May 2018
« Apr    

The Big Picture

Manila bay sunsetstill evades me after 1 1/2 years of observing the Philippines and writing about it. True, more and more is coming out. Good, bad and ugly. True, false and in between. Everybody believes what they want to believe. There is the recent testimony of alleged former assassin Matobato in the Senate. There is the House probe on drugs in Bilibid starting soon. There are Presidential drug matrixes. There are reports by media in varying degrees of comprehensiveness and reliability. Different perspectives. Different principles of what is right and wrong. Let us see what is happening:

  • over 3000 people have died in the Philippines since July 1st, according to most reports. Some killed by police in attempted arrest or buy-bust operations, some by vigilantes.
  • a lot of alleged drug users and pushers have surrendered. There are reports, however, of people being placed in so-called drug lists by barangay captains. Or former users being “tagged”.
  • numerous local officials, judges and policemen have been “tagged” as involved in the drug trade. Some like Mayor Espinosa of of Albuera, Leyte, were subjected to “catch and release”.
  • there seems to be no real rehab concept for surrendered drug users. I have read of some being made to go to zumba classes every two weeks. Some were shot on the street I have read.
  • there is a lot of smoke pointing to very real fires of professional assasins and goons all over the islands, drug gangs even in prisons. Motorcycle riding killers I already read about 9 years ago.

There are of course good stories as well. The DENR, DSWD and DepEd seem to be doing good work in the present administration. A BRT system has been approved for EDSA – something I like (link). Now even the Marcos regime had its good sides and honest workers like Prime Minister Virata and Metro Manila Commissioner Mel Mathay. It is never black and white, always colorful. There were certainly a number of mistakes of the previous administration that led to people getting angry at it. But even that big picture evades me until now, so I concentrate on the present.

  • who are the truly honest people who want the good of the country – meaning the people – in all of this noise? Women like Judy Taguiwalo, Gina Lopez, Leni Robredo come to mind first.
  • who just want to control the country and its resources, both human and natural? Who is just playing the old zero-sum game of Power and Money, the old Filipino Game of Thrones?
  • where is all of this supposed to go? Is there any vision whatsoever of how the Philippines is supposed to look like 30 years from now? Or is it all about special effects like in a movie?

Thirty years ago people thought ousting a dictator would be enough. I still remember the euphoria. But Filipinos tend to muddle through and see only the present for the most part. See only their part of the city or country and maybe not even the squatters just outside their own subdivision. Who is patient enough to help find the big picture? Where things are really at today?

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 17. Sept. 2016

5 comments to The Big Picture

  • Mariano Renato Pacifico

    Here are the small pictures:
    1. The honest people in the Philippines is not Gina Lopez and Taguiwalo. They are the former left-behind last-remaining colonists-turned-industrialists whose ancestors were vilified by Jose Rizal in his epic El Feli and Noli Mi when in fact they are extremely honest hard-working people to colonize the minds of corrupt Filipinos to be honest.

    To this day, NOT ONE BRAVE COURAGEOUS PHILIPPINE COLUMNISTS ever shamed and vilified the mestizo class name and person by mere gossips. The Philippine columnists only attack their own brown skin people by a drop of unsubstantiated uncorroborated malicious suggestive innuendoes and gossips.

    If they are brown skin, brown skin Filipino columnists will attack their own like rabid dogs.
    2. Drug addicts are immediately dispatched by Duterte. While Ayala-Alabang dwellers are warned of the effects of drugs.
    3. Filipino columnists can analyze the noise between Duterte & Delima’s squabbles but cannot analyze the cause of he-said-she-said noise: ABSENCE OF EVIDENCE ALL BASED ON DAL-DAL AND PANGDAMAY of witness accounts and the battle of affidavits & counter-affidavits
    4. Filipino columnists see small picture not the bigger picture
    5. Filipino columnists cannot understand why America’s Natonal Public Radio incessantly covers Wells Fargo over fraudulently opening accounts and firing 5,000 employees over it while they are extremely silent over the firing of deGuito and fining of RCBC of 1 billions pesos. No analysis. No attacks. Nada! Silence.

    Filipino columnists and journalists are still biased, practice self-censorship and proactively protect the mestizo last remaining colonists.

    • I saw a recent posting by New York based Filipina author Ninotchka Rosca about the very rich in the Philippines.

      Three are Malay, two are from Spanish colonial times, the rest are all of Chinese origin and got rich after World War 2.

  • rosario

    In some provinces DDS are called private armed armies under to whoever was running the govt in that province.
    During elections they are part of the gold, guns and goons scenario.

    30 years past after ML and still the people has not learn. Deep Sigh.

    • I think that is part of the reasons why people who want a future flock to the big cities. At least it is not just Manila and outskirts anymore – even if these outskirts now go several provinces North and South of the City, one sheer mass of urban sprawl. There is Cebu, Iloilo, Metro Naga, Davao and Cagayan de Oro from what I gather…


    1. A death squad is able to operate without being caught nor reprimanded by the police with its goals aligned with that of the government’s (e.g. summary execution of criminals).

    2. There are death squad members who are police officers, but the other members are civilians who usually come from civilian auxiliary units/militias and rebel returnees. In a study conducted by the Ateneo School of Government (ASOG) on election-related violence in 2009, we already noted that private armed groups get their recruits from these civilian auxiliary units/militias and former rebels, hence the need to study the relevance of government programs targeting these players.

    3. Death squad members can be financed through public funds by becoming ghost employees of the government.. This shows the link of violence and corruption, with one feeding into the other.

    4. In the case of DDS, according to Matobato, there were more people who got abducted and salvaged than those who got killed/assassinated.

    5. The police in Davao never successfully investigated/prosecuted any of the killings despite reaching thousands in numbers.

    6. Death squad members are doing multiple jobs for their bosses, including as household helpers, couriers, bodyguards, etc. Whenever they have no killing assignment, they do other things. They are all-around. This is consistent with our election-related violence study in Abra in 2009. In our study, we noted that the situation of private armed groups can be traced to lack of employment opportunities especially in conflict areas.

    7. Those involved couldn’t get out anymore because they will be hunted down by their own comrades.

    Accountability processes like the Senate hearing on extrajudicial killings can help us get to long-term systemic solutions. While politics is part of it, we will not be able to move forward if we focus only on the politics, while leaving behind the substantive policy-making part of the process.

    Joy Aceron is Director of Government Watch (G-Watch) and Political Democracy and Reforms (PODER), programs that aim to strengthen democracy in the country.

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>