The great test of Philippine democratic institutions

imageIt is clear that President Rodrigo Duterte has little respect for the rights of individual Filipino citizens. He doesn’t care about the Constitutional promise of safety or the fairness of presumed innocence. He doesn’t care if they die.

Furthermore, other individuals, even members of important democratic institutions like the Supreme Court and Senate, are regularly diminished and threatened by President Duterte even when they speak with the utmost consideration.

Individuals are helpless in the face of the blunt, single minded intimidation and force levied by the President.

President Duterte will have his way with the laws and people of the land until the institutions of the Philippines AS INSTITUTIONS perform their roles as mandated by the Constitution. Until they live up to the ideal that democracy is a form of government that allows the people to direct their nation’s destiny, rather than a single man imposing his will upon the nation.

Or until they give in to the President and bring the promise of Philippine democracy to an end.

It seems to me that these are the important institutions of Philippine democracy as it pertains to keeping government officials within the bounds of the Constitution:

  • The Executive Branch
  • The Vice President
  • The Senate
  • The House of Representatives
  • The Supreme Court, and subordinate courts
  • The Ombudsman
  • The Fourth Estate: the popular press
  • The universities, as represented by top officials, groups of professors, or groups of students
  • The people, as represented by advocacies such as human rights, or by political parties, or by churches

Some clarifications are in order:

I have left social media off the list because social media are infested and controlled by game-players. There is no organization or set of ethics or laws that permit ideas to incubate and become official. Social media are essentially a method of communicating that can be used by the established institutions. But it is not an institution in its own right.

The position of Vice President within Philippine law is to a large extent independent of the President. The Vice President has cabinet authority only on the invitation of the President, or if the President is incapacitated. But the individual in it is an institution because she is Constitutionally appointed and given the same charter as the President, to fulfill her oath and execute the mandate of the Constitution, which is above the President.

I have frequently criticized The Inquirer’s journalistic methods. Today I would like to commend the publisher and editors of The Inquirer for recently living up to the highest principle of journalistic integrity: maintaining a voice that will not be cowed to favor any individual or cause other than an honest and forthright portrayal of what is happening. This raises Philippine journalism to its rightful, honorable place.

The two bodies within the Legislature are listed separately because I think that the House of Representatives has largely been compromised and become an instrument of the Executive Branch. It no longer has integrity as a body of conscience and laws. The defining moment of this transfer of authority was the designation of a minority leader who is a part of the majority rather than a true minority leader, in principle and voice. This step essentially deprived the minority of any voice other than as individuals. It denied the PRINCIPLE of democracy, that checks and balances are required to ensure all are represented.

All are not represented in the House.

International groups and other states have no authority over Philippine affairs. President Duterte ignores and plays ruthless with them, as illustrated by his insults to the American ambassador. Interestingly enough, this reflects the President’s style of attacking institutions by labeling people within them. He is rather a super troll in that regard, using personal insults as his form of argument. The purpose of the argument is to diminish the critic, intimidate other individuals, and thereby suppress the institution to which the critics belong.

So when the President attacks the Ambassador, he is weakening the alliance with the US, a vital relationship protecting Philippine sovereignty and security. When he attacks the Chief Justice, he is weakening the Supreme Court, a vital institution guarding justice. When he attacks Senator De Lima or insults Vice President Robredo, he is weakening their institutions, and weakening democracy.

It then falls to the institutions themselves, as whole bodies, to determine if they will allow themselves to be so weakened. That largely depends on whether the institution’s leadership and members have cast their allegiance to the President or the Constitution.

Institutional obligations in the Philippines, unfortunately, like political parties, are often aligned along personal lines rather than lines of principle. That is the main reason the Philippines is a poor and under-performing nation. The huge flaw in the culture of impunity and favor is that no one is responsible for anything around here.

So a democracy built on favors over principle does not take very good care of its people and is not very productive. Those of us who see the promise of democracy to lift people up and care for them better than other forms of government, especially poorly principled totalitarian rule, wish the leaders of Philippine institutions would summon up some backbone, inspire their membership, and do their jobs as expressed in the Constitution.

This blog, The Society of Honor by Joe America, is largely the work of an individual, with the participation of other individuals. It does not have institutional protection. Regretably, the tenor of the articles and discussions is leading down the path of an anti-Duterte blog.

When he was elected, I said I would support the President and confine criticism to issues. That has become difficult because issues invariably lead back to the President himself, and his character. The readout time and time again is critical because our values differ. His are autocratic while most contributors to the blog have values based on well-being of community. Community values are ethics and laws and respect for diversity and individual expression and civility. The Philippines has elected a President who, by all indications, does not even believe in free speech.

So democratic principles are for sure under test. As are the institutions of democracy.

This blog cannot be sustained as an “anti” blog. I am not an institution, and not a citizen. I have a place in the dialogue only if the President welcomes it. I believe he does not want critical voices to persist. Nor do I care to exorcise my dismay and angers by holding a regular rant in the public space.

So the blog will be suspended, or put into hibernation, until such time that the Philippines has a government that respects the rights of individuals to express themselves openly.

Non-political articles may be published here from time to time. You know, prayers, pokemon stories, restaurant reviews and other messages that will not cause the Administration to worry about developing a conscience or respect for democratic principles. The comment threads will remain open, and moderated. Political commentary is discouraged.

I will do an appropriate expression of gratitude to a lot of people as a separate article. There are so many to thank.

To the members of the institutions of the Philippines, I say this:

We, as individuals, are in your hands. We trust that you will stand up for the nation, its Constitution, the humanistic values of democracy and freedom, and their purpose, to protect the security, safety and well-being of every individual Filipino, and such guests as Filipinos may invite to share that famous Filipino hospitality and good will.

Comments
69 Responses to “The great test of Philippine democratic institutions”
  1. Jean M Mahoney says:

    Joe, Joe, Joe…. say it isn’t so. You’re shutting down on account of the tenor of your site becoming anti-Duterte, as opposed to issues? Duterte has made himself the story, the issue. Until he stops, our voices must continue to be heard. Am I reading this correctly — you believe you have a place in the country’s dialogue ONLY IF Duterte welcomes it? Where does that leave anyone, when in point of fact, Duterte welcomes no opposing viewpoints at all? Are we being cowed and bullied into submission? I’m just starting! Please email me. I shall miss your thoughts.

    • Is it wrong for President Duterte to eliminate corruption, crimes and too much drugs in the Philippines, spreading like wildfire all over the country? Is it wrong for him if he is determined to eradicate them all? Have you been to the Philippines and see the place for yourself, before you make a report that is not true? Do you really what is the situation of the Philippines? Are you saying that the Philippines maintained it’s being dependent on drugs, corruptions and crimes? I don’t think so for you really have any idea what the truth really is. Better go to the Philippines and see the difference for yourself.

  2. Oldmaninla says:

    The Eastern thinking is not Western thinking…. Just review Singapore and other Asian nation’s governance evolution of progressive nations. ……..

  3. DANIEL 2:21. HE is in control.

  4. This is truly a sad day. I lost another venue to express what I feel, or my reaction to current political events, share the takes of columnists I consider still patriotic, rare do I post them due to my own personal limitation. I will continue to participate in discussions here, mindful of your words – “Political commentary is discouraged”.

    It does not have institutional protection, yes, that’s another sad reality, more so when, unlike Wallace, you have not yet been given a Filipino citizenship by our Legislature, a fact that is being repeatedly pointed out by some trolls, as if a global citizen is not entitled to an opinion. I cannot blame you for this decision, and understand where you are coming from.

    Thank you for your concern for the well being of our country, words are not enough to express our appreciation, and I don’t possess the capacity to express what my mind and heart would like to, the way Wil, cha and others can. I hope conditions here will improve and freedom of expression can still be enjoyed without fear for our loved ones. The zealots and little Dutertes are sprouting all around, even in institutions which you have mentioned in this article.

    I wish this is a bad dream I’m having, and that this is still months before May 9, 2016 and that Poe is still thinking about being VP for Roxas. Wishful thinking, I know. No use crying over spilled milk, so they say. My only consolation is that I did my best (along with other concerned citizens who view the forest and not just the trees) to prevent all this from happening, although my best was not enough.

    God bless you and your whole family. Stay safe and well always.

  5. cha says:

    So sad, mate. But I do understand.

    There must be another way.

  6. josephivo says:

    As an individual believing in consequentialism, I had so many questions left that I couldn’t answer by myself, e.g.:

    “Hero raped my daughter”, does this alter his heroic world saving acts?
    “Preacher raped my daughter”, does this alter his superb world saving teachings?
    “President breaks the law”, does that alter the value of his superb intentions?

    And what could be the tipping point? Saving the world from a nuclear disaster versus one almost consensual rape half under influence?

    And are my individual feelings relevant? Minority feelings? Majority feelings?

    So the end of the blog means no more Edgars to orient our thinking? No more Ireneos, Colonels, Herreras, Chempos, Carls, Juanas and so many others to get opposing views, enlightening views, additional arguments or unsolvable dilemmas… ?

    August 15, a sad day.

    • As I understood it, the blog will not end, Joseph. The anti-Duterte articles and political commentaries will.

      “Non-political articles may be published here from time to time. You know, prayers, pokemon stories, restaurant reviews and other messages that will not cause the Administration to worry about developing a conscience or respect for democratic principles. The comment threads will remain open, and moderated. Political commentary is discouraged. ” – Joe

      Raissa’s blog is still there, hopefully, will no longer be subjected to sabotage or whatever it is that is sometimes hindering our access. Inside Philippine politics and beyond.

      But I agree – August 15, a sad day.

      • Mary,

        Maybe Joe was given an offer he couldn’t refuse.

        I say roll with the punches, “Be like water” as Bruce Lee liked to say. Let’s talk about Philippine mangoes https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Carabao_(mango) instead , are mangoes from India really more superior, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alphonso_(mango) ?

        I don’t know how they do it in India, but in Mindanao they smoke the trees , set up a little bonfire on the ground beneath the mango trees, to induce flowering. As explained to me the threat of fire, via smoke, encourages the trees to produce more flowers, thus more mangoes.

        “12. I thank JoeAm for providing a platform for right-minded ideas, seeds that may one day blossom like flowers in the Filipino psyche, colorful strands that hopefully have been woven into the fabric of Filipino society.”

        I believe tSoH can still bring world-class mangoes to market. 😉 It’s all about the flowering.

          • Ireneo,

            I can definitely see an AlDub-ification of this story, and maybe talk about white/Filipina cultural overtones and why Filipinos consume so much whitening products. Simply innocuous stories from the Philippines are so ripe with criticism and commentaries that we really do not need DU30—– ie. , there’s enough to talk about w/ DU30 and his War on Drugs.

          • Marie says:

            Sir, there are so many other blogs devoted to such… we can access those any time.
            I am saddened by Sir Joe America’s farewell to intellectual discussion of relevant and at times controversial issues affecting our nation, but thank you, your tongue-in-cheek suggestion made me smile.

            My question, though – how long can we discuss who’s now dating who and who transferred to the rival network?

        • LCpl_X (@LCpl_X)

          He has a wife and a son to think of.

          With zealots and mini Dutertes all over the nation, police / military personnel, with the Legislative body in a super majority under his thumb contemplating to transform itself into a con-ass that will convert the Constitution into whatever mold they want, with the threat of martial law afterwards ( are they planning to amend the constitution to remove martial law safeguards and limitations now int current one? ugh!) I will say no more.

          Here in Joe’s latest article will be the last time I will make a political commentary so bear with me with my last hurrah in TSOH before it’s scheduled hibernation.

          We will flood the social media with political comments, in an effort to pressure the institutions, the mainstream print and broadcast media in particular, to be truly considered the fourth pillar of the state all over the world. A daunting feat. yes, considering how it is being manipulated nowadays, but we cannot rest however depleted, week kneed most of the freedom fighters are now.

          The mosquito press during the period of the Marcos dictatorship was able to provide the “threat of fire, via smoke, that encourages the trees to produce more flowers, thus more mangoes”. Small and tiny bits of truth and expose from these mosquito press became embedded in the citizen’s subconscious, enough to support the widow candidate who challenged the Goliath Marcos, then answered a Cardinal’s call to support Enrile and Ramos when their lives are in peril… and the rest is our gift to the world, a bloodless revolution onward to restoration of democracy and economic freedom.

          With God’s help, we can try and succeed again.

          • Mary,

            This was the disagreement I had with gian and Joe, I think you guys are giving social media too much credit. What happens in social media has to be translated to stuff you can do on the ground, in the real world— simply posting on social media is (especially as a one-person operation) is an act of futility.

            With that said, the act of writing or reading stuff on social media is cathartic, sometimes cleansing, for the soul, so by all means if you’re impassioned write away, just have illusions—- you’ll be carrying too much of the world on your shoulders, Mary 😦 .

            In the mean time, keep your eye out for Fentanyl, which China is manufacturing en masse, illegal versions of this or some analogue , is being bought up by new cartels , ie. post- El Chapo Mexico http://www.macleans.ca/news/world/mexicos-new-breed-of-cartel-killers/

            Watch all video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vbl19waROcA&list=PLxd0bZ1RXEzuxZX4wLd_C1zJt1HhJRAkM

  7. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. Shocker.

    2. I started posting to TSH in the second half of 2012. The blogs then were wide-ranging in subject matter. If I look at the topics for August of that year, they cover President Aquino, Chief Justice Sereno, Senator Sotto, the CBCP, PCIJ, China, ethics, patriotism, elitism, killer books and my first contribution on corruption and poverty.

    3. When I look at the blogs published last month, July, they cover: mass murder, drugs, the SONA, intimidation as government policy, China, best theme song, ethics, climate change, Mindanao, President Aquino, trolls, political parties, federalism, the disenfranchised, and my latest contribution on judgmental disability.

    4. It would seem that the topics covered both in August 2012 and July 2016 cover a lot of ground and also that there are similarities in subject matter. The scope and similarity are deceptive. On close reading of the blogs in July, one can see they offer different angles of different parts of the elephant in the room.

    5. The elephant in the room is President Duterte.

    6. The main purpose of this cross-cultural blog, as I understood it to be, was to explore and be able to understand the Filipino psyche from the viewpoint of Western and Asian eyes.

    7. It is unfortunate that the Filipino psyche is mainly concerned about subsistence and materialistic living and, as a consequence, embroiled in the activity that is most likely to lift him up to higher levels of subsistence and materialism. That activity is politics.

    8. In Oz, by comparison, politics is not an all-encompassing concern. The government is there, the civil service quietly goes about doing its work, and the politicians do make noise come election time, but they are largely ignored. They are not part of daily life. Thus as a private citizen, one has the life and the liberty to pursue happiness.

    9. It seems this luxury is not granted to the Filipino at this time.

    10. In my years of commenting on this site, I have gone on retreat twice to recharge my batteries and to acquire that distance so necessary to attain clarity of perception. If JoeAm finds it necessary to hibernate, this is to be respected. The Society has, it seems, grown to be an institution of sorts in social media. I am not sure it is all that influential, but I am certain it is a beacon of light to some readers.

    11. That it should be seen as a threat to an ordered society is confounding.

    12. I thank JoeAm for providing a platform for right-minded ideas, seeds that may one day blossom like flowers in the Filipino psyche, colorful strands that hopefully have been woven into the fabric of Filipino society.

    13. May The Society of Honor endure.
    *****

  8. LG says:

    In shock of the announcement and in grief😢 already.

    I shall miss Joe’s fresh perspectives and insights on the issues of the day. As well, those of the contributors (ones that I’ve read….Edgar Lores, Chempo, Josephivo, Karl Garcia, Wilfredo Villanueva) and their thoughtful responses/comments to posts, including those by NHerera, Irineo BR Salazar, Juana Pilipinas, Madlanglupa, Francis, Giancarlo and many others who took time to post. I have been enriched, no doubt. I feel I have met you somehow. It’s been a pleasure. Thank you all😍.

    My deep respects and admiration go to the non-Filipino, fellow expat, the founder and developer of THS…the inimitable n incorrigible, Joe America…who inspires, opens and challenges minds. He showed us that you don’t have to be a citizen to love the Philippines. More than some THS readers and responders do, I believe he loves Filipinos, be they sinners or saints. For those who had forgotten or never taught good manners and right conduct (GMRC), he modeled show of appreciation for deeds well done, even those not so well done.

    Live safe, content, and healthy Joe America. God bless you, your Lady and Joe America, Jr.

    For those of us who started reading the THS only this year, there is consolation in the archive of articles to catch up on and pick up gems and pearls of wisdom to bank in our personal account.

    Stay well you all. ❤️💕 n ✌️

    • LG says:

      I correct myself. Wrong choice of word, “incorrigible” to describe Joe. I meant to describe him as “extremely courageous”. I apologize Joe😔

  9. egamboa2015 says:

    Joe, I’m deeply saddened that your educated political voice is being stifled. I can only imagine the stuff they must be throwing at you. I got blasted as soon as my op-ed appeared in the Inquirer. But, I’m sending another article. God knows what nasty garbage I will get this time.
    I hope you will not stop writing, Joe. You are the voice in the wilderness. But I understand the situation you must be in. I admire your courage, your integrity, and your love for an adopted country. Best wishes to you and your family.

  10. NHerrera says:

    THOUGHTS ON THIS THE LAST OF JOE’S POLITICAL BLOG BEFORE HE GOES INTO HIBERNATION

    1. It is not a blog written before retirement . It is thus not a “swan song.” As he said it, non-political blogs may appear in TSH and will be moderated.

    2. In so many words and blogs Joe has expressed what can and should be expressed. It is possible that related blogs may be sort of repetitive in its message or will have come to what is known as “diminishing returns” for the effort.

    3. Joe is not as young as some of us (present company excluded) and he needs to recharge too. And put more time to his family and whatever other dormant activities or hobbies he has, set aside because of his fast and energy-sapping involvement in TSH.

    4. I believe that the blog has served and is serving its purpose in that I strongly believe the influential people in the institutions listed in the current blog or their staff are reading TSH, the latter writing a brief note for their principals. If the principals do not react or waiting for the time to act, we will not know.

    5. I have grown to love the TSH for the thoughts expressed in the blog and the associated comments. Its probably timely, this development — I too will use this cue to think about other things while continuing to watch developments in the country. Recharge my battery too.

    Joe, take care.

    • eBooks, sir NH? when things get too stressful for me, I resort to reading eBooks, and just recently, while recuperating. A miser that I am, (not hoarding wealth, but trying to spend as little money as possible) I hound all the free downloads, I just finished a series of eBooks by David Baldacci, Katie Reus, Donald Hamilton, read again the Ludlum series (this time on eBooks). All free!

      Am now on US Navy Seals series.

      Watch your six, everyone! hehe!

  11. I hate to imagine what pressure you are going trough Joe. I sense something sinister behind your sudden self proclaimed exile, but that’s just me and my skeptical mind…but for whatever reason, I hope the vacation is short…very few places provide stimulating discussions nowadays..and not many individuals have the courage to finger trough the mesh of political and social incoherence happening today.

  12. madlanglupa says:

    This blog was the one last place where I am able to voice my concerns about this… New Order. To try to raise my objections elsewhere, especially in open social media is inviting the equivalent of home invasion.

    Do, however, note that the voice of the opposition is growing, in that most of us cannot take this reign of terror and impunity happen while lying down. It wouldn’t be for long that the 16 million would see the folly of their blind impatience and entitlement.

    Sir, I shall let you on your leave, a break from being concerned with national events. It’ll be the job of the rest to inculcate the young on why they cannot ignore about the rise of the iron fists in the region, and why they should care.

    Thank you, sir. There shall be another arena for discourse on not only making life in this regime more palatable.

  13. eag97a says:

    I hope you reconsider your position Joe. But with that said I respect your decision and even if this particular blog hibernates you’ll find a way to join other blogs or fora that will provide reason, enlightenment and critical thinking that is sadly lacking in others. Good luck and we’ll see you again,

  14. Javier Gris says:

    Ah! So sorry to hear that you will be quiet. Stay quiet, then, my friend, if that means you and yours will stay safe.

  15. manuelbuencamino says:

    Joe,
    I don’t understand your not wanting to turn into an anti-Duterte blog.because “When he was elected, I said I would support the President and confine criticism to issues. That has become difficult because issues invariably lead back to the President himself, and his character.” He has made himself the issue.

    But I can understand you shutting down the blog if it involves yours and your family’s personal safety and welfare.

    I can also understand the hesitance about appearing a foreigner meddling and throwing stones because more often than not, and to a large I think it’s right, a foreigner should behave like a guest complimenting the positives and looking past the negatives. This is the one area, personal safety and well-being aside, where you are vulnerable to all sorts of personal attacks.

    Maybe you should explore becoming a Filipino citizen since you’ve put down roots here.

    Then again with all the shit going down holding on to your citizenship and keeping the option of taking your family to safer ground is an option I wish I had.

    I’ve enjoyed our many conversations and I wish you the best knowing that your love and concern for my country is as unquestionable as your love for your native land.

  16. Apollo Dimayuga says:

    I have long followed your blog and have admired your love for the Filipinos, Joe. You have cared more for the adopted country than most Filipinos I know. I grew up during the dark days of martial law under the Marcoses and, as a university student, witnessed the harsh reality of its brutality.

    Duterte, at this point in time, is evolving into another tyrant no different from Ferdinand Marcos. He has a Machiavellian mindset – believing that the end justifies the means.

    Hibernate Joe. Have a rest and enjoy the company of your family.

    But as surely as the sun will rise on a new dawn . . . . you will be back.

    Cheers mate

  17. RKL says:

    I shall miss the political commentary. Perhaps we could talk about this instead https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xnTDSxtcwn8 or this post to Kiko Pangilinan’s take on burying FM at the LNMB. I quote”Kiko Pangilinan imposibleng hinde mo alam ang perang pinamana ni Marcos sa mga Pilipino, hinde mo rin alam na 70% ng World Bank pag aari ng mga Filipino, hinde mo rin alam ang project ECOSOC ng United Nations for implementation dahil ayaw tanggapin ni Aquino ang funds na nakalaan para dito. Pumunta sa Senate si Imelda para payagan na implement ang kanyang Last Will absent ka ba ng pumunta siya? Bakit hinde mo puntahan ang website ng Alpha Omega World Development Marshall Programme na ang chairman si Tiburcio Villamor Marcos, hunde mo ba siya kilala? andoon lahat ng evidence na kailanman ginawa lahat ni Marcos para sa mga Filipino pero ayaw ng mga Aquino ipaalam.” Where does this idiocy come from?

    • madlanglupa says:

      No surprises if that sounds more like one of those Marcos personality cults that his heirs have taken to cultivate the mentality in their home turf (a principality in itself, really).

  18. Waray-waray says:

    Your last political blog. Am I hearing it right @Joeam?

    Right now all we feel are negative energies. Our country is into a chaotic phase and it is here that we have our balm. Exchanging views and comments have kept our sanity from plunging into this crazy madness around us.

    Sadness, madness, craziness, anger all of these negative feelings. But I know it won’t be long until things explode. But the Filipinos indomitable spirit will always prevail.

    Until then so long TSH and to all take care.

  19. Ancient Mariner says:

    Joe America. Your action is understandable but nonetheless today is a sad one. Stay safe. You are in our prayers.

  20. Let us talk about the weather from now on. There was a tornado in Manila yesterday…

    • When placed in context, DU30’s Drug War, China’s producing of Fentanyl & other such synthetics or lab-made copies of say Marijuana , cocaine, etc. plus the 10-12% bite of the illegal drug trade in Mexico’s overall economy , it’s news yes— whether it’s being done humanely or not, I can go either way, but think for a minute, India’s on-going Hindu vs. Muslim riots can take 3,000 lives in one day, tsunamis the most recent in Japan alone took 16,000 , the on-going drug war with the recent spike post-El Chapo w/ Fentanyl is also clearing 5,000 plus ,

      1,000 deaths under DU30 (50% clearly his, other 50% cleaning up by drug lords) is a drop in the wider bucket of man-made and natural disasters. I’d like to know what the numbers were pre-DU30?

      The things that are going to kill Filipinos, arent drugs or DU30’s drug war, it’ll be tornados and super Typhoons. Climate Change, Global Warming, tornados in the Philippines, gives us context. What are more pressing concerns? Natural disasters. “Democracy” over here wasn’t able to do much about Global Warming, so maybe dictatorships and command economies can do more? Compare and contrast, there’s so much more here to talk about aside from DU30, man. So much more…

  21. Andrea says:

    So sad, I only open my email just to read The Honor Society what I like most are the political opinions, ideas. observations about what is happening to the Philippines Joe America is more Filipino than a lot of Filipinos.

  22. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    This blog’s demise is collateral damage. I remember a scene in the first Planet of the Apes movie in 1968. An astronaut was lobotomized, and to the horror of his fellow survivors, does not recognize them anymore. Sure, the blog will still be around, but we won’t recognize it anymore. Take care, Joe. Take care of your family. Seriously consider leaving the country if it gets too hot for you. You’re a survivor. You know what buttons to push. Stay strong. I pray for you and the rest of the bunch everyday. God be with you and your loved ones.

  23. stpaul says:

    So that’s what “the thugs are out thugging” meant. What about a closed FB community Sir Joe? I hope you’ll approve. Thank you for all your positive thoughts about the country. Best regards Sir for being more Filipino than those who were born in this country.

  24. THS is my daily coffee since 2014. He see things clearly, articulate them very clearly, and in elegant writing style, too. The regular bloggers that joined are brilliant, too. Rest, Joe. I will wait for your return.

  25. Vicara says:

    I understand why, Joe. But I am heartsick over this. Just heartsick.

    Keep well.

  26. arlene says:

    This is so sad. I agree with stpaul, why don’t we have a closed group just like what we have at TSM? By invites only so trolls could not penetrate it. Although I am a blogger, this is the only place where I get the chance to air my small voice on what is happening to our country. Good luck Joeam, I hope you won’t completely close this site.

  27. Cindy says:

    May this not be the last day of hearing your voice, JoeAm. Be blessed.

  28. “President Duterte will have his way with the laws and people of the land until the institutions of the Philippines AS INSTITUTIONS perform their roles as mandated by the Constitution”.

    People do get the type of government they deserve. They vote for it. The people had many a reasonable choice but chose a despotic madman. That’s democracy.

    Will the nation’s other institutions of government stand-up or fold-up has yet to be seen. Most are too scared to do anything but mumble it seems.

    • The only outcome that the country may have is either revolution or regression. And even if the PH will have regression: Revolution will still be on the table.

      Rebuild or rebuild from the ashes. Either way, the PH will be rebuilt. At what cost though? I’m not sure… it could be a lot…

  29. Even with my relatively short stay here, I can’t help but feel pensive and melancholic as this is actually one of the places where I first started sharing my ideas and opinions regarding what is happening in the PH. I guess this is because the civility here never seemed to lack no matter the time and topic, even if I was usually at the other side of the fence. This is probably mainly because of Mr. Joe’s moderating and, of course, all the other contributors here. But though I’m not sure if I’ve even contributed anything worthwhile, I just like to let you guys know that I had really managed to gather a huge array of valuable and interesting perspectives so I guess I still have you guys to thank. But I do hope that there could still be another place like this…

    But then again, you did say that the blog will only refrain from writing about political articles, yes? So how about sociological and philosophical ones, relating to the Filipinos themselves? I guess the people could really need those more than ever.

    Nevertheless, good luck on your present and future endeavors Mr. Joe America. Hope to see you again sooner than later. =)

  30. mayapula says:

    dear Joe, you hibernate but you must return.

  31. Nate says:

    The country is indeed descending into a new dark age. At least I can now catch up on Joe Am’s older posts.

  32. Maxie says:

    If your family’s wellbeing is the reason for your sabbatical, then so be it. But the fact that you have to make this decision at all is an indicator of where our country is headed. Keep well, sir. Thanks for sharing your insights, for providing clarity to the many issues that confronted us, and, well, for the inspiration. Standing by for your return when the environment improves 🙂

  33. Rico Audencial says:

    Sad. Take care Joe…fair winds and following seas!

  34. Joe,

    pls. reconsider, there’s enough to talk about the Philippines w/out DU30. If you were given a ‘shut-it down’ order then I’ll understand, but if it was simply a stop criticizing DU30 request, then push on thru… there’s so much more to write about. Focus on education, the environment, the flawed (or un-flawed) culture there, tornadoes, mangoes, skin-whitening products vs. DIY, micro-manufacturing in the Philippines, libraries, home-schooling, critical thinking and the arts, there is just so much more than DU30.

    Keep writing, man!

  35. Micha says:

    Duterte The Murderer : +1

    Joe America : 0

  36. karlgarcia says:

    keep on writing Joe.

  37. Chempo says:

    Joe is leaving us a cliffhanger. Did he or did he not receive a bullet in the mail?

    Let us not go overboard and auto-suggest he surrendered in the face of intimidation. To do so is to assume the president has no urgent national matters on his plate and an inconsequential blogger requires his personal attention. That is to put too big a chip on Joe’s shoulders. In any case, you know what the president is like. Had Joe been targeted, the president would have so declared on TV. He would have declared publicly to Joe on the anti-Du30 blogging — “Stop that!”.

    I perceive it’s exasperation. There has been a diminished vitality in the Du30 blogs. As Joe himself mentioned, it has developed into repetitions and rantings. Joe confessed to having difficulties to stick to issues as far as Du30 is concerned,”because issues invariably lead back to the President himself, and his character”. I see this as a problem with most commenters here too.

    I would encourage Joe and Society members to raise our bars. Stick to issues and be constructive. We are capable of that. That’s what makes TSH different.

    Joe is not closing down the blog, but he will stop writing about, and discourage discussions on politics. With all due respects to good folks like Micha, Juanita, Mary Grace, Madlanglupa, Cha, Vicara, Arlene and many other ladies here, after a fine diner, the men folks adjourn to the Smoking Room, take out the cigars and coffee and enjoy the rest of the evening conversation on what? Politics!

    Take care Joe. Al I can say is Get back, Joe.This is where you belong.

  38. Grace Lim Reyes says:

    As you leave for a sabbatical, let these words help you ponder and reflect. “Writing is both an act of power and surrender. Passion and discovery. It is a tug at your soul that continues to pull you forward, even as you go kicking and screaming” (p.18).
    ― Laraine Herring, Writing Begins with the Breath: Embodying Your Authentic Voice

    Wishing you all the best, Mr. Joe!

  39. Fedelynn says:

    Yes, a sad time, indeed. My lament, before I move on to a non-political topic, is: “I have to go, but I don’t know where.”

    Okay, one of my FB friends shared this You Tube of Disturbed’s version of “The Sound of Silence.” It was beautiful! I hope you all like it.

    Here’s the link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u9Dg-g7t2l4

  40. Francis says:

    Possibly drunken courage to be loud in all times—needed and not needed. Truly faithful courage to be quiet when needed. Many are outspoken in radicalism but few are outspoken in moderation.

    Democracy in this country is—I earnestly believe—like bamboo. It may bend now—but the storm will pass and it will remain. May good fortune rest upon you, sir. Thank you.

  41. Kamote Procopio says:

    TSOH has just become “The Start Of Hibernation” 😦
    It is not surprising that one of 2 blogsites I read everyday is feeling the pressure. I will miss being entertained by the splendid articles and insights by this great gentleman and also the constructive and educated opinions by the contributors here especially on topics about politics.
    Keep well Joe and have more quality time with your family. We all believe here that you’ll be back, stronger!
    I guess for now I will be spending more time with my wife watching her favorite telenovelas.

  42. Jonet says:

    I was quite disturbed when I read your post, Joe. Sad day indeed, but I understand your concerns. But I think I will stick around.

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