February 2018
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Them or Us

Arch enemy patronaatseems to be the central idea of many pro-Duterte people. Senator De Lima is in jail, Trillanes is “next” and trolls are trying to make Vice-President Robredo’s late husband look corrupt or worse. Strange that there was never any indication whatsover of anything while he was alive, or during his widow’s campaigns for Congress and Vice-Presidency, given the viciousness of Filipino politics.  Even those who were critical of many of Aquino’s policies praise Jesse Robredo (link) – and Tony La Viña is known as having been critical of the Arroyo and Corona cases and Mamasapano/Purisima.

Journalist Inday Espina-Varona has this to say about Filipino hyperpartisanship (link): And there’s the major cause of this country’s problems. We rail against injustice. We condemn short-cuts. We fulminate against abuse of power. And then we turn around and do the same things all over again. It’s very tribal – and that’s an insult to tribes. It reduces our democracy to a battle among playground bullies. Kill all those who won’t come to our side. We insist on slapstick and simplistic solutions. It’s a never ending settling of IOUs and payback against others.

In that article, she described how now Secretary of Justice Aguirre covered his ears when Senator Miriam Santiago berated him. And in a recent comment on Facebook, she reminds some people (link): Remember how you made Vitaliano Aguirre into a “hero”? The Corona impeachment trial showed the fault lines of our so-called political democracy …  And yet another article shows the dangers of hyperpartisanship (link): Thoughtlessness makes group membership more important than ideas.. If the source is my group, it is wise and good. If the source is the enemy, then it is evil. 

Santiago of course had the behavior of a strict principal – but also very firm principles. This could have been one reason why she was considered “crazy” in the Philippine setting. Many Filipinos are like kids – they behave when the principal is around, and revert to their real selves when she isn’t. Then all that counts is one’s barkada. Or by extension, one’s KKK, ka-whatever the context is. So it becomes like fraternity rumbles – one brod complains, the others come out to defend regardless of the cause. And possibly, there is someone delivered to UP Infirmary at night, with ice pick wounds.

Of course President Duterte does not like the testimonies of people like Lascañas and Matobato – but they should be faced and dealt with, especially by one who has boasted about killing in the past. There are no more strict American principals around to admonish anyone! If you want a code of killing as the new Constitution that reflects “true Filipino values”, just have the balls to do it! Will it be like the (fake) code of Kalantiaw (link) which says when to feed to crocodiles or to ants, or punishes those who go against chiefs? I would not be surprised at that, just a little bit sad for everyone.

Irineo B. R. Salazar

München, 5 March 2017

2 comments to Them or Us


    By: Gideon Lasco – @inquirerdotnet
    Philippine Daily Inquirer / 12:24 AM May 18, 2017

    When we were in grade school, my classmates and I were largely divided between Ginebra and Alaska, the rival PBA teams of the 1990s.

    I was a big Ginebra fan. On Sundays when my family would visit our grandparents in San Pablo, Laguna, I would watch games with my Lolo Basilio, who rooted for the same team. The next day, I would excitedly discuss the game’s results with my classmates—and if Ginebra won, we would gloat at our pro-Alaska classmates. Although the ensuing argument would sometimes escalate to verbal and physical scuffles, it generated mostly laughter as we tried to outinsult each other’s favorite players and coaches—our favorite target being Tim Cone (who, ironically, is now Ginebra’s coach).

    It was the height of Robert Jaworski’s coaching career, and the Ginebra lineup was led by the likes of Marlou Aquino and EJ Feihl (the “Twin Towers”), Noli Locsin (“The Tank”) and Bal David (“The Flash”). Providing comic relief was Dodot Jaworski, and The Big J himself (he was a playing coach, after all). When the outcome was certain, they would bring in Dodot, and his moves—whether good or bad—were gleefully received.

    One of the high points of my Grade 5 days was being brought by my dad to Araneta Coliseum to watch a PBA game. In that memorable game where Ginebra won, I joined the crowd in cheering for Gordon’s Gin (as the team was then known) with the unbridled excitement of a 10-year-old.

    The referees were a big part of the narrative; there were times when we felt they were being unfair. But they would also make decisions that were favorable to Ginebra’s “never say die” tactics, to which we were happy to turn a blind eye. No matter the outcome, no matter what Jaworski and his boys did, we stuck with them. Win or lose, Ginebra pa rin!

    My devotion to Ginebra faded with the disappearance of that legendary team: Jaworski eventually ran for the Senate (where he didn’t have as much impact); Vince Hizon was pirated by the MBA, that fleeting rival to the PBA; the others eventually retired. But the idea of a “Barangay Ginebra” lives on, and Gary Granada’s anthem continues to resonate with many Filipinos:

    Kahit hindi relihiyoso
    Naaalala ko ang mga santo
    O San Miguel, Santa Lucia
    Sana manalo ang Ginebra!

    My memories of being a Ginebra fan resurface today as I try to make sense of the fanatic nature of our political engagement. Much as we rallied behind the charisma of one Robert Jaworski, no matter what, many people today are rallying behind political figures with as much passion and zeal.

    Much as we insulted other teams with glee in the past, there is also the tendency today for political rivals and their partisans to resort to vilification and name-calling. At some point the attacks turn foul.

    To some extent, a certain amount of fanaticism is to be expected: It is a well-documented phenomenon in psychology and the social sciences. Belonging to a team provides a sense of identity—one that empowers people to behave in ways they wouldn’t as individuals. When their team wins, they bask in “reflected glory,” but loyalty is not always tied to victory. Significantly, sports fans are known to exhibit a lot of cognitive bias—the tendency to rationalize defeats by blaming it on others, not on their own teams’ mistakes, while taking full credit for any form of triumph.

    The same goes for politics: Just as it is natural for us to idolize sports stars, it is also natural for us to idealize politicians as heroes or saviors, to defend their every move, and to turn a blind eye to their faults.

    Even so, I hope a sense of sportsmanship would prevail in our politics, which, like sports, can only work if we all respect the rules of the game. Indeed, just as a true basketball fan’s loyalty should be to basketball itself, and not to any player or team, a Filipino’s loyalty should be foremost to the country and our rules of law, not to its political players.

    But who, you may ask, will blow the whistle, call the fouls, and implement the rules? Aside from well-behaved teams and fans, our political system badly needs one other thing: unbiased referees.
    Comments to


    First, our President doesn’t seem to want to go beyond a perception of the EU as merely an institution made up of meddling, pen-pushing, colonial-minded bureaucrats. The depiction might be politically expedient and get a few laughs, but it is utterly ignorant and foolish to think of the EU—which as a bloc has the power to shape globalization—in those terms. Composed of 28 member states, the EU, as former US President Barack Obama once described it, is “home to more than 500 million people speaking 24 languages in 28 countries, 19 with a common currency” and remains “one of the greatest political achievements.” Duterte should understand some basic facts about the EU: that it accounts for 7 percent of the world’s population, 23 percent of global GDP, 50 percent of global public spending, and strives to act as a bulwark against political extremism.

    Second, Duterte doesn’t seem to have given a thought to the hundreds of thousands of Filipino overseas workers and immigrants who have made their home in the EU, have married Europeans and are raising families with them, and regularly remit billions of dollars to the Philippines. In Italy, there are between 100,000 to 200,000 Filipinos, in France almost 100,000, including undocumented estimates, and about 300,000 in the UK. Europe is in fact the second largest source of remittances to the country. Bluntly put, it is money from Europe keeping so many communities—the populations of towns and villages—at home alive.

    Third, the EU spends 111 million euros ($118 million) on supporting health programs in the Philippines that have included sexual and reproductive health care for indigenous people in Mindanao, dental care for tens of thousands of school-aged children, and technical assistance in setting up voluntary drug rehabilitation services and outpatient clinics. Regarding the latter, Franz Jessen, EU Ambassador to the Philippines painstakingly explained: “The outpatient clinics are specialty treatment services, scheduled to be located in hospital compounds or close to health care facilities. The recovery homes are small residential facilities providing care to about 25 to maximum 50 people, who need more intensive care in addition to the treatment provided through outpatient clinics.” Duterte has rubbished this explanation and instead outlandishly claims that the clinics will dispense shabu and cocaine to anyone that asks.

    Fourth, the EU has pumped 35 million euros ($37.3 million) worth of investments in the Philippines. It is also an important trading partner that permits duty-free or reduced-tariff export of thousands of selected Philippine products to the EU market, privileges which annually earn the country hundreds of millions of euros. So, when the EU thinks that the Philippines is no longer complying with international agreements, especially those concerning the rule of law, civil liberties, and good governance, and considering withholding trade privileges and incentives, Duterte would do well to take serious notice.

    Fifth, Duterte’s use of fetid language is impulsive, crude, abrasive, offensive, and downright hateful and nasty. His references to history are distorted at best, and he has an alarming disregard for the facts and truth. His propensity to fall back on invective and insult is serving as a distraction from, if not an evasion of, any real discussion of the government’s foreign and domestic policies.

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