How can we find unity if we are not disciplined ‘all the way’?

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Impunity (taking) or discipline (giving). It’s a choice. [Photo credit:]

I want to come back to a subject I wrote about before because I think we are seeing a general failure to communicate between the Administration Elect and a lot of Filipinos who hold specific values about how to treat one another. Their values seem to conflict with those of the new order.

The now disenfranchised class are represented by those who speak for a modern Philippines that respects freedom, fairness and human rights. Meanwhile, the incoming new order seems to value brash, loud, and threatening behavior . . . and my way or the highway.

The old order, call them “the polite”, may not be a dominant part of the Philippine population, but they are also not an “intellectual elite” as some complainants might put it. They are generally well educated, many have traveled, and they are attuned to the ways that good values work to build a healthy and harmonious community. Yes, they lost the election, being largely for Roxas, Poe or Santiago . . . but that does not make them non-Filipino.

The polite people want discipline, too, I am sure. Discipline is not a term reserved strictly for Duterte supporters. It is not strictly the purview of the “punishers”.

So what aspects of discipline are we talking about? I asked the question of Senator Cayetano, and he did not answer (1).

Discipline in a nationalistic sense means having the awareness, strength and courage to hold to an idea of what the Philippines should stand for. Here’s how I defined discipline in a prior article (2):

“What is discipline? It is one part knowledge, knowing what to do and why, and one part will power. Will power is the determination to do what is right, what is good, what others do not always do.”

Applying that definition in a nationalistic sense, I think the Philippine OUGHT to stand for:

  1. Fair dealing, no matter a person’s wealth, power, race, skin tone, language, island, gender, height, weight, sexual preference (as long as it is consensual), religion, health, physical condition, age or education.
  2. Generous individual freedoms, as long as responsibility and sacrifice of individual freedoms occur when that is important to the well-being of others.
  3. Continuing the famous Filipino “style”. Family loyalty and friendliness toward newcomers. Conservative dress and manner in public. Politeness in dealing with others. Enjoying good times, even among the bad.
  4. Generous opportunities for education, self-improvement and realization of personal aspirations.
  5. Fighting and killing as a last resort, not first. Honorable talk with opponents, punishments for lawbreakers, and a chance for redemption for those who accept accountability for their misdeeds.
  6. Decisions based on facts and judgments of risks/rewards rather than superstitions or rumors or fears. Or decisions forced by lies, deceits, intimidation, thuggery or extortion. Good journalism is a part of this.
  7. The determination to promote good behavior in young people. Teaching them to be thoughtful, respectful, honorable, and courageous.

Going by what is reported in the news media, it seems to me that “killing” is way too easily attached to discipline. The discipline that most people are thinking about is the harsh will to punish those who are into stealing and dealing drugs. Yet this is just one small part of points number 2 and 5. Point 2 talks about the responsibility attached to freedoms so that they do not harm others, and Point 5 is the punishment part.

What about the rest of what the Philippines should stand for, or should be disciplined enough to provide?

Is the incoming Duterte Administration going to subscribe to the full, richer meaning of “discipline” as I have outlined it, or are they going to lack the discipline to be disciplined, full force? That is, are they going to be picky and choosy about it, or hypocritical, or autocratic without regard for the well being of the whole of the nation?

If you believe the seven points of national character that I have outlined are important for the well-being of the Philippines, discipline would be taking on the job of advocating for them  . . . and living them . . . all of them. Every day. Consistently.

(If you don’t believe these are appropriate criteria, you can say so in the comment section. Kindly explain what building a nation means to you. And how you define discipline, in support of that goal.)

Here are some examples of what I believe to be lack of discipline by the incoming Duterte Administration:

  • Announcing aspects of foreign policy (wild accusations of having ‘lost’ Scarborough, and ‘treason’) before being briefed on the current situation by the DFA. This risks aiding and abetting a thief (China), and is inconsistent with a domestic policy that opposes crime. It is also divisive because a lot of people appreciate the work done by those tagged as “treasonous”.
  • Offending the principles and leaders of the main religion of the Philippines, the Catholic Church. This is divisive, and also inconsistent with the campaign call for “unity”.
  • Calling Manila a “dead” city, being further divisive and mis-characterizing a vibrant, historical hub of commerce and opportunity for millions. If the point is to build other cities, just build them. That’s all good.
  • President Elect Duterte, in finalizing his cabinet, says that he wants to make his six years as President a “reconciliatory reign.” On the same day, he calls the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission an “idiot”. And on the same day, he asks people not to believe his preposterous statements, as if he has no obligation to help them understand what he really means.

There are others, but I don’t wish this to be a divisive exercise of beating up on the new-coming leadership. The lesson point is clear.

It takes outstanding character . . . and discipline . . . to be disciplined all the way.

Should not the new leadership be held to account for the entire sense of the definition of “discipline”? That is, wouldn’t the nation be better off if leaders would stop the divisive and provocative pronouncements and embrace both supporters and “opponents”? Opponents may . . . after all . . . be earnest people with good ideas, too. Filipinos, all.

I rather suspect the greatest challenge for the new leadership will be to lead the ENTIRE nation in a respectful and unifying manner, even those who did not vote for President Elect Duterte, and even those who seem to be idiots on any given day. After all, they may be heroes tomorrow, or simply lead to helpful ideas by offering an opposing view.

Discipline means building a diverse, multi-dimensional, respectful Philippines. Not using insults, intimidation and deceits – or force – to badger and silence people who have good intentions and who are free, under the laws, to live by, and advocate for, their beliefs and values.

Being gracious or diplomatic requires discipline. Listening requires discipline. Being kind and respectful requires discipline.

Being a diverse, free, democratic nation living in harmony requires discipline.

All the way.


If you wish to explore this subject of ‘discipline’ in greater depth, and in different applications, here are a few prior articles I’ve written about the subject:

  1. Dear Senator Alan Cayetano: “Would you please explain the term ‘discipline’ as used by the Duterte/Cayetano campaign?” (2015)
  2. When military is undisciplined, failure follows (2015)
  3. Habits, discipline, passion (2012)
  4. Knowledge, skills, discipline, socialization (2011)


137 Responses to “How can we find unity if we are not disciplined ‘all the way’?”
  1. Lee Kuan Yew had the self-discipline needed to be a benevolent authoritarian – especially the self-discipline to use his power wisely. So did Atatürk – Erdogan does not have his restraint. Quezon had enormous powers but used them to lay the foundations of the Republic…

    • Joe America says:

      There is something very efficient about authoritarian rule. It builds fast or it goes to hell fast.

    • uht says:

      Authoritarian rule would probably be practical if the competent leaders needed to rule it well didn’t come once in a blue moon.

    • methersgate says:

      Two excellent modern examples of the civic virtue that the ancient Romans ascribed to Cinncinnatus and the Chinese ascribe to Qu Yuan.

    • Enrique Sanchez says:

      Authoritarian rule works wonderfully when wielded by an angel. When entrusted to a mere human, the havoc wreaked is proportionate to the purity of the authority.

      • Correct – Atatürk and Lee Kuan Yew both came from cultures of integrity, Ottoman military culture and Confucian Chinese immigrant culture respectively.

        Both had their people from those cultures supporting them – Atatürk in addition had the support of the Ottoman civil service which also has an old tradition of at least being disciplined, inspite of some Byzantine legacies.

  2. What is happening is so unfortunate. The new administration has not even sworn in but they have managed to create a lot of divisiveness among the population. Yes, all the facets of discipline you mentioned should be our guiding principles, but unfortunately the new “discipline” as per the actions and statements of our President- elect are so different. Every time he speaks we discover new things: strong relationships with the Marcoses, a parochial way of thinking, his need to pay political debts. We are in for a long haul of surprises! God help our nation!

    • Joe America says:

      He does make it hard for those of us who preferred another candidate, but also want to support him as President. His shock and awe is too much shock. I see his spokesman has explained that his catcalling the female news reporter was a “compliment” to her. These are values straight out of the 1950’s.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    We are far from having the discipline of the Singaporeans or the Japanese.
    Do we just make the most out of this,do we just listen to how each spokesperson interpret his actions and insult all our intelligence and tell us all to do the twist???
    Go on with chacha so that we could have the hope that there would be a vote of no confidence in a parliamentary form of government.
    We get what we deserve.

    • Joe America says:

      It is true, the rationalizations of bad behavior from Cayetano, Pimentel and Panalo do play us for fools. It’s like all the trollish bs peddled by his followers. There is no discipline to lying and manipulating. There is discipline in being honest and having just an ounce of humility. The word “creep” started to emerge on twitter after PE Duterte’s totally unpresidential catcall of the GMNA reporter. Can you imagine putting lascivious moves on a married woman in front of the whole nation? Ach, it is so far outside my value system that I don’t know what to do.

      I don’t support those values.

      • karlgarcia says:


      • Mia Concio says:

        He reminds me of the devil in John Updike’s novel, “The Witches of Eastwick”. Charismatic, fun, lovable but rotten to the core.

        Having said that, I will go further in stating that discipline as what he calls it is not self-indulgent. It is NOT self-indulgent otherwise as what happened to the Jack Nicholson character, snakes will rise from the belly of the rotten core.

      • caliphman says:

        That kind of behavior and that concerning the Australian missionary is that of an uncouth, lecherous dirty old man and is absolutely indefensible for a president. Lets not mince words here. Duterte himself knows and admits he has to metamorphose from acting like a maggot to something more presidential. Lets wait and see if he can still learn and perform such a new trick. Acting like one is part of the job of being president even if its not part of his nature.

  4. uht says:

    Discipline is one of the many things we should have more, but a sense of direction is also something we need. From what I see, the PE seems to have as much sense of discipline as he does direction—in other words, it’s very hard to see it in him.

    • Nowasencit says:

      PE’s idea of discipline- the boss is always right and woe to those who disagree. He’s been getting away with it as nobody in his ‘select’ audiences have character enough to stand up to him. Those media people had every right to have walked out of his press conference after that catcall, but they did not.
      His sense of direction- he has none. Maybe he can go ask his mom.

  5. gerverg1885 says:

    Nobody can expect anybody who did not learn discipline at an early age to learn it now. It’s just too hard to teach an old dog new tricks, much more an old politician who thinks he has the best ideas of turning this nation into a disciplined one but could not discipline his mouth.

    He is just one of the traditional politicians we would love to kick out anytime… the sooner, the better!

    • Joe America says:

      He seems to enjoy the limelight. His staff obviously have little influence. They follow behind doing cleanup.

      • sonny says:

        Just watched travelogue on the palace of Versailles, Louis XIV, the sun-king and the aristocrats of that time; excess, decadence all on the shoulders of the non-aristocrats; we know the climax, the French revolution and the head baskets of the guillotine. Is this also the Du30 juggernaut?

        • Joe America says:

          The way he was threatening journalists in yesterday’s press conference, it is easy to draw that conclusion.

        • Ben Zayb says:

          I would contend:

          The Digong Revolution has the potential to be a French Revolution.

          People have cried out, “vox populi, vox dei!” Fanatics go mad on ecstasy. Well, “vox populi, vox dei!” got Robespierre’s head eventually.

          Let’s hope Duterte turns out to be a success or a sheep-in-wolf’s-clothing (all bark with calculated bite, ala Trump). And not the genuine harbinger of revolution that we all dream him to be.

          Though, in fairness, the middle-class had it coming. We had all the tools to stop the trapos—and failed to use them. All while enjoying the fruits of economic growth; “let them eat cake (creditworthy government)” and all that jazz. We are like the lower-class nobles and attendants to the upper-class nobles in that regard. Some have even backed the revolution. Yet—regardless of personal morality—sentenced by the General Will as guilty.

          Not that I’m blaming anyone or holding myself in higher regard.. And it may seem a bit hypocritical since I am a middle-class Filipino from a nice school after all.

          Just that, in tragedy everyonr has a role—and the horrible ending makes arguing for who has “more blame” pointless.

          Let’s hope this just ends up as a comedy of amusing press conferences and nothing more.

  6. bill in oz says:

    Here is another major problem that Duterte needs to sort out..Children performing sex acts for perverts in richer countries via web cam. Truly a sad story just reported in the Guardian

    • karlgarcia says:

      Those that allegedly wants to impress Duterte just raided another cyber crime den in Olongapo or Clark?I guess they can always use surveillance as an excuse for catching them only when they want to.

      • bill in oz says:

        Karl, the true tragedy of this story emerges at the end,,,The parents were poor village Filipinos with no English. So who set things up..organised the contacts with foreign sex viewers ? It was the 2 teenage children with more schooling and English who organised things..And they did it because other children in the village were also doing it.. Why ? To earn an income and be able to buy clothes and go to Jolibee ! Aweful.

        • karlgarcia says:

          So many awful stories Bill. No way 2 kids set this up. How would they know whom to stalk,and prowl…you are probably right am just in denial.

          • Vicara says:

            Given the sophistication of Duterte’s social media juggernaut–I was just reading a post, supposedly by one of his consultants, about how they generated six million tweets just on the Kidapawan demonstration through a bot system run by one IT guy–you’d think he’d put his online resources team to good use by tracking down these on-cam sex rings, and bringing in the department of social welfare. But I have a hunch that’s not likely, from a man who for years has ignored national and international calls to investigate his city’s death squads with regard to the extrajudicial killing of minors.

  7. NHerrera says:

    Certainly another good blog when read along with the four previous blog articles listed at the end. The citing of specific examples of in-discipline brings home the point.

    A minor item in family discipline. In my father and his family’s time, and probably still practiced by some even now — we don’t have the 911 facility that children can call — using the belt by the father or slipper by the mother was practiced as an aid in instilling discipline. I can say that I and some of my friends who experienced the belt is better for it. My point is that discipline has a country or cultural component to it, but of course I am talking about how parents instill discipline. (I have not researched, but may be that is the problem — there are only a few parents that use the belt or slippers these days, parents who when administering the punishment says in their heart: I know this hurts and pains me, but I am doing it for your good.)

    The disciplining of the country population is an altogether different matter. I quite agree with the spirit of the blog article.

  8. bill in oz says:

    Off topic Joe..Your Ozzie not so friendly Peter Wallace has a column in today’s Enquirer “Think Sensibly, Amend the Labor Code” . He suggests that all employees be entitled to SSS, Phil health & Pag Ibig benefits even if they work just one day..

    But he makes the comment that the minimum wage is now P444 a day in Manila…( a dollar a day for a 10 hour day, effectively). And then says how Viet Nam is prospering with a daily wage rate of P170…He comments that the Philippines has to compete with Viet Nam. But fails to mention that it is a Communist dictatorship..
    I wonder if this advice will be acted on by Duterte.

    • Joe America says:

      Hard to say. Wallace is a part of the Arroyo franchise, so probably has the Duterte camp’s ear. But I think tinkering with the minimum wage is tough.

      • karlgarcia says:

        So is ending contractualization.Who is the Labor secretary?hmmmm, Silvestre Bello also involved with peace talks with the NDF.May have good negotiating skills.

        Peter Wallace seems to be suggesting to lower our wages,he suggested that before.
        If he has the ears of Duterte,then ending endo is a sham.

    • chempo says:

      It’s really silly to pick one single economic unit of measurement, in this case minimum wage, to compare 2 countries. Philippines min wage may be higher than Vietnam, but in terms of the metrics of cost of living, Vietnam is about 30-40% lower than Philippines.

      And Peter Wallace has got it wrong. Vietnam’s min wage is now US$155 per month. A simple calculation based on exchange rate of 44 and a 25 working day month, their min wage is P273.

      • bill in oz says:

        Thanks Chempo, the facts presented clearly are always useful.. But my main point stands : Viet Nam like China is a one party state dictatorship. So working people there have few labor rights..No right to strike or to bargain for higher wages & better conditions.. A bit ironic really as it is all happening under the ‘benign’ rule of a communist party

        • chempo says:

          hahaha…Bill perhaps we are all the ignoramus after all.

          Mr Wallace’s message to Duterte was not the economics, but how to rule !

    • caliphman says:

      For such a supposedly accomplished business consultant, Wallace seems surprisingly clueless about international economics. One cannot compare wage rates across countries without taking into consideration the relative costs of living. Its like saying 100 years ago, my grandfather was a UP professor earning only 1000 pesos a year and could support his wife and four kids comfortably.

      • Joe America says:

        Peter Wallace, the economist:

        • Sup says:

          Tu use Duterte’s words…if you see Peter Wallet on television it it’s like a talking vagina.. 🙂

          • bill in oz says:

            How do such comments help us as ‘honorable people’ in this conversation ? Do you really wish to imitate the trolls who work for Duterte or Get Real Philippines ?

            At least Wallace suggested reform of the SSS system to help workers. Give him credit for that. The Aquino government had the opportunity to do this but chose not to do anything the past 6 years. And many of the young ‘endo’ workers are city people with college graduates not uneducated homeless peasants. Here I suspect is the recruitment pool for the Dutere’s social media army.

            • Joe America says:

              The purpose of satire is honorable if it pushes us toward dignity. I know I’ve used it to heighten people’s embarrassment with the Duterte expressions, rather as a fireman would light a backfire to stop the main fire.

              Sup’s comment actually pokes two issues many have criticized: one, Wallace’s self-serving lobbying, and two, Duterte’s mouth.

  9. “Announcing aspects of foreign policy (wild accusations of having ‘lost’ Scarborough, and ‘treason’) before being briefed on the current situation by the DFA. This risks aiding and abetting a thief (China), and is inconsistent with a domestic policy that opposes crime. It is also divisive because a lot of people appreciate the work done by those tagged as “treasonous”.”

    Joe, re South China Sea, it looks like DU30 may be more , or as militant about it as PNOY, only he’s willing to cut losses (rightly so, IMHO). He’s made pronouncements that certain islands are still the Philippines, so I think he’ll stand his ground there. His pivot towards Sabah, via Sultanate of Sulu is interesting , everything’s up in the air when it comes to South China Sea, but this padjak case is interesting. Marcos and everyone else has tried to go around the Sultanate of Sulu (or undermined them), which doesn’t make sense, since the core issue is padjak. re Sabah, keep in mind that China’s practically colonized Kota Kinabalu (so it’s related to South China Sea)—

    I may be giving DU30 too much credit here, but I’m sensing some sort of strategic genius in his moves. 😉

    “Offending the principles and leaders of the main religion of the Philippines, the Catholic Church. This is divisive, and also inconsistent with the campaign call for “unity”.”

    Would you say Dr. Jose Rizal also offended the principles and leaders of the Catholic Church? I don’t even know why you added this one, Joe. DU30 is well within his rights to critique the Church.

    “Calling Manila a “dead” city, being further divisive and mis-characterizing a vibrant, historical hub of commerce and opportunity for millions. If the point is to build other cities, just build them. That’s all good.”

    Joe, this is what DU30 said,

    “If there are any investors coming in, I will tell them I will not allow factories anymore in Manila, not only because it is a dead city but because I have to build a new environment for the people.”

    “I will ask the engineers to find land because we will build economic zones there,” Duterte said, adding people living in the Manila slums would be moved there. “I have to relocate them but before I relocate them, I have to establish economic activity.”

    we’ve talked about Manila and surrounding areas as being too over-populated, there’s been blogs and commentaries about expanding somewhere else even, so I think the Society is in-line w/ what DU30 is proposing, regardless of the “dead” city comment. Manila is over saturated.

    I wonder what chempo has to say about this one.

    I’ve been to Bangkok, Jakarta, KL, and some other big SE Asian cities, Manila does stand out as one most devoid of culture, maybe that’s what DU30 meant by dead, or simply dead, meaning an organism that can’t sustain itself anymore. But DU30 has a point re expansion and/or relocation of resources (which I’m sure will be Davao and Mindanao 😉 ).

    I’ve been looking into Mary’s mention of the Iloilo River Esplanade, have any of you guys been? I’m curious where the poor were relocated, and what their situation is now.

    “President Elect Duterte, in finalizing his cabinet, says that he wants to make his six years as President a “reconciliatory reign.” On the same day, he calls the Chairman of the Human Rights Commission an “idiot”. And on the same day, he asks people not to believe his preposterous statements, as if he has no obligation to help them understand what he really means.”

    Lawyer to lawyer, DU30 has a point, that “idiot” has no issue. What DU30 said may not be praiseworthy, but it certainly is not criminal. You don’t level a charge on someone unless you have a case, I think that’s the idiocy DU30 ‘s referring to.

    As for his other pronouncements official or otherwise, it’s very Trumpish, I agree. But that’s another matter.


    So to re-cap,

    1. SC Sea, I think he’s got something up his sleeve.
    2. The Catholic Church over there is deserving of this criticism— since the days of Rizal.
    3. Manila is a ‘dead’ city, ie. can’t expand any more.
    4. The CHR guy has no criminal case.

    (p.s. —- re discipline and that no parking photo above, I awhile back I had to run in to drop off an item, there was no parking, so I parked in the empty handicapped parking, when I came back (very quickly), an old lady was taking my lic. plate, then when she saw me, confronted me, and gave me a good tongue lashing, because she had to walk two parking spaces away, because I had taken her spot, LOL! I’ll never park in a handicap parking again, now that’s discipline! 😉 )

    • Joe America says:

      You are speaking the pragmatics and the law, and sounding a lot like his camp’s supporters who reach for every argument to excuse what is basically divisive behavior. The point is not what Duterte is authorized to do, but what he chooses to do, and does what he chooses to do properly raise others up rather than bring them down or push them away. He is the elected leader of the Philippines, of the Catholic Church, of Manila, and of the values of the nation. Calling the head of a vital government agency an idiot? As you endorse justify that behavior, you enable it, and . . . for many of us . . . become a part of the problem. Certainly not the solution.

      • NHerrera says:

        Joe, although I lean more towards your thinking, @LCpl_X has some points — especially, if one assumes (?) that there is some strategic method being applied by Duterte pre-swearing in. What is probably not debatable is that the PE has virtually monopolized news hereabouts just as Trump has created some sort of “Trump addiction” in good old US of A. The nature and evolution of this “Duterte addiction” post swearing-in is debatable.

        • Joe America says:

          He does make a good argument, and he is, after all, pro-Trump, so he looks at the results, not the values that underpin all these expressions that shock. I can’t help but think, though, that finding it acceptable to call someone an idiot somehow has a cumulative effect of undermining civility and causing unknown harm. Pragmatic? Effective? Shock and awe to break out of the malaise of the current political ways? Great. Put that on the positive side of the tote board.

          But it signals to his supporters and kids and the psychological susceptible that it is okay to bully, to demean. To me, it is like rust on steel or cancer in the body, it may not have a visible or explicit negative now, but it erodes the strength of our team. Our nation.

          To accept it, excuse it, explain only the explicit POSSIBLE benefits. That to me is the opposite of discipline. Discipline is accepting that respect is always better than demeaning someone.

          • Joe America says:

            For basketball players who watched the Oklahoma Thunder vs Golden State Warriors series, we can see Oklahoma as the archetype of those who find demeaning the people on their own team as perversely motivational, and we can see Golden State as the archetype of those who find inspiring and praising teammates, and passing them the ball, motivational. In the long term, which is next year, I suspect a number of OKC players will want to bail out. “Get Westbrook out of my face!” Warrior players will want to return to do more of the same. Win, personally and as a unit.

            • NHerrera says:

              I have not watched the game, but from your comment, if you ask me, I am for the Golden State Warriors way of doing things. A pre-millennial or pre-digital age choice of values on my part, I suppose.

          • NHerrera says:

            On this thing I agree with you completely — there seems to be an on-going re-definition of the word DISCIPLINE. And the funny thing is that it seems to be an evolving process — one cannot quite catch it.

        • swearing in, literally: “putang inang mga ugok kayo, ayoko sanang tumakbo pinilit ninyo ako. Anim na taon ninyo akong tiisin.”

        • “He does make a good argument, and he is, after all, pro-Trump, so he looks at the results…”

          Yeah, but remember I’m pro-Trump precisely because I’m counting on his vindictive nature to spend his time in the office targeting Hillary, the Koch brothers, and everyone else on both sides of the establishment that went against him. I have no illusions. 😉

          Most here though are still stuck on some sort of illusion of a noble president. Mar Roxas was beat badly, that’s a fact. So keep in mind that DU30 has a mandate.

          Pro-Roxas were dealt a hand they don’t like, the way I see it… there’s two choices, to whine about it or to play the hand that youre dealt.

          So you guys can take the Bert route,

          “I think we will have to wait and see, within six years of his administration, but not after.

          And then we’ll talk again about it. Is that a fair deal, Lance?”

          OR role up your sleeves and get to work, in spite of the presidency you were dealt with.

          You guys can nickel & dime DU30’s comments ( a waste of time ), or look past it and attempt to work with his strong suit, personally I think his comments re CHR guy and the Catholic Church is small potatoes—- CHR has no case and Catholic Church was been fair target since the days of Dr. Jose Rizal.

          What you have left is DU30’s maneuvering in the S. China Sea and his plans in Manila (since many in Manila voted for him, he must have spoken some truth worth some introspecting 😉 ).

          So look past his bluster and lambast and study his moves, if his move prove criminal then catch him for it, and do another symbolic EDSA stunt, but

          if you see past his ego and actually recognize some sort of strategy then give credit where credit is due, and support the President. Focus on his moves, not his talk.

          It’s not about making bets for when your President will screw up in 6 years (that’s the easy route) , it’s about the bigger picture. So I guess, my realist— what Joe calls pragmatic—- view, is give the guy a break.

          Mar Roxas isn’t president, DU30 is; expecting DU30 to become Mar Roxas isn’t only delusional, it’s unfair. Judge his moves, not his rhetoric, is all I’m saying guys (and gals). 😉

          Move on, get past the fact that Mar Roxas didn’t get elected. DU30 is.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Nickel and Dime…….,,Change is coming,small change that is.

            How come in game of thrones,it’s the sixth season and winter has not come yet.

            • LOL! Winter is coming, karl.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Yeah only 13 episodes left,unless they change their minds.

              • When Melissandra’s colleague touched based with the Half-man in Meereen I think it’ll start soon, Karl… forces of fire/light vs. forces of ice/dark. The show has a very Catholic feel to it, Pope Francis should be advising everyone to watch it 😉 .

              • karlgarcia says:

                12 episodes left.Arya is lady stoneheart instead of Catelin,Ramsay won’t die,Wich Greyjoy will reach Daenerys first,….I did not sense the Catholic touch,but you read religions thoroughly,I only read bits and pieces,so I can’t compare.

          • Joe America says:

            Your view is duly recorded. My own is that before Mar Roxas there were values of human decency, and because Mar Roxas lost, is no reason to set aside the belief that we are better off with decency than offense, degradation, humiliation, namecalling, catcalling, swearing in public, cursing the pope, and on and on. Kindly don’t ask me to step down from values that hold respect is better than insult. You may step down, that is your choice. It just makes you, for me, a part of the problem, not the solution.

          • caliphman says:

            Lance, I did not vote for Duterte or Poe. Duterte as a choice is more like an Idi Amin than it is Trump. If one has plans of returning and living in the Philippines like I do, its not so easy to dismiss the uncontrolled, impulsive and unpredictable behavior of a dictatorial personality as just noise and not indicative of how he would act once he assumes the presidency. Sure, one might agree with some of his policies and pronouncements, but would one not voice out concerns about the safety and future of one’s family and country when Duterte seems like he has no idea of or control over what he is saying or doing, as dangerous and inimical to the public or national interest these might be? Call me risk averse but as much as I want to believe in the PE’s true noble intentions, living under presidential regimes with a very short expected half lives is not my idea of a quiet and comfortable retirement.

            • caliphman,

              I totally agree with you re the first part of this, on voicing out, concerns about the safety and future of one’s family and country /// when Duterte seems like he has no idea of or control over what he is saying or doing”.

              But the second part is my point, which is a whole lot of assuming and interpreting. I’ve been on record here stressing the importance of the press, but that importance is in their purpose, if the press doesn’t take their work seriously they should be ridiculed.

              Now unless you or Joe have proof that he will enact censorship in the Philippines, it’s just a lot of “seems like”, and too many “seems like” will render your efforts at bettering the situation over there, because you guys will effectively lose all credence, why… because you’d have wasted all your protests on the little things (ie. Manila is dead, Catholic Church needs to change, etc.).

              It’s like Joe’s ode to Pres. Ninoy Aquino, focus on the little things at the end, for now shave your voice for actual evidenced criticisms you can level on him. Be wary of too many “seems like”.

              Before you extend DU30’s joke/criticism of the media into censorship, maybe back it up with censorship laws, or libel laws, to show the connection of what he just said to the things he can actually implement.

              • caliphman says:

                Lance, this forum is not a court of law and anyone’s guilt is not subject to accepted standards of proof for threats of censorship to become credible. That being said, any court of law or any public forum,whether press or blog should place great weight on judging a person’s character or probable behavior by what he says in public or what he has done in the past. To state or even imply that the constitution does not protect free speech or that journalists are morally and legally responsible for their own murders has a very chilling effect on those who would criticize Duterte or his regime. Coming from the mouth of of a president to be sworn to uphold the constitution and protect the fundamental rights it guarantees, what more proof is needed to think that the threat of censorship is great under this president? To dismiss his words off as a joke or meaningless verbiage uttered in the moment is no defense as it highlights an even greater concern that someone who is not responsible for his words or actions is assuming the powers of the presidency. If and when an impeachment case is filed in a senate court, then and only then should views or accusations of censorship or other impeachable offenses need to bear the burden of proof that the language and spirit of relevant laws have been transgressed. Until then, the words and behavior should be subject to public scritiny and deliberated on in the court of public opinion. Its still a constitutional democracy after all and hopefully it will stay that way inspite of what Duterte has said and his extralegal leanings.

              • Joe America says:

                Where’s the fcuking like button when I need it.

                (Adapting my language to fit the new cultural standards in the Philippines. We guests should learn to adapt to the foreign culture and not impose our standards on others.)

              • ” what more proof is needed to think that the threat of censorship is great under this president? “


                I’m not saying you have to have proof when arguing with me, I’m saying like when you argued your case re Grace Poe as foundling, you backed it with legal stuff. I saying for the sake of information being bounced around here, it would be useful to differentiate assumptions (or predictive analysis) with what the laws over there actually say.

                The danger here IMHO is in diminishing one’s voice via consistent protest (of the small stuff). I think, you and I and pretty much everyone here are on the same boat, we’re just commenters thus a diminished voice won’t really affect what happens in the Philippines, I’m speaking more of folks like Joe who ‘s basically media over there (and his readers who just read him, and not bother to read the commentary below),

                reserve your voice for worthwhile criticism. That’s my point.

  10. madlanglupa says:

    My idea of discipline is to teach and inspire what it takes to be a respected human being who respects in return; show what should be the right thing to do, and explain why the wrong thing should not be done and what consequences happen for such an action.

    His idea of discipline is to apply supreme power of patriarchal fear and punishment, and already many mayors are starting onto making the PE happy by sweeping away the “undisciplined”, including the unwary youth caught walking beyond imposed curfew, and put them to humiliation, as well as supposed vigilantes darkly inspired to take the law into their hands.

    Nothing more is cringe-worthy but also terrifying than to have this man — soon to sit in the highest office of the land — who is now seen as an exemplar of the uncouth and bloodthirsty, with anything he does unworthy of a statesman are used as an excuse by his minions to harass those who do not agree with him or who are of the opposite sex.

    • Joe America says:

      In Sunday’s blog, I will address the matter of values, which represent the voluntary principles we use discipline to adhere to. From yesterday’s news conference, I understand that President Elect Duterte believes he has to listen to know one, and he knows what he has to do. So all this writing is unlikely to affect him, and have little relevance to his staff, as they just do what he wants them to, rationalize, spin, and enable what most of the world would consider to be atrocious behavior.

  11. Jake says:

    The right word for Duterte’s brand is not “discipline”. It’s more of “fear-instilling”

    Yknow, Davaoenos often say that they’re the only city in the Philippines where taxi drivers give the exact change…and they say it is because of Duterte’s brand.

    But they failed to realize that cabbies in Baguio have long been known for it WITHOUT Duterte’s fear-mongering style. The local government actually works with the cabbies and encourages them to maintain that image.

    In addition, in San Fernando, La Union I found the tricycle drivers and jeepney drivers to also be very honest even if it is so obvious that you are not a local. They won’t rip you off, yet they do not have a Duterte-type politician

    • chempo says:

      Damn right you are Jake.

      It’s all bridge under water but in the run up to the election, the whole country stood still and said nothing and allowed Davao to usurp the whole political discussion. Those who don’t know Philippines must have thought Davao was the capital of Philippines. Sure it’s a fine city, but it does not monopolise all the virtues that it boasts.

  12. karlgarcia says:

    Is uniity more of concensus or is it harmony or is it like marriage?

    • Joe America says:

      Excellent question. I suppose I’d use the synonym of “inclusion”, where no one feels left out or excluded, and, indeed, they feel raised up. It is not something voted on like consensus or legalistic like marriage. It does promote harmony.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Many thanks,Joe.So I guess coalitions are more for concensus building rather than promote harmony.
        Inclusion is more like it.Thanks.

  13. Ed C. says:

    You cannot “force” discipline among Filipinos even under Martial Law. It will be temporary. I am of the Filipino generation where my grandparents, parents, neighbors and schools taught us to be respectful of others’ rights and authority. That is gone now.
    It will take at least a couple of generation of good education (needs financial support) for everyone. The 1st generation must produce honest teachers in all public schools. Then they can in turn teach the 2nd generation.
    I was in public schools in Manila in the 50’s and my teachers in elementary and high school were of the same caliber as the ones now in expensive schools like Ateneo and U.P. minus the arrogance.
    I am now a U.S citizen and previously worked at Los Angeles Unified School District for 19 years.

    • madlanglupa says:

      That’s why, sir, education is everything and why DepEd has the largest budget allocation for this year. Proper education inspires self-discipline.

      • If education is everything, then why is it that most blog about education on here gets largely ignored. I don’t remember you commenting on here, madlanglupa,

        • I don’t mean to put you in the hot seat, but it’s true… the solution ‘s obvious, but when Joe or other writers (me included) post about education it simply gets over-looked. Why is that? if it’s “everything”?

          • madlanglupa says:

            Sorry if I missed that article — sometimes I have to put up with eyestrain.

            You know and right now, the only education most low-income kids are getting — for the lack of adult guidance — are either from their TV sets or social media, much of it unfiltered. There’s a glaring lack of public libraries, or a visible appreciation of the written word (except maybe for tabloids). And of course, parental negligence and/or irresponsibility. There’s now a generation that’s tech-savvy and whip-smart… but in a wrong way, if not disturbing, with their choice of dark autocratic leadership.

            The past pragmatic and prudent leaders of our more progressive Confucian neighbors have taken to invest heavily on education early on to seize the lead for the future, while previous administrations post-war are preoccupied with other problems, including politicking.

            • chempo says:

              You are right, Phils is sorely lacking in libraries. In other parts of the world, especially Europe, the library is very much a focal point of a community.Here, the malls are your focal points.

              • I totally agree with libraries, but these days just a means to connect to Google is sufficient, so what’s important is the teacher or a mentor.

                So you and chempo are over there, this goes for everyone there too, how many here volunteer at schools over there, if you’re too busy working how about simply mentoring neighborhood kids? the small stuff.

                If education is “everything” over there,

                why the lack of enthusiasm when it comes to implementation? where you guys live now, name 3 of the closest orphanages in your area, have you visited? I visited a few while in Mindanao, I don’t think Filipinos realize how big a problem orphans are—- many were products of incest… Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt must have never heard of Philippine orphanages becuz the adoption rate is depressing.

                Sure we can talk about big ideas, but when it comes to sweat equity, what are regular Filipinos (ABC crowd) doing?

              • chempo says:

                Can’t answer you that because I have no idea of the level of volunteerism here in Phils. Back I Singapore I channel the bits of resources and time that I have to old folks and orphanages.

          • NHerrera says:

            Lack of orientation rather than just lack or inadequate education (which some equate mistakenly only to knowledge) as part of the culprit or problem. Orientation as we can get from family, especially parents, teachers, traditional media, politicians, etc — but most importantly from parents.

            I am using orientation in the following sense:

            – the adjustment or alignment of oneself or one’s ideas to surroundings or circumstances;

            – the general direction or tendency of one’s approach, thoughts, etc.

            In so far as citizenry, civility and relationships are concerned, perhaps a 80% orientation and 20% education mix seems to be a right ingredient.

            If I may add: the teaching of basic logic as part of the 80%.

  14. NHerrera says:


    The call of International Media to boycott the PE by the local print and broadcast media will not happen. The reality and overriding reason: profit. The boycotting group will pump up the profit of the non-boycotting group at their (boycotting group) expense. There is also the new Admin backlash although the form this will take is not clearly assessed presently. Better for the media to continue to air their legitimate, reasoned, non-screaming complaints and let the citizens decide.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I agree.

    • Joe’s been highly critical of the media there, I’m sensing DU30 is of the same mind, just a slightly different way of expressing his disappointment. But IMHO it’s the same disappointment of Philippine media.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Joe has been consistent when it comes to values.

      • Joe America says:

        My objection is the lack of journalism ethics and the damage done by sensationalizing and promoting conflict (one-source stories, unverified; one side of the story used to provoke another story the next day from the other side, both complaining), and other steps that undermine, divide and degrade the Philippines. His objection is that they criticize him for saying killing of journalists is justified, or that wolf-whistling reporters is bad. Not the same, but related.

        • Lance Corporal from Civil War:

          Doesn’t matter what the press says.
          Doesn’t matter what the politicians or the mobs say.
          Doesn’t matter if the whole country decides that something wrong is something right.

          This nation was founded on one principle above all else
          the requirement that we stand up for what we believe, no matter the odds or consequences

          When the mob and the press and the whole world tell you to move.

          Your job is to plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and tell the world,

          You move.

          • Joe America says:

            Nicely said, with just the right amount of attitude.

            This came across in a tweet today:

            VP-elect @lenirobredo says supporting pres-elect Duterte includes “providing…other perspectives on various issues to broaden his view.”

            and this, from a different person:

            Amazing how Duterte supporters now believe they are of superior intellect because they “understand the Mayor,” compared to those who don’t.

            • the latest tweet is no more press conferences. I think this is the right way for the PE Duterte. Let his spokesperson and communications staff do the heavy lifting of articulating his vision/plans

      • caliphman says:

        Its one thing to criticize the media for going against one’s views. Its another thing to censor, intimidate or silence their right to express it. That is part and parcel of a dictatorship which is still unconstitutional. The last election may have been about a change in leadership but It was not about suspending or throwing out the constitution or muzzling journalists.

    • Nowasencit says:

      Yes, but then also moderate their coverage of the PE’s reckless, annoying and disagreeable behaviors, if not totally ignore them. He insists to make everyone play his game, his rules. He successfully baited the media since pre-election time and now expects the same. But just as he enjoys saying- this has to S-T-O-P.

      • NHerrera says:

        That is a good point about moderation.

        There is a similar phenomenon in the US as I noted above (June 3, 2016 at 12:31 pm) — there seems to be an uncontrollable “Trump addiction” there. I am repeating myself but I believe it is really a media game and their concern for their Profit and Loss Statements. The rational view takes the backseat.

      • caliphman says:

        Or else what? There are legal and illegal remedies for that. That is the root of the problem with Duterte and as a lawyer he should know and respect the very laws that allowed him to be elected president.

  15. bill in oz says:

    A new perspective : Almost all comments are about a grumpy, elderly 72 year old man who looks worn out out after the huge effort of getting himself elected as president.. And now he has to form up a government quick smart… I wonder if his wholesale bizarre comments to the media are just a reflection of being old exhausted & grumpy ?

    • NHerrera says:

      May be. But if I have to bet, I will bet that there is a subtle METHOD being employed there. It is not WYSIWYG — that is the old computer lingo isn’t it?

    • Joe America says:

      I doubt it. I read somewhere, but didn’t record it, that someone who once worked with him explained that very little that Mayor Duterte does is done without premeditation. He is an attorney, smart, and does what he does for a reason. Others, of course, say he has narcissistic personality disorder, and we will find out for sure in a matter of time which view is more likely true. I tend to judge his deeds and statements, and the values they represent, and not his motivations.

      • bill in oz says:

        Joe I know he is a lawyer..and was smart to run Davao since 1987..I am just reflecting on him now…old at 72, looking worn out, past his prime, harrassed by all the hangers on now wanting positions & constantly in the eye of the media..i am 68..I could not hack it..I’d be as grumpy as hell and quite willing to jump on anything..Just a thought..a psychological explanation….

        • Vicara says:

          Plus he seems to have a real physical fear of coming to Manila. It’s telling that of all the spaces in Davao from which to deliver his pronouncements and hold his press conferences, he chooses that old NFA warehouse that was converted into a dreary guest house during the time of GMA. Thick walls, a few high windows. It could be a bunker in Berlin in 1945. Except that the inauguration of his presidency is still weeks away…

          • Joe America says:

            Your remark caused me to go to Google Trends to see how Duterte, Roxas and Robredo trended during the elections and to the current time. The highest peak was May 8, the second May 10. Activity is resuming its climb to ultra-high levels, which suggests the effort is continuing.

    • Nowasencit says:

      Or he just decided to create the best times of his life. And enjoy it. While he still has time.

    • NHerrera says:

      Bill in oz,

      Here is a passage from one of Raymond Chandler’s character in “The Long Goodbye.”

      “Time makes everything mean and shabby and wrinkled. The tragedy of life … is not that the beautiful things die young, but that they grow old and mean.”

      It may seem cynical but contains great shades of truth in it. The line seems to jibe with your comment to a T.

      • bill in oz says:

        And he dyes his hair so it is black as in his youth….
        Last night there he was again on GMA for 30 minutes doing yet another press conference..He was speaking tagalog..But I feel it was “all sound and fury signifying nothing.”

  16. chempo says:

    Every man or woman can paint grand pictures of themselves, directly or indirectly, or allow some runnaway heroes’ folktales (Marcos was a hero – don’t know how many Japs he killed) be propagated, yeah encouraged, but it’s the little things that they do that betray their real characters — how they treat the maid, what they say to the cab driver, the kinds of friends they keep, they way they talk generally, the way they treat those below them, above them, their peers, etc. And that’s the discomfort we all have with Duterte — the little things are showing.

  17. chempo says:

    The in-coming Chief of PNP said “Rogue policemen must die. If they get arrested and charged in court, many of them manage to return to the service, and just appeal their cases. So they have to be killed,”

    As I have warned. There will be lots of mini-me’s

    • NHerrera says:

      Instead of the many mini-me’s with the associated attitudes which is scary enough, I put it in the following way.

      Let us grant that the PE is infallible, well-meaning, setting aside the rough uncomfortable language. Are the lieutenants and implementers as infallible — distinguishing the bad guys from those just caught in suspicious circumstances? Not to mention grudges that these implementers may have against those terminated. And are they all controllable by the PE? We have to grant him another adjective — omnipresence. Absent infallibility, omnipresence, and controllability, we see how this looming approach to crime reduction — illustrated by the phrase used by the in-coming PNP Chief, rogue policemen must die — can unravel. Very scary indeed.

      • bill in oz says:

        I would be very happy if the police simply implemented the law..Crossing at an intersection on Ong pin today we were almost run over by a bike making a left turn through us..The cop standing there did nothing. Any bike trying that in Oz would wind up on the road, pushed over for being dangerous and lacking in simple driver courtesy…

  18. Ben Zayb says:

    How can I tell these voters of Duterte to believe in the value of “rule of law” and the value of “human rights” when I–by virtue of being born in a relatively fortunate position in life–have multiple options (money to pay lawyers, connections) to ensure fairness in any possible case I’ll face, while these voters of Duterte have to deal with the “due process” of having to follow the rules to the letter–while an opposing party with connections can just take the “express lane” to justice and win over them. How can I tell these Duterte voters to be “polite” when certain knaves with law degrees have the audacity to be polite (that is respect the PAPER PROCESS) and steal (legally) before the eyes of the people? How can I tell them to be “polite” when that very “politeness” shuts up criticism of these knaves–when we are all told to behave when a “commission of inquiry” by “due process” finds the guilty innocent?

    The point of the matter is–while these democratic values and institutions that we cherish ought to be universal–their application has been particular and biased. To the point that they are seen as only the preserve of the “elitist” classes.

    So what has happened? Ideally–a President should represent all classes and sectors.
    Unfortunately–a majority has perceived previous Presidents as representing only the “elitist” classes. As such–this angry majority has elected to finally ignore the ideal of a “President” representing all classes, in favor of a President who will ONLY support them and leave in the cold the “elitists” who have been nothing more than “paasa” with their promises.

    I use “perceived” because I will acknowledge frankly that a significant part of this long-term manipulation and propaganda by vested interests such as GMA. Yet isn’t it that the only lies that truly convince are half-truths?

    We criticize Duterte supporters for the uncouth behavior–but is not our dismissiveness of them in profane (“Dutertetard”) or polite (“You are not to be listened to because of your lack of logic and disregard for democratic norms”) means also uncouth? Yes, there are those who’ll say, “They started it!” But one could also say that it is the failures of our democracy that implicitly “started it” all.

    Someone ought to Make Democracy Great Again in the Philippines. The “new order” must understand why democracy is worth it. And that maybe that means there’s something awfully wrong with our “sacred cows of democracy”. Maybe that means we need to make our “democratic sacred cows” worth worshiping.

    • Joe America says:

      “The point of the matter is–while these democratic values and institutions that we cherish ought to be universal–their application has been particular and biased. To the point that they are seen as only the preserve of the “elitist” classes.”

      From within them, they are not elitist. They are success. From outside, they are elitist, and the failure of the elitist class is that its members have not found a path to success for the economically and oppportunistically disenfranchised.

      The problem is that “Someone” cannot make us great again because there is a timeline involved and a set of principles, as embodied in international human rights laws. And in the Philippines, there is the deeply embedded culture of power and favor, which is rather like politics of the self on steroids.

      The timeline restrains the nation’s ability to be economically productive, or generate wealth. It takes time to build a manufacturing plant and decades to build an industry. Those industries are needed to provide the jobs to feed the mouths.

      Human rights . . . civility versus incivility. How much pain are we willing to foist on the innocent?

      The politics of the sellf . . . how can someone who essentially embodies the politics of the self make any headway against it?

      I like your ideas. I’m not seeing what you propose as the solution. For us to just accept PE Duterte’s every word and deed?

      I see today he has told the NPA to go ahead and try the policeman they are holding who they (the NPA) said was dealing drugs. He dropped his appeal for them to release the policeman. He said they should assign him to 10 years of hard labor. Do you believe this is correct, and we should accept PE Duterte’s resolution on this? The ramifications are substantial. How we think about judicial processes. What we think about the PNP and the concept of “leaving no man behind”. What this encourages, what it discourages.

      • Ben Zayb says:

        Pardon. When I was talking about “Someone Make Democracy Great Again” I was being half tongue-in-cheek. 🙂 If I may clarify:

        I say “half” because there are undeniably deep flaws in Philippine Democracy. The universal values and institutions of Philippine Democracy are only being enjoyed a particular minority. No surprise–that has led to the majority of the “left out” feeling at best ambivalent about these values and institutions.

        I don’t mean to make little of the efforts of the many laudable members of the professional and lettered classes that have kept this nation’s democracy alive–and have advanced it by leaps and bounds. Efforts barely reported on the media. I take great pride in residing in a nation with one of the most institutionalized and diverse civil societies around the world in the world; a nation that unlike its neighbors doesn’t need foreign experts to take the initiative. A nation take along with Brazil and India has one of the highest NGO densities in the world–democracy firmly rooted.

        Yet Duterte is a sign that the “honeymoon” period is over. Our “democratic sacred cows” have come far. They are students who have turned a score of twenty into a score of sixty. That figurative forty points is nothing to sneeze at. Yet the people have spoken; the teacher needs a seventy for passing–no more, no less. I will not say that these people–the guardians of a democracy and coincidentally those angriest at Duterte’s sheer disregard for the democratic values and institutions that they protect–have not worked hard.

        It is just that the public–the public who do not realistically have the time or the resources to carefully go through the nuances of each report, policy statement and whatnot–have judged that despite their hard work (which is not that appreciated or felt) the results have been found wanting.

        That doesn’t change the fact made the figurative forty points. We have a civil society that few Third World nations can boast having. We have a long history of relatively peaceful transitions–at the very least, at the national level. Our democracy has lived more under elected government than military government. That proves that our young democracy is PRECOCIOUS.

        And precisely because our young democracy is PRECOCIOUS–we should raise our expectations of our democratic institutions in how they fulfill the aspirations of the democratic values we cherish. Duterte is a signal that “C” or satisfactory isn’t enough. Duterte is not a vote against one of the most vibrant civil societies in the world–Duterte is a vote against the hypocritical madness that are Napoles NGO dummies. Duterte is not a vote against the brave men and women at outfits like PCIJ who cover hard-hitting topics that prove that truth can be sexier than fiction–Duterte is a vote against a media that the people have grown to see as nothing loftier than paid hacks.

        As Tulfo puts it in his article today: “If we can dish out criticism, we should be able to take it as well.” The lack of attention and publicity that has been given to our democratic institutions along with the left-over aura of People Power has made them men and women with good intentions–unaccountable. Like Western Foreign Aid. Until Duterte.

        And yet we see on Rappler and Civil Society sending signals to “close ranks”. To protect these “sacred cows” of democracy. I say–NO. Perhaps in countries where democracy has barely taken root like Iraq or Afghanistan, you can afford to make democratic institutions and values “sacred cows” to make democracy take root. But democracy in the Philippines has taken root–and it is out of the seed’s shell and in need of the sunshine of criticism for further growth. Duterte’s exact words are wrong–but the intent behind them, along with the grains of truth embedded in all that bluster is worth heeding.

        If we love democracy–we must love her as if we were mothers. Don’t mothers praise every accomplishment of their children–yet manage to “nag away” every flaw? 🙂

        That means not just criticizing those who have done wrong with bad intentions, but also those who have done wrong with good intentions. Effort is no excuse for incompetence as hypocritical as that is coming from me. Yet, I must add: better be compassionately criticized by your friends for your benefit, rather than be torn down in a flurry of black propaganda and/or fervor by people who see you as part of some zero-sum conflict where you’re nothing more than enemies or people to convert.

        What I meant in “Someone Make Democracy Great Again” is that we should really put an effort into making democracy worthwhile for Filipinos. I didn’t mean Duterte or any Great Man in history. I was using hyperbole 🙂 because the predominant narrative EVERYWHERE is that CIVIL SOCIETY IS UNDER ATTACK, FEAR THE FUTURE HITLER. Come on. I would contend that Hitlers only arise where there is weakness in democratic institutions.

        And Civil Society shouldn’t be screaming. It should ask, “What went wrong?”

        I don’t agree with Duterte or his ideas. And I would wish to clarify: I don’t think we should take them lying down and accept every word. What I don’t agree with is the TACTICS and STRATEGY. People want to take him head-on. You’re a Hitler; we’ll fight you for liberty.
        I say–fight him like you fight communists with counterinsurgency. Don’t fight with “rhetorical” firepower–attack the “taproot” that makes his ideas so appealing.

        Take what good you can out of his criticism. Use it to silently build better institutions. Tighten standards in the ranks as it were. Until people find that there is no need for his ideas. Until people’s risk/benefit calculus starts to favor the “democrats” and not the “populists”.

        If anything though, I can’t bring myself to fully dislike the guy. Davao people love him. I have friends on FB–upstanding citizens with relatives in the military–who love him and can’t figure out why his critics are so critical. Because he’s a nice guy with good intentions. Mabait. An academic somewhere said that he was like a monarch in many ways. Men would take Good Kings over mass-produced bureaucrats any day; I am in the minority.

        Maybe my desire for bureaucrats stems from being a mere bookworm. And maybe the longing for Good Kings is the more human longing. Ah. What the heck.

        So I would rather think of him as necessary test from God as he tests our democracy. On a biblical level: not good or bad–just a force of nature. On a rational level: given our vast societal inequalities, a Duterte/Trump/Chavez was inevitable. Pasalamat na lang may LGU experience unlike sa States. Could be worse. There can be change without struggle. The only question is–how do you manage it?

        • Ben Zayb says:

          Correction: There can’t be change without struggle.

        • NHerrera says:

          Persuasive post on the WHAT and WHY of the present problem. I much appreciate the comment.

          The HOW is there, but needs more elaboration for realism and implementation along with the WHEN and WHERE and that is where those rather critical nuances are important and where Joe comes-in in my opinion.

          My thanks to both.

        • Joe America says:

          I see in your comment perhaps the most sophisticated (read brilliant) trolling I’ve yet to read, defending Dutere under the pretext that Philippine democracy is “deeply flawed” and he can do something about it, and we should let him, and people who are complaining have it wrong. I don’t believe the democracy is flawed, or the institutions, especially as run by the Aquino Administration. I believe the culture is flawed by years of neglect and poverty and mediocre education among the masses, and by a sense of entitlement and preference granted to the wealthy and powerful. But that is different than the democratic ideals enshrined in the constitution and is more how the players in a flawed culture exercise a perfectly fine government. They would be the same players in any government, and the same flaws would overwhelm it. That’s what we see occurring with the Duterte appointments and pronouncements. Favoring the favored, plus putting in some anti-human rights initiatives for spice.

          The way out of a flawed culture is economic well-being that diminishes crab culture and favoritism and replaces it with productivity and objectivity. Weaning the precocious Philippine culture of its emotionalism and replacing it with rational judgment. Slow, steady, purposeful progress.

          Not destruction of the principles that underpin democracy and civility.

          • Ben Zayb says:

            Thank you for your response. If I may–one last reply:

            Your recent response had let me to reconsider the approach of my argument. In hindsight–after reading your impassioned response–I now think that I have been overly cynical in my approach. This cynicism has led to a major flaw in my line of argument:

            -Underestimating the Gravity of Duterte’s Flaws

            I must clarify–I was not a defender of Duterte in my arguments. I was just being a resigned guy acting devil’s advocate. I just can’t help but feel resigned when I see the people against him (for reasons that my books, education and morals tell me are justified) a clear minority against a clear majority that praise him as King. I can’t help but feel resigned when I see that some of these people in the majority are good people who live ordinary and upstanding lives. I am no Duterte supporter–yet there are a few I know who are yet are completely nice people.

            I thought to myself that Duterte and his electoral victory was like one of those inevitable things in history you can’t stop. I thought I was seeing history in the making; things just too backed up by too many social forces and whatnot. I honestly thought a Duterte win was on the same historical-political scale as the Democrats losing the South–in short, something that’s just plain inevitable and generational. That the best thing you can do is cope with the fact that he’s here. That the best thing you can do is go around him. That was where I was sincerely coming from.

            I forgot that storms can drown the people who reside in coastal areas. Pardon my error here. I took too much the perspective of a guy in an area far away watching only satellite readings of the storm. I forgot that I–and you–are in direct path of this storm. I forgot that while it easy to dub “forces of nature” neither good nor bad–it doesn’t quite change one’s opinion when faced directly with one.

            Pardon my youth and inexperience. I have much to learn. It’s easy to say that to change the world as it ought to be, one must see the world as it is. But I suppose it is pointless to completely see the world as it is, if one loses sight of what it ought to be.

            With that in mind, I concede that whatever the theoretical benefits of a force-of-nature “Typhoon Duterte”, they are not worth the risks. Even if one must go up against a storm–one must at least give his or her all to stop it.

            There is a point that I cannot concede or wish to reiterate however.

            Our democratic institutions should receive more constructive criticism. All the more when Duterte’s wrecking them. I think that is not incompatible with going against what Duterte represents. If the castle of democracy is to be attacked, shouldn’t the walls be assessed and reinforced.

            That said, I thank you for this earnest exchange.

            • NHerrera says:

              If I may — that rounds or ends that exchange well. In baseball, is that what we call “all bases covered?”

            • Joe America says:

              You are always welcome to submit a guest article that would address the flaws of Philippine democracy, outside the people within it. Presumably it would point to improvements and a practical way to implement them.

          • NHerrera says:

            Nice Joe. Theory and philosophy is fine — until rubber meets the road.

  19. very interesting pointer to an article about the consolidation of power that Xi has been able to do:

    the article is this

    • Joe America says:

      I saw an article that suggested Shinzō Abe and PE Duterte would get along well. It sent my scalp to itching, so I scratched . . .. I suspect Duterte would get along well with Xi. And Putin. Strongmen who speak the same language. I’m seeing Hitler, Stalin, and Mussolini in the room, but the room is in Shanghai this time around.

      • He will get along with Fidel Castro, Hugo Chavez. Cuba already succumbed to the idea of isolating themselves to the rest of the free world, it did not take them anywhere.

        • Joe America says:

          Yes, but it did create quite a storehouse of classic 1950’s cars that Americans will probably try to import. I poke fun . . .

        • Chavez is dead and Venezuela is literally going to the dogs now…

          Castro has been quietly trading with the EU for years, including ecozones for EU firms and now Raul and Obama have reopened relations so people like Joe can import old cars… 🙂

    • bill in oz says:

      Interesting article Giancarlo. Many countries are feeling the effects of this process : “As the members of the red aristocracy around Xi circle their wagons to protect the regime, some citizens retreat into religious observance or private consumption, many others send their money and children abroad, and a sense of impending crisis pervades society. ” There is a huge building boom happening here in the Philippines & in Australia because of the flow of chinese persons & money fleeing Xi’s new regime.

  20. karlgarcia says:

    on another note.
    Korea also want to be on the good side of Duterte, they just won or about to win the frigate aquisitions,they have more to offer like second hand cutters,etc.
    They would not want Duterte cancelling all those contracts.

  21. NHerrera says:

    Coffee Break


    Meantime back at the Senate Ranch, there is the on-going jostling for the Senate Presidency between the erstwhile allies Cayetano (NP) and Pimentel (PDP-Laban) — with Drilon or Sotto waiting in the wings?

    Technical aside
    Consider the four groups, G1, G2, G3, G4 with the following number of members: 5, 3, 2, 1. The total is 11 and so a majority coalition should number 6.

    Let us assume that for ideological reason G1 and G2 alone cannot be in a coalition but they can if mixed along with the reasonable moderates G3 and G4. Then the relative power of these groups in Coalition making is 42%, 8%, 25% and 25%, respectively. These numbers correspond to what is known as Shapley Value in Game Theory. Surprising? It is, but consider, among others, that G1 and G3 and G1 and G4 can form a majority coalition but G2 and G3 and G2 and G4 cannot.

    Now back to the in-coming Senate. Suppose that we have 3 groups,

    – LP Group of 10 with Drilon as member;
    – PDP-Laban Group of 10 with Pimentel and Cayetano as members;
    – NPC Group of 4 with with Sotto as member,

    then the Shapley Value or Coalition power of the groups are 1/3, 1/3, 2/3 respectively. And that is why even Sotto — and of course Drilon — is not entirely out of the picture. Of course, the bargaining for juicy Committees can easily change that picture.

    (BTW, the situation immediately above is analogous to the situation of two macho men and an attractive lady shipwrecked in an island paradise. The lady has the biggest coalition power.)

    • If it were by weight and not by number Drilon’s side would be clearly advantaged.

    • NHerrera says:

      Guys — I had to go to church with the Missus immediately after posting that note on the coalition game, and thought while driving that I should not have inserted that parenthetical note for its overtone. I don’t want to add to the much discussed/ criticized atmospheric in the media because of the recent event. I am glad you by-passed that and went to commenting on the heavy-weight Drilon.


  22. cwl says:

    Method in madness. I think all the posturings of Duterte towards the Catholic Church and the media are all deliberate.Whoever is crafting the strategy of Duterte is genius, an evil genius. Duterte is not threatening the Church and the media, he is shaming them. Destroying their credibility. For what is the greatest weapon of these two institutions to be the vanguard of liberal democracy in this. Church has money and organization while media has the brains. But those are enough to face the government if they are not credible.
    We have seen how an autocrats and aspiring ones, FVR,Erap GMA. were put to the ground by these two institutions. And theywere able to do it because people believed them.
    Duterte and his strategist knew that.
    So before the democratic institutions could destroy, nay expose, him he is making the moves.
    Next to church and the media. it will be the lesser ones. Supreme Court, business and the security apparatus. Easier task because of their history of being compliant with the powers that be.
    And then.A virtual one-man rule without even declaring martial law, dissolving Congress and SC and shutting down media offices.
    Welcome His Majesty Rody.

    • Joe America says:

      That fits with the characterization made that PE Duterte is not the loud and profane fool critics make him out to be, but a shrewd and calculating man operating under a vision and plan.

    • chempo says:

      As someone who has written a couple of pieces on dictators, allow me to comment on this (hehehe just tongue in cheek, no particular expertise, really).

      No dictator made plans to become a dictator.
      They just grew into it, driven by circumstances, which are basically 2-fold.
      One is the spectre of loosing their grasp on power — so it’s reactive, they institutionalise their power. Marcos is in this category.
      The other is proactive — in this case of the old cliche working it’s magic — power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. But in this case, it progressed because of a submissive, or nonchalant population that allowed it to happen. Hitler, and many others, fall into this category.

    • madlanglupa says:

      …and fait accompli.

      The Japanese believed in having two different faces, two sides of a personality, one for public consumption, and the other is the one only a few people know.

      The lengthy presscon definitely left everyone else in knots, while his acolytes tried to convince us that he is no buffoon. I’m beginning to see this outward image as a mere smokescreen, and if he turns out to be smart as his acolytes make him out to be… The millions who voted him would be getting more than what they bargained for.

  23. madlanglupa says:

    Somewhat off-topic but may have relevance: Was out yesterday to attend a birthday party of my niece. Heard the death of Ali, and so dedicated a full glass of brew to him, hopefully knowing that he came to rest just as Vietnam and America were now bedfellows because of China.

    It was a superb beautiful night, came home head spinning after we good-natured folk guzzled 12 liters of beer.

    But then I read on the news that God gifted Davao City last night with heavy rain. Quite a portentous sign, really.

    • Joe America says:

      Ali represented a bit of conscience for America at a time when it was sorely tested. He was a wonderful entertainer and superb boxer. He thought for himself and refused to be defined by other people’s demands.

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