On Filipino factionalism

Confused FelipeThe extreme factionalism of the Philippines never ceases to wonder me. It is the worst among the pro-Marcos people, a lot among pro-Duterte people and a little bit among pro-Aquino people. The French also had their issues for a long time between traditionalists or royalists, revolutionaries and Bonapartists. The scars of the country took long to heal. The Spanish had a long history of conflict between the Carlistas and the progressives which started with the massive confiscation of Church lands in a country most Catholic – Franco was the last Carlista reincarnation.

The Spanish only voted non-trapo parties into power last year. Real political parties by the people, with the people and for the people. The Spanish do not know the Filipino meaning of trapo – traditional politician, they only know trapo as a rag. Filipinos I very often wonder how they can be too supportive of politicians that represent any dynasty whatsoever – whether Duterte, Roxas or Marcos. Santiago is non-dynastic but she decided to support Bongbong. Poe is a showbiz politician with insufficient competence, even if she is several notches above Alma Moreno and Pacquiao.

I have written about the many defects of Filipino politics. Señeres was a viable option for me, in second place to Roxas inspite of his simplistic ideas, because of his non-dynastic background and his sincerity – but he is dead now after having withdrawn his candidacy. Trillanes is a bit of a modern politician in that he goes for what is right, no matter on which side the person is. His leaving the Senate majority group because of Enrile was a sign. Bam Aquino is also a modern politician in that he sees, most among all the Liberal Party people, the need to give opportunities to people. What do both have in common? They are younger. Seems that there is a cultural change slowly taking place. There is of course the opposite of this, which I see in Chiz Escudero, a potential Enrile in the making in his deviousness. Roxas also has one major plus for me in his pushing for the pardon of Erap, and his working for the country even if he may not have liked those above him – but he did show principle by going against Arroyo when things got to be too much for him. These are all just impressions. But going by principles and even by passion is better than factionalism.

Because in the end the goal of leaders should be to do what they think is right for the country – not what they think is right for a particular group. It isn’t right to think one’s own group is holy and above all others. It was what irked me to no end with hardcore KBL supporters during Marcos times. It annoyed me among many Cory supporters when I witnessed the February revolution. It annoys me among many Duterte supporters – in fact in combination with disregard for due process, it can become truly dangerous. Robredo and Poe supporters are the least factional of all.

Does it always have to be like in the olden days, when supporters and allies of one datu fought against those of the other? I don’t know. Maybe I have been away too long to understand certain things. Anyway, I think that there are three things lacking among many hardcore supporter types. An idea of what conscience is about, and an idea of what true forgiveness means – Christian values. Forgiveness does not mean not punishing wrongdoing – something Cory missed out on, unfortunately. Forgiveness can be letting go when someone has been punished enough – like with Estrada. My impression is that among some Filipinos, both Christianity and democracy are only skin-deep. Too many Filipinos just say “yes sir” to teachers, to priests and probably many just said “yes sir” to the Spanish priests, to the Americans who wanted to teach democracy, and continued their old ways with a new paint coating on top. Third is real principles of any sort – is it just about winning in the end, because that was what is was about among the tribes and datus before? Because I see very little consistency of principles, there is a lot of selectivity in their application. True, President Aquino has shown many principles but often selectivity, his supporters sometimes even more. How much is just simply a nice paint coating on top of the old tribal culture? I know this is not really nice to the Philippines and Filipinos. Is everything just like rido (vindictive feuds) in Bangsamoro, just disguised as politics and morals? I am asking, because I am really confused now.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 16. February 2016

9 thoughts on “On Filipino factionalism

  1. From different tribes across the nation
    From magdalo magdiwang factionalsm.
    MNLF-MILF-BIFF
    Fraternity splinters
    clan feuds
    family feuds
    ridos
    gangs
    politics

    We are diverse,we are fragmented,we are divided.

    What brings us together?

    EDSA,natural disasters like storms,earthquakes,Visit of the Pope.

  2. But exactly that aspect of power that you mentioned is the reason why many who truly think prefer not to stay in the country if they find a way to live with it… and that will keep the country down unless the fundamental aspects change… but then again the nation or those who have the power will not have wanted it otherwise and will have to live with Sotto etc.

    https://archive.org/stream/philippinescentu00riza/philippinescentu00riza_djvu.txt – The Philippines, a century hence by Rizal is very fitting when it comes to this.

  3. It is tribes on steroids, perhaps, with power the currency that trumps money. The power to keep someone in jail is the offset to the power to steal in a nation where laws were written by the thieves. One does not have to be an engineer or a poet to hold power, one needs to be an illusionist. An actor. A magician. So deep thinking is not needed. The people are the audience, not really the players.

    • The next article “The accidental nation” is somewhat my “Aha”-moment where I was able to put quite clearly where the misalignment lies.

      Tribes brought together by accident, an elite that started as simply power-based, then you had Christianity, justice and democracy coming in.

      But those who had the power and assimilated the three often just applied their principles to each other – or selectively used “principles” as weapons.

      Now how do you explain stuff to simple people who don’t really see the reality of those good principles applied, NEVER knew their real meaning at all?

      My proposal to straighten things out long-term has three aspects – some are already being addressed – because this misalignment will keep producing new crooks.

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