsoever. Let us just imagine that Trillanes, Hontiveros, De Lima, Aquino, Roxas, Gascon, Sereno, Bautista etc. are all exiled and out of their positions. No excuses left for Duterte and his group. Will they lead Filipinos into a golden future?

Irineo B. R. Salazar

30 September 2017, München

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Stop Fooling Yourselves

The Amazing Race Philippines 2 Mapor continue to if you want! Only addicts and pushers die in Philippine streets. Paolo Duterte’s tattoo is nobody’s business. And who cares about the massive shabu shipment just lost in Customs? If ever, it is probably just a destabilization plot by the “yellows”, a group nearly like the Illuminati!

Liberals – barely there

Sarcasm aside, it isn’t the Liberal Party that is the most visible opposition. Senators Trillanes and Hontiveros are Magdalo and Akbayan respectively, center-right and center-left in orientation. Senator De Lima makes her regular stand, but her own party’s support seems a bit half-hearted.

In fact I found Walden Bello’s recent concern for her safety very sincere – even if he is half-crazy, he is definitely not a fool. The LP may renew itself, but could it forget the hard work of even those like Leni Robredo, Teddy Baguilat and Edcel Lagman if it gets power back to quickly? I don’t know.

Leftists – protesting again

The leftists have practically nobody left in Duterte’s cabinet. They still cannot quite let go of the chance of power. Typical turncoat Filipinos after all? Slogans are not really principles. With real principles, you might be considered crazy like the late Senator Santiago. Or go half-crazy like Bello.

Or you have nerves of steel like the Senators Trillanes and Hontiveros. One can see it in their eyes. The sheer willpower. But the classic Filipino left has proven it is not principled, for the most part. Of course it is organizing more marches now, once more – but is this just to get some concessions?

Institutions – what institutions?

The Philippines still lives in the house of institutions that President Quezon built back in 1935. Some stuff added haphazardly, like the way they build in the slums of Manila. Some renovation during the time of Marcos, most notably the division into regions to reach the people better.

The second-best reform of Marcos – who is NOT a hero, this I say again for the record – Metro Manila, was only partly kept. The MMDA is a shadow of the once powerful Metro Manila Commision and Metro Manila has no governor. Central authority would solve a lot of issues.

My group/tribe/gang first

The present crowd around President Duterte do not even make a pretense anymore of caring about institutions. Very Filipino, if one is to take the mentality of the provinces and the working classes as a measuring stick. Everything is situational, nothing lasts forever. Today’s boss orders, not rules.

Of course all who are up for impeachment are associated with the previous administration – Chief Justice Sereno, Ombudsman Carpio, Comelec Chairman Bautista. One could say that President Aquino set the precedent for this, but now it looks like the facts don’t even matter anymore. Well.

Paths to unity or division

in the barangays, a group called SWORD – Sincere Warriors of Rodrigo Duterte is forming (link) – this is the command and control approach of Marcos, or the Spaniards who used the barangay for their indirect rule. No barangay elections for now means drug lists and impunity (link) continue.

the approach of Vice-President Robredo, or that of cities like Iloilo (link) are more on community. Will that be extinguished eventually by the insistence on command and control, even coercion? Cohesion in larger groups is based on community first – control is to keep the less mature in line.

Will people or communities submit in apparent resignation or collaboration, or resist like Iloilo? Leni Robredo’s approach is cautious, will it help? Will lonesome fighters like Trillanes, Hontiveros or De Lima be used or betrayed? 1986 was way too easy. Filipino character may yet be forged now.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 9. Sept. 2017

 

 

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Congratulations, Iloilo City

Iloilo River towards the Iloilo Strait– not only have you defended your Mayor and your reputation (link), you got a real drug lord (link). You did have to kill him, which is unavoidable at times, but the entire story of month-long leads and tips from Ilonggos sounds more plausible to me than all the off-the-cuff declarations of Duterte. That includes the malicious hints that Mayor Jed Mabilog of Iloilo was a drug lord protector or more, that Iloilo was alleged “most shabulized” (not borne out by PDEA numbers) and the planned but retracted assignment to Iloilo of someone already involved in the killing of two mayors (link).

Iloilo also happens to have one of the cleanest rivers of all larger Philippine cities. This alone tells me that they know how to take care of themselves, just like a clean bathroom is a sign of a good household. A clean kitchen may be for show only, the dirty kitchen at the back, but the bathroom? How about Davao, the famous showcase of Duterte? Safe it probably was and is in a relative sense. Maybe more like the Thunderdome was the safest place in the Mad Max movie. On a violent island, Davao was/is a place where a Burgherr (Lord of the Castle) ruled and imposed his personal order.

Cities like Iloilo and Naga, on the other hand, seem to represent a nascent urban middle class model of governance from all I have gathered – as opposed to the old, warlord-dominated cities of the fringes or the upper-class dominated cities of the center the Philippines used to be known for. Classic political dynasties in the Philippines have ruled by a mixture of money and intimidation – more intimidation in less developed areas, more money in more developed areas. Middle-class political structures characteristic of more developed Asian countries therefore remained elusive.

Even the middle-class uprising of 1986 had a patron in Cory Aquino. The new middle classes whose money comes from working abroad or in call centers have President Duterte as their patron. Citizens gathering to protect their mayor like in Iloilo (and not looking down upon him for being just a human being like everybody else) is new at least to me. But cultures develop. Consensus replaces intimidation. More complex  and advanced economies flourish better under free conditions. Sweatshops can work well under repressive conditions, but don’t expect Silicon Valley.

Korean companies are already moving to Vietnam nowadays from the Philippines. Did anyone seriously think that they would have forgotten what happened to their countryman who was killed? There are nationalities that say little, yet act after a while – like Germans, Japanese and Koreans. The Filipino street/thug/warlord subculture does not think that far, mistaking bluster for strength and silence for weakness. Little strategic sense or long-term planning. Flourishing cities like Iloilo or Naga may be gone completely if that subculture comes to dominate the future Philippines. Pity.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 3. Sept. 2017

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In order to build a More Perfect Society

Cacique Ron Antiguoreplaces “..build a just and humane society”  of the 1987 Constitution in a draft for a Federal Philippine Constitution (link). More perfect society sounds like Thomas More’s Utopia. There is an article from 2016 by Professor Tony La Vina already makes an uncanny comparison (link):

Superficially speaking, Duterte’s Philippines, at least in its treatment of human rights and the role of law, is not very far from Thomas More’s Utopia. In More’s world, lawyers are actually prohibited and citizens are assumed to know exactly what the law is, what right and wrong is, and are expected to comply with all the rules laid down by the state. In More’s Utopia, punishment is a certainty for those who transgress the law. In More’s imaginary world, the justice system is always fair and so human rights is not an issue. Its respect is assumed. Unfortunately, both the assumptions of an educated citizenry and an excellent justice system do not hold for our country..

How do we respond to Duterte’s Philippines? Unfortunately, the book Utopia does not give us good answers to this question. Sadly, utopian literature frequently justifies human rights violations in the name of achieving a better, more perfect society. Therein lies the danger and the tragedy that is unfolding in Duterte’s Philippines. It is not a perfect world; government makes mistakes, including terrible ones. ..

The rest of the constitutional draft remains similar to 1987, with too many words at the end of the preamble (link): “a regime of truth, justice, freedom, love, equality, and peace” – which can mean anything, as we know since Orwell’s 1984, or Imelda Marcos’ interpretations of truth and beauty.

Or Grace Poe’s swearing allegiance to the United States. Among many Filipinos, including public officials, there is a lot of fake oath-taking. In Bavarian folk tradition, you had to at least keep your fingers crossed behind your back while swearing an oath you had to take, but did not mean to keep.

What nations want

The 1935 Constitution had three main goals that are clear: independence, to preserve patrimony, and general welfare (link) with a “regime of justice, liberty and democracy” to achieve them:

The Filipino people, imploring the aid of Divine Providence, in order to establish a government that shall embody their ideals, conserve and develop the patrimony of the nation, promote the general welfare, and secure to themselves and their posterity the blessings of independence under a regime of justice, liberty, and democracy, do ordain and promulgate this Constitution.

I think the Americans of before knew what they wanted in the Preamble of their Constitution (link) – clearly unity, justice, tranquility, defence, welfare and liberty for themselves and their posterity. It defines clearly how Americans wanted to live then and in the future:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Swiss Federal Charter of 1291 went straight to the point with a one-sentence intro (link) – but one can distill similar ideas out of it – common good, peace, defence:

For the common good and proper establishment of peace, the following rules are agreed :

  1. In view of the troubled circumstances of this time, the people and communities of Uri, Schwyz and Nidwalden promise to assist each other by every means possible against one and all who may inflict on them violence or injustice within their valleys and without.
  2. Each community shall help the other with every counsel and favour and at its own expense in the event of any assault on persons or goods within and without the valleys and to this end have sworn a solemn oath to uphold this agreement in confirmation and renewal of a more ancient accord..

The 1987 Constitution and even the Federal draft both still say in their preambles: “promote the common good, conserve and develop our patrimony, and secure.. independence and democracy under the rule of law” – now do these things still matter for Filipinos today? Or their leaders?

The Philippines Today

Common good. Stickers for drug-free homes, drug tests for aspiring students. The citizen as a suspect, as a potential danger to a more perfect society? What perfection is aspired to, is it the paternalistic Heavenly Peace of Chinese thought that gives its name to Tiananmen Square?

Some of its islands, its fishing grounds – its patrimony. Seems they have been sold for trains and loans with not so low interests. Mining – is it properly regulated and taxed so the country as a whole benefits? And general welfare. Are Lumads, Moros, poor people still harassed for being in the way?

Federalism and putting barangays on a leash may in fact lead to a Philippines similar to the colony under the encomienda system of before (link) only with regional political families in a role similar to encomenderos and local families being like the principalia or datus subservient to them.

Killings of families like the Espinosas and Parojinogs, bad as they may or may not have been, even warnings by the police chief involved in both to others (link), do not bode well for those leaders who do not toe the line. Like for datus that refused to serve King Philipp II or his successors.

Attempts to ignore the will of the people are now showing themselves towards Vice-President Leni Robredo. Would the powers-that-be let her lead a Bikol state in case the people there want her to? Real Federalism is about self-determined communities working together for mutual assistance (original Swiss Confederation) or towards a “more perfect union”  (USA) – not society or possibly even “New Society”. And especially not fiefdoms assigned to the entitled by.. whom? Who are they? Do they really embody the will of the people? Do Filipinos indeed prefer to be led? We shall see.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 11 August 2017

 

 

 

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So much Imbecility

Vile imbecilesis exhausting. Wanda Teo’s tourism charts. Bilibid boys threatening to recant. Alvarez’ wife saying he became a Manobo. Certainly he was always a bobo. His Senate counterpart Pimentel is just as much of an asshole, but I think he isn’t as stupid. Touché for Atty. Mandy Anderson. Kudos to the new culture of directness in the Philippines. If the President can insult people, so can others hit back at those who think they are higher. The Ombudsman telling the President “wala siyang pakialam”, that her work is none of his business, is not imbecility but a language every Filipino gets.

It was a matter of time before the crowd that ASec Lorraine Badoy termed as “ninnies” would hit back. Chito Gascon of CHR telling Panelo to focus on his job. After Panelo told Gascon to resign, which he constitutionally has no right to. Fixed-term appointees were purposely created to provide checks and balances – it would be terrible if one group had all the power without any critics. Malacañan saying that commissioners serve at “the President’s pleasure” (link) is another imbecility. Do they think the President is an absolute monarch, like the erstwhile Louis XIV of France?

How often indeed has the President spoken of himself as the owner of the Philippines – may-ari ng Pilipinas? How often has he spoken of my police, my army, my weapons? Louis XIV indeed said “I am the state” but also said in his old age that “I will die, but the state will remain”. Duterte would destroy the government if he had his way (link) but has not laid out any vision of the “more efficient system” that he would like to have in its place. Will it be barangays with drug lists – decentralized impunity? Plus centralized impunity against Lumad schools and the like (link)?

In the meantime, the real deals with China may have been sealed with the visit of the Chinese foreign minister. Will it indeed be joint exploration close to Palawan – with a sizable Chinese military presence to guard it? Fortunately, few were imbecilic enough to see the lapu-lapu being “gifted” by the Chinese to Filipino fishermen as generosity. Or a few firearms as real assistance. Maybe they are like the expensive underwear allegedly gifted to prostitutes by some pimps – with money they earned in the first place. Or even worse, just Woolworth underwear in Palmer’s plastic bags.

20 million Filipinos remain poor (link). What will be done for them? Will they be sent to work on Chinese oil rigs, since the construction worker jobs will allegedly be given to Chinese? And how about the education of the Filipino in general? Seems free tuition is gone by 2018 (link). Does the present administration want a stupid people to call its own? A slave race, with them as overseers? And the city the Chinese plan to build in Manila Bay, will it be like Intramuros? No Filipinos after dusk? Might they let some Chinoys become “Insular Chinese”? How imbecilic will Filipinos be?

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 29 July 2017

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Quo Vadis, Mindanao?

Philippine territorial map 1880 MINDANAOis the question – especially who will benefit from the extension of Martial Law? Marawi residents and refugees in the area seem not happy with martial law. There are ideas of IDs for Muslims which are highly discriminatory, even downright insulting. Lumads continue to allege military harrassment, some are unhappy now that they voted for Duterte. There are stories of numerous private armies and vested interests in the mining business. There are those Mindanaoans like Duterte, Pimentel and Alvarez, called Bisaya by Muslim Mindanaoans – the Christian settlers.

During Marcos’s time, Mindanao was like Terra Incognita to most people in Manila. Even the Visayas were hardly heard from. What was going on in Luzon was the horizon most of us had then. Now one hears from the likes of Samira Gutoc of Marawi, or from reporters on the ground close to the fighting – like Froilan Gallardo. Before 1920, when Mindanao was turned over to the Interior Department of the Insular Government of the Philippine Islands, Mindanao was a territory that the United States fought hard to get under control. Spanish control before was patchy in practice.

Yes, there was the fortress of Zamboanga. There was Dapitan – where Rizal was exiled to. Even today, Mindanao is still seen as a place of exile, for example for errant policemen. The Moro Wars of the early 20th century were bloody. There were in the late 19th century a number of Spanish attempts to have more than just nominal control over Sultanates like Sulu. The times after 1920, especially the 1950s, brought resettlement from the Visayas and Luzon. American-initiated plantations like Dole, mining and logging – commercial and settler interests versus those who were there first.

Everything parallels the way the Philippines north of Mindanao became the way it is today. In the Visayas, not only Lapu-Lapu resisted colonization. The Boholanos Tamblot and Dagohoy come to mind – the first was a native priest who rejected Christianity in 1621, the second was a rebellion that started in 1744 and held out until 1828 in resistance to forced labor, but sparked by the refusal of a priest to give a Christian burial to the brother of its original leader, a barangay captain. In the Dagohoy uprising, folk beliefs in magical powers of the leader played a role in holding out.

The likes of Duterte now find themselves in a strange role. He and his followers act a bit like Dagohoy and his followers – towards certain groups in Manila. The personalism of the leader, the belief of people in his capabilities and collective resentments play a similar role. On the other hand, Mindanao Christian settlers are similar to Spanish colonialists towards Muslims and Lumads there. There is the Karpman triangle which describes how roles can change from victim to villain or even rescuer. How that triangle plays out in Mindanao might decide the future of the Philippines.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 23 July 2017

 

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