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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Atio Castillo died

Christian crosson Sept. 17, 2017, probably because of hazing. The details make me angry in their sheer perversion (link) and as Justice Secretary Aguirre himself does not want the details of the affidavit upon which the article is based made public, I am reprinting it as a comment after this article. Why so bad? It isn’t just the sheer physical brutality, it is the degradation of the person that shocks me. Not that he had to run errands for his brods – this is something also known, for example, from biker clubs. There is a final point where I would have said no, creatures like you can never be my brothers:

A glass is passed around. Atio sees masters spit inside the glass. What he doesn’t know is there is a second glass containing egg white. Atio is then blindfolded and is told to drink the content of the glass, which he thinks is full with saliva but in fact only contains albumen. The light is turned off. Masters tell Atio to remove his clothes. As Atio becomes naked, the light is turned on, then turned off, and on again.

This sounds almost as humiliating as something a self-confessed pimp in a shocking Austrian autobiography admitted he did to a woman he was making part of his “stable”. Also a kind of evil initiation. A little later, Atio allegedly passes out after being hit a number of times between posterior and knees with a so-called wooden “paddle”. But what if it was different? What if he, wanting to remain at least a bit of man, said stop and they reacted? This is what they allegedly did before the final stage:

Atio goes around, as if begging with his hands held together. The masters then beat Atio’s fingers using a wooden spatula while he is being indoctrinated by his lords. The masters then tell Atio to again do stretching and pumping exercises. They order Atio to “hold your balls” before he goes to the next stage of the final initiation.

“His lords”. “Masters”. This has shades of a sadomasochistic ritual. Undertaken by future lawyers of the Philippines, no less. One wonders what really happened. Because there are those in the Philippines for whom the slightest protest, even lack of subservience is disrespect. Remember Kian delos Santos, whose last words were “leave me alone, I have exams tomorrow”? Men who are used to playing God might see the slightest resistance as “arrogance”. The Filipino was made to be either timid or domineering based on position. But true character like that of Trillanes also exists.

Obviously PMA does create a number of individuals of character. If at all, this is what initiations are for. Teaching young men how to face adversity, how to face the world, strengthen them. Not to make subservience and thuggery, twin banes of the Philippines, values in themselves. German fraternity rituals of fencing in order to scar faces (Mensur) at least had man-to-man combat. Or going back to the Philippine past, the first batok or tattoo usually meant risking your own head in real combat. There is a world of difference between teaching warriors – and teaching torturers.

There is a certain sort of loathsome bully common in the Philippines today, used to abusing power. Probably hardly able to truly hold his own in a real fight, or lead a group to victory in battle. Probably not even a good leader in an office setting – just used to making others do the hard work, like the servants to the dirty work at home. Would Filipino tokhang police stand a chance against truly well-armed drug dealers like some in Rio de Janeiro? Or even just armed ones? I doubt it. What are the Aegis Juris hazers? Deranged boys from Lord of the Flies, I think. Not real men.

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

 

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Wadapak is happening

Martin Andanarone might ask, hearing recent news about Panelo. Not much in the EU, if one is to believe Andanar. Oversexed and underpacked EU officials have not yet asked me when Andanar will conduct a goodwill tour of Europe, with USec Lorraine Badoy and Asec Margaux Uson in tow, as baggage. Might become the most joyous moment in the life of “whites” since Magellan’s men landed in Leyte. Maybe even more joyous than when they arrived in Cebu! Or is more to be learned from the Filipino nation? Learn to procreate again, dear Europeans, and don’t care that much about every single human life?

Most European populations have remained practically static while the Philippine population has increased around fivefold since the 1950s. Filipinos are definitely overpacked now, like sardines. Whether they are overfucked is another question, considering how HIV is rising (link) it could just be carelessness, and the drug war may even worsen it (link). Mayhem and disease like in Africa? Sodom and Gomorrha, while those who live morally upright like Senator Sotto will survive it all? Unfortunately, Senator Pacquiao will have no more excuses if he comes home to his wife infected.

There used to be a repressive aspect to Filipino elite culture, even if the days when one had to pretend to disapprove of premarital sex are practically gone – certain things are untenable in the modern days of the Internet. Well, even during the days of Marcos sexual content served its purpose in keeping the masses distracted. No matter what USec Lorraine Badoy may say about the European Union, a teen/minor like Pepsi Paloma (link) never could play a bold role here legally. The sultry Isabelle Adjani was 28 when she played a vengeful temptress in One Deadly Summer.

That was 1983, the year I turned 18, and today I am surprised I didn’t notice Adjani’s “age” at all. Germany. Nude pictures, bolder than those of Mocha Uson today, in every tabloid. Coin-operated vending machines for condoms in men’s bathrooms. Strong education campaigns when AIDS first came into the scene. I start working in McDonald’s to earn money for my driver’s license. A year later, in 1984, some young people are amused when the Green member of parliament Joseph “Joschka” Fischer calls Bundestag Vice-President Richard Stücklen an asshole – on national TV.

Fischer was known as the first to come into the German parliament in sports shoes in a time when everybody else came in suits. The Green party had its roots in the “1968ers”, hippie-era rebels against the rests of Nazism, stuffy conservatism and the Vietnam war (plus the USA). Fourteen years later, Fischer became Foreign Minister in a coalition with Chancellor Schröder. He was well-liked in Washington, against all odds. Rebels have to grow up, at the latest, the moment they assume power and responsibility. True rebels do, as they have a mission. Mere trapos don’t.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 28 October 2017

 

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European Union assistance

Global European Unioncan have conditions – with audit, policy or business reasons. Much comes from public debate over here. Audit has to do with not wanting EU money to disappear without helping anyone except a few third-world politicians. I am pretty confident that modern audit practices in the EU keep things from happening like what some pro-Duterte trolls insinuated during the election: that EU money for Yolanda help went to Mar Roxas and the Liberal Party. If the Philippines were an important counterpart of the EU like Russia or Turkey, such allegations would have had serious diplomatic repercussions.

Policy reasons such as human rights are very important. There was a major change in thinking towards more progressive ideas in the late 1960s and early 1970s within the Western world. This was noticed even by President Marcos when the USA was under President Jimmy Carter. Bavarian Prime Minister Franz-Josef Strauss got criticized in the German Parliament for giving his friend Marcos a pistol. “We shouldn’t help dictators” said many socially conscious groups in the West. There is a bit of a backlash now with Trump, but the EU will still hopefully remain different.

Business reasons nonetheless still co-exist with policy reasons. One might call the EU hypocritical, but in a pluralistic society, multiple interests shape policy. So some development aid does indeed promote products and services from the donor country. If it is given, no problem, but spare parts can become a cost factor. Imagine getting an inkjet printer free, the kind that needs expensive ink. Expect that aside from the socially conscious groups in EU countries, there are the business groups that will argue: “we shouldn’t be just giving them money, we should earn something out of it also”.

There are NO dictates against sovereignty in any of these deals, as nobody is forced to enter into them. The EU likes to work with different kinds of treaties – starting with its internal treaties which indeed force the member states to give up some sovereignty in order to be part of a stronger whole. The Euro and the Schengen agreement are important aspects of the EU which not all member countries have joined. There are non-EU countries which have some degree of association with the EU: Switzerland, Norway and Turkey for example. Finally, most EU countries are NATO members.

GSP+ privileges for fruits and other imports of the Philippines was a measure to help, the strings attached merely adherence to human rights – freely agreed upon by the Philippines in 2014. No one will care too much if these privileges are cut in January 2018, except the Philippines. Some fruit companies in warmer parts of the EU, including Caribbean provinces of France, might rejoice. Most of what the EU public has seen so far is headlines about Duterte threatening the European Union. Does he really expect anyone to be scared? Annoyed maybe. Possibly into choosing other options.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 21 October 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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Mindfulness, not Perfection

Ananas~May 2008-1is what one should aim for. Negligence can land you on the DOLE in most developed countries. Not the Department of Labor and Employment, not the pineapple firm, and I know it should be written in small letters but this mistake was intentional. Negligence is behind errors like the recent one by PNA, showing a Dole logo on a news item about DOLE, or “Stop SHAIMING Duterte” placards. Mindfulness is behind the high quality of Japanese artisanship and manufacturing. Quality assurance measures how many errors are made – zero errors as we know are impossible.

The Filipino excuse is usually “we are human”.  Of course. But the moment we start neglecting matters is a slippery slope. Human beings are by nature lazy. In the Stone Age, it may have helped us survive by saving energy. Nowadays it can lead to us becoming the pigs others eat for dinner. On Twitter, Joe America reminds us (link): “Be smart. Remember to exercise your mind as well as body. Get out of the 140 character attention span by reading longer articles regularly.”  Which reminds me of the last time I read an entire book end to end. I am feeling very ashaimed of myself.

Doesn’t make sense to think of oneself as useless every time one makes a mistake. There is a Spanish journalist in one of Rizal’s two novels who says that the best way to keep the natives in place is to tell them every day how useless they are. Now, Filipinos like to do that to each other.

Strive for self-improvement, help others succeed. That should be the way. Not people who want to discipline others yet do not even have enough mindfulness to avoid pineappling their publications. Who mess up catching major shabu shipments while killing small dealers. Or was that no mistake?

Covering up in order to look perfect, or lowering one’s standards so that it “no longer matters” will not bring anything up to speed either. The true and absolute judge of things shall be competition. For international trade and tourism, for example. The world doesn’t kill you. It just overtakes you.

Irineo B. R. Salazar
München, 12. August 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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