“I not be understandin’ President Duterte”
I also have taken the liberty of advancing his promotion by a day, since it is not until July 1 that he is actually the President.
Here are things I don’t understand:
- How one can call for unity and then deny the elected Vice President any respect, while sending trolls out to attack all things Aquino. That is severing the nation about as cleanly as it can be done.
- Same thing with regard to burying Marcos. That solves nothing but creates a grand fissure in the minds of all who remember exactly what President Marcos did.
- Putting communists in government? Well that will work if there is peace, and the communists listen and learn as well as preach. But it for sure is a bit dicey. By the way, are there Muslim’s in Duterte’s cabinet? I don’t really know. I’m talking mainstream agencies, not those aimed at liaison with Muslim Mindanao.
- The earth-shaking appointment of an environmentalist to head the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.
- How keeping the press away from inaugurations and briefings can be seen as anything but “controlling the message”, or the first stages of a massive public brainwashing. Do Filipinos really want to live like the Chinese, force fed a truth that is a departure from . . . well . . . the truth? Is THAT the unity to which we must become accustomed?
- Anger never creates unity, I think. There is so much of it running about these days, shouting at the Catholic Church, the press, anyone who objects, and unleashing a cult of murder across the nation. Is diplomacy dead, within the Philippines? It is reserved only for the Chinese?
So I don’t see much real unity coming down the pike, because there can’t be unity among diverse peoples unless there is respect for the differences. I distinguish “real unity” from a kind of unity that is forced down everyone’s throats.
The unfortunate part of this is that I do see hints that the Duterte Administration may, indeed, have innovative and constructive ideas about how to get the nation moving. I like, on a somewhat unstudied, superficial level . . . first blush as it were:
- The proposed shift of cargo, corporate, private, training, and other non-passenger flights out of the Ninoy Aquino International Airport. Relief is definitely needed. The airport is at capacity . . . as the pilots mention on the intercom as they try to explain your four-hour delay . . .
- The formation of DICT to get organized on automation.
- The proposal to acquire special powers to deal with traffic in Manila, cutting through dysfunctional laws with new laws and authorities.
- Extending the term of driver’s licenses and other official documents to cut through the log-jam of repeating, largely useless administrative demands on citizens. And agencies.
- A proposed Executive branch FOI to promote transparent government (although it raises a point of confusion when weighed against antagonism toward mainstream media).
- The building of an impressive majority in both houses of the Legislature, presumably to accelerate the agenda of the President.
The last point bears elaboration because a lot of people are cynical about “turncoatism” and the lack of principles in political parties in the Philippines. Well, that is a different issue, and well worth taking up. However, the political environment is what it is, and any President who hopes to be effective will find his work easier and more productive if the Legislature is behind it. President Duterte has put together the team he needs to get his work done, and for that, he deserves recognition, even if praise is hard for many to conjure up.
The product of the work, of course, is what will serve as the legacy of President Duterte. For national good? For the benefit of the empowered, the “new elite”?
Another institution of government is the “Fourth Estate”, or free press. It is not an official institution. It is an outgrowth of the idea that information is critically important to an effective democratic government. Well, I’ve argued that the Philippines has no Fourth Estate because the information is sensationalized, generating a rather negative attitude about everything. The well-being of the nation seems seldom to enter into editorial decision-making. Journalism ethics are a lot of talk and little show.
The press would likely argue that the people aren’t interested in information. It is too boring. And I agree with that assessment based on readership levels of various topics at this blog. Informational blogs aren’t read. But I would counter that it is the job of the press to challenge that essential intellectual laziness, and to publish information in bite-size chunks that readers will accept. Furthermore, they can help encourage the development of a “culture of readers” rather than a culture of drama queens and kings.
One other concern. It looks like President Duterte sees the free press as antagonistic to his ideas and work. So he has stopped press conferences and will exclude the mainstream press from his inauguration ceremony. That is troubling. I link that to his communication team’s ongoing work to dominate the dialogue on social media and I see one thing: reshaping the dialogue, diminishing the role of the Fourth Estate, and enhancing the role of a controlled social media.
This fits with an overall approach that seems to be to upset the balance of things by making aggressive statements or establishing a climate of fear, and then using controlled media to tip a confused and fearing people toward the government line. Or punish those who object as “against the Philippines”.
I’d put that subject . . . media control . . . on the confusing list, I suppose.
It is the tried and true autocratic method of trying to control the will of a free people. Surely, President Duterte and his advisors are aware of the track record of other leaders who have gone down this path. It is not pretty, for all the innocents harmed.
And it invariably fails.
They may think, “ah, but that was before social media, and we are the masters at this communications method.”
I’d put that in the category of an overweening sense of infallibility, when there is nothing new under the sun, only new end-runs that invariably fail, too.
Bottom line, I would think President Duterte would want to succeed.
Thus, my confusion.
“I not be understandin’ President Duterte.”