The emergence of principled political parties in the Philippines

Sir Falstaff and Mistress Quickly 02

Sir Falstaff hits on Mistress Quickly

The Philippines during 2016 is seeing the emergence of two “principle based” political parties. Whether or not the leaders of existing “personality based” parties recognize this is questionable. And whether or not they can collectively unite behind one party or another to make the Philippines a sophisticated, modern nation anchored by legitimate democratic principles is hugely questionable.

For this article, I am leaning heavily on a comment from reader Francis, who laid out the premise so clearly that it actually cracked the calcium formation that surrounds my brain, and lit a little light bulb inside that dark and cobwebbed place.

Francis began by saying:

There is something poignant about the dichotomy between the VP and President. . . . Do I spy a potential cleavage (or the seeds of such) in our pearl of a polis that may serve as the basis for a mature political party system?

I think Francis may be the offspring of Shakespeare or some other highly renowned wordsmith; his point is as vivid as Sir John Falstaff hitting on Mistress Quickly, and just as shocking.

The Philippine political scene is congealing, morphing and splitting into two parts. I would observe that the division has been nurtured in part by President Duterte’s early snubbing of Vice President Robredo. LP is anchoring one collective of parties that includes that former big dog, but now puppy, the Liberal Party (LP), well, um . . . Akbayan (?) . . .  and maybe a few stray legislators. President Duterte has rounded up just about all the other parties from Nacionalista to the Communist Party of the Philippines. It’s a veritable juggernaut.

Trapos know from whom their bread gets buttered.

So let’s explore this, eh?

Although Francis did not label the two parties, I will. The first, the LP remnant, I would call the Nationalist Party, ignoring the fact that the Nacionalistia Party backs President Duterte. This political collective believes in a strong national government that promotes social justice. The second I would call the Federalist Party. It is represented by those who support President Duterte’s call for federalism that supports regional autonomy and economic self-determination.

Nationalist Party

Francis, writing in about 11 different dimensions as near as I can tell, opined:

On one hand: the Lady VP–backed by lovers of the free market, PPP and prudent fiscal policy (neoliberals as some Leftists may grumble) on the Right and the erstwhile activists of civil society on the Left, mellow socialists and social democrats with politics ranging from Third Way to Bernie. BUB, CCT and the SSS and Magna Carta for the Poor Veto (on grounds of lack of capacity and money) come to mind.

To quote Leni, “We seek to unite the government and the private sector in a partnership for change, for those at the fringes of society that we have vowed to serve.” The solution rests with the mutual initiative of citizen and state; the institutionalization of such being the legacy of the former EDSA activists who went on to take on the not-so-glamorous task of governance and retaining passion for democracy where there is no longer a clear “dictator bogeyman” to point at.

The operative statement for me was “mutual initiative of citizen and state“. Or State with a capital ‘S’. A strong centrally managed State is needed to properly allocate wealth and unite and care for the diverse masses. There are so many divisions in the Philippines, from islands to ethnicities to languages to dynastic realms to income classes and education to religions to urban/rural divides, that the nation cannot possibly be federated into parts without leaving a lot of people behind, poorly cared for. The State is responsible for the well-being of ALL slices of Philippine citizenry.

Members of the Nationalist Party, behaving much like American democrats, will pursue that advocacy. Strong national government. Liberally left, pushing socialistic initiatives like the Conditional Cash Transfer Program and human rights.

Federalist Party

Here is what Francis said, and I must admit that I had to re-read it several times, once to get the gist, once to laugh heartily, again to try to grasp fully what he was saying, and a final time to admire his way with words:

On the other hand: the Strongman President–backed by ex-military (that is, Ramos) men, “Strong Republic” GMA folk and New Society Marcos fanboys on the Right and Nationalizing-Loving Maoist “Democracy is only an Instrument to Seize Power” National Democrats on the Left. The War on Drugs, Diokno’s intent to put the foot on gas in terms of spending and the possibility of intense agrarian reform come to mind.

To quote Digong, “Erosion of faith and trust in government – that is the real problem that confronts us.” The man also quoted FDR and Lincoln–two American presidents who brought executive power to its highest limits in the pursuit of radical social justice. Government is the biggest problem. And it is the most powerful solution.

With federalism in the mix (Hear ye, the cry of the Scot–I mean, Mindanoan)–political discourse has sure become mighty interesting.

Well, Francis emphasizes the radical part of the social chemistry, the power and the makeover. I’d prefer to focus on the solution that President Duterte puts forward – Federalism – and let the radicalism hang from that. “Government is the biggest problem” for this party. Francis nails it. The problem is best solved by breaking the national monstrosity apart and putting government closer to the people it aims to serve.

Members of the Federalist Party, behaving much like American Republicans under Trump(?), will pursue that advocacy. Regional empowerment.

The Beauty of the Beast

Well, leave it to Shakespe – I mean, Francis – to wrap this package up with a neat little bow:

At least it isn’t just a competition of only “Who can be more independent of Uncle Sam!” and “Who can promise more free manna*!” anymore…

*It is always the job of politicians to provide manna. But it is a sign of political maturity in a democracy for them to explain how.

The “how” for the Nationalist Party is to respect and take care of all cuts of Philippine society, and to make sure wealth and services and freedoms are available to everyone. Wealth comes from a large, integrated national economy that moves steadily to “first world” stature.

The “how” for the Federalist Party is to put government closer to the people it serves and give them a more meaningful say in plans and projects. This will motivate them to pitch in to build a strong federated state. Wealth comes from shrinking the bureaucracy, ending nonsense, cutting red tape, and inspiring more productivity.

Sir Falstaff and Mistress Quickly

Sir Falstaff shows us what a nation with personality based political parties looks like, in the end.

Constitutional Dialogue

As much as President Duterte would like to move quickly to Federalism, just “mailing it in”, the real world does not operate that way. The Philippine Constitution sets hurdles for amendments.

Contributor Chempo has outlined these and other practical considerations, along with the benefits of a parliamentary form of government, in his recent blog “Federalism – what they don’t tell you”. I heartily recommend that you read this article if you want to get beyond the simplistic arguments found in the dailies.

Principled parties as an outgrowth of argument

One of the difficulties of principled parties is that they emerge from argument, from disagreements as to the primary mission of the national government. There is always a risk that those members of one party will consider the other as “not being a proper Filipino”, as if there were only one answer to any question.

There is seldom one answer to any question when the issues are as intricate and as important as national governance.

It is in the debate, in the tugs of argument, that the nation will invariably will find a proper way forward.

The democratic view is that anyone who commits to the principles of his party is fully engaged in democracy the way it was meant to be exercised, and is a right proper patriot. Only the apathetic are failing to commit to the wisdom of democracy, that it is a form of government of the people, for the people, and BY the people.


Photographs are from Intermezzo’s review of “Falstaff”, performed at London’s Royal Opera House in 2012. Ambrogio Maestri plays Sir John Falstaff and Marie-Nicole Lemieux plays Mistress Quickly.


176 Responses to “The emergence of principled political parties in the Philippines”
  1. josephivo says:

    Wisdom: the share of heart AND the share of mind. Heart stands for all that’s emotional and intuitive, dictated by our DNA, the amygdala as the guiding principle. Mind stands for the rational with the frontal cortex as the driver.

    The federalists as the emotional/intuitive ones. With a call to our hearts? Focus on together strong, we are all family, gut feeling, patrol the borders of society to keep out the different ones/the enemy and be prepared to “kill the enemy”…

    The nationalists as the rational ones. With a call to our minds? Think twice, the absolute rule of law, we are all equal, human rights justified by ethical principles…

    Is there still space for a “wise” party, combining both?

    • Joe America says:

      You’d have to propose the party and it’s principles, something more tangible than heart, mind and wisdom. Or else do as most Americans do, let the candidates argue and pick the one who resonates best. Voters need not vote party affiliation, or even declare a party affiliation.

      • josephivo says:

        The problems are common, the main differences are the priority setting, the attitudes on how to approach them, the framing.

        Heart Party:
        – Who does not belong to the massa? “Imperial Manila, Chinese drug lords, external Muslim extremists…” What are your fears? “drugs, poverty, corrupt police men…)
        – Identify the enemies by name, shame and then kill them and all will be fine.
        – We need a strong, fearless leader. We need to recognize the evil spirits and build on the engrained good traits of our people. This identification works better on a small regional scale than on a national scale.

        Mind Party:
        – Define your priorities: “economy, corruption and culture of entitlement”.
        – Make it measurable, formulate and budget plans, get approvals, procure, implement, control… Freeze the new normal.
        – Management has to be professional, teamwork, not by the massa, economy of scale requires centralization.

        Both resonate differently by different people. Appeal on gut feeling is easy and exciting to sell. Selling with rational arguments can easily be boring.

        • I agree. Parties and politicians should be allowed some lee-way to adjust (evolve) their thoughts on matters. People in the US have short term memories and don’t tend to remember the party that freed the slaves and the party that fought for (not against) segregation in the South.

          And that one of the greatest, Teddy Roosevelt, actually decided to create his own party.

          It does look like Pres. Aquino and Sec. Roxas’ party is in decline. But there’s plenty more. Which is actually what I liked about the Philippine system in the 1 year I was trying to figure it out (never really was interested in national politics over there til I ran into this blog, Joe).

          So the myriad of parties is a good thing.

          All you have to fix IMHO is the President/VP separation (these should be together) and have a run-off forchrissakes, if you guys insist on having 5 candidates, that way whoever gets the votes will have a clear mandate.

          1. same Pres./VP ticket
          2. a primary election, then a final run-off

          Also task Sec. Briones with getting students up to speed when it comes to social media, how to fact check viral memes, recognizing chat-bots (knowing such things exist), and get into the habit of having political discussions in school where it can be controlled…

          integrate the arts (visual/performing) to get across both abstract concepts and political processes, a play, get them to make ads (or viral memes), study speeches and debates, film it all and download to youtube as class projects so that other Filipinos watch it.

          Mixed it up! the Sunday talks right now are abuzz with Trump’s potential VP pick (and he’s a registered Democrat!), (I hope this pulls thru, I’m sick and tired of seeing Newt’s chubby face, Chris Christie’s too for that matter 😉 )

  2. Vicara says:

    Ironically, the wholesale decamping of trapos from the Liberal Party in order to attach themselves to Duterte may lead to the undoing of his federalist project. Trapos are not known for creating non-personal wealth by “shrinking the bureaucracy, ending nonsense, cutting red tape, and inspiring more productivity.” Some re-education of the jackal class will be in order. Discussions of federalism–even among Mindanao enthusiasts–seem to have focused largely on abstractipns.

    Regular citizens need to have a clearer picture of its impact on the daily lives of their families and communities. In concrete terms. The administration would do well to identify the local government units which have displayed the virtues and practices most needed for a successful federal system, including highly inclusive planning and implementation, pragmatism, belt-tightening, and working with businesses to open the local economy to investment, for starters. All of which goes against the grain of traditional small-town thinking. Filipinos will have to understand that some federal states may fall by the wayside, while others won’t.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, personality players will have a hard time, much as Donald Trump is having with the Republicans, if they fail to adhere to the party platform.

      Both parties will need to argue well, for sure, to get across the great divide of apathy, ignorance and tabloidian reasoning.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    Some people like cleavages,some love to mention if some one’s slip is showing.
    from Np vs LP ,KBL vs Laban,LDPvs Lakas,LP vs UNA.
    I don’t see a cleavage or a slip as of yet…..I see more of the same.

    Maybe the mais con con yelo (c) Francis ,will show its cleavage or slip.

    • Joe America says:

      So you say it is and will remain personality politics. The banding together of forces based on what the players each believe they can get out of the deal. What’s good for the nation remains substantially irrelevant.

      • karlgarcia says:

        I would like this to be one of the moments where Chempo would tell me,”you would love to be mistaken on this one.”

  4. I remember reading somewhere about the theory of deliberative democracy…where citizens are presented pertinent issues which are then discussed, debated and argued upon until a consensus is arrived at and is presented to legislators. It states that political decisions resulting from discussions has more legitimacy and the process brings forth a stronger, healthier and more vibrant democracy…

  5. Bill in Oz says:

    “Ironically, the wholesale decamping of trapos from the Liberal Party in order to attach themselves to Duterte may lead to the undoing of his federalist project. ”

    Yes the Trapos have decamped to be part of the ‘Super Majority” They have have jumped the sinking ship.

    The Liberal party a husk of it’s former self. But these remnant few are not just leftovers.They are made up of ‘true believers’. But the cause which inspires them is nothing to do with Federalism. Rather they are Individuals who believe in Human Rights and refuse to bend the knee to unrestrained authoritarianism. They have no real solution to the drug plague afflicting the Philippines. But they do agree to eliminating the drug problem by simply killing the dealers & users.

    In this sense they new Liberal Party is a party of principles. How successful they will be depends on how successful Duterte’s ‘drug war’ is over the next year or so.

    Meanwhile Duterte “Federalists” will pursue also the Federal project for his Philippines.The trapos who joined his ship may have opinions about it.But frankly they will be mere passengers – perhaps well fed ! But with no hand on the wheel or in the engine room.

    “All Hail the Chief”

    • Bill in Oz says:

      Excuse me I made a gross mistake by leaving out a Not: in this sentence :

      “But they do NOT agree to eliminating the drug problem by simply killing the dealers & users.”

      My apologies !

  6. Micha says:

    We’re seeing opportunists of every stripe switching pots of chopsuey and pinakbet at every political turn and you call that the emergence of principled political parties?

    An eclectic political party can never be principled.

    It can only subsequently suffer an identity crisis.

    • chempo says:

      This is one of the few ocassionz that I agree with you Micha. Principled parties mostly rise on the backs of strong visionary leaders. I see vacumn of this mode of leadership. LP is ruddleless. Du30 is a strong executive but not a visionary.

      • Francis says:

        And visionary leaders will only arise when the conditions are right.

        Hence Duterte. Though many here would disagree with his vision, he has captured—for better or for worse—the political zeitgeist.

        • Bill in Oz says:

          And polarised the Philippines political landscape Francis..

          Micha, you not get my meaning, the unprincipled turn coats, as I said., are but passengers on a ship with a course that has already been set by the Chief

          And the Liberals have the opportunity to be ‘principled’ as human rights advocates..For those of left wing persuasion will be handicapped by their strong ties to the president

    • Joe America says:

      Read the first paragraph again maybe. Indeed, you cite the problem.

      • I see Robredo, Baguilat, De Lima and to a certain extent, Lacson emerging as the new PH principled leaders. I wish more will join their ranks in asserting the true meaning of democracy and principled governance. Leveling the playing field in PH will be a long, arduous fight and the more proponents to paving the road to its success, the better and faster it will come about.

        • Joe America says:

          There needs to be an advocacy, I think, to push in that direction. SenatorAngara was being badgered on Twitter yesterday for not speaking up against all the killings. Good.

          • This “unity” thing is well and good but it is not divisive to form an opposition that will critique the present administration. Checks and balances are healthy. I think an open minded leadership should welcome dissenters so both sides of the coin is examined and deliberated to the fullest extent. Why do a lot of PH leaders so bent on the “my way or the highway” knuckle-headedness?

            • Joe America says:


              Lack of ability to see big, or lack of confidence (being threatened by one’s own weak position), seem to me to be the reasons why. The lack of confidence is generated by the intensity of criticism (the relentless ridicule). So it is a bit of a cycle. Criticism should be to issue, not person, and should be substantiated, to break the cycle.

        • madlanglupa says:

          Soon in the halls of the Senate, it would be worth watching the battle of police giants: Ping versus Bato.

  7. Micha says:

    To be clear, political parties are not defined by their preference over one form of gov’t or the other (i.e., federal vs. central, parliamentary vs. presidential) because once the issue of form had been legitimately settled, all parties will be bound to adopt and work within that framework.

    Political parties will, ultimately, be defined by their position or adherence to principles within the left-right spectrum of ideologies.

    • Joe America says:

      In the US, we see Republicans generally pushing for issues to be left to the states while Democrats push for national social programs. If that is an outcome of the left/right divide (which I find no longer so clear, as Trump meets Sanders on issues), then . . . okay.

      • Micha says:

        The Republican Party is essentially a right wing party and one of their stated ideological bent is to limit the size and scope of gov’t or, specifically, to limit the regulatory powers of the federal gov’t so that those rich white men with guns and lots of chutzpah could be left alone to do as they please in the vast American playground.

        When subjected to national spotlight by what they consider a highly biased liberal media however, Republicans tend to lose favor in the beltway, thus their tendency to seek sanctuary in friendly red states where they could have more leverage in its executive and legislative office holders.

        Both the Sanders and Trump insurgencies are fueled by political revolt of those who have been left behind or alienated by policies enabled by power elites in both the Republican and Democratic establishment.

        • Joe America says:

          Fair enough, although I would not be inclined to be so hostile about the Republicans. A good many do not fall into the description you cite and are earnest, if conservative, members of American society. As always, when faced with such a disagreeable matter (to you), the question arises, “okay, what can be done to improve things?”

          If you say, “well, condemn the pompous bastards”, then I just shrug and say “here is a conversation likely to go nowhere.”

          • bill in Oz says:

            Your quest for parties in the Philippines is worthwhile.But even in the USA it is not so simple.Here is a transcript of a program on ABC Radio on the history of the Republican party.

            The Republican party started out as the party of abolishing slavery and had huge support from US Black people until 1936…Interesting

            • Joe America says:

              I think every nation goes through its own intricate path.

              • bill in Oz says:

                Yes definitely an intricate path for the Republican party..But it is 160 years old so lots of changes happen in that time.

              • bill,

                The flipside is that the Democrats were the anti-black party.

                Although current trends in the Republican party is being pro-corporations pro-rich, etc. many principled Republicans who really believe that hand-outs and welfare diminish people than help them (I’m more libertarian, with a small L, independent, but feel the same way).

                The decline of the black community, can be traced back to welfare programs and disability dole-outs right after the civil rights movement. Fast-forward til now, with Black Lives Matter protests— in between the crack epidemic, drugs and prisons, which further corroded the black family.

                What no one seems to be talking about with these police encounters now plastered all over media, is that if you study each incident, the simple act of common courtesy (which everyone’s taught , more so when dealing one on one with folks in authority) common sense would have prevented things going downhill.

                Granted most of these police officers, maybe having not interacted with blacks in the inner cities, took this breach of common courtesy and interpreted it as aggression—- thus creating a perfect storm, of the shitty variety.

                Ironically, this idea that the Democratic party is still the anti-black party of old (they think this gov’t coddling is by design), comes from black Republicans and independents. It’s a mess but in the short term, common courtesy should be the thrust of these Black Lives Matter protests, but examine causes from within— too much blaming others IMHO.

                Be polite.

              • bill in Oz says:

                I am not American..I lived a while in 1985 in rural

                Virginia..That does not make me an expert..But it is hugely different to my own home country..Australia..

                Folks in Oz keep a close watch on the “States’ Here is an opinion piece by very conservative website in Oz..It is commenting on the Black white police stand off. Is it correct..No idea.But the stats are awful.


                By the way. I agree..Courtesy always works even with the police..I been there done that with USA & Oz & Irish & British & French & Argentine, Thai, Malaysian, Indonesian & Filipino police. It Always works.

    • edgar lores says:

      I will note that the Federalist Party, the first political party in the US, lasted only for 30 years, a little more than a generation.

  8. manilamac says:

    Joe & chempo, I thank both you gents for your kind attention on the “Federalism – what they don’t tell you” post. I’m no political strategist, but I can’t help but believe that the winning anti-federalist course would revolve around delay, delay, delay. All previous cha-cha attempts were end-of-term affairs, for one thing, which voters have every right to distrust. In that alone, it’s advantaged.

    Also, Duterte’s media stock is at an all-time high right now & his “consumer marketing” approach will likely see nothing but boosted branding for a good many days, months or even years to come. His own radio show! My God, I wonder if *that’s* what impressed him about FDR. (No wonder he’s willing to alienate mainstream & semi-mainstream media for now. What could they do but tarnish his brand? Stick w/ what worked for the election & work it again, as hard & as quickly as possible!) But another important reason to delay an early federalism vote is to allow more time for *considered* revisions. In other words, the more Duterte’s seen as a man-on-a-horse type savior, leading the charge when a vote takes place, the more dreck the nation will have to swallow. AND on a more abstract level of political philosophy, what, exactly, do the anti-federalists have in the way of viable alternatives? And how would those currently-abstract alternatives get communicated to the voters? Beyond simply opposing whatever Duterte & his minions want us to swallow, what do anti-federalists have to offer the poor voter?

    When Keynesian economics began fizzling out in the 70s, the Neoliberals were already waiting in the wings, w/ decades of confabulation (such as we would see these days on internet’s academic & political sites and in social media) behind them, they were ready in the wings & fired up the engine that still generates ever more inequality & environmental degradation. Despite global warming & the ever-growing anger of the less-equal, the neoliberal system remains largely unchallenged for the unfortunate lack of a better idea—from anyone. (So, we have Trumps & Dutertes & Erdogans & Thai juntas galore—all using marketing-style manipulations any ad agency would be proud of. Hayek himself remarked, after a visit to Pinochet’s Chile, that he preferred dictatorships to democracies.)

    The present looks bleak, but not necessarily the future. Presently, people are much too distracted by the “circuses,” such as China, extrajudicial killing, revival of the death penalty for anyone too poor to afford a decent lawyer & all the political folderol of new appointments, to have given thought much about the “bread” part of the old bread & circuses ploy. No matter how entertaining it may be though, very few people really enjoy *living* at the circus. Over-empowered enforcement people will soon reveal what it’s like to live in an environment run by armed & sanctioned petty tyrants, unable to resist paths of self-interest. Land reform won’t work for Duterte because the low-hanging fruit—heck, even the still-pretty-green fruit—is no longer to be had. Most undistributed land is tied up in court cases & nothing short of revolution can change that. Social services are more likely suffer—based on noises being made by folks at DSWD, DepEd, DH &c—masses of people more likely to *lose* than to gain. The private sector—which showed almost no interest in cooperating with provincial job generation during the last admin—is likely to cling tenaciously to banking, finance & real estate investment unless bribed or forced. Whichever way *that* goes, it’s hard to see many Duterte voters benefiting. Top that off w/ a *guaranteed* downgrade in foreign investment (except perhaps from China) it’s possible to see that the Duterte brand is almost certain to tarnish over time.

    We *do* need time. Constitutional change can be a good thing—something that puts protections in place that incumbent legislators would never support in Congress, or else would only pass laws that provide illusions of having acted. (Passing RH then defunding contraception; bank secrecy laws, cross-my-heart-&-hope-to-die asset statements & very flawed anti-money-laundering laws come to mind.) But a good constitution requires reasonable consideration & debate. It also requires the *informed* consent of the voters if it’s to do any lasting good.

    I welcome the idea of two strong, ideologically committed parties & agree that the federalism debate is a path that leads in that direction. I also agree that, while the LP remains the only ideologically centered party we’ve had for decades, it much needs morphing into something other than what it’s become. (The Mar/Poe split demonstrated that quite clearly, I think.) The halo-halo approach to election winning has caused some LP stalwarts to depart…not that they don’t agree that “politics is addition,” but they felt betrayed with who the party leadership was willing to add & on what terms. So, one would assume from the name “nationalists” that would be a liberal democratic party that would be willing to do something other than roll over—whether for the Chinese or for the Globalizers who see the country purely in terms of potentials for extraction.

    What’s sadly lacking at the moment is any unified ideology or platform to even begin selling to the voters, let alone getting them to understand what’s at stake for them in the federalism/anti-federalism sweepstakes. Filipinos are always ready to cheer a winning team, but the anti-federalists haven’t even *formed* a team yet. Nor have “they” come up w/ a plan—reasonable, viscerally appealing, or totally outrageous—at all. To say “the opposition is in disarray” if to give more credit than is due—the opposition is mostly invisible, at the moment.

    And, while all those processes get worked through, the answer remains: Delay. Delay. Delay. The larger world faces a marathon over neoliberalism…a race I don’t expect to live to see the outcome of. But the Philippines is a different story. We have—mainly thanks to big-player neglect—a much better set of macroeconomic options than many other developing nations. We are not yet tied to things like the TPP or other agreements equipped w/ mandatory arbitrations & can still re-privatize & reregulate many things in ways denied to many by trade agreements. Dare a “Nationalist” party be nationalistic enough to address those issues?

    Countryside development is at last a national political issue. Hurrah! It is possible that Duterte—despite the gov’t’s lack of funds & his evisceration of revenue-producing agencies—may, in accord w/ his leftist beliefs, produce enough countryside development to do at least some short-term good. (Stalin & Mao did…for a while.) The only possible balance “Nationalists” might offer would be the ever-so-reluctant cooperation of the private sector. Who knows, maybe Duterte did us a favor. Maybe the private sector might show the Nationalists a little more productive investment, if only to rid their empires of the international stigma Duterte shows every sign on becoming. Who knows?

    What I’m pretty sure I *do* know is that delay, combined w/ serious political & financial consensus building *during* the delay, is the only way we’re likely to avoid just what all the political turn-coats are pushing for: a quick vote on the constitution of their choice—passed easily in the marketing hubbub of the present.

    On a personal note, I’m surprised to find myself writing at such length again so soon. (I in fact put aside the editorial task I had set myself for the night.) I suppose I’m just finding it ever harder to advocate reasoned debate w/o taking part in more of it.

    • Joe America says:

      Well, thank you for your elaborate elaborations, Mac. Most interesting morning read, and I think you make a WHOLE LOTTA sense.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Thank you manilamac for that stimulating read.
      The supposed defense of the antis to any changes would be,”if it aint broke why fix it”,or what’s wrong with status quo. If presented of what is wrong with the present system and proceed to go anti for anti’s sake then that is being a contrarian.The arguments I seem to get from the antis is it would not solve poverty,too costly,more layers of bureacracy,etc.
      So the burden of proving the antis are wrong lies on the pro federalism,they must educate the people of the pros and cons and the alternative aproach to the cons,they must not just dismiss them as delaying tactics,if they have no answer then how can they say they are being delayed?

      • bill in Oz says:

        Karl you said, ”if it aint broke why fix it,or what’s wrong with status quo” Sorry mate there’s a good deal wrong..As a foreigner been here since march this time, I see each day among your people….There is the potential for a strong, prosperous proud Philippines..But it ain’t here now..

      • manilamac says:

        I wish I could agree, karlgarcia, that the “it ain’t broke” argument would triumph, but the election, I believe, demonstrated clearly that there are masses of people at all levels of society committed to the idea that things need fixing. Otherwise, the LP would have won. “Continuity” was what was voted *against* & its vituperation was the main battle-cry of voters. I am a proponent of the “capacity approach” to human development & thus a supporter of continuity, and I know from discussions (& arguments) w/ frustrated voters that they simply were not willing to deal w/ the combination massive inequality (financial AND gov’t service) & the un-flashy incremental programs most likely to overcome generational poverty. Too many people; too little gov’t funds. They believe it’s broken because if 1,000,000 people suffer from something & the gov’t has the money to improve the lot of 200,000, that still leaves 800,000 frustrated. The consumer marketing of a candidate zeros in on that demographic & finds them an easy sell. Not doing a better job of countering those frustrations w/ information was one of the fatal shortcomings of the previous administration.

        I don’t believe a reactionary approach will work. The people have–in a way, & certainly in the minds of federalism’s supporters–already voted for federalism by supporting Duterte. And we should also remember that there are federalists in *every* political camp, as well. A political party that morphs away from LP “classic” (as sold these previous 6yrs) & puts before the people visions of *how* reform to the unitary system are better *on the ground* than what a change to federalism has to offer–*that* has a chance of winning votes. But (as the article implies) that is the work of a principled party.

        As for delays, I *do* agree w/ genuine palavering over pros & cons…as opposed to obstructionist procedural delays. The education needs to start before & during a con-con election itself…& that education needs to continue throughout the convention. It should include *both* the public & the delegates themselves, in fact. A principled party would certainly give import to constitutions not being jumped-up deals. (The gov’t of Scotland printed a 600ppg voters’ handbook prior to their independence referendum…The UK gov’t handed out a 5ppg flier previous to the Brexit vote.) A principled anti-federalist party would not only counter federalism, but also be ready w/ its own agenda for constitutional revision. (Since I believe we’re going to have a con-con, like it or not.)

        • karlgarcia says:

          Thank you manilamac,I think that no one would propose a con ass in the senate,and con con will prevail,I am for educating the masses if an encyclopedia would not work,then a series of infomercials and multimedia trucks or even comics as long as it works.
          I know it is up to the masses,we would want the best scenario that everyone should be well informed and educated in what they are getting them selves into.

    • Micha says:

      “…the neoliberal system remains largely unchallenged for the unfortunate lack of a better idea—from anyone.”

      Bunko. As the neo-liberal project crumbles, on life support through Keynesian prescription, by the way, and is dealt another fatal blow via Brexit, a better alternative is there to be had that never really went away because it saved the system from total collapse when the madmen from ground-zero of neo-liberal zombieland crashed the world’s economy. Post-Keynesian’s Hyman Phillip Minsky for one.

      • manilamac says:

        The “Keynesian prescription” has many sound basics, but we’re no longer dealing w/ a Post-Keynesian world…what we’re speeding toward is a Post-Neoliberal world. It’s a world Keynes never dreamed of, w/ transnational corporations more powerful than *most* countries & now-embedded politico-economic philosophies like comparative advantage & race-to-the-bottom supply chains. There’s simply no way to rewind neoliberalism & eventually return the Keynesian world. We need to start working on “better ideas” for how things are…& how they’re becoming.

        • manilamac,

          When I was in Jr. High, we had this really cool English teacher who introduced us to all kinds of ideas. And aside from interesting books of his, he kept on the shelves behind his desk, he also had a bunch of comic books (graphic novels), this series in particular kept its relevance over time,

          Are you familiar w/ it? it’s basically what you’ve described… though Hollywood’s done a bunch of these, ie. “Blade Runner”, etc. I think this was Frank Miller’s masterpiece.

    • chempo says:

      Manilamac — I enjoyed reading your comment.

      And thank you for teaching me a new word today — “confabulation”. Makes me feel young, much learning to do still.

      “…anti-federalist course would revolve around delay, delay, delay…” With both legislative houses having the numbers behind Du30, I think a con-ass is a given. With anti-federalists no-where to be found except in some academia ivory tower, and lacking storm-troopers, vs federalists from the south, well-orchestrated with the ‘gossiped’ wheels and movies just waiting for the word ‘go’, I’m afraid it seems likely we will see yet another piece of legislation passed without much national discussion. 6 years appear a possibility as the southerners are showing Filipinos that an admin that means business can move really fast, that much credit I give them.

      • karlgarcia says:

        MILF may be against Federalism and is again pushing for BBL.

      • karlgarcia says:

        rep Benitez filed for Con Ass, Alvarez filed for con con,Arroyo filed for hybrid.
        They will pick one likely to pass smoothly.

        in the senate Drilon and Zubiri has filed for con con,will have to check if some one has filed for con-ass.

      • manilamac says:

        I have to disagree about con-ass vs. con-con. Con-ass requires a 3/4 super-majority in both houses. W/ so many con-con bills being written by our more competent legislators, I doubt that 3/4 majority is to be easily had, even in these days of hot-off-the-skillet pro-Duterteism. I *do* however, believe a 2/3 majority is to be had w/ relative ease…not just from the army of less-principled turncoats, but also from the federalists who stuck w/ their party.

        From the standpoint of informed consent, con-con becomes *very* important–important enough to adopt as an advocacy–because the delegate elections represent an essential aspect of voter education–given that the delegate elections aren’t allowed to degenerate into yet more popularity contests. (In fact, a principled anti-federalist party’s *pre-election* education should probably largely focus on getting the importance of proper delegate choice across to the voters. That, when it comes to writing constitutions, it’s *not* just a matter of choosing a team & rooting for it–that the whole course of the future is at stake.)

    • bill in Oz says:

      Mac the real problem is as you said “what, exactly, do the anti-federalists have in the way of viable alternatives?”

      More of the unitary trapo presidential system of the past 70 years will just yield more of the same as the past 70 years…

      And that is now ‘unacceptable’ to many Filipinos…..It is high on Duterte’s agenda..It will be the second Tsunami wave. My political gut feeling is that it will be implemented in 2018-9 through the mid term elections.

      Consider this please : what if by 2022 a new Federal Philippines is already in existence with state governments & a national parliamentary government and Prime Minister as well…

      What will or could be the principles of the emerging opposition party or coalition ? And what if the opposition changing the system back is ‘roadblocked’ as well ?

      This is the ‘Federal issue’ facing an opposition here I think over the next 10 years

      • manilamac says:

        I’m not nearly as sanguine as you about the Filipino ability to deal w/ a parliamentary system. “Trapo” does not equal “unitary” (or presidential, for that matter). Add to that the local economic problems of federalism & the fact that by & large patronage politics is the only politics most Filipinos are currently familiar with (especially amongst the disaffected) & I just have trouble seeing much of a beneficial outcome…at least not w/o *many* literally life-threatening consequences. This is the Philippines…where many people *die* of poverty in the absence of even a few months of public services. We need to improve–not reset. Too many lives at stake.

        I *do* agree that the events of the last 70yrs are “now ‘unacceptable’ to many Filipinos.” But I believe the solutions rest not in the *system* of gov’t, but in how poorly refined the present system has become. To me, the biggest setback was the writing of the 1987 Constitution, instead of doing a revision of the 1935 one. If you care to engage in another thought experiment like the “2022 Federal Philippines” one, consider what could have become of that–tossing out all the Marcos proclamations & constitutional innovations & simply strengthening & improving the constitution that Marcos hijacked.

        I suspect that Australia does as well as it does because Oz had the parliamentary system in its political genes…much that is cultural & second nature. Here, we’ve had (for better or worse) the American system inserted into our political genealogy. Culturally, I think while Australians do better w/ a parliament, Filipinos will do better w/ a presidential system.

        As for “viable alternatives,” the top of my list for constitutional revision would not be changing the *form* of gov’t, but rather putting things anti-dynasty, campaign spending, term limits & especially a thorough reworking of the Local Government Code–along w/ a setup for the regional election of Senators. *Some* kind of cha-cha is right down the road. You’re an intelligent guy, but even you, at times, conflate federalism w/ parliamentarianism. Imagine trying to unpack such detailed ideas for the lady at the sari-sari store…

        • bill in Oz says:

          Mac, I am not necessarily ‘sanguine’ about introducing Federalism & a parliamentary democracy in the Philippines. My personal view is that more of the same will not change is the only option..

          As for which change ? Well the Filipino people have already spoken…via the elections…Federalism & a parliamentary democracy is what is being planned…( Which I hope I have never conflated..they are very separate things )

          So I make contributions here to try and clarify the issues and what has happened elsewhere..

          I hope my comments stir some real thinking. & understanding….And ‘seeing’

          • manilamac says:

            Thanks bill. Actually, only about 16% of the people spoke in the election (in the voting for Duterte sense). My personal preference would be for Congress to go the simple-majority route–a referendum vote on whether people even *want* cha-cha. But that’s just a dream. I don’t believe all the turncoats in Congress have developed a sudden passion for federalism either. More a case of political (& possibly financial) aspirations, I suspect.

            I didn’t intend to imply that you intellectually conflated. (I’m getting a bit hasty here, because I’m kind of stealing this time from other tasks, so not everything gets my top-drawer exposition, heh, heh…) What I intended to point out is that, even here in this specialized discussion by people who are well informed on the subject, I *still* at times had to go back & figure out where the discussion shifted from federal vs. unitary to parliamentary vs. presidential. In other words, it’s an example of how getting anything resembling informed consent in a referendum is fraught w/ difficulties.

            Obviously, I’m having a very rewarding educational experience on this post…& your comments (throughout, not just in response to me) have played a big part of that.

  9. edgar lores says:

    1. If I were asked what the Liberal Party stood for I would be at a loss. Same thing with the Nacionalista Party. Same with UNA. Same with PDP-Laban.

    2. The only party I could provide a concrete answer for would be the leftist parties, Makabayan and CPP.

    3. Generally, there are no principled parties because there are few principled men.

    4. The historical parties were formed for the cause of independence. That cause, once gained, has found no replacement. Except a vague notion of progress.

    4.1. Most of the post-Marcos parties have been formed around political personalities. Membership is fluid, driven by which personality has won power. And power is sought and gained partly for public service and partly, if not mostly, for self service. The Aquinos were the exceptions.

    5. It is next to impossible to inculcate principles into men of no character. This is the Philippine condition.

    6. If I reflect on why this is so, it is perhaps because the islands are visited by a full alphabet of typhoons each year. The people have become flexible survivors, resilient and, like the bamboo, bend with the wind. To stand against the wind, like coconut tree, is to invite destruction.

    7. Perhaps the solution is to take advantage of that flexibility… using the jujitsu technique. The essence of jujitsu is to use the power of the foe against him. What is then needed is for men of principles with clear objectives to win office and use the mass of unprincipled survivors that follow to accomplish their objectives.

    8. There are several catches of course. Generally, the men of principles lose elections. And generally, it is next to impossible to convince survivors to act against their own will to survive.

    • Joe America says:

      I tend to disagree with #3 and 5. What does it take to have personal principles? Knowledge, introspection and discipline or determination. There are a lot of educated people in the Philippines. What is missing is introspection that allows people to put their own deeds within a context of what is good for the nation. I would observe that social media does promote a kind of introspection, quick and dirty perhaps. The discipline is missing in so many because it is easy to feel betrayed by the undisciplined, easy to get discouraged, and easy to get shot at, generally verbally or by keyboard. But I do think there is a core of people of principle and discipline, and that increasing wealth encourages more of it. It is best not to make it such a harsh judgment, but to look at it as a place on a timeline generally in the right direction.

      • LG says:

        There is a sore lack of models to develop thinking and acting based on principle from birth. Even among the ABC economic classes, IMHO, it’s not the norm to raise offsprings in such manner. Among erudites of the ABC, may be, it’s in their nature to model and teach sound principles of much of anything.

        The Pilipino, in general, will always be present oriented; tomorrow, bahala na. Maybe such present orientation is what makes resilience and flexibility, praiseable, but not praiseworthy traits???? They automatically turns on in personal emergency, crisis or not,

        • Joe America says:

          It seems to me that someone with a career works under a very different set of principles than someone with just a job. There is an investment in the future that leads one away from dependency on others to dependency on oneself. That is basically the starting point to a new orientation about one’s living principles, I think. Indeed, I agree there are two views of the mask, one black and one white, that family closeness and dependency is very different than independence that leads one on one’s own way. The family closeness model is essentially the trapo model, that I’ll take care of those who can take care of me, and thus we have the cabinet we have, and great fiestas . . .

      • edgar lores says:

        There were the 15 major parties in the last election. Which party leader is fully untainted by any whisper of corruption or scandal? How many of them are there? And which parties can be said to be principled? And what principles would those be?

        1. Aksyon Demokratiko – Robbie Pierre Roco
        2. Kilusang Bagong Lipunan – Jose Vicente R.M. Opinion
        3. Laban ng Demokratikong Pilipino – Edgardo Angara
        4. Lakas–Christian Muslim Democrats – Gloria Macapagal Arroyo
        5. Liberal Party – Leni Robredo
        6. Nacionalista Party – Manny Villar
        7. Nationalist People’s Coalition – Eduardo Cojuangco, Jr.
        8. National Unity Party – Roberto Puno
        9. Partido Demokratiko Pilipino-Lakas ng Bayan – Rodrigo Duterte
        10. United Nationalist Alliance – Jejomar Binay

        *** (Represented in Congress)
        11. Akbayan – Risa Hontiveros
        12. Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines – Rufus Rodriguez
        13. Makabayan – Satur Ocampo
        14. People’s Reform Party – Miriam Defensor Santiago
        15. Pwersa ng Masang Pilipino – Joseph Estrada

        Excluding the leftist parties and leaders of Akbayan and Makabayan:

        o I will concede party leaders Roco (1) and Robredo (5) are untainted. Opinon (2) seems to be untainted but the KBL party was/is the Marcos vehicle.

        o (I will further concede Mar Roxas and Miriam Santiago were principled… although the latter has had so many lapses.)

        o Each party will have an “ideology” laid out as motherhood statements or, worse, catchword or catchphrases. Except for the first one, I find no distinct, clear and extensive statement of principles.

        The minor parties not enumerated are almost all single-issue entities centering on religious, gender, and labor concerns. Labor concerns can be a genuine basis for a principled party.

        • LG says:

          That many????

          Me think, the post LP and Post NP ones, only got formed for personal reasons, no true ideology.

        • Joe America says:

          You are laying out a statement of past, the article is writing to a vision of the future, and requires that someone of authority take up the mantle of principle, and then recruit like-minded members. If there are not enough like-minded members, the ideal will flop and that party will fade back to personality and favor. If there are enough, what a great step forward that would be . . .

    • Francis says:

      To reply to each point:

      1. Yes. Our political parties might as well be political cabals. But that might have been the thought of ordinary Americans regarding the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans; bankers and industrialists wanting to industrialize and plantation-owners wanting their “workers” free from intervention. And the British Whigs and Tories arose from monarchy-centered factions. Man did not spring—wise and civillized—from Zeus’ head like Athena. Man evolved from self-intersted animals out for survival. Such also follows for parties of men.

      And another point: the past can be easily organized into trends and patterns, but the present cannot be so easily organized.

      2. Pardon my words—but the Left is under-appreciated here. I am not saying we should all become leftists. I think that polite and courteous centrists and conservatives have much to learn from the Leftists: they—above all other groups/persuasions that I have read and skimmed on—have done the best in terms of fusing wide-eyed idealism and ruthless pragmatism. No offense—but if we’re talking about “reformers” (people who want to change things—neutral term: your call whether you disagree or agree, think they’re good or bad) they are pretty much the Catholic Church to the small, denominational and assorted protestant parishes of other reformers.

      Joma is there. And so is Abad. That says a lot.

      3. Which comes first—good men or a good society with good conditions? Do you need good men to create a good society? Or good conditions to create good men? I think I lean towards the latter and you lean towards the former.

      4 True.

      4.1 Maybe that’s because no major party (save for PDP-Laban in the 80s, the Left and the Centrist Democrat Party) has actually tried a party based on mass membership. All the (relatively) rigorous idelogical firming up of the LP won’t solidify if they don’t have grassroots, non-politician members.

      It’s not an issue of the character of the people within. It’s an issue of the people within lacking incentives within their party structure to act differently.

      5. I would contend that principles can co-exist with self-interest. And that in fact—the former arises from the latter.

      In your article, you defined principles using the following defintion:

      “A principle is defined as a ‘fundamental truth or proposition that serves as the foundation for a system of belief or behavior or for a chain of reasoning.'”

      I agree with this definition in principle. Hahaha. 🙂 Okay—though on a bit more serious note, I would like to put forth a question: are all principles—recognized and defined by the above definitions—morally good? Implicitly—no—as you recognized the existence of “Darwinian” principles motivating our politicians. Many in the course of this discussion expressed doubts about any sort of “principled” formation emerging our society—after all, aren’t all politicians just trapos out for their own skin.


      I like to think that politicians—like us mortals—have to live with themselves. Have to justify why they exist in the world. Sure—politicians play to win. But, on a higher level, they search for meaning too like the rest of us. Take for instance the American Federalists and Democratic-Republicans in the early days of the USA. The bankers and industrialists were for the former and the farmers were for the latter. Now—a cynic may barge in and say: “They’re all money-grubbing elites! Either greedy usurers or slave-owners!”

      The cynic is correct. Bankers will naturally do things in their self-interest, like set-up a central bank. Farmers on the plantation will naturally do things in their self-interest, like protect their “chattel” from regulation. But I don’t think bankers and slave-owners solely and only justify their lives by—watch this word—saying, “The strong will live and I’ll steal, steal, steal and screw the little man!”

      Sure. They might implicitly live “normally” on those “Darwinian” principles. The crazies may even explicitly live on those principles. In a sad world—the explicit becomes nothing more than the new “normal” implicit (i.e. when slave-owning is common) but that’s another story. But they can’t just justify their lives solely on those principles.

      So slave-owners say that they are “uplifting” the “child-like” Negro. The principle of “compassion” as perverted as it may seem. So slave-owners claim to be oppressed and talk of returning power to the “people” by putting government where the “people” are and not in some distant capitol. The principle of state’s rights.

      To use Maslow’s Pyramid—how we get what we need and want at the bottom of the pyramid, reflects what we want at the highest point: or in other words, the point of self-actualization. To the worker, his utopia of unions, high wages and running the work place reflects how he earns a living. To the farmer, his utopia of having land to till and markets to sell those produce at, reflects how he earns a living. To the banker, his utopia where they can allocate risk in the best way possible (and gettimg paid a lot, in return, of course!) reflects how he earns a living…so on and so forth…

      The difference between our legislature and the legislature in more “advanced” countries is that our legislature only represents the elite (the reviled psedo-feudal dynasties) while the legislature of more “advanced” countries represents elite…who have to depend on the support of (and ergo “represent”) blocs (that they may sincerely symphatize with most) in society to accumulate power.

      Really—political principles—in the much-admired “platforms” of those rich democracies we admire—are nothing more than the idealization of self-interest. When the banker extended his self-interest to mean the self-interest of the nation. When the worker extended his self-interest to mean the self-interest of the worker. When the farmer extended his self-interest to mean the self-interest of the farmer.

      Bam Aquino came from a landed family that benefited much from capitalism. So you don’t see him treating Marx like holy writ—but you do see him enthusiastically promoting a culture of entrepeneurship in the GO NEGOSYO program. Because he wants the good of capitalism that he benefits from to reach the little guy too.

      Love your neighbor as much as you love yourself. A farmer, banker and worker all came together in Congress. They all each say, “I know the good of the nation! I wish others thought like me!” After much compromise, they all say in chorus, “Uh…this is the good of the nation…as reflected in this bill…of ninety-nine articles…ah…some pork here and there…but we’re all okay…maybe…happy…but we all can agree we should have gotten more….so we’re not that happy…but we’re okay…”

      This are political parties in a nutshell. They arise from the diversity of lifestyles and values. Ideology is not abstract and separate from self-interest—indeed, nothing is more self-interested than ideology, for ideology is part of who you are! We’re all “I know the good of the nation! I wish others thought like me!” Aminin na natin, hahaha 🙂

      Look to the people in this forum for example. Well-off, relatively. Managers. Lawyers. Professionals. Middle-Class. People here face the maws of the taxman and the endless redtape. People here go abroad and are fluent in English, and hence people here are aware with the trends in the West. So no wonder many of you went for Mar Roxas.

      And I’m not saying that’s wrong or right. You’re part of the sinigang soup that is Philippines democracy. Just as the Leftists are. Just as the Duterte symphatizers are. We’re all flavors and spices here.

      Two closing thoughts. One. Principled men aren’t few. We’re all—save for psychopaths—principled. The question lies in the material consequences of such principles; do they bring results? Second. To think of the world in good-versus-evil ala black-and-white can only go so far in a democracy. The way I see it, it’s more of various shades of gray with their own respective flavors of self-interest.

      And the beauty of democracy lies in how she turns the syntonado discord into a glorious orchestra. Or a winning score in the kareoke machine. 🙂



      The above is what I see with romantic, rose-tinted glasses. Yet, I cannot deny that there is common-sense wisdom in that “all of ’em are crooks” assumption. For nuance and to act as devil’s advocate for this position—I feel it absolutely necessary to show that research has proven that politicians are more likely to be psychopaths and narcissists.

      As much as we all want to indulge in fantasies of democracy—this is something that should be considered. Yet—I cannot help but look at what some on the internet say in fear and anguish—we’re being screwed by [insert elite] and our democracy is a sham—and think to myself that slave-owners are quite petty in being defined by their slaves, that if there were no slaves, they’d be nothing. Even if one assumes all politicians as psychopaths—one cannot still deny the fact that in trying to fake empathy, they might as well have to fake sympathy with the cherished dreams and moral principles of mortals.

      And that, even then, dreams and moral principles may amount to something.


      6. One can say the same for the Japanese. No expert—but I think I’ve heard once about how they have two conceptions of truth—what is the truth and what is the truth for outside consumption. Something I once skimmed described their sense of good as “Rashmonic” in opposition to the Western “Aristotellian” view. Yet, that serves them (at least in the material and economic sense) well.

      However weird it may seem to our Good-vs-Evil, Christian viewpoint. But my point is that there may be a value to moral flexibility. And opportunities to do things that wouldn’t be possible in the West. One door closing is another opening.

      7. Look to your Left. This is what they’ve doing all this time. Whether they’ve been nice Third Way-to-Bernie social democrats or scary Nice People Around. Whether they’ve gone New Labor-ish/Clinton Democrat-ish or have allied themselves with a strongman from the south with (what they see as) “reactionary” friends.

      8. Principles live beyond men.

      • Francis says:


        When the farmer extended his self-interest to mean the self-interest of the NATION. When the worker extended his self-interest to mean the self-interest of the NATION.

        Sorry! Hope that clears up things 🙂

      • Francis says:

        Addenda: I really hope I didn’t offend anyone with some of my remarks made in jest.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Francis,another good read.
          As long as no one cries foul,no need to explain anything.(the offending part)

          about the left, I question them a lot,but with out them,I think things could have been much worse.
          Self interest as long as it is not selfish maybe good.
          example of self interest for me is maximizing profits when running a business and an example of selfishness for me is suicide.

          Of course they say national interests trump self interests,but how often do you have that dilemma in your everyday life?

          • Francis says:

            But what are “national” interests? Who is to say that we are just futhering our own “self” interest (consciously or subconciously) in the guise of “national” interest?

            I tend to think that a citizen can’t just completely separate his or her self-interest from his or her unique vision of national-interest. And that’s pretty important even in “everyday” or on-the-ground policy situations.

            For instance, renewable energy is a nice idea. Helps the environment and all. But what about the ordinary people who rely on the oil industry for jobs. Will they sacrifice their self-interest, for national—and indeed, global—interest?

            The “common good” if anything is something that probably leaves all sides wanting but satisfies them enough to not rock the boat. Something that just leaves everyone “okay” but not “happy”. Compromise, in short.

            • “For instance, renewable energy is a nice idea. Helps the environment and all. But what about the ordinary people who rely on the oil industry for jobs. Will they sacrifice their self-interest, for national—and indeed, global—interest?”

              Oil industry folks will sacrifice their career interest, if it negatively affects themselves, their family, friends, neighbors and community. At the very shallow end of this sacrifice is leaking industry info, to whistleblowers, or ones deserving of moral courage awards will contact law enforcement, the press and Erin Brackovich 😉

              They’ll not need too abstract a concept, IMHO, just their surrounding community as example. The rub is that most oil industry workers, are usually transients from high paid geologists to roughnecks from outside, not part of the community. Then the whole notion of oil/gas companies simply buying people off, once they sign None Disclosures, they go off their merry way, so the idea of community is specifically targeted.

              It’s a compromise, I agree. It’s like being neck deep in sewage, and someone offers you Fiji bottled water to quench your thirst,

              (they’re not showing you the sea level rise 😉 )

              What to do?

            • bill in Oz says:

              Francis, I know that the system is what allows & encourages turncoatism & trapos…

              AS I have studied & been part of parliamentary type politics in Australia I think I have a good understanding of the political parties there..And why they exist and function differently to Australia…An example :I can think of only one example of Australian members of Parliament changing parties since 1933.

              ( Edgar do you remember Cheryl Kernot in the 1990’s. She was a leader of a small middle of the road party named the Democrats.And switched to the Labor party..probably because of an affair with a Labor honcho MP… Bizare !! But she lost her seat in parliament shortly afterwards..Labor voters did not trust her….maybe..)

              Why so little turncoatism ?

              1 Because in a Parliamentary system, the policies and leaders are worked out before the elections by a process of coalitioning.Once he election has happened the leaders together divide up the positions available..More or less in accordance with the numbers in the party or coalition of parties..

              2 Anyone who crosses the floor and backs a different party will lose his party’s endorsement & lose his seat at the next election..Like Kernot

              3 A Presidential system like here in the Philippines encourages Turncoatism.The president is the elected king, appointing all the people who will have jobs in the government..He will & can encourage turncoats in order to get the numbers for his policies and to weaken the opposition ( AS Duterte’s minders is doing right now )

              You what are “national” interests?” Well each party works that issue out for itself and may have vastly different views or similar views…But there are no ‘ordained’ national interests.Give & take is always happening..Even in Australia.

          • Francis says:


            But what are “national” interests? Who is to say that we are just futhering our own “self” interest (consciously or subconciously) in the guise of “national” interest?

            I tend to think that a citizen can’t just completely separate his or her self-interest from his or her unique vision of national-interest. And that’s pretty important even in “everyday” or on-the-ground policy situations.

            For instance, renewable energy is a nice idea. Helps the environment and all. But what about the ordinary people who rely on the oil industry for jobs. Will they sacrifice their self-interest, for national—and indeed, global—interest?

            The “common good” if anything is something that probably leaves all sides wanting but satisfies them enough to not rock the boat. Something that just leaves everyone “okay” but not “happy”. Compromise, in short.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Welcome.National interest is one giant compromise is that right? Everybody can not be pleased or no such thing as everybody happy.I must submit that life is full of trade offs and sacrifices,and as you said compromises.

              • “… and an example of selfishness for me is suicide.”

                Why, karl?

              • Joe America says:

                Heh, heh, take care, Karl. LCX has a blog in the pipeline that looks at dying. I suggest waiting for his blog so you know where he is coming from, versus walking out on the plank he has just laid before you.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I mean commiting suicide,you are taking the easy way out,forgetting all those who care and love you.
                I know if you are depressed or bipolar,you may just jump from a building,So you maybe correct in asking why.

              • karlgarcia says:

                hehe I will be looking forward to Lance’s article.

              • No traps here, karl. Actually this is a different line of questioning, separate from the coming article (though related).

                If the person contemplating suicide went inside a confession booth, and did the whole “forgive me father…” and then explaining his reasons for suicide—- what would the priest advice?

                If that same person later talked to his loved ones (whether parents, siblings, spouse, kids, etc.) same explanation— what would they have said?

                But my question is basically this, how do you diminish “selfishness” when it comes to suicide? Would confessing to a priest or his family have diminished this “selfishness”? Or not even an explanation, but a simple Goodbye, would that have diminished it?

                The one doing the suicide, he could care less about selfishness, he’s gone. And this is why it’s different from the article coming out, because essentially the idea of “selfishness” is not attached to the deceased but to the ones he’s left behind.

                They’re the ones that will have to get past this whole notion of “selfishness”— to move on and forgive.

              • (OT: Joe, what happened to my Fiji bottled water comment? )

              • karlgarcia says:

                I know where you are coming from,and if it is not too late,I apologize for the way i handled our last exchange. To be honest I had past issues with that,and I am glad I am still alive,but this is not about me saying I know what I am talking about,we have unique experiences.
                you are correct about everything you said. Thanks.

              • karlgarcia says:

                the bottled water was a reply to a a duplicate comment. collateral damage when editted I suppose,Lance.

              • Joe America says:

                I restored the duplicate.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Yes,I wanted to type “it’s back” earlier.

              • Oh I see,

                there’s two of Francis’ comments, didn’t catch that earlier…

                karl, don’t ever feel that you have to apologize to me, bud… I’d rather that we back our opinions & ideas with passion and rigor, than not.

                As to the questions above, these are real questions I know many others have struggled with (myself included)… maybe your comment was more pre– and mine is more post– , but I know before & after here are related.


              • karlgarcia says:


        • Joe America says:

          Not me, for sure.

      • edgar lores says:

        Francis, thanks.

        1. What do you see the parties stand for?

        2. The Left is unappreciated because of their avowed revolutionary means. They would be respected if they engaged in civil political discourse… as the Left has done in other countries.

        3. Good men usually arise to answer the needs of time and place. The founders of religion, the Founding Fathers, the heroes, etc. I would say good men are needed to create a good society. This is not to say good men do not flourish in good times. But I was specifically talking about Philippine political parties.

        4. Good.

        5. Too long. I use the term principle in two senses. First, in the sense that I defined it. Second, in the “guiding sense of the requirements and obligations of right conduct.” When I use the term as an adjective, I am using it in the second sense.

        I detect sophistry. Your long attempt seems to me to prove that all men have principles in the first sense. I do not disagree. But not all justifications are principles in the second sense. There are ideologies that are not about self-interest. And consequences do not necessarily determine whether a principle is good or bad.

        I think you know what I mean.

        I should add: it may be possible to inculcate principles into men of no character by describing principles in such a way as to align to their self-interests. The concept of enlightened self-interest comes to mind.

        6. Re moral flexibility, I have maintained moral principles are absolute but should be applied relatively.

        7. Good.

        8. Agree. More importantly, men should live principles — good principles, that is.

      • Joe America says:

        I love it when Titans enter the ring to wage ideas . . .

      • josephivo says:

        1- Principles as in “what make people tick” and then we all have principles or ethical principles as a logic set of values that Lao Tzu, Plato and Hindu philosophers were constructing some 2500 years ago that only a few principled people have fully grasped or principles hidden in our religious beliefs and practices?

        2- Politics is about mismatches. Where are the differences between “Is and Should”, what are the priorities, how to address? The should has an individual part, happiness (with Maslow’s Pyramid hidden behind) and because we are social animals it has a group concern, “how can we all be happy?” The “Is” as an understanding of the Filipino and the Philippines.

        Parties should tell what mismatches they identified, a clear statement of should, on high, long term levels and on direct actionable levels. What do they see as the more urgent problems? As one problem can have many solutions, what solutions do the see, what do they see as most effective?

        As they need voters, it would be natural that they organize around common concerns. Society has many fault lines, haves versus have-nots, religion 1 versus religion 2, young versus old, island 1 versus island 2, doers versus thinkers… So parties have many options to organize around, they can be one dimensional or multi-dimensional.

      • Chivas says:

        Solipsism at its finest, there’s only Self. This also reminds me of Descartes’ Meditations.

  10. Joe, I know where edgar is coming from with regards to #3 and 5. The culture and the system in our politics has a way of consuming those who enter its domain. They enter as idealists full of promise and the desire to serve on a greater level, but the longer they stay, the more they loose their zeal. Many names come to mind who showed so much promise but ended up being corrupted by the system, their principles, their ideals painted over with a less than desirable label. They probably had the ability for introspection as you describe, but other forces, greater in pull, makes them go for things more tangible…..But there are a few that managed to be exemptions…you say there are more and their numbers are increasing, I pray and truly hope that this is so…I am more jaded in my assessment, but I would be glad to be proven wrong any time.

    • Joe America says:

      Okay, Elmer. I don’t have any proof to what I say, just a sense that when I engage in Facebook and on Twitter, I am generally engaging with people who want their leadership to follow principles, like human rights and internationally endowed sovereignty, to name two biggies. I, too, hope the collective grows in number, power and voice.

      When there are street protests against this or that, where this is murder and that is the West Philippine Sea, then we will know that principles that one will walk the talk for are not owned mainly by extremists.

  11. LG says:

    My thoughts….my wish…as an ordinary citizen who had lived long enough…

    Two principled parties with NATION BUILDING as the core of their existence, guided and clearly manifested in their respective MISSION and VISION, followed by the party APPROACH to achieve such guides.

    The APPROACH to nation building shall DISTINGUISH the parties, ONE from the OTHER. Officially registered party NAME to reflect the approach for easy recognition.

    Filipinos, once they reach voting age, to choose and through registration, manifest their party membership of choice, may change membership but also only through registration.

    Candidate/Nominee for any elected/appointed government position to submit, to an Election/Appointmnet Body, a neutral body which, among others, reviews their DOCUMENTED comprehensive resume, etc. and PLEDGE OF SUPPORT of their party mission and vision, if elected/appointed, before candidacy/nomination becomes official.

    As you might already have surmised, am not a political science brat.

    • Joe America says:

      That is an excellent vision, it seems to me.

    • LG says:

      A revision…to my wish above…

      Each future principled political party to have a Party Nomination Commitee which shall establish a SELECTION CRITERIA on which the Party Nominee(PN) shall be chosen from a short list. The PNC shall:

      1. Review the PN’s Pledge/Statement of Support/Commitment (PNPSSC) and certify it’s clear reflection of the Party Vision, Mission n Approach (PVMA);

      2. Review the PN’s comprehensive resume and its authenticated supporting documents (PNCRASD);

      3. Certify the clear reflection of the PNCRASD of the PVMA;

      4. Submit for the election of the party candidate, by the party registered voters at the Party Convention for the purpose, two PNs that best represent the PVMA;

      5. Submit the party candidate to the National Election/Appointment Body which shall present to the general electorate the two opposing party candidates.

  12. Bill in Oz says:

    Sometimes the gift of prophecy is interesting..Here is what I saw this morning : the image of a tsunami..

    But tsunamis when they come ashore always come in 3-4 waves not one…And the second & third are bigger & more powerful than the first.. The Philippines is feeling now the first wave of the Dutete tsunamis..Some trapos have jumped on board the wave in the hope of riding it & gaining something for themselves. The wise are heading for the hills to avoid being swept away

    Always the fear was that the empire would fall apart. That nationalism would not be strong enough and that parts would breakaway. The ‘Independent Federal Republic of the Visayas” was one such fear.

    But it did not happen.Instead the Empire itself has fallen to the rough bastard from the Cebuano speaking South And he promised change.


    A second image : “It is March 2022 and President Duterte is preparing to retire. Despite his great successes he does not wish to continue n office despite the requests of so many Filipinos.

    He says simply ” I am 78 goddamn it ! I need a rest ! The old fella won’t stand up any more, even with viagra ! And I’ve done what I promised in 2016 : Dealt with the druggies and turned the old “Philipines Empire” into a Federation of Filipino States..So give me a break”

    The future will be interesting.

    • bill in Oz says:

      I read in today’s Enquirer an article by Armando Doronila again sourced from Canberra in Australia..

      The bulk of the article is a bit of a rant on how Duterte intends to move the capital from Manila to Davao and how moving all the bureaucrats & departments will create paralysis and waste a lot of tax payers money.

      Now that is really ironic as Doronilla lives in the ‘built’ national capital of Australia : Canberra. He has had the benefit for 20 years of living in a planned and organised beautiful national capital.

      One of the arguments between the colonies in the 1890’s about federating was where the national capital would be.Each colony wanted it to be their main city : Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane etc Eventually 1898 they worked out a compromise. The new national capital would be a new city somewhere in NSW on a site to be decided by the new parliament. Also the land of the new site would be excised from NSW and make up a new entity called the ACT ( Australian Capital Territory ). The site of the ACT chosen in 1910 was originally just a sheep station with no town, port or big river close by. But it was in a beautiful location in mountains 100 miles South West of Sydney.

      I doubt that Duterte will go this extent in his Federal project. I suspect he will be content just to have frequent cabinet meetings in Davao, continue to have a home there, and not lose track of his roots. So Armando is off the ball on this one.

      BUt over time no doubt there will also be politicians & bureaucrats move as well to be close to the president . After all he will be attempting to sort out Abu Syaff’ insurgency; sort out the Bangsa Moro Muslims; sort out the Lumad dispossessed of their lands; and sort out the mining industry !

      And Davao is Cebuano speaking.So it might be a little unsettling for all the Tagalog language Manilineros..

      But it’s all for the long term good of the country.

  13. Bing Garcia says:

    We are overdue to question how social media can nudge a teenager who has never even been to Europe or the United States to grieve over attacks in Paris or American racial issues, instead of commiserating with Southeast Asia’s Muslims over unprecedented Ramadan bombings. Beyond teenagers, why have none of our national political or religious leaders sent this simple but crucial message of empathy? Oscar Franklin Tan

  14. Bing Garcia says:

    As far as small nations are concerned, history shows that it is best for them to maintain an equilateral balancing strategy towards major powers. This has been more or less the strategy of successful Southeast Asian nations such as Singapore and, more recently, Vietnam. In essence, it means that instead of siding with one giant against the other, it is better to maintain functional relations with all of them depending on the issue at hand. Richard Javad Heydarian

    • bill in Oz says:

      Your remarks about Vietnam are absurd and false Bing.

      From 1949 until 1975 Viet Nam relied on Communist China to beat first the French & the the USA.

      Having achieved victory in 1975 .In 1978 Vietnam started to distance itself from China because China was supporting the Khymer Rouge in Cambodia…And the Khymer Rouge were being completely nuts killing millions of their own people and forcing many to flee to Viet Nam & Thailand.

      The Khymer Roug also wanted land back from VietNam that was settled by Vietnamese peasants in the South from the 1600’s to the 1800’s. They started a series of attacks on Viet Nam to force Vietnamese people out of these areas.. So in 1978 Viet nam invaded Cambodia and threw out the Khymer Rouge.They put in power a former Khymer Rouge officer named Hun Sen who had fled to Vietnam in 1977..

      China was mightily displeased with Vietnam at this turn of events and invaded across the northern boundary ..And Viet Nam pushed them back across the border…There was an armed truce established in 1979..But relations have never been warm between China & Vietnam ever since..( Mind you the China conquered Vietnam in 200 BC and tried again in 870 AD & 1340 AD..Vietnam knows all about conquering Chinese….

      Post 1990 Vietnam was isolated as the USSR collapsed.And since that time has been open to establishing friendly ties with the USA..BUt the USA was backing China as their new ‘friend’ in the region ..But now China is getting to big for it’s britches and just a month ago Vietnam & the USA have become friends again with the USA agreeing to supply defensive weapons to Vietnam.

      • Joe America says:

        Bing is quoting Richard Hedarian, one of the most respected analysts of Southeast Asian affairs there is, so I doubt that his conclusion is absurd or false. Hedarian may have different times, incidents, or relationships in mind.

        • bill in Oz says:

          I have read & watched Richard Hedarian on Filipino politics and there I salute his knowledge and thinking. I have never seen anything by him on Vietnam. But his view reported by Bing on Vietnam is just wrong…

          Ideally it sure ‘is better to maintain functional relations with all of them’..But as the Philippines has discovered in the past 10 years, very difficult to do with China.Vietnam has the same problem.So does Indonesia , Brunei & Malaysia..All compared to China, small nations.But acting together able to maintain their own interests.

          • karlgarcia says:

            I could be wrong,but it could mean that Vietnam employed that Strategy after Singapore did the same.
            singapore did the balancing act first,then Vietnam did afterwards,

            To appreciate the whole thing,and not just that particular quote,I refer you to the whole article.


            • bill in Oz says:

              Thanks for the link Karl..My opinion vis a vis Vietnam & China has not changed..But I note his remark is a throw away comment with no other elaboration

              Re Singapore I think he is right..But Chempo is the man who knows..I am not an expert on Singapore.

              I was pleased to see this para..
              “After three decades of neo-liberal reforms, the Philippines is still suffering from massive poverty, unemployment and food security. This must change. As Albert Einstein would tell us: Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again, but expecting different outcomes.”

              He hits the nail on the haed here..No argument.

              • karlgarcia says:

                There was a time beyond the 90s of an attempt to improve economic ties.
                That is according to wikipedia.


                With the collapse of the Soviet Union and Vietnam’s exit from Cambodia in 1990, Sino-Vietnamese ties began improving. Both nations planned the normalization of their relations in a secret summit in Chengdu in September 1990, and officially normalized ties in November 1991.[25] Since 1991, the leaders and high-ranking officials of both nations have exchanged visits. China and Vietnam both recognized and supported the post-1991 government of Cambodia, and supported each other’s bid to join the World Trade Organization (WTO).[25] In 1999, the General Secretary of the Communist Party of Vietnam, Le Kha Phieu, visited Beijing, where he met General Secretary of the Communist Party of China Jiang Zemin and announced a joint “16 Word Guideline” for improved bilateral relations; a Joint Statement for Comprehensive Cooperation was issued in 2000.[25] In 2000, Vietnam and China successfully resolved longstanding disputes over their land border and maritime rights in the Gulf of Tonkin.[22][25] A joint agreement between China and ASEAN in 2002 marked out a process of peaceful resolution and guarantees against armed conflict.[25] In 2002, Jiang Zemin made an official visit to Vietnam, where numerous agreements were signed to expand trade and cooperation and resolve outstanding disputes.[22]

                Commercial ties Edit
                Main article: Bamboo network
                After both sides resumed trade links in 1991, growth in annual bilateral trade increased from only US$32 million in 1991 to almost USD $7.2 billion in 2004.[27] By 2011, the trade volume had reached USD $25 billion.[28] It is predicted that China will become Vietnam’s largest single trading partner, overtaking the United States, by 2030.[29] China’s transformation into a major economic power in the 21st century has led to an increase of foreign investments in the bamboo network, a network of overseas Chinese businesses operating in the markets of Southeast Asia that share common family and cultural ties.[30][31]

                Vietnam’s exports to China include crude oil, coal, coffee and food, while China exports pharmaceuticals, machinery, petroleum, fertilizers and automobile parts to Vietnam. China has become Vietnam’s second-largest trading partner and the largest source of imports.[22][27] Both nations are working to establish an “economic corridor” from China’s Yunnan province to Vietnam’s northern provinces and cities, and similar economic zones linking China’s Guangxi province with Vietnam’s Lạng Sơn and Quang Ninh provinces, and the cities of Hanoi and Haiphong.[27] Air and sea links as well as a railway line have been opened between the two countries, along with national-level seaports in the frontier provinces and regions of the two countries.[22] Joint ventures have furthermore been launched, such as the Thai Nguyen Steel Complex, which produces hundreds of thousands of tonnes of steel products.[27]

              • karlgarcia says:

                Singapore was ahead by just a few months.

                People’s Republic of China – Singapore relations officially started on October 3, 1990. [1] Diplomatic missions were established in the early 1990s based on trade and the warming of ties from other ASEAN countries towards mainland China.

              • bill in Oz says:

                Karl, here is the Wikipediam account of the war between Vietnam & China in 1978-79.It was a bloody affair. Whatever is said about Vietnam being friends with China post 1990 is mostly propaganda..

                Trade is different.The Vietnamese have pursued increasing trade to improve their own economic strength…


              • bill in Oz says:

                PS There has never been a Vietnamese invasion of China. Over the past 2000 years there have been 5-6 Chinese invasions of Vietnam..That’s how far back the Vietnamese keep tabs.
                China has always been the bloody big powerful potentially aggressive neighbour right next door.

              • karlgarcia says:

                ok Bill.

              • chempo says:

                Bill, since you asked, I’ll try to provide some insights on Spore’s thinking on geopolitics.

                1. On independence, we felt surrounded by not-too friendly Islamic states — Malaysia & Indonesia. We had lots of political quarrels with the bumiputras of Malaysia and was involved in the armed conflict with Indonesia (Confrontasi. Indonesia never forgave us for hanging an Indonesian terrorist who blew up Mcdonald House in Orchard Road). We were defenseless, with no army. What did we do? — We enlisted Isrealis’ help in building our army and learnt from them — there were similarities in that Isreal was surrounded by enemies.

                2. As Spore prospered and grew in confidence, we adopted a doctrine of enriching your neighbours as a good policy. Richer neighbourhood means more stability. So we engaged economically with Malaysia and Indonesia.

                3. Singapore being predominantly Chinese, the neighbourhood distrusted us. Malaysia was very cordial with China, but the bumiputras disliked Spore Chinese (something that grew out of political hatred and jealousies). Indonesia never give citizenship to Chinese who have lived in the country for hundreds of years. So Spore made it a point to NEVER be the first country in SE Asia to recognise China. (There was a time when Singaporeans were not allowed to visit China, our passports were stamped ‘Visits to China not allowed’. But there were other ways. We entered China through Hongkong via special passes issued by Hongkong so there were no China chops in our international passports)

                4. When Deng Xiaoping opened up China, Asean countries began to warm up to them. It was in this period of cordiality that Singapore officially recognised China.

                5. Having recognised China, Spore govt accepted that there was no way any country could stop the behemoth from modernising. It was felt a modern China taking it’s place in the international market place would be better for all. The sooner a modern China gets stabilised is better for all rather than for China to implode into chaos. So if we extend a helping hand when they were groping their way, we could help them find their way, and hopefully, secure some friendship. We knew they will be fast learners and would surpass us in no time. So Spore opened it’s doors to China. Our tiny island state was the first country that Deng visited when he wielded power. He was very interested in Spore’s success story. Then followed lots of economic collaboration and Chinese bureaucracy poured into Spore to learn the software that made Spore what it is.

                6. Whilst remaining friendly with China, Spore knew that as a tiny state, we needed a balance of power in the region. So we remained a strong ally of the US and stayed engaged with many of the EU powers like UK, Germany and France, and Australia. When Philippines foolishly chased the US out of Subic, Spore offered the Americans a naval base. Whilst the Philippines, and the Islamic countries of Malaysia and Indonesia were not too charmed by the US, Spore understood the need for a balance of power in SE Asia.

                7. As a tiny country, Spore adopt the tactics for survival of small creatures. Notice how the chihuahua barks ferociously. So Spore is often vocal on security issues.

                IMHO I think the new team’s lack of foreign diplomacy shows. Du30 first act should have been to make a visit to Washington DC. That would have sent a tremendous message to the Chinese.

              • karlgarcia says:

                propaganda or otherwise,here is a non wikipedia source indicating diplomatic sino-vietnamese ties from 1991-2007.
                The bitter bile was honey cured for the moment.


            • NHerrera says:

              I have not come across a published article — I must admit though that I read only a few of Heydarian’s many articles — without my acknowledging that he makes sense: in some, much more so than others. And I believe his expertise is on foreign affairs.

              • NHerrera says:

                I believe the bright staff of DFA are on the ball. I hope that Heydarian and our blog’s worthy ideas are factored in in the response post-PCA ruling which is supposed to come in today at 5PM Manila time. That is, if the staff has influence on Yasay and PRD.

              • Joe America says:

                I agree DFA staff, at least the one person I know, are the best of the best. And they will give Sec. Yasay their best advice. But if he is marching to the beat of a drummer higher than he, there is little the staff can do. It is all on Yasay, where it belongs, to trip the diplomatic fandango between rock and hard place. So far, he has demonstrated that he has two left feet, and shoes that may not fit right.

              • NHerrera says:


                The President of PCA, Thomas A. Mensah, Mensa with an h at the end rhymes with Mensa International — the largest and oldest high IQ society in the world.

              • karlgarcia says:

                NHerrera, you must be a mensa.

              • Joe America says:

                My IQ in high school was recorded at 116. In college, it was recorded at 129. There was a span of five year’s difference. I have continued to smarten up diligently, and I figure that, at a gain of 13 points every five years, wow, I’m in the range of 250 by now, plus or minus.

                See, I’m smart enough to calculate that, at least.

              • NHerrera says:


                I will write Mensa International to put you on its roster. 🙂

              • Joe America says:

                Ha, do they have a liar’s section? Or one for ‘literary exaggeration’?

              • NHerrera says:


                Thanks for the kind thought. But no. But intelligent enough to pass college and grad school. And comment here with intelligence sometimes. 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:

                To me you are a mensa.

  15. caliphman says:

    It struck me while browsing through most of the comments that there were many different assumptions on what were the most pressing issues facing the nation
    Among these were changing to federalist, or in some other form of government, the need for an ideologically driven politicaly part system to shift voting focus from personalities to party platforms and advocacies, fixing masa poverty, and so on and so on. There has not much been been much question on why any of these are the most crucial front burner issues of national interest save that the current administration has listed some of these as its top priorities in its agenda. Just because Duterte has declared an all out take-no-prisoners war on drugs and crime, that its vital to make peace with leftist rebels and make them part of governments, and move away from an imperial Manila as the hub and focus of economic and political activity does not mean these are also the number onr problems facing the Philippines. Sure he won the presidency based on promises of change in this and other areas but that has more to do with what appeals to masa voters and less of what the worst problems afflict the country after careful deliberation. Many including myself would have been totally surprised before the tbe last campaign that an urgent drug war and a change in constitution was so badly needed.

    Do not get me wrong but my views of how bad the crime and drug situation after more investigation has dramatically changed. I do agree that something drastic has to be done to control the situation and that includes those in government that have coddled or profited from it. Certainly, it is not a justification for vigilante justice but its really pretty bad.

    The link below is a 40 minute Discovery series expose on how perverted our criminal justice system with top convicted felons and gang leaders direct and run their illegal enterprises from the comfort and luxury of what can hardly be called jail cells. Very sobering indeed and I voted for Sec. de Lima.

    • karlgarcia says:

      I would also be very disappointed if it is to be proven that senator DeLima did nothing to prevent what was happening in munti,much worse if it had her blessing.
      Demolitionjob or not,she must allow her self to be investigated.

      But controlling munti is hard,all they (current doj)can propose is to send them into an island where there is no cellular signal.Someone one could “slip in” a satellite phone, and the crime boss can have some dealings with some telco guys. I must have been watching and reading to much spy stuff.

      • Joe America says:

        I would imagine that Secretary De Lima had her hands absolutely full, and allowed those who run the prison system to run the prison system as she attended to investigations and prosecutions for plunder and crimes deemed front-burner. I think she was blind-sided by the blow-up of the issue, and had no idea of the degree of rot within the prisons.

    • karlgarcia says:

      After reading and watching news,all I can ask is,is it really that bad?
      Now ad to proposals of benchmarking on how to solve the menace from Thailand to Portugal. It only shows that you cannot eliminate the drug problem.

      It maybe too early for a senate investigation,and if the senate investigation will only result on orders of what CHR and Napolcom will do,then why not just order them now.
      And chr and napolcom will just say do not tell us what to do,we will do our own investigating just give us some funds.

      • Joe America says:

        Given the number of bodies turning up daily, I’d say delaying investigations gives support to the current mood of kill first and ask questions later. Or the governor or mayor who is apparently paying a bounty for killings (ignoring citizens’ constitutionally guaranteed rights). That practice needs to be hauled front and center and stopped. I’m very pro-investigation. Also, why, when there are 8 drug suspects, do 7 arrive dead and 1 is captured. There is such a thing as justifiable force, and there is murder.

        • Sup says:

          I don’t know how they are be able to do that………..they look so cute…..:-)


        • karlgarcia says:

          Then Senator Delima should file the resolution ASAP,and then the senate presidency and the committee chairmanships must be settled.They must use their oversight functions well.If delima gets the commitee on justice despite bad vibes from the solgen , panelo and aguirre,that would be very good.

          • Joe America says:

            The Solicitor General is defending his boss, which is his job to an extent. He should be defending the laws of the Philippines, and the best interest of the nation, and ADVISING his boss, as well. He trips the fandango rather awkwardly himself, I think, calling Secretary De Lima’s proposed resolution as improper, rather than recognizing the legitimate function of the Senate as an independent body. Is there ANYONE on the President’s staff who will defend the Philippines and the laws upon which the nation is based?

    • Joe America says:

      If there were a dotted line, I’d sign on it. I think you are exactly right, and all the debate on form of government without changing the values and laws that underpin it (favoring the favored and powerful), is diversionary from what really needs to get done. Still, with boxers and actors and family members of those who have for so long brought us what we have . . . it is hard to expect anything else but very weak thinking on a very major scale.

  16. chempo says:

    Taking a leaf from Caliphman, let’s do a simple survey here. What do you consider to be the top most pressing issue that Philippines heed to address. JUst one from each please, and your reasons very briefly.

    To kick-off, for me I would say:

    Population in 1960 was 24mm and 2016 is about 102mm an increase of 325%. This explosive trend is even more urgent for 2 reasons — (1) More than 50% of the population is below 34 years old — meaning the rate of growth is going to get more explosive. (2) Philippines has the highest growth rate of teenage pregnancies in the world.

    Population management is key to poverty reduction. Even if the country is ridden of drugs and criminalities, gets AAA credit ratings, gets China out of the WPS, gets Federated, — the spectre of poverty will remain.

    Poverty reduction is key to improving the well being of the country, period.

    • josephivo says:

      Teaching how to think for oneself, innovative and to realize that today’s actions creates tomorrow’s consequences.

      Bring back the good old teachers from yesterday? Increase their status, their salaries. Reduce class sizes.

      Tomorrows economy will be based on brain power, not on finger dexterity or the quality of a smile.

    • Joe America says:

      Developing a sense of personal sacrifice for common good, so that patriotism based on giving emerges, rather than on taking, and so that compassion rules and there is no patience for the great takers . . . plunderers and murderers and actors and boxers . . . in government.

      • Bill in Oz says:

        I am with Chempo & James : sex education & birth control…I think that the Chinese system of needing a ‘permit to breed’ has worked….But the other issue is having a sensible, uncorrupted, predictable legal system…

    • 1. To accelerate the implementation of the RH Law, this law is a very important investment.
      It begins on the family foundation, strengthen the human capital, produce quality citizen based on quality not quantity.
      Government can do this more effectively by tapping partnership with NGO/Foundations all over the country.
      2. Overhaul the justice system – rule of law can be slow But finding the truth is the only right thing to do. We don’t want anarchy- we have to go forward not going backward & we know they don’t work, as leaders they have to lead the way on the right way.



      I think your 1 and 2 can be translated to a resource (a positive) if education is diligently pursued, IMHO not necessarily a negative.

      I agree w/ you re over-population, but I’ve talked to enough Filipinos that I know this subject will always morph into eugenics. So why not focus on the young end of the populace, convert that to a positive, and for culling purposes set your sights on the 65 and up demographics.

      Euthanasia for those old folks suffering with health issues. Make suicide a valid end of life option. And start publicly shaming old rich over there, who are still getting their henchmen to rent out girls from bars, brothels & street corners, delivered personally to them.

      What I noticed was solid correlation to sleaziness in old age, to being a liability to society. There were old women who also partook in this sleaziness, so it’s not just old men. Soylent Green time for them 😉 .

      Make this part of education also, the ability to weigh one’s life honestly (whether or not in the greater scheme of things you’re balance positive or negative). The flipside is the ability to weigh another’s life and be able to ascertain their inherent value, ie.

      which of the nobility over there are simply draining young Filipinos’ potential? — focus on old age sleaziness to societal liability factor. 😉 “great takers” in Joe’s words, should be first in line for this,

      • Pretty poetic since most of these “great takers” have lived their lives as vampires, feed ’em to hungry kids to get a leg up on the competition at school 😉

        (Education + nutrition) – “great takers” = smart & healthy Philippines —- LOL! that’s formula’s probably off, maybe NHerrera can tweak it better, but you guys get the point! LOL!

      • Joe America says:

        Okay, we only get one. So is getting rid of old folks and turning them into Soylent Green REALLY a part of education????

        • Joe America says:

          It seems to me there is a category of change that might be called “social development” that is adopted before it hits the classrooms. It would embrace my priority of “giving” and yours of icing the olds.

          • to be sure, Joe, Operation Soylent Green is reserved for those in their 70s and 80s who still abuse and partake in sleaze (the formula I’m trying to get it which I hope NHerrera will help me out with is the conversion of these “great takers” into nutrition, how to express that… but I’m speaking metaphorically here… or am I 😉 yum yum).

            But seriously though the majority of the old folks would fall under euthanasia and suicide.

            Soylent Green is more about justice, of the poetic variety.

            While euthanasia and suicide would fall under education, your “social development”… it’s basically just focus on philosophy or comparative religion (ie., )

            • here’s the packaging,

            • Joe America says:

              It’s applied psychology more than philosophy, I think. How to engender confidence and the good thinking it inspires.

              • Or lived philosophy.

                But the idea is to shepherd the old folks along, those who are actually ready to go, but just scared or feel restricted by religion. I don’t know exactly how much hospice care costs over there, but when speaking of poverty— many families I’m aware have gone bankrupt simply by prolonging the inevitable. So this too can be a poverty alleviation strategy.

              • Joe America says:

                I’ll leave it to your article on Thursday, as I doubt any political parties here will take up the issue.

    • edgar lores says:

      For me, it’s language, communication, and understanding all rolled into one.

      o Why are people in neighboring provinces and islands unable to speak to each other on the instant with one tongue?
      o Why does President Duterte need an interpreter? Why does he say eliminate then suppress?
      o Why does Yasay say China will respect international law when China says it will not recognize the ruling of the arbitral tribunal?
      o What parts of the rule of law and due process don’t the administration dig?
      o What part does not the Supreme Court understand about plunder being a nonbailable offense?
      o What part of the law and the commandment “Thou shalt not steal” do Congressmen and former presidents and vice-presidents fail to comprehend?
      o What part of the RH law does the Church not grasp?
      o Why do people believe the dictator Marcos was a “hero” and the best president the Philippines ever had?
      o Why do commenters talk pass each other?
      o Why don’t the ideas discussed in the Society make a dent in the society at large?

  17. Vicara says:

    I would say: the JUDICIARY

    A lot of the public anger that propelled Duterte into the presidency arose from having to suffer a justice system that is slow, running on legal loopholes, and skewed in favor of those that have money. Justice delayed is justice denied, and ordinary citizens have had to wait decades for ruling even on simple civil cases. Then there are those high-profile cases of public plunder that have seen no due process, no resolution and no convictions.

    Speeding up due process, and perhaps imposing automatic penalties on judges for cases that are allowed to drag beyond a certain length of time (rather than having to go through the effort of filing cases with the Ombudsman on individual non-performing judges) would lift a great burden off citizens. And would help to check the alarmingly wide public support for extrajudicial executions that could lead the country (as it has driven many other countries) into a morass of unchecked killing.

    • Joe America says:

      I presume this is in response to chempo’s assignment. Excellent, excellent priority. Ampatuan, years and years. So much evidence, so little justice. Arroyo. I’m trying to recollect when a high profile (rich) criminal actually got convicted. Rather, they seem to pop up in the Senate or back as Mayor. It defines the word absurd, and yet it is on nobody’s priority list to fix. Except yours.

    • Waray-waray says:

      @Vicara and may I add the flip flopping stance of the Supreme Court on several high profile cases e.g. FASAP vs. PAL, midnight appointment of the late ex SC chief Corona, city hood flip flopping decisions, Enrile bail issue to name a few.

  18. madlanglupa says:

    Offtopic: Hague ruled in our favor. We won.

    Now he’ll have to put it in his pipe and smoke it.

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