Philippine History Part V – Ngayon. Duterte’s First Quarter

Duterte at the Torotot Festival 20151/4 of 6 years term, has now passed. Much has happened in many areas – for better or worse. Nothing has stayed the same in the Philippines, and I doubt it will go back to how it was before. Whether this is good, bad or just plain ugly will be something history will decide. Let us look.

People, Places and many questions.

Around a thousand people a month have died in the War on Drugs. How many are by police, how many by police acting as vigilantes, how many are gangs using the situation? Nobody really knows. One of the first things the President came out with was “drug lists” of doubtful origin, naming politicians, judges and others. The killings of suspected addicts and pushers soon came under investigation at the Senate in 2016 , with Senator Leila de Lima at first chairing the hearing and then removed and replaced by Senator Gordon. The hearing was then inconclusively stopped.

Marawi is a complete wreck including a major refugee situation. On May 23, 2017, a conflict broke out with the Maute group in Marawi – while practically all major decision-makers (and many unimportant hangers-on) of the Duterte administration were on a trip to Moscow.  The entire delegation flew back quickly to handle the situation. As the Marawi conflict continued, new Air Force planes the President had previously referred to as useless were used to bombard enemy positions. The hostilities ended in late October 2017. Martial law was declared in Mindanao until the year-end when hostilities in Marawi broke out, and was extended for a further year recently.

The MRT3 continues to fail (link). Project NOAH was defunded and then taken over by UP. Ignoring its information may have played a part in 200 deaths from typhoons in late 2017 (link). The value of the peso has gone down and the government has a high budget, although there are no new construction projects started yet, while PPP projects from Aquino’s time are being finished. Inspite of a looming possibility of the EU cutting GSP+ privileges in early 2018 and some refusal of aid from the EU and US due to human rights questions, the economy still seems to be quite robust.

In October 2016, Korean businessman Jee-Ick Joo (link) was kidnapped by police and killed by strangling in Camp Crame, then cremated and flushed down the toilet. On Nov. 5, 2016, Mayor Roland Espinosa (link) of Albuera, Leyte, was killed in jail under suspicious circumstances. On early Sunday, July 30, 2017, the Parojinog family of Ozamiz was killed in a controversial anti-drug raid (link) under Police Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido – who had also been in Albuera, Leyte before. In late August, Espenido was given the order of Lapu-Lapu by President Duterte (link).

On August 16, 2017, Kian delos Santos was shot (link) in a police operation partly caught on CCTV and by witnesses, belying claims of fighting back. Two similar incidents (link) took place soon after, with 19-year old Carl Arnaiz and 14-year-old Reynaldo “Kulot” De Guzman killed by police. Opposition politicians visited the wake of Kian. Late August Kian’s parents met President Duterte, even posing for the fist sign with him (link). For the second time after the Jee-Ick Joo case, the war on drugs was paused – and continued from Oct. 11 by the PDEA, with officially less casualties (link).

Allies, Rivals and everyone else!

Vice-President Robredo was offered a cabinet post as head of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council in early July 2016, just days after she and the President had separate inaugurations. On November 18, 2016, ex-dictator Ferdinand Marcos was buried at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in a surprise ceremony. Demonstrations ensued. On Dec. 4, 2016, Vice-President Robredo was told no longer to attend cabinet meetings and resigned her cabinet post the day after. During a trip to China, President Duterte had introduced Bongbong Marcos as the future VP.

Suspected drug lord Kerwin Espinosa, son of murdered Mayor Espinosa, was one of the criminals to testify against Senator Leila De Lima in a Congressional hearing in Nov. 2016, where she was accused of being involved in the drug trade taking place in Bilibid prison. Her former driver, who had had an affair with her, also testified. On February 24, Leila de Lima was arrested and brought to Camp Crame where she is until today. Long before that, ex-President Arroyo had been released from jail in July 2016 – and held many speeches during the ASEAN Summit in Nov. 2017.

Controversial social media supporters Mocha Uson and Lorraine Marie Badoy were appointed to MTCRB in January 2017 and as ASec to DSWD in February 2017 respectively. Interior Secretary Ismael Sueno was dismissed in April 2017 with insinuations of corruption. Both Foreign Secretary Perfecto Yasay and DENR Secretary Gina Lopez were not confirmed in May 2017. In that month, Mocha Uson became PCOO ASec while Alan Cayetano became Foreign Secretary.  On August 16, Judy Taguiwalo was not confirmed as Social Welfare Secretary – the last leftist in a major post.

COMELEC Chairman Andy Bautista was publicly attacked by his estranged wife in August (link), including allegations of corruption. While Bautista eventually resigned under threat of impeachment proceedings – most probably to save his family from private scandal, Chief Justice Sereno has been undergoing impeachment practically for the last quarter of 2017 under very dubious charges. A connection to the still continuing electoral protest by Bongbong Marcos is possible as COMELEC and Supreme Court constitute the Presidential Electoral Tribunal or PET.

In Sept. 2017, a Senate hearing on an intercepted 6.4 billion peso shabu shipment started (link). Senator Trillanes alleged a major role of Paolo Duterte and asked him to show a tattoo on his back, saying it could like him to Chinese triads (link). The investigation has left the Senate and slowed. Dengvaxia became an issue in Dec. 2017 (link), its previous history documented in this blog (link). Attempts to pin culpability on ex-President Aquino have failed so far (link) as the matter proceeds.

The person behind the opposition Pinoy Ako Blog or PAB was revealed by pro-administration bloggers in October 2017. Jover Laurio (her real name) was interviewed by BBC soon after that. This led to an ugly scene between pro-administration blogger Sass Rogando Sasot (invited to the official dinner) and a BBC reporter during the ASEAN summit in Manila in November 2017. Many of the bloggers associated with Duterte have been seen in photos with the Marcoses very recently. My impression is that many people are now tired of the too aggressive pro-admin social media.

Nation, Institutions and what next?

A controversial tax reform called TRAIN has been passed which may indeed increase the disposable income for certain groups, but make things more expensive on the whole. An investigation on a 6.4 billion peso shabu shipment from China cast a shadow on Paolo Duterte. The Hague ruling on the West Philippine sea was ignored and China continued building there (link) while it is highly possible that the third telecom operator in the Philippines will be China Telecom. Rebuilding Marawi shall probably not be subject to bidding – the question of who will benefit looms large.

In March, Congressman Gary Alejano of Magdalo filed an impeachment complaint against President Duterte before the Congress (link). It was junked on May 15 for alleged lack of substance. Senator Trillanes and Congressman Alejano therefore filed a complaint before the International Criminal Court (link) against President Duterte and a number of others. International critics of human rights violations in the Philippines were often insulted by President Duterte and others. “Special mention” was given to the EU Parliament, Agnes Callamard of the UN, and Barack Obama.

Furthermore, there have been measures targeting certain businesses that seem close to blackmail. Philweb (link), Mighty Tobacco (link), Inquirer and Mile Long property (link) all come to mind. They are sold as measures against oligarchy while the President is close to other oligarchic groups. Talks with the Left have practically collapsed, while the tax measures of TRAIN seem anti-poor, just like the planned jeepney modernization. Uber was also subjected to pressure for a certain time. The peso has gone down against the dollar while economic indexes give very mixed signals as of now.

A supermajority supports Duterte in Congress. Congress threatened to shorten funding for the Commission on Human Rights, and really cut funds for opposition lawmakers (link) for 2018. While barangay elections have been constantly postponed, the postponement of 2019 mid-term elections and indefinite political terms now loom in connection with planned Charter Change for Federalism. There is a high probability that the Senate may impeach Chief Justice Sereno even if there is no reason to – because most Senators seem to be on the Duterte bandwagon at this point.

VP Leni Robredo has quietly worked on her privately sponsored Angat Buhay program to help the poor attain livelihoods. Independence Day on June 12, 2017 was handled by Vice President Robredo alone as President Duterte had “gone missing” and never explained where he went. The Marcos burial and the killing of Kian led to major demonstrations in Manila but also elsewhere. The left became more determined in its opposition to Duterte after Judy Taguiwalo was no longer part of the cabinet. Numerous persons and groups on social media now form a broad opposition.

International media have reported a lot about both the Marawi war and extrajudicial killings. Inspite of his pro-China and pro-Russia orientation, Duterte accepted that the military was helped by the USA and Australia in Marawi, especially when it came to reconaissance. During the ASEAN summit in Manila, Trump and Duterte seemed to get along well. The war of words begun between Duterte and Agnes Callamard of the UN was continued by Duterte’s new speaker Harry Roque.

The big picture

is a totally changed country. Much less democratic. Probably a lot more quarrelsome at all levels. Recent incidents (Mandaluyong van shooting, armed robberies) show a possible spiral of violence. Wang wang or privileged overtaking for politicians is back by all accounts. Many more funerals.

And either fear or callousness or indifference. MRT failures, typhoon deaths, refugees from Marawi apparently badly supplied with food, Lumads allegedly being kept from getting enough food, many dead in Marawi – where are those now who complained about MRT, Mamasapano and Yolanda?

Love it, change it or leave it

Recent Facebook postings indicate that passport renewal appointments are full nationwide for about 3 months in advance. Are many people trying to leave, is the government trying to create a bottleneck for that, or has DFA turned more inefficient recently? Who knows where the truth lies.

Will things eventually turn out right inspite of possible rises in consumer prices, falling peso, overspending by government, loans from China with high interest, even possible investor jitters?

Will people love the new order? Will they throw it up? Will many leave? Don’t know. Let us see.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 5 January 2018


13 thoughts on “Philippine History Part V – Ngayon. Duterte’s First Quarter


    ..Aside from P2.2-billion bank deposits that President Rodrigo Duterte allegedly owned, his common-law wife also had close to P200 million in separate bank accounts, according to documents that Senator Antonio Trillanes IV distributed to the media on Thursday.

    An 18-page document that Trillanes furnished the media during a press conference at the Senate showed that Duterte’s partner, Cielito “Honeylet” Salvador-Avanceña, had a total of P187,159,085.90 bank transactions from July 14, 2004 to March 4, 2016..


    The Philippines has not been healthy for some time. Indeed, despite the invigorating moments of EDSA and EDSA II and many more patriotic events following the People Power Revolution of 1986, the country has not fully recuperated from the Marcos dictatorship. Imelda and Bongbong’s concerted efforts at historical revision — ironically financed by money the dictator and his cronies stole from the people – are rubbing salt to a non-healing wound.

    The nation has never achieved the health which Dr. Jose Rizal envisioned. After Filipino and Spanish execution squads did their dirty deed at Bagumbayan (now the Luneta), Filipino leaders (Bonifacio, Alvarez, Aguinaldo, Jacinto et alii) were barely unified, and the country got handed over from colonial Spain to imperialist America. Then, just as we emerged from the shadow of Uncle Sam, Emperor Hirohito’s Imperial army devastated the country, savagely hurling babies up in the air to catch them with Nippon bayonets..

    Ramon Magsaysay successfully elevated the country to some level of development; his focus on the “common tao” was timely. History refers to the 1950sas the “Golden Years”, in part due to Magsaysay’s integrity and an administration considered “the cleanest in modern Philippine history.”
    Carlos P. Garcia’s “First Filipino Policy” favored Filipino-owned enterprises and pegged the value of the peso versus the dollar 2.64 -1. But Diosdado Macapagal (Gloria’s father) lifted exchange controls, devaluing the floating peso from 2.64 to 3.80 with a $300 M stabilization fund from the IMF. Macapagal, to his credit, did implement the Agricultural Land Reform Code of 1963.
    Then Ferdinand Marcos came in, pledging to “make this country great again” only to plunder and enrich his family and cronies. After funneling at least $658 million into Swiss banks and stealing a total of $10 billion, Marcos had scraped the Philippine treasury dry. Records indicate that under the Marcos regime “3,257 (were) killed, an estimated 35,000 tortured, and some 70,000 arrested.”

    They were horrific numbers then — though those now pale in comparison to the Human Rights Watch figure of 13,000 extrajudicial and summary killings, which will finally be examined by the International Criminal Court.
    Cory Aquino was neither a politician nor an administrator. And some quarters fault her for not running a tight ship. But, like Pope Benedict XVI who could not discipline the Curia either, Cory was nonetheless a moral and stabilizing force. Unfortunately, Cory’s gains got wasted by her successors. Fidel Ramos was promising, Joseph Estrada was a disaster, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo lost her way.
    Benigno S. Aquino III came in and the country enjoyed economic growth and prosperity like it never did before, achieving GDPs in the 6-7% range, higher than the United States or China. Definitely, much better than Russia or Japan. Yet, there remained rumblings about corruption, not at Malacanang’s level, but at lower bureaucracies. While a rising (economic) tide is supposed to lift all boats, the economic benefits could not uniformly trickle down to the masses.

    Duterte was smart enough to seize on this national desperation. Sleeping under a mosquito net, munching at a carinderia, the mayor from Davao effectively portrayed himself as the modern Magsaysay. Millennials had forgotten Magsaysay, but they instinctively responded the way Filipinos did in the 1950s when they proudly proclaimed: “Magsaysay is my guy!”

    The masses could not relate to Mar Roxas or to Grace Poe, but they could relate to someone emerging from the grassroots. Frustrated by the inability of the country to pull itself out of lingering poverty, despite its economic superiority to Japan in the aftermath of World War II; frustrated that despite remarkable talent and resources, the Philippines had been left in the dust by Singapore; frustrated that its alliance with the West had not resulted in economic independence and prosperity, the country gobbled Duterte’s promises. Hook, line, and sinker..


      ..Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte sent a strong message to the government of Kuwait with his instant total ban on the deployment of all overseas Filipino workers (OFWs) to the Gulf nation.

      Duterte’s pronouncement was made last Friday after reports emerged that the body of Filipino domestic worker, Joanna Demafelis, was found in a freezer after she had gone missing for about a year. Reports showed that Demafelis had suffered torture and strangulation..

      ..Duterte has been vocal on the issue of abuse of Filipinos in the Middle East, even threatening a ban on citizens working anywhere in the region. He also alleged Arab employers routinely raped their Filipina workers, forced them to work 21 hours each day and fed them scraps.

      “Is there something wrong with your culture? Is there something wrong with your values?” he had said, addressing Kuwait..

      ..The Philippines is one of the largest labor exporters in the world. An estimated 10 million Filipinos live overseas as guest workers or as immigrants. An overwhelming number of guest workers are employed in the Middle East, mostly working in the service sector as household service workers. Remittances from overseas Filipinos constitute roughly 10 percent of the Southeast Asian nation’s GDP..


      ..Last week, thousands of students found themselves stranded as enforcers implemented Duterte’s threat to take out aging jeepneys, the capital’s most common mode of public transport.

      Drivers showed journalists a list of requirements so draconian as to disenfranchise all but brand new vehicles with an average cost of more than US$24,000.

      Duterte announced on Jan. 8 that he needed to consult economic advisers on ending labor-only contracting, which deprives workers of tenure and forces them to shoulder the cost of social welfare programs..

      ..The richest 10 percent of Filipinos, who earn more than US$2,000 monthly, now enjoy an additional US$1,800 to their monthly take-home income. Middle income and lower-middle class families, meanwhile, have tax breaks between US$156 to US$486.

      More than 15.2 million families — headed by minimum wage earners or informal sector workers with erratic earnings — have long been exempted from income tax. They will now have to shoulder the new value-added tax and various excise fees, including for critical fuel and power needs.

      The government promised to keep a lid on inflation but media reports in January showed a sudden rise in prices of basic commodities. Transport groups now want fare increases to offset the surge in gasoline and diesel prices. Food stalls have also jacked up prices, citing the effect of higher costs in cooking fuel.

      The new energy regulator chief, Agnes Devenadera unwittingly validated opposition criticism of the new tax law’s effects, telling energy firms in January to temper price hikes because Filipinos are already being battered by rising living expenses.

      Duterte has also ordered the National Food Authority to import 250,000 metric tons of rice in a bid to control prices. His agriculture secretary, Emmanuel Pinol, said local commercial varieties now sell from US$.9 to US$1.2 per kilogram instead of the expected US$.8/kilogram..


    Re-electionist Senators Grace Poe, Cynthia Villar, Aquilino Pimentel III and Nancy Binay topped the survey reportedly conducted by Social Weather Stations (SWS) from Dec. 8 to 11.

    Duterte-Carpio ranked ninth, after former senator and Taguig Rep. Pia Cayetano, re-electionist Juan Edgardo Angara, and former senators Jinggoy Estrada and Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

    Completing the Top 12 were former senator Lito Lapid, re-electionist JV Ejercito and broadcaster Erwin Tulfo.



      Gramsci too, summarizing his first hand experience of the rise and triumph of the very first fascist movement, argued that the novelty of Mussolini was the organization and mobilization of the dispossessed middle class into a mass movement to rival and destroy the labor and socialist/communist movement.

      In Duterte’s case, there is no mass movement that advocates for his right-wing agenda. Unless you believe that the EJK’s [Extrajudicial Killings] are actually done by civilians who have armed themselves to salvage addicts because they were inspired by Duterte’s agitation that drugs are the principal scourge of society. But we all know that the killings are done by the police, whether in or out of uniform, wearing masks or not.

      Duterte has a troll army but no mass movement. Mobilizing in the streets to defend “Tatay Digong” is qualitatively different from voting for him. We have not seen any of that. Unlike Walden, I don’t think Duterte won on the crest of an electoral insurgency but that is another point altogether. Organizing into a fascist DDS (the fans club not the death squad) is quite a level up from merely sharing Mocha’s posts on FB or bullying millennial students on social media. An ex-comrade friend opined that there is mass hysteria but no mass movement. Obviously mass discontent is a necessary ingredient to building a mass movement. Yet the hysteria has not led to any form of movement. It is worth remembering that before fascism came to power, it was a militant mass movement first that viciously fought its way to political supremacy.

      Kilusang Pagbabago is clearly an attempt to organize a pro-Duterte people’s movement. KP can indeed be built but only on the basis of patronage politics. There is no critical mass that is willing to fight and die for Duterte. There is yet no social crisis that can generate such level of political polarization.

      KP will have to contend with the same difficulties that progressives have been facing in organizing workers, the poor and peasants in a period of political ebb. Government funds will solve some organizational problems for KP but it will also create others like opportunism. Despite discontent among the working masses, their fighting mood has been dampened by the utter disappointment of people power uprisings and the failures of mass struggles to win decisive victories. Thus in recent years, there is hardly any spontaneous actions among working masses. And if it does arise, it will be spurred on by basic economic issues and not inspired by a call to defend Duterte.


      Philippine Daily Inquirer / 07:30 AM January 07, 2018
      In a year that saw the beginning of a pushback against the organized production and distribution of false information, the blogger Jover Laurio — the lone, once-anonymous, much-abused person behind Pinoy Ako Blog (PAB) — stood out for her patriotic daring, the frequency and freshness of her posts, the dark humor of her blog, and, not least, the courage she showed in the face of overwhelming personal abuse.
      At the same time, she was also and only a part of a growing chorus of voices resisting the “fake news” that overflowed social media platforms and that sometimes even spilled out of the mouths of government officials.
      For holding public officials to account for their statements, for proving that the democratic ideal of governance is not mere consent of the governed but informed consent, for insisting on facts that cast light on the truth, Jover Laurio and other voices against fake news are the Inquirer’s Filipinos of the Year.
      Every year since 1991, the Philippine Daily Inquirer seeks to recognize the Filipino who, in the judgment of the newspaper’s editors, made the most positive impact on the life of the nation.
      Since 2012, the pool of editors has expanded to include the news managers of other news-related operations in the Inquirer Group:, Radyo Inquirer, Cebu Daily News, Inquirer Bandera and Megamobile.
      In the search for the 2017 Filipino of the Year, 49 out of a total of 51 editors voted. A plurality of 20 chose Laurio; 17 editors voted for the soldiers and police officers who defended the Islamic City of Marawi. (See “The defenders of Marawi”).
      Senior Associate Justice Antonio Carpio of the Supreme Court and Sister Ma. Juanita Daño of the Religious of the Good Shepherd with Centerlaw received six votes each.
      Editors nominated Carpio for “his relentless campaign to educate Filipinos on their birthright and the West Philippine Sea,” and Daño for “initiating the documentation of 35 drug killings in San Andres Bukid, Manila, that became the basis of a petition urging the Supreme Court to issue a writ of amparo to protect the community from police harassment.”
      Voice of facts
      Laurio, who started PAB first on Facebook in December 2016 and then as a stand-alone site in February 2017, was nominated—it bears pointing out—by journalists, whose job it is to get “the best obtainable version of the truth.” (The famous quote is from reporter Carl Bernstein of Watergate fame.)
      Those who submitted her name for consideration as representative of others cited her as “the voice of facts,” lauded her for “exposing fake news,” noted her “in-your-face ‘counterblogs’ complete with documented proof [that] handily thrash and expose … fake news and disinformation.”
      Editors who voted for her and others like her explained why “voices against fake news …. are so important in this age of murky reporting and deliberate manipulation,” and why “the country needs people who can ‘separate the grain from the chaff,’ to identify what’s real and what’s fake.”
      They said their choice was meant “to stand not only for the PAB blogger but also for anyone who speaks out for truth and facts, and fights lies and deception that threaten our democracy. It is our profession’s fight for survival — the profession of journalism and the institution that is traditional media.”
      Is there a contradiction in the very act of journalists praising bloggers and social media commentators like Laurio, “in a time where truth and veracity have been minimized because of agenda and politics?”
      None, because journalists will be among the first to acknowledge that sometimes their reporting or analysis falls short, in the same way they will be among the first to point out that journalism is inherently self-correcting and often gets things right.
      In fact, in an informal survey that the Inquirer conducted to list the other voices who have fought the good fight against lies and disinformation, the names of many journalists were mentioned, including those of Ellen Tordesillas, Lourd de Veyra, Raissa Robles and Sylvia Mayuga, and the work of news organizations or associations like Vera Files and the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines were cited.
      There are many more journalists, including columnists and reporters from the Inquirer.
      But still other voices, like Laurio herself, were independent of the traditional news organizations, and ranged widely in background: former Solicitor General Florin Hilbay, human rights worker Carlos Conde, poet Marne Kilates, lawyer Jesus Falcis, singer Cynthia Patag, novelist Miguel Syjuco, entertainer and social media phenomenon Ethel Booba, with her signature “Charot!” — a sign-off that is both jokey and in earnest.
      There are many more names, including those of Justice Carpio [again] and Associate Justice Marvic Leonen. Special mention was made of Samira Gutoc Tomawis, who has been exposing human rights violations in Marawi.
      PAB story
      Part of the reason Laurio became the symbol of the pushback against fake news is the way she became the focus of the fake news producers; in a very real sense, they made her what she is today.
      The abuse heaped on Laurio, the harassment she received, the hate directed her way once President Duterte’s key social media supporters had identified her in a calculated, cynical act of “doxxing” (the malicious outing of private information, including personal identity), was overwhelming.
      It recalled the same kind of orchestrated outrage which swarmed De Lima, Vice President Leni Robredo, journalist Maria Ressa, and many others perceived as opposed to or critical of either the President or the failed vice presidential candidate Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
      This organized campaign against Laurio turned her into a representative voice. Why? Because many of the people who criticize Mr. Duterte and Marcos Jr. online, even those with hardly any following or who happen merely to post a comment on a news story or on social media, receive the same scorched-earth treatment: attacked on looks, threatened with death or rape, demonized as coddlers of drug lords and pushers.


      “This! Yes, because it’s time.

      I’m standing up to try to figure out how to make our democracy finally work as it should. Others stand with me. Will you? Because we can’t do it without you.”

      “Time to take the initiative instead of simply being reactionary to every distracting controversy instigated by a fascist regime that has yet to answer festering questions about unexplained wealth, smuggled narcotics, treasonous relinquishment of sovereignty, the return to power of plundering political dynasties, and a government-orchestrated nationwide murder campaign that has been publicly guaranteed impunity by president Duterte himself.

      Time to dictate the narrative and discourse of the nation instead of being defined by the name-calling, labels, threats, and lies of liars, trolls, and thugs.

      Time to find unity in common causes as an issue-oriented collective instead of being divided by ideologies, personality differences, and political parties.

      Time to define the fine line between dialogue, outreach, and finding common ground with politically disparate forces, and putting one’s self in danger of being outplayed, co-opted, used, unwittingly self-censoring one’s self for fear of offending newfound friends who define truth and reason as offensive, and unwittingly allowing fascists to hijack conversations as platforms for their lies, insults, and threats.

      Time to recognise the threat of fascism as an ideology—a cult of personality that worships the strongman—and learn from history—how unmet promises of social equity and unsavoury alliances of convenience with the corrupt allowed fascism to return.

      Time to recognise that Duterte is just one head of a hydra that includes other dynastic politicians such as the Marcoses and Arroyos and the emerging new strain of the know-nothing celebrity politician: the populist blogger-cum-political candidate.

      Time to recognise urgency, gravity, and opportunity. The time is now.”

  4. Many blunders piled up one after the other. A few mistakes were oftentimes labled jokes. No positive impact on peoples and communities this regime except those ruling over by their decrees and commands


      “The fist is the synthesis of our theory.” That statement, made sometime in 1920, belongs to a militant follower of Il Duce, Benito Mussolini, the leader of Italian fascism. But, it could have been uttered just as proudly by an ardent DDS (Diehard Duterte Supporter) while executing the fist salute made famous by President Du30. What it signifies is the primacy of symbols over ideas, of sensual experience over reasoned debate, and of sentiment over reason.

      The writer Walter Benjamin observed that fascism marked not just the rise of strongmen but also the transformation of Europe’s politics into aesthetics. And, the ultimate aesthetic experience during that period was war. In Mr. Duterte’s time, the ultimate sensual experience has to be the slaughter of human beings in the name of the war on drugs..


      The year of living dangerously By: Manuel L. Quezon III (bolding by me)

      When Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo approved the arrest of Joseph Ejercito Estrada, she broke an unwritten rule as old as the modern presidency itself: When you gain power, leave your predecessor alone. To a certain extent, this unwritten rule was followed even in the case of the Marcoses, particularly after Fidel Ramos allowed them to return home. While Ramos—who was in many ways the final example of the premartial-law, old-school politician (combined with his own network of martial law contemporaries)—had the breathing space to expand his coalition, its ambitions for the Malaysian model of a permanent ruling party enjoying a parliamentary lockdown on power and patronage foundered on resistance from civil society and public skepticism.

      Arroyo, goaded by civil society to throw Estrada in jail, had to turn to the military to protect her when an urban insurrection almost succeeded in freeing him. She let the military loose on the communists as a reward, abandoned all pretenses of reform, and indulged her coalition with patronage, costing it the chance to succeed where Ramos had failed—instituting a permanent ruling party presiding over a unicameral parliamentary system immune from public opinion.

      Temporarily ceding the field in 2010, the Arroyo coalition returned to power in 2016 although as a partner in a coalition that included the remnants of the Ramos coalition she herself neutered during her presidency after it had served its purpose, and of the Estrada coalition she had made peace with by pardoning him. Together with the Marcoses and the President’s own group of people represented by the new Speaker of the House (and, to a lesser, uneasy, extent, the new Senate President), she has joined forces to finally achieve what couldn’t be done before. To put an end to the wild swings of the pendulum between populism and reform, the application of force, in defiance of public opinion, whether domestic or foreign, is required.

      What this coalition enjoys now is a lack of squeamishness on the part of the Chief Executive — and the realization on the latter’s part that as long as force is selectively used—primarily on the poor and unorganized in urban areas, in well-selected examples of the merchant and political class, and on the bureaucracy and unarmed institutions such as the courts and commissions—then the initiative belongs to the government, which not only puts all critics on the defensive but also creates the kind of momentum necessary to get away with the changes that the coalition wants. (Using force on the poor and unorganized accomplishes three things: It inspires confidence in the middle and upper classes who live in perpetual terror of mobs; it pacifies the poor, who notice the elimination of undesirables in their own communities, and lowers incidents of petty crimes for everyone else; and, by spreading promotions and bounties, it ties the police—and, if anticommunist manhunts gather steam, the military—close to the Palace.)

      While all coalition members will get a piece of the action, and no coalition partner suffers from the delusion that there is honor among thieves, the details of which faction wins out in the end are, for now, secondary to achieving what the coalition has failed to achieve for close to 30 years: the defeat of the pesky civil society, church, media, and public expectations that limited official impunity, throughout that same period, and which came dangerously close to permanently placing the country on a trajectory toward modernity both in society and governance, and even business, during the last dispensation. This cannot be allowed to happen again.

      This means that 2018 is a make-or-break year for that coalition. Its best hope, as a successor to protect the current culprits and restore some measure of basic competence, is unelectable as president: Gloria Arroyo. All the rest, whether the Marcoses longing for a reversal of the verdict of 1986, the business blocs that fund and maintain the biggest and best-organized parties, even individual standard-bearers for those blocs, whether Cayetano or Villar, are simply too unreliable. The Speaker, in ramming through the biggest story for 2018—Charter change—can plan for a showdown with Arroyo after the position of prime minister is established. But first things first: Eliminate the 2019 midterms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *