February 2018
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The Filipino dignity

Philippine Eagle in Davaothat Obama is insulting according to Duterte (link) is simply the latter’s sense of entitlement. Not the dignity of those killed and wrapped in cardboard on the street, not the dignity of Mayor Espinosa who was killed in jail (link) under strange circumstances after a long story of what looks like harassment and intimidation. Not the dignity of Senator Leila de Lima, who was subjected to public humiliation, and finally no sufficient evidence was found of any drug involvement – but before that the hearing on extrajudicial killings started by her was stopped without even hearing all potential witnesses.

It is the sense of entitlement many of the powerful in the Philippines have. Archimedes Trajano (link) did not live long after criticizing Imee Marcos. The newfound boldness in facing the USA is not because of real guts or backbone – it looks more like acting tough because of a feeling of having Chinese backing. Real valor is rare in Filipino leaders who tend to be turncoats and collaborators, going to where the advantage or the pork barrel is. The obsessive worship of heros in the Philippines, I think, is due to the fact that most Filipinos in power have rarely been heros at all. The Filipino is content with crumbs from them.

Marcos and his group got popular support by going against the oligarchy of then. A new oligarchy of cronies in the inner circle was created and some supporters got bread, some got crumbs and the rest got a sense of being on the side of power. A few members of the oligarchy were made examples of and had to leave – the Lopezes being the best-known – while the rest did not lose anything. The typical Filipino did not gain dignity. In fact slums grew during the Marcos period, the first malls were built, and labor export started – setting the country on a trajectory it never got off from until today, anything but dignified.

It takes just a look at James Deakin’s Facebook page to see the brash and pushy behavior of the newly affluent by the way they drive. It takes just a look at reports on the drug wars to see the extreme squalor in which the poor live. It is the Philippines of the Marcos era – a Philippines I personally experienced – only with its extremes magnified over decades. It is definitely not the Philippines of the 1920s or even 1950s, were there was it seems more dignity and decency in general.

The acceptance by so many Filipinos of just killing the poor they left in the dust out of pure luck is not a dignified or decent attitude to show. They insult themselves, more than anyone else can.

Irineo B. R. Salazar, München, 5. November 2016


2 comments to The Filipino dignity

  • Chocolate

    Duterte is the awakenning ! Hoy mga bobo Pinoy ! thanks good read…I like

  • – again from Vicente Rafael, an explanation of Duterte’s mindset vs. that of human rights advocates:

    Why does Duterte get angry at those who criticize him for human rights violations? Perhaps, it is because he feels that criticisms of his actions amount to violating his right as a sovereign to violate the right of some in order to protect the lives of others.

    Critics of Duterte assume that human rights are universal and trans-historical, protected by both the state and civil society.

    Duterte’s brutal response consists in saying, in effect, that I am in a state of war, not peace, and so I must fight. I must kill or be killed so that others might live. You who criticize me cannot see that my violence is pure. It is disinterested and sacrificial, meant to cleanse society with the blood of the guilty. So how dare you tell me in public that I am wrong. For I am right because I have the right to take away the lives of those who threaten to take our lives. By criticizing me, you seek only to take away my freedom to act, the very same freedom you claim for yourselves. Worse, you seek to humiliate me, and so do violence to my character and honor. I can only return the favor by cursing you, paying you back with my violent language and intent.

    It’s not hard to see how Duterte and his critics occupy two different worlds: for the latter, a post-1945 world of rights meant to constrain fascist and revolutinary excess; for the former, an older world of authoritarian nobility (some would say datu-ship) that draws on fascist discourse and revolutionary martyrdom to do away with any constraints. While his critics install human rights as a key foundation of governance, Duterte sees it as a hindrance and prefers instead the force of his personality articulated thru extra-judicial methods to define his regime.
    So long as Duterte remains wedded to the idea that social problems like drugs are matters of war, he will insist on his right to act on his own terms rather than on the basis of the human rights of those he acts upon. And so long as he’s able to sustain the narrative that society is in a state of emergency, and so long as people believe it, he’ll be able to use the State to impose his will and still retain his popularity. Things will change once people stop believing in this story. But it’s hard to say when or even if that will happen. Since dead bodies keep turning up every night, it does feel like you’re in a state of war. Unleashing the police, rival gangs and assorted hired killers, Duterte produces the very conditions of crisis he claims to be fighting.

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