Ernesto Abella, Malacanang Press Conferenceshow in the faces of today’s Filipino leaders (link), in the actions of the police (link) and rich people on the street (link). This is the kind of Philippines I never liked, the one that often showed its face during Martial Law. Those with that attitude considered themselves STRONG back in the days, and all-knowing; as Edgar Lores mentioned in his posting about faces of some leaders: “The main attitude of know-it-alls is hostility. And their main facial expressions consist of smugness and sneering. This is the smugness of arrogance and the sneering of contempt. Panelo is the poster boy of these expressions. Andanar comes a close second. And the President does not come last in the ranking.” And as a Martial Law baby, I knew you better not cross a cop. Or a rich kid in a big car, might have a gun – be insecure and easily pissed off.

Joe America observed well what the country will become if this continues (link): “this government by impunity will continue to stack Filipinos by worth, from powerful to powerless, and the least of them will continue to be exterminated.” But at least Marcos defended Pag-Asa island – the airstrip there was built in his time. Duterte has conceded to China (link) and three Chinese ships shall visit Davao (link) today – which is the last day of the ASEAN summit in Manila. National dignity may be dying next.

That human dignity dies first is a given. The report about police keeping people in a dark passageway just 1 by 5 meters that I linked above mentions this: “When someone defecates, sometimes the officer outside would shout at us asking who had relieved himself.  ‘You’re like pigs! We can smell it outside, what more inside’”. As if conditions already widely reported in Philippine jails had not been bad enough already. So much for the “just and humane” society in the Preamble of the 1987 Constitution.

Preachers like Abella can continue to mouth words of that sort in public, or even say the Philippines is like Singapore nowadays. They are not fooling any smart people.

Lee Kuan Yew did call Filipinos soft and forgiving – for letting the Marcoses come back. He did not in any way suggest that the Filipinos bully people like they do now. What Singapore does represent is a classic Confucian order where the rules are higher than everybody else. Where a very strict rule of law exists with no exceptions. Banning firms from contracts if found to be giving bribes to public officials. Not a fourth-world place where people are kept for weeks in dark passages behind bookcases. Not a place where a rich person in an SUV goes out of his car to slap a poor tricycle driver, just like that – exemplary for the attitude of the entitled who feel they can punish whoever crosses them and their inflated, smug and contemptuous egos. Rules and institutions lead to sustainable progress. Rule by clout back to the jungle.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 29. April 2017