February 2018
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Facing the Music

William Holman Hunt - The Scapegoatis something Filipino leaders don’t do well. Think South Korean murdered (link) – or Mamasapano. In both cases, Filipino Presidents wound their way around their command responsibility. President Duterte has not made any public statement on the issue of the South Korean murdered at Camp Crame until  now. President Aquino was heavily criticized for not going to the arrival of the coffins at the airport after the Mamasapano massacre, a consequence of an anti-terrorist operation he personally had initiated – even if he did go to the wake later on.

A common denominator for both crises was Senator Grace Poe calling for the President to be accountable – one does see her Americanized attitude a little bit there, formed by her life experience. Since face and power go together in the Philippines, there is seldom true accountability – nobody dares question the one on top except political enemies. In fact, political allies go through almost Yoga-like contorsions to justify what “their man” is doing while political rivals are like piranhas that attack at the slightest sign of blood.

In a country where children quickly learn that to ask “why” can be seen as insulting in certain contexts, those who are raised in entitlement are not used to criticism as it seldom happens. In fact they are seldom confronted by the real consequences of mistakes and learning from them. Either mistakes are covered up by one’s group, or one has made a mistake that cannot be covered up anymore and it can happen that you are dropped by the group, to prevent collective loss of face. Could “Bato” be the scapegoat this time? With Mamasapano it looked like Napeñas.

Scapegoat (link) is a biblical concept in which a goat is designated to be cast into the desert with the sins of the community. The trouble with scapegoating is that nobody learns from mistakes which are systemic.  Both the falling apart of command and coordination at Mamasapano and criminal operations within the police like in the recent case of the South Korean seem to be systemic. Similar to drugs in Bilibid prison, which still seem to be an issue (link) inspite of the scapegoat Senator Leila de Lima having been symbolically burnt on the stake in Congress.

Corruption is systemic too in the Philippines, as is the drug problem, I think. Scapegoating Binay, Arroyo and Chief Justice Corona did not remove corruption. It is just as improbable that the Aztec-like human sacrifice of thousands of drug suspects has significantly changed anything in the Philippine drug trade – probably the major players are lying low as they could afford to do so.

Going beyond scapegoating, and towards finding systemic solutions as lessons learned will be a hard road ahead. How many more scapegoats and irresponsible leadership will it take to get there?

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 22 January 2017

7 comments to Facing the Music

  • karlgarcia

    I hope this purging of police scalawags will result to reforms in the Police force. and not result to more deaths.
    The stopping of drug operations ito get rid of scalawags for me is a good move.

    • karlgarcia

      PDEA plus AFP will continue the war on drugs. What will change.

      The PC revival is very unnecessary.

    • karlgarcia

      I know the threat to send some scalawags to Basilan,Sulu and Tawi-Tawi is just a threat, they might lawyer up like the ndf consultants will lawyer up.

      Being at the receiving end of a dressing down is not what we are looking for in terms of sense of shame.

      mapahiya is dfferent from marunong mahiya.


    Duterte wasted no time in hitting former President Benigno S. Aquino III, demanding for him to come clean and explain his part in the unfortunate encounter.

    But the Mamasapano episode and the South Korean murder are miles apart in magnitude and complexion. The former was a legitimate operation, only tainted by operational lapses by ground operatives, while the latter was a blatant crime committed by the police, whom Duterte virtually clothed with immunity by declaring his ironclad support for them in the name of the war on drugs.

  • Mariano Renato Pacifico

    Philippine Media is promoting idiocy in the Philippines.
    1. A poor farmer in the middle of nowhere in Mamasapano who have not gone to metropolitan area in his lifetime. No cable TV. No stereo. No camera. Yet knew what a drone was like. In one of the incredible stories in Inquirer, a farmer saw a drone hovering while the SAF44 were made as target practice by instant reinforcement by the rebels to protect Marwan while SAF44 support team were at the highway laughing, telling jokes and smoking;
    2. Incredible story from Inquirer mentioned one of the survivors of SAF44 went to Zamboanga to bring dirty finger of Marwan to an FBI handler/agent. Therefore, SAF44 team knew who their covert FBI handlers were … not in the real world of espionage, puppet-on-a-string and proxy spies. Incredible!
    3. Tony Tiu asked by Sundalong Kanin Trillanes to prove he was a dummy of Binay by demanding he brings with him the TCT of BinayLand instead of Sundalong Kanin to find out for himself by the power of Senator vested upon him to go to Register of Deeds and get a copy for himself;
    4. Bureau of Immigration were accused of accepting 50,000,000.00 pesos bribe carried in paperbag. They saw the paperbag but did not know what was inside the bag. Yet they know it was 50,000,000.00 bribe. Wheeew ! Wow ! Incredible journalism and investigation
    5. deVenecia ran to the Philippine Press there was ZTE bribery but not evidence yet Philippine Press publish right away without vetting. Incredible!
    6. Gosh, I can go on and on and on ….. When Donald Trump said he is cheated from popular vote because of illegal immigrants the American Media were asking for evidence …. evidence …. evidence …. were it to happen in the Philippines Philippine Media would have been drooling over witness accounts …. affidavits and battle of counter-affidavits ….

    Puputi na lang ang uwak hindi pa matoto ang mga Pinoys ….

  • Mariano Renato Pacifico

    Korean bankrupt Hanjin Executive killed in Camp Crame run by PMAyers …
    Father-Mayor of drug lord killed inside the prison run by PMAyers …
    No resignation. Stood their ground. See, in the Philippines resignation is an admission of guilt so they do not resign!

    U.P. crooks in the government protected by U.P.-Dilliman Defense Lawyers …
    Gigi Reyes, bagman of PDAF U.P. Graduate
    Antonio Tiu purportedly dummy of U.P.-Graduate Binay protected by U.P.-Dilliman Defense Lawyers …
    Ferdinand Marcos, Sr. U.P-Dilliman bar topnotcher … Crook par excellance
    Name a crook in the government they are likely graduates from U.P. …
    Name a defense lawyers of U.P-crooks they are likely graduates from U.P.

    PMA to U.P. and all state-funded government schools produce crooks. There is something wrong and the Philippine Media and their pseudo-intellectual columnists in fake-tabloid-newspapers are mum. Silent. I can hear the pin drop in their total silence.

    Jose Rizal was likely a crook, too! It was soon found out that Spanish Colonists are extremely honest after all because when I became of age to read newspapers and understand their literary OP-Ed there never was shenanigans, bribery, theivery from the last remaining Spanish-colonist-turned-industrialists to this day even by a drop of gossips.

    But if it were brown-skin traditional looking nog-nog Filipino by a mere gossip it becomes a headline and these pseudo-intellectual U.P. columnists attack them like emanciated rabid hungry dogs.

    Something is wrong with Filipinos. Totally. Absolutely. If the Philippine Media cannot change … The Filipinos cannot change … because the change should begin at the self-styled self-professed “intellectuals” in the newspapers which is currently absent.

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