Democracy on the brink in the Philippines


Democracy [Photo source: The Muslim Times]

By Joe America

Democratic principles and institutions have always been an awkward fit in the Philippines. The nation remains tribal in the sense that people are fulfilled by being a part of a power bloc rather than a part of a system of freedoms and responsibilities. Loyalty to personalities trumps loyalty to principles because people can relate better to a strongman leader than to this nebulous idea that “we” are the nation. They are lifted up by sharing the power. They are not lifted up by giving of self to build a passionate bond with others.

Huh? What nation? Our nation has been led by foreigners and the self-serving elite, not us. There is no “nation”,  as such, that is for us. Pacquiao and beauty queens and winning singers are a celebration of us. The national anthem is about our struggles, not about democracy or unity. Anything good that we have ever received is from our local boss, who only demands our loyalty. We give, we get. That’s the way it works.

So we see the awkwardness of the overlay of power personalities on democratic institutions today, as the House becomes an arm of Executive, and as it is used as a trial court for a senator who would dare to adhere to democratic principles. The Senate is following that same path, toward the ideals of power personalities over what the Constitution says the senators ought to be doing.

Other than a few educated elite, we can see Filipinos are a people who feel comfortable with power personalities and not democracy. President Aquino worked within the framework and principles of democracy, as envisioned by America’s founding fathers. Laws matter. Civility matters. The economy is crucial to better care for the nation. Earnest service and honesty are important. These ideals gained him no favor in a nation whose people went from loving him as the antidote to corruption to hating him for thinking he is better than the rest of us. Missing those coffins, after all.

Filipinos would rather support a president who fills 3,500 coffins than give a break to one who claimed to be good but did not attend the arrival of 44 of them.

The proof that Filipinos are comfortable with power personalities is clear when we see the absolute absence of protest as Filipino sovereign territory is put on the block so that the nation can have a train. We see the Philippine strongman work diligently to kick out the new villain, the United States, and cuddle up with China and Russia, like-minded nations that also prize power personalities and wheeling and dealing rather than laws. The US becomes arrogant and elitist for trying to impose nebulous concepts of human rights on people who deal in brutality and favor and suppression every day.

Oh, yes, there is a small section of the nation, the well-educated elitists who have traveled around and tout their principles as if they had all the answers. They object to the killings and the abusive suppression of Senator De Lima, and the loss of sovereign seas and the tossing away of the security blanket and ideals the US offers. They are pained by the loss of reputation in the global community of nations.

But they are largely irrelevant and busy griping to themselves.

I gripe with them, and as far as I can tell, accomplish very little for the doing of that. Maybe I give a bit of uplift to the principled, who today are beaten down every day they awaken in this rude, ruthless land.

A governmental system of power personalities is tangible. It is that. All this bullshit about principles and rights and freedoms is very nebulous.

Unfortunately, it is that tangible quality of power that gives a person such as myself a great deal of grief. I see the two different systems starkly. Clear, obvious. The problem is not President Duterte. The problem is all the presidents since the days democracy was adopted by, or imposed upon, Filipinos. Those presidents could not sell democracy. Generally because they were using it to steal and rule. They didn’t “get it” themselves, that democracy is not a pretend universe or a set of tools for self-glorification and greed. It requires things like sacrifice and honor and embracing diversity. These are tangible ideals to those who get it. They are not toys to be deployed in the gain of favors and deployment of power.

People like me, and I suppose those of the educated elite, if they have the means and kids, have to figure out exactly what values their kids will grow up to follow. To succeed in the Philippines, you need to know how to use power. To succeed in the US, you have to know how to incorporate others into the power mechanisms, under a framework of principles.

A principled person in the Philippines is likely to fail or be killed. Not succeed.

A power player in the US may succeed or fail, depending on if he exerts his power within the framework of laws and ethics and those things called principles.

So all this is stark, clear, evident.

What future does the Philippines hold for my son, and kids like him? Do I want him to do the things he needs to do to succeed in a land that is built on power personalities? Or to live where he can grow richer . . . inside . . . by sacrificing and giving?

I mean, it boils down to one simple question.

How will he find fulfillment . . . by squashing others . . or embracing them?


131 Responses to “Democracy on the brink in the Philippines”
  1. ramon naguita says:

    As a matter of opinion; Democracy now in the Philippines, is felt by those who were neglected and abandoned on the past previous administration. Here the scenario is not a leadership of talking and promising, but addressing the chronic root of all problems; drug trade, corruptions and criminalities. Democracy for the Majority of the Filipinos. We may have a Promdi President, not qualified to be an eloquent and dynamic speaker but as an experienced Presecutor, City Executive and a one term member of the House of Congress, he lead to implement nationwide activities, like the 911, improving the standard practices of anti corruption at the Bureau of Customs, NAIA airport cleansing of scheming and milking innocent passengers and providing free wifi and hygienic practices, the one stop shop for the OFW’s, the ongoing Peace talks between several fronts and the massive manhunt of the ASG in Jolo and the fight against drug trade which nearly put the country in the control of narco politicians. As the President was saying, he never dream of being a state man but a leader whose responsible for keeping the generation of Filipinos free from drug menace. Even with multiple critics from journalists, politicians, CBCP who may represent the church for it’s members, HR and other advocates but end results shows he is doing excellent things to the under previlege citizenry and the country. It is therefore fine to share practical criticism for this may lead to betterment of actions but base on truth. Thank you and a blessed day.

    Ramon D. Naguita Davao/Toronto

    On Tuesday, October 4, 2016, The Society of Honor: the Philippines wrote:

    > The Society of Honor posted: ” By Joe America Democratic principles and > institutions have always been an awkward fit in the Philippines. The nation > remains tribal in the sense that people are fulfilled by being a part of a > power bloc rather than a part of a system of freedoms and re” >

    • NHerrera says:

      Rather premature to paint that rose-tinted assessment, I believe.

      • NHerrera says:

        Your name is followed with Davao/ Toronto. I am curious: does that mean formerly from Davao and now residing in Toronto; and writing from Toronto?

    • andrewlim8 says:

      I cannot understand his English . Anyone here who..ahh never mind… I have better things to do…

      • Thea says:


        I will assess what he said when I go to the Philippines.

        I have seen the same tralala in FB so you don’t need to read and understand. By being bombarded by this tralala everyday, one just read the first and the last sentences and you get the point.

      • chemrock says:

        Andrew, I came across a blog somewhere stating 52 reasons (I may have that number wrong) reasons why anti-duterte people have got it wrong. Was really pissed off with lots of those reasons that I felt compelled to respond to each one of them. The stuff that Ramon commented here is a cut and paste of some of the points in that blog. Absolute proof that there is an MLM organisation dedicated to spread nonsense.

    • Well, these are the moral platitudes expressed by supporters, as if the nits like bullets in bags were bad but bodies in bags are okie dokie. To me the idea that drugs are more important than economic health in caring for the people is laughable, and becoming close to China, a consuming beast, rather than the US, which promotes independence, is a kind of handwriting on the wall that ought to make every English speaking Filipino understand that his time being respected is heading to a close.

      • I am in a seeming quandary when I read a series of columns by one of my favorite columnist, Jose Maria Montelibano. I could be mistaken as I’m just speed reading and couldn’t concentrate very well (this pain is really troublesome) but my take in his latest pieces are somewhat in favor of PDu30’s war on drugs, the EJKs notwithstanding.

        Sep 23, 2016
        By: Jose Ma. Montelibano
        We must open our eyes

        What I do know is this—that illegal drugs have catapulted from a societal nuisance to a national cancer. And what I am truly sorry about is why I, and most other Filipinos, never realized just how deadly the problem of illegal drugs had become. How could we have millions of drug dependents in our midst yet never saw the magnitude? How could an illegal drug trade be estimated in the hundreds of billions when just 50 million in dirty money is already considered plunder?

        We have had corruption in government for a long, long time. We have had warlords, vote-buying, and illegal gambling. But now that we have a full-blown drug problem, it makes the rest look quite insignificant. One reason is the killings, the killings as we know them today, and the same killings we were not that aware of yesterday. I believe, however, that the past drug-related killings we did not mind enough are already in the tens of thousands by now.

        Until Duterte came along and insisted that a war against drugs will be the centerpiece of his presidency, we did not know enough, we did not care enough. When the initial war against drugs makes crime levels drastically dive, then it is easy to understand just how much illegal drugs dominated the whole crime scene of the country. A big percentage of those in jails and prisons are there because of illegal drugs, and that is why even there the buying, selling and using drugs are evident. Even in Hong Kong, 40 percent of OFWs who are in prison are there because of drugs.

        There is much noise in media, especially social media. Before that, there had always been a lot of noise in politics, in religion. But I can say with great conviction that if any of us are confronted with drug-related enemies, whether we are lawmakers or law enforcers, judges, policemen or soldiers, teachers or engineers, or whatever, we will fear for our lives and the lives of our families. But by then, it would have been too late.

        We have few options left. Duterte and De Lima are most transient in our lives, but drugs can stay for generations. We deal with the problem now when it is bad, or deal with it later when it is worse.

        Read more:

        Sep 16, 2016
        By: Jose Ma. Montelibano
        Then, now and tomorrow

        Sep 09, 2016
        By: Jose Ma. Montelibano
        Stay strong Filipino

        Sep 02, 2016
        By: Jose Ma. Montelibano
        I would not dare

        • I wish when people discussed the drug problem, they would scale it statistically to prove the point, because I don’t see it. I also wish they would comment on the killings and the economy, the latter being the real cure to drug usage, the former the way others have used to eradicate drugs, and failed. I think Montelibano is selling pigs ears.

        • NHerrera says:


          My reading is that Montelibano, although rather rambling in his essay, says that until Duterte came along, we did not appreciate the magnitude of the drug problem. He is non-committal with the criminal aspect of Duterte or De Lima. That beyond those two, he (Montelibano) is rather alarmed at the magnitude and the cancerous aspect of the drug problem, drug users being involved in a lot of criminal activities including killings, as well as the pain and financial bankruptcy the addicts cause their families.

          I did not get a sense that he is glad about the methods used by Duterte in encouraging the killings of these drug addicts, although the tenor of his essay may have implied that depending on the prism one uses to read the article.

          (Just giving my impression of the article you linked, Mary.)

          • Thanks, sir NH. As Joe says, we have to resolve the root cause of the problem of drug abuse, which is poverty. Economic freedom, which is what the previous administration has focused on, is one way of resolving the root cause but the citizens are not convinced. Some sort of instant gratification is at work here, I think – eliminate the addicts and small pushers which are the most helpless compared to the drug lords what with their political and military support system. What is the source of drugs mostly, is it really China? Columbia, Panama?

            Ironically, China wants to donate funds for rehab, same with Mayor Espinosa (if I recall the name correctly) whose son is one of the drug lords.

            Before, I liked Ninez Cacho Olivares, then after EDSA 1, I was disillusioned with her. For a time, I had agreed / disagreed with the pieces from Solita Monsod, now I agree with her most of the time. Is it just me, am I fickle minded or what? One thing is sure, though. I am definitely YELLOW.

            In US of A, one has to be either a Republican or a Democrat regardless of the kind of candidate the party has fielded. What if an American is a Republican but is turned off by Trump?

            My pain meds are confusing me. I think.

            • Juana Pilipinas says:

              “In US of A, one has to be either a Republican or a Democrat regardless of the kind of candidate the party has fielded. ”

              The US is no longer a true two party system. One can claim to be a Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Independent, Green or Don’t Care. Right now, 4 candidates are in the polls: Clinton (Democratic), Trump (Republican), Johnson (Libertarian) and Stein (Green). The Republican and Democratic Party are just the two popular parties and historically, there had been no winners in the Presidential election outside of these two. There a handful who are diehard Republican or Democrat and would vote for any candidate representing their party but majority of US voters are tied to the values and principles that the party embodies rather than the person fielded. A lot of Republicans do not believe that Trump upholds the intangibles that they value so they are willing to crossover or abstain from voting.

              There is a stark difference in how Americans vote when compared to Filipinos. Majority of US voters are voting mostly for intangibles whereas a lot of Filipino voters vote for tangibles.

              • sonny says:

                Just discussed the same observation with the wife, JP. 12 years of the latest politics and the emperor’s and empress’ clothes are off: the inanities of Demo party and the porosity of the Repub’s.

              • Juana Pilipinas says:

                Those are the growing pains of democracy, Manong. At least, the citizenry is presented with the warts and flaws of each parties so they can make up their own mind. No explicit vote-buying and offering of breads and circuses to the masses. It is mostly about justice, equality, freedom and representation, the very tenets of RIGHTS AND FREEDOMS FOR ALL.

      • ……and his latest piece:

        Sep 30, 2016
        By: Jose Ma. Montelibano
        Why accept the killings?

        • “The most plausible reason is that the individual pain of the directly affected must have built up quietly over the last four decades while it caused fear among their relatives or neighbors.”

          I don’t think so myself. In my area, drugs are not a problem at all. What pain? People are pained from having to pedal tricycles all day because there aren’t enough real jobs. I just don’t buy his central premise that drugs were about to destroy the nation. Drugs are a reflection of poverty, not a people’s descent into crime because they enjoy it. People accept the killings because they see them as an exercise in roaring justice for a lifetime of being stifled by poverty and disenfranchisement.

          • The heinous crimes perpetrated by addicts of synthetic drugs are what has turned the 16M voters to Duterte. They wish to solve that NOW. One has to remember the caveat, the cautionary message of the words: Be careful of what you wish for. The wishes of the 16M could bite them when one of their innocent family members become the victim of EJKs.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Agree with experienced persecutor.

    • madlanglupa says:

      Mr. Naguita, I’m afraid that all those pluses you talk of your Sultan have become irrelevant, the more he talks on the world stage, the more he is clearly throwing this country to the wolves.

      The world is now questioning his sanity.

      Are you ready to watch our country becoming a housemaid to a couple of arrogant tattooed gangsters?

    • cruise says:

      democracy equates to freedom, freedom to do what one wants and be happy. but what one wants to do may not be an acceptable proposition to others, it all depends to the eye of the beholder. what is good for juan may not be good for sam or vlad, and may be so so with chen, and ahmed is neutral on it because it does not bother him as long as one believes in Allah, Our God and only God Almighty.
      Because i invoke the name of Allah, i maybe profiled as a muslim but i am a christian because i believe in Christ as my Savior, the Son of God, which many also call Allah, and in early filifns also known as Bathala.
      it seems that many are in denial of what is being done and are focused on the character and actuations of the man. shoot the messenger rather than the message. yes freedom is great, but when it is abused it is evil, freedom to steal, freedom to be corrupt, or freedom to take advantage of others, etc. as honesty is one good policy, simplicity is one manner to be happy, if one becomes complicated one will not be happy. live simply and be happy…and no problemo mi amigo.

  2. Gemino H. Abad says:

    Ideals, principles, sense of country, individual human dignity — all these require power of abstraction and imagination. Hence, any country’s future depends on the quality of the education of its citizenry.

  3. NHerrera says:

    From a play on Democracy Part I to the Caves of Cavemen — where women are pulled by the men by their hairs. (Not the same sort of cave that edgar or I want to meditate when we are in that mood.)

    If we somehow manage to get out from the caves what happens next. A play on Democracy Part II?

    I hope you analyze well and decide in time for your son. Us oldies can stay but the vulnerable ones may have difficulty balancing our teachings against what they get from their environment at school and when out of the house. Unless of course, he goes by home study. But shielding 24/7 has negative effects too.

    (Some ten years ago when my two reasonably well-salaried and housed daughters with husbands and children immigrated abroad, I tried to dissuade them. I now admit, I am glad I was not persuasive enough.)

    • My son has the innate qualities of character that are essential for a personality-driven power formula. He cannot stand losing, and he dwells entirely on his own benefits. Well, he is young enough, so that is rather natural, I suppose. The shocker for me was the speculation that a “youth movement” is coming, and kids will be asked to cite their allegiance to the President. Those that fail to do so, of course, are likely to be beaten into submission. That is not exactly the kind of wholesomeness I’d like to see him develop. Allegiance at the end of a stick, instead of felt within.

      • NHerrera says:

        That speculation on the “youth movement” is a shocker, I agree. Rather like indoctrination to live by Mao’s Red Book. May be a copy on the very idea?

        • madlanglupa says:

          Funny thing is, The Duterte Manifesto is a book of quotations. All proceeds said to be used to help cancer-ridden pediatric patients. Published by, of course and of all organizations, the ABS-CBN Publishing House.

          What an irony. It’s like jumping from the frying pan, and into the fire.

      • Thea says:

        Oh, where is my visocor, I will check my BP.

      • madlanglupa says:

        > The shocker for me was the speculation that a “youth movement” is coming

        Ah, this must be the so-called right-wing “Duterte Youth”, led by some young man from Davao who proclaims himself proud of being an ROTC officer in UP; he wants the youth to join him so that they could learn anything about the great wisdom and discipline of the Lord Mayor.

        Do, however, the present DepEd is led by one of four leftists that were chosen by the NDF to become part of the Cabinet, so I don’t think she’ll want to have these doctrinaires lecturing and strutting like martinets.

      • Francis says:

        This is a thing? Wow.

  4. LG says:

    I brace myself for the foreseeable puppetry of Inang Bayan by Tsina.

  5. Thea says:

    One thing more, and is evident, we never clap on a good performance unless we are said to do it, we never say sorry when we accidentally bump another person (not in the case of Duterte who is well trained on saying sorry), we don’t pay “utang” obligingly (that is why Cory was criticized for paying utang), we don’t wait when the food is served, we flock like birds in any gatherings with other nationalities,etc.

    @ Joe, I am not one of the educated elite but I stand for my principle based on good morals,my parents’ reprimands when still young and lessons in life.

    • Well, I didn’t say it in the article, but the principled elite are correct to believe their ideals are more dignified, civilized and respectful of the human condition, which always holds to hope and dreams for a better world.

      • Thea says:

        “People like me and……of those educated elite”.
        I do not contest that as I have seen and live on such striking reality in the Philippines. What I am saying is that though I am not elite (and others like me), I tout my principles and become irrelevant with family and friends.

        Though the situation is 90% astigmatic, there is still little light passing through. I want to hold on that light.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Thea,I may be wrong,but I guess when Joe says principled elite,it is not the principled rich and powerful,but only the pricipled few.So I guess no shame in being an elite in that case.

          Astigmatism,can be corrected by the nearest optometrist,but tunnel vision is harder.
          The former is described by blurry vision,but the wiith latter,you can only see the light at the end of the tunnel.
          I hope we only have astigmatism.

  6. arlene says:

    @ramon naguita: You said and I quote ” he is doing excellent things to the under previlege citizenry and the country.” What excellent things for instance? From what is happening around, the “under previlege” as you say are the first in line being affected because they could not defend themselves. Define practical criticism or you might have meant positive criticism. This early, he is dividing the people instead of encouraging them. I am all for drug eradication in the country, but the way it is being done leaves a sour taste in the mouth. He sounds like, “follow what I say or”….is that democracy?

  7. andrewlim8 says:

    Meanwhile, the latest verbal diahrrea:

    Duterte: Mr Obama, you can go to hell.

    Obama: My people will talk to you.

    ha ha ha

    • karlgarcia says:

      More from Obama.
      My people have been talking to Yasay and Yasay already told us what was not said.That is good enough.🙄
      I believe that your economic team will talk to the Business community and will tell them that war on draags is good for business.
      You told me to go to hell and you are paving it with good intentions with this war on draags is good for business mantra!

  8. andrewlim8 says:

    Duterte: My father was one of the two who stood by Marcos in his darkest hours. Everybody was shifting to the Liberal (Party).

    For heaven’s sake I do not why standing by Marcos is considered a virtue

    • karlgarcia says:

      He was pandering to Imee that time,giving the narrative of having no machinery (What does that say to those who defected) and the Marcoses supported him.
      He even asked who among you supported me last elections and Imee sort of raised her hand.

      Since he mentioned Macapagal,would he have the same narrative if GMA was present? Siguro oo,di naman sya marunong bumusina at baka iungkat pa nya pag di sya presidente iba ang naging decision ng SC.

  9. edgar lores says:

    1. I blame Hollywood and tobacco.

    2. At the beginning of the 20th century, we saw the birth of two industries: the film industry and the advertizing industry.

    3. Talkies were first released in the 1920s, and coincidentally in the same decade mass marketing techniques were developed in modern advertizing to sell tobacco.

    4. Advertizing prospered on several media – radio, newspapers and magazines – but these two industries coalesced on TV and in the modern cinema complex.

    5. The reality created by film and advertizing was all about appearances. People and products were judged by the frequency of their exposure and by the external qualities they projected. These external qualities were by no means indicative of the inner worth of the product or the true character of people. It did not matter that tobacco caused cancer or that actors played roles or that presenters read scripts. All that mattered was that people would buy the product and idolize the actor/presenter.

    6. The cult of the personality was born.

    7. We judge people on their appearances and not on character. We do not seem to be able to see pass the shiny appearance and peer directly into the soul of a man or a woman. We are impressed by externals of dress and expression – gestures, facial, vocal. And we are easily manipulated by spin.

    8. Democracy is a nexus, a complexity of ideas, forms, and institutions. To be viable, it demands leaders and a citizenry who understand and respect this complexity. Vigilance is its friend. Superficiality is its enemy that will bring the nation to the brink.

    • Add the barangay mentality meeting the media. Magsaysay only had to dance mambo.

      The barangay mentality is visual and gossip-based. On top of it is a thin democratic topsoil.

      The yellow ribbon movement was triggered by videotape making Ninoy’s killing very visible.

      EDSA1 was facilitated by TV and radio, much like the fall of the Eastern block from 1989.

      EDSA2 was galvanized by text messages. Everything based on the fatal illusion of…

      Really KNOWING the popular figures: Cory, Erap, Gloria, Noynoy, Digong..

      Based on the quick conclusions and emotionalism of village tsismis.

      Finally, new media and social mobility got new groups into the process, with new norms.

      EDSA1 – Manila and Cebu middle classes. EDSA2 – a few more groups I think.

      Duterte: OFW families, BPO workers i.e. many former working class people.

      Each new group shouting: “kami naman ngayon” – our turn to run things our way.

      • EDSA2 – middle class vs. Erap’s masa classes..

      • Francis says:

        “Kami naman ngayon!” isn’t necessarily bad.

        Just a matter of finding a way to channel all the many individual and factional self-interests into a reasonable “national interest” of sorts. We are all human beings. We are all human societies—First World or Third World.

        To me, the fact that First World countries are driven by individual and factional self-interest to—and that this is reflected in their histories, or how they got there, gives me hope.

        If they can muddle through things, we can too. We are all mortals, and I suppose, that makes one hopeful.

        • karlgarcia says:

          I remember an ugly exchange with LCX about self interests and selfishness.
          One thing lead to another literally.

          One similarity between you and intutiveperceiving is your ambiguity.Heck I too am ambiguous,but am reminded by Edgar to have an open mind,but not be swayed.

          intuitiveperceiving asked me what is national interest,if one shifts from oil to renewables,and many will lose their jobs?

          Tough question,because that is what those displaced miners are asking now.

          So national interest is tough.

          Lastly, I can sum up this individual and factional interest to the fine line between principles and principals.

      • Man, you open eyes with that characterization of the Duterte bunch. Mine at least.

    • NHerrera says:


      Item 8 — !!!

      Which is why a populace that is poor, ignorant, uneducated, uninformed — hence manipulable — is a fertile ground for a non-democratic state. And why my favorite but much punched or addled boxer who declares his great desire to help his country, best serve it by remaining a boxer and leave the lawmaking to Caye … oh, no, not to him anymore — his mind is similarly addled.

    • The PH shortcoming is that enlightened Filipinos are not so enlightened as to figure out how to speak with the working poor and needy travelers.

  10. Jean M Mahoney says:

    Hello JoeAmerica — I’ve been gone a while, busy with a whole new project at work, but I thought I’d crash into my FB page this morning to see what new thing you’ve brought into the mainstream conscience. I love this article of yours. It’s essentially what I posted two years ago, in response to an inquiry that went, “How do you bring any senses to the masses?” I continue to believe that what’s singly responsible for the Filipinos’ plight is the absence of a sense of community. The default that works among Filipinos is self-interest. The “have-not” couldn’t care what the guy next to him does because his tummy rumbles from hunger. The mid-range “have-have-not”guy couldn’t care what the guy next to him does because he must focus on surviving, so there’s simply no extra energy to think of anything else. The “have” couldn’t care, either. He has all he needs and wants in the strata in which he belongs. Nothing around him affects him, whether in the moment or in the long term. Rich is rich in the PI and it goes no further than the end of the rich man’s nose.

    In contrast, we have a robust sense of community in America. Whether we’re filthy rich or humbly poor, the things we do affect our rich or poor neighbor, and whether positively or negatively, we see it and we become engaged. This mindset is baked into our corporate policies where the community response is MOST IMPORTANT, so it’s incumbent upon every operations manager to improve response to the consumer. In daily life, it’s in the cognitive impulse of every American who staunchly maintains the social adage of, “If it can happen to him, it can happen to me.” So, if the “happening” is negative and is slowly becoming mainstream, we hold a town hall meeting and quell it. If it’s a positive thing, we replicate it neighborhood by neighboorhood, county by county, city by city.

    What’s really admirable about Americans is our innate ability to question those we put in power. From the smallest neighborhood community organization, i.e., our parks and recreation districts, to the White House, elected officials heed the voters who put them in office. Whom we put it into office we can remove.

    Filipinos have to begin caring for one another. There is a glaring disconnect between their Catholic faith, which purportedly aims to do the good work of Jesus, which was about love of neighbor, and the heinous cruelty they perpetrate against one another in this war on drugs.

    While we currently see a shocking spate of police killings in black communities, swift action is also underway to investigate incidents, provide re-orientation and innovative training methods, etc., and communities are urged to speak up and be heard. One thing is for damn sure in America: Whatever political party we belong to, whatever ideology we live by, whatever faith or non-faith we adhere to, whatever social norm we abide, WE UPHOLD THE RULE OF LAW AND WOULD NEVER TOLERATE KILLINGS BY GOVERNMENT FIAT.

    May God keep an eye on the Philippines. Take care, JoeAmerica!

    • Take good care yourself, Jean, and thanks for stopping by with your typically clear shading of the essence of how American democracy takes care of itself. You just sparked an idea for an article. Thanks.

    • josephivo says:

      We are all tribal, the difference is how we define our tribe. Some define it in a more monogamous way, some have a more polygamous approach.

      In the old days we lived in one tribe, defining all our preferences in live, values, friends, food, music, definition of outsiders… Easy to identify, easy to copy/absorb all the preferences. Easy to see the differences between our tribe and the others.

      In modernity we have a polygamous approach, we belong to many tribes, the Heavy Metal tribe, the Pepsi tribe, the college ABC graduates tribe, the hashtag XYZ followers tribe, opposed to the Country and Western tribe, the Coca Cola tribe, the college DEF tribe, the hashtag UVW tribe. The strength of our affiliation may differs over time, even by the moment of the day.

      Americans have an individual and polygamous relationship with tribes and the nation is certainly one of the tribes they belong to. Filipinos have a more monogamous relationship, their tribe is the close tribe their family belongs to and the tribe leader sets the values, defines what other tribe you can relate to, its specific culture, defines your food, music, dance… preferences. The relationship with the nation is not tribal.

      As said previously, we are 3 people in one head. One is defined by our “genes”, intuitive, fast, universal, e.g. being tribal. A second is cultural, defined by the beliefs of our tribe. The third is our individual reasoning brain. In the US education is focused on developing the reasoning brain, in the Philippines it is focused on aligning with tribal values.

    • cruise says:

      in early times, we lived simply. we were hunters and gatherers. we were happy. time was divided between night and day, asleep or active, hungry and not hungry, and the man’s time scale is birth to death.
      in early times all resources was for the use of anybody, that is nobody owns anything but one can take anything (not used) that one sees he needs to survive. we were originally socialist in terms of what we gather or hunt or what we used for shelter. we moved from place to place where we can have resources readily for the getting.
      then we learned how to plant and tame animals so we won’t depend on hunting and gathering for our food and we learned to tame animals. we did not move more often now. the leader was one who can provide the food and shelter for protection. and the leader was accorded privileges and respect…and his word was the law and people obeyed their leader because it was for the common good…and life was simple then…and people were happy.
      but then, there were people who were not so industrious but were gifted with convincing and persuading power of speech. that is when social life became complicated and created many of man’s problem, and to this day we are still discussing what is good and what is bad, to me, it is cultural and training. if it is something that helps me and my mates to survive, it must be good for us. if i have to eat dog meat, or pork or beef because i need to survive, i will have to and no laws should prevent me from doing things that i need to survive as long as i do not harm any neighbor. because i eat those meats i mentioned harms my emotionally, it is not my problem but my neighbor’s problem, and the most thing i can do is not let me see eat them and if they come to my house and say i can not do this then i will say…you know what i mean. and in conclusion the most simple things makes me happy.

      • The next stage after farming villages and hunter-gatherer was larger groups of people…

        The first civilizations started near rivers – Egypt (Nile), Mesopotamia (Tigris/Euphrates) and China (Yellow River and Yangtze) – with water to irrigate fields and grow efficiently.

        The theory is that organizers were needed to make sure the distribution of water and fertile land does not lead to constant quarrels and killing – so eventually the first KINGS came up.

        Before there was one Pharaoh in Egypt, there was a Pharaoh of Upper Egypt (upstream) and Lower Egypt (downstream) – then it became one Pharaoh with a double crown, the Pharaoh of Upper and Lower Egypt, who also controlled storage and distribution of GRAIN.

        Egypt was stable, but Tigris and Euphrates (in present-day Iraq) shifted a lot, so this might have been the reason for the first WARS. People want to defend what they have worked for. Warrior cultures developed, empires rose and fell, life was never as simple as before.

        The Philippines in 1521 had half a million people who lived in abundant conditions… then…

        • cruise says:

          then….the enlightened people and people with gifted power of speech claim what was not theirs…all in the name of discovery…i was here first and so they say it is ours now. then they made laws to protect their claims, to make trade, and to punish who does not obey the laws…morality was legislated…cultural and tribal desires was incorporated to laws…why…because if everybody was practicing one single culture or training…control and management becomes a lot easier…he who is the strongest prevails…and he can lead the super majority…and he was not still happy because the leader wants to lead everybody…and those who oppose him will present danger to the society…greed and power is intoxicating and very addictive…one is never content. it is when addiction and intoxication is present that evil lurks in the minds of people…but what shall i do…all i know is to live simply and uncomplicated but other people poses complication to me.

  11. J. Bondurant says:

    I never thought I’d find the Prequel Trilogy relevant…until now.

  12. NHerrera says:

    Philippine democracy may be on the brink but there are embers refusing to die, hence posing a barrier to our heading to the brink or cliff.

    Watch Senator Hontiveros giving voice to a Senate Resolution opposing showing of De Lima ‘sex video:’

  13. NHerrera says:


  14. caliphman says:

    Joe, your son with his dual citizenship has options that many Filipino families will not be able to offer their children given the grim and dark future Duterte and his cohorts seem intent on heading the Philippines into. Some of us who regularly comment here were old enough to make the choice of seeking a better life in a more democratic country elsewhere or staying and surviving this political and social upheaval in the hope that things will turn out alright in the end. Where the children are too young and the family must make this crucial choice for them, I can understand that decision is fraught with anguish.

    The decision would be so much easier if family members were not involved. Nevermind a president unwilling or incapable of being presidential. But a house of representatives fixated on smearing Duterte’s political enemies and broadcasting her alleged sex videos? And a senate reluctant in following up the testimony of an avowed vigilante killer supposedly acting on Duterte’s orders. The unspoken reason for their reluctance? That the majority of these senators and Duterte’s followers and the cowed public would be unwilling to impeach him if evidence was unearthed proving he was responsible for the Davao Death Squad assasinations.

    I believe that a democracy is not just on the brink but may actually be a failed one when it ceases functioning as a constitutional democracy. Right now it seems like there are no effective government institutions that can check and balance any extraconstitutional measures wielded by this administration.

  15. chemrock says:

    Democracy died when the election results came in June. I opined this long ago. Only fools believe Philippines is still a democracy. Just like what I predicted many months ago, hundreds of little du30s have been unleashed. It’s not going to be easy to put the genies back into the bottle.

    • NHerrera says:

      Looking out for number one or oneself (LOFNO) is ingrained in the Filipino from the time of Rizal, Aguinaldo, General Luna, and while there was a development towards an improved variant, Marcos comes along. LOFNO is probably a human trait. But oh how different that is in a Japanese. And while Fallows “damaged culture” may not apply to the Japanese, it applies rather well to the Filipino; and to be fair, to the people of some other countries as well.

      Now of course we have Duterte — to “undamage” that culture by force.

    • caliphman says:

      During the campaign I was like a broken record warning about the cataclysm a Duterte presidency would bring. This is one time I wish I was wrong but his administration is well on its way to self-destructing and in order to stay in power, declaring martial law. And you are right, the Duterte minions and wannabes that have been unleashed will wreak even more abuse and brutality on the populace in his name.

  16. gerverg1885 says:

    Tribal values should be upheld despite the modernity if it brings the best in a community.

    I saw it about 15 years ago in the town of Sagada high up in the Cordillera mountains. A friend invited me to their festival wherein almost every men in their barangay participared. They paraded around the town and later converged at a place with a small house where they usually meet every morning to discuss problems concerning the whole community while drinking coffee.

    There was a young lad of about 17 or 18 in traditional G string helping the men while they were performing the rituals dedicated to the festivities. My friend explained to me that the lad was staying there because he is being corrected for some misdemeanors he committed in the past.

    He added that the community elders always attended to such problems the soonest time possible to prevent the wayward youth’s deterioration into a life of crime or addiction of any kind.

    This is community involvement at its finest best that was lost in so many towns and cities because too many of us became so preoccupied with our self-interests and having no sense whatsoever with that time tested idea that whatever is good for one is good for all.

  17. Robert Kniazeff Lopez-Pozas
    35 mins ·

    What was Peter Wallace doing in the Palace press conference earlier today defending the mayor? Is he a new spokesman?

    I echo RKLP’s question.

    ….and offer this as possible reason – to ease business men’s anxiety over the consequences of PDu30’s unpresidential pronouncements…the way Yasay, Diokno, Pimentel are scrambling to do some damage control.

  18. informer says:

    I think people are tired or afraid of going to the streets to demonstrate. Maybe it is time for another way to show the people’s displeasure. How about not doing anything, like NOT GOING TO WORK OR SCHOOL FOR TWO WEEKS OR MAYBE MORE. until the desired results are achieved?

  19. informer says:

    Maybe somebody here can organize my suggestion. According to a tweet by one Assistant CJ, quoting somebody “kung hindi tayo, sino pa.” I think there is no leader for the move to do something. The opposition is a disorganized mess. No one wants to lead.

  20. – vague accusations that will be expounded on for sure by the troll armies..

    one should not forget that De Lima – Bilibid and porn accusations went around months before now…

  21. My take is: PRD has a need to learn the difference between assertive vs aggressive communication styles. Filipinos are naturally guided by emotions. We use our hearts more than our brains in social contexts and contacts. It takes some effort to curve the propensity to be overwhelmed by emotionality and hit the balance but it can be done. It does not take away anything positive to be assertive but being aggressive results in a world of misunderstanding and trouble.

    Laser focus on one thing to the detriment of the whole picture is called myopic. Myopia, I propose is the root of a lot of PH/Filipino problems. Self/family over community/nation, drugs/peace and order over economy/democracy/nation well being, wealth/power over charity/volunteerism/positive activism and much more.

    I do not foresee democracy going the way of the dodo bird in PH. Worst scenario, it will be curtailed for the masses (temporarily, until they rebel and take it back) but the wealthy and powerful will still enjoy their freedoms without a hitch. PH is still a patriarchal society where those in power hog the limelight and the masses are seen but not heard.

    One bright spot lately is the vocal opposition of women and civil netizens about the House move of showing the “pornographic De Lima” video. Hats off to all of you who made Aguirre and his minions back off. That is how democracy is done peacefully. Mouth off assertively (not aggressively) when you see or hear situations that gives you cognitive dissonance or are just plain wrong.

  22. Had to share here Mardi Mapa-Suplido’ post:

    One of the saddest things about D30’s reign: Weaponizing the internet.

    Rappler CEO Maria Ressa looked at the paid propaganda taking over social media. She said, “Paid trolls, fallacious reasoning, leaps in logic, poisoning the well – these are only some of the propaganda techniques that have helped shift public opinion on key issues” in the Philippines. Along with the fast changing habits on technology, the question is: Are millennials creating the culture, or are they being led to it?”

    • NHerrera says:

      The prosti … of the social media to scale 10/10? Are we just a drop in the bucket, Mary?

    • madlanglupa says:

      This regime need not to control the Internet by legislation to maintain its position of supremacy, they don’t even have to spend a single peso because fanatical, deeply-religious volunteers with lots of time on their hands are willing to do the work of controlling the Internet and imposing censorship by swarming over and obliterating anyone who opposes this regime.

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      “Are millennials creating the culture, or are they being led to it?”

      There is a man behind the curtain!!!

  23. NHerrera says:


    This infographic on the President’s SWS September 2016 net satisfaction rating of 64% shows the corresponding gender numbers:

    Men — 71%
    Women — 58%

    (which checks out to an average of about 64% since the proportion of men to women in the population is close to 50-50)

    Is this the Aguirre effect, not to mention PRD? But surely it is not because of the former’s “peluka.”

    • Juana Pilipinas says:

      Shouldn’t the tittle read: Vacuous Men and Astute Women?

      No offense, Manong. I know you belong to the sharp and adroit 29%.

      • edgar lores says:

        Ouch. Busina, please. 😉

      • NHerrera says:

        Mucho better JP. You are the astute one. I am glad you think — I am paraphrasing here — I pass the threshold of being a vacuous man into the wise world of The Society. 🙂

        I love it here, among others, with choice words used in the postings. Still a learning thing for me.

        Saw edgar’s post above. He is a “word” and concept man like you.

        • Juana Pilipinas says:

          Nah. Just a loudmouth. 🙂 You are a near-perfect specimen of goodness, Manong. We all learn from each other and the sharing of thoughts here is exhilarating.

      • sonny says:

        🙂 Two St Catherine of Sienas: JP & Mary Grace.

        • NHerrera says:


        • Juana Pilipinas says:

          Thank you, Manong Sonny. I am far from a saint but I continuously strive to contribute to any community I chose to participate in.

        • sonny says:

          @ NH & JP

          I’m taking these dire times to reach into our spiritual resources where I feel people of good will gather no matter where they are physically at, no matter what their belief systems are. St Catherine was deeply spiritual and at the same time strongly attuned to the vicissitudes of her political milieu of princes, potentates with secular and religious affiliations many times at odds with each other, everyday people under duress to remind and cajole them of their shared humanities, needs, and aspirations. In so doing, she helped them navigate through the perilous social, economic and cultural conditions of their times. Those times are similarly upon us. We take heart for we are all only a prayer away from each other.

    • edgar lores says:

      Why does the big circle say 76% – 13% – 11%?

      • NHerrera says:

        I hope I am answering your query.

        Satisfied — 76
        Undecided — 13
        Dissatisfied — 11

        Totals 100, check

        Net Satisfaction = Satisfied – Dissatisfied by definition of SWS


        64 rounded = 76 – 11 = 65 (there must be decimals in 76 and 11 to make it round to 64.)

        I have a feeling you know this and your question has to be “decoded” — one of the words of the week. 🙂

        • NHerrera says:

          This is a belabored post.

          I have decoded you edgar. In the blog “The rise of a new authoritarian regime in Asia” where we had exchanges on SWS survey numbers I used something strictly not true, but too lazy to go search for the past numbers.

          The PA July 2-8 survey which gave PRD a trust rating of 91% that number is not net. Again too lazy to check. But my gut feel is that it is not net. Why, because algebra says that if is not net, the number should have been 95.5% with dissatisfied 4.5% (assuming zero undecided).

          Next step in my thoughts. To get the net equivalent of, say, 89% for the ABC group, I assumed (justification, laziness to go to google) that at that stage of the survey and such big number, undecided ~ zero, an assumption; hence the net equivalent is 89-11
          or 78.

          But with the latest infographic numbers staring me I did the accurate rendering,


          net for the current survey is 76-11 = 65 (should be 64 rounded since there are missing decimals in 76 and 11)

    • Francis says:

      Fascinating. Fascinating. Fascinating.

      Three take-aways—in increasing order of surprise and significance.

      1. As expected—the ABC (middle class) support has faded the fastest. The poor remain somewhat steadfast in support of a war that impacts them more so compared to other classes. Either way or interpretation—status quo seems tp hold…

      Until you break it down by GENDER and REGION where it gets mighty interesting.

      2. I did not expect the gender disparity to that give. Females are the driver in the decline. A gap of that size shows a notable cultural gap between the sexes in the Philippines. Perhaps—this is the Silent Majority you speak of?

      3. The shocker. The Duterte balliwick that is NCR is the driver of the decline on a regional basis. What makes this piece of information special?

      If I’m not mistaken—sorry, no time to verify—but the brunt of the drug war is borne by NCR (which may be spilling into an already relatively skeptical and urbanized Luzon) as it were. Of course, if that fact still holds, well make of that what you will.

      • NHerrera says:

        Days ago I saw data showing illegal drug deaths from three regions — NCR, Region III – Central Luzon and Region IV-A – Calabarzon — not counting from other regions of Luzon, totaling about 60% of illegal drug deaths, with NCR weighing in at about 33% or a third of whole Philippine deaths.

        Correlates well with the business sense of the illegal drug business — it is where the most money is.

    • chemrock says:

      I would take this survey results with a big dose of salt. The reason is very simple.
      How are these surveys conducted? In the open, or in secrecy? Of course it is in the open. It could also, it fact most likely, well I’ll bet my last dollar it was, done verbally. The pollsters asked a couple of simple questions and the respondents gave a verbal respond, simple right?

      Now I ask this question:

  24. NHerrera says:

    To Joe and other readers: I believe what I am posting below relates well to the current blog topic.

    I woke up early today, having bid the wife good night earlier than usual yesterday. I then read some items I have missed.

    The first is from Inquirer’s Rina Jimenez-David with her artice “It’s Personal” published October 4:

    OF COURSE it’s personal. My grandson is one year and five months old, which means that by the time President Duterte steps down from office in 2022, he will be seven years old. As our old catechism books taught us, that age is considered the age of awareness, by which time believers could commit a sin because they are presumed to know the difference between good and evil.

    What would my grandson have learned in the next six years? What values would he have imbibed, how would his morals be shaped? What sort of person would he have become, or on the way to becoming? Having grown up in the “Age of Duterte,” would something of our abrasive, rough-hewn, foul-mouthed, sexist and murderous President have rubbed off on him? Would I even recognize my grandson by then?

    (Reminds me of your son Joe.)

    The second article I read is also from the same Inquirer’s Rina Jimenez-David who this time wrote in today’s Online Inquirer (October 7) titled “Letter from a reader.” That letter is from a foreigner-priest Fr. Seán Coyle who ministered for 45 years in Mindanao and Visayas and who wrote in reaction to David’s article linked above.

    Here is a portion of that letter of Fr. Sean:

    I want to thank you for your recent columns, most especially today’s “It’s personal” (PDI, 10/04/16).

    Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of my arrival in the Philippines and I have been here most of the time since, mainly in Mindanao and the Visayas. I have never felt so disgusted or downhearted at the situation in the Philippines as I do now, not even during the martial law years.

    You expressed perfectly today in writing about your own family what I feel. If it wasn’t for responsibilities I have, I would take the first flight to my native Ireland. I probably will be moving there next year, though not because of the current situation.

    What frightens me is that many people I know to be good persons are ardent supporters of His Excellency the President (HETP). I see their comments on Facebook. I’m talking about real friends, not just FB friends. Many of these are Filipino women, some of them living overseas.

    I cannot understand how any woman could support this man. My late father was a carpenter and worked for 54 years on construction sites, most of those years as a highly respected general foreman. I worked with him the summer before I was ordained in 1967. There was plenty of “colorful” language there—but not from my father. My late mother once said to me that she never heard him use a swear word. Neither did I. And his moral authority came from his integrity and his respect for every person he met.

    Never before have I known a head of state/government anywhere to take a perverse delight in using foul, degrading language in public, to take delight in insulting women.

  25. NHerrera says:

    RAPPLER — Duterte to EU, US: Withdraw aid, we will survive

    I am pretty sure the President is speaking for himself and his friends in the House and Senate and the Executive — and oh yes, the Businessmen — contrary to his statement:

    … we will survive. I’ll be the first one to go hungry, I’ll be the first one to die of hunger, huwag kayo mag-alala (don’t worry).

    But please, we beg you Mr. President, make sure, we poor will also survive in the same dis-comfort as you and those lucky others will. We who live by the day.

  26. NHerrera says:


    With reference to the voyeurs in the House of Representatives, I quote from the Rene Saguisag, the lawyer-opinion-writer I read,

    “As was said by one Victorian lady in her time, she could not care less if a couple made it out on the streets as long as they didn’t frighten the horses.”

    • caliphman says:

      It takes women with balls to push back against the sexist and slut-shaming conduct of these powerful legislators and presidential bullies. Ms. Doyo in her article voices out when enough is enough and Filipina women stand steadfast and united against the gutless gutter politics practiced against them because they are more socially vulnerable. The HoR should be more aptly named Animal House and as I have said before, the president called The Man who would be King, the movie if my memory serves me on Idi Dada Amin

  27. madlanglupa says:

    From the Esquire, now that he’s hitting the 100th day mark.

    How much longer?

  28. Harry Tan says:

    Great article on the first 100 Days of PD30 by Clinton Palanca. Quoting some parts:

    “The news is not good. At the top of the list are the extrajudicial killings, often abbreviated snazzily as “EJK,” which makes it sound harmless, like a medical condition. These are murders, pure and simple. They continue, every day.

    And then we begin to discover that more people than we think believe that this president is a great man, and that what he is doing is beneficial and the sight of a dead “drug lord” is a beautiful thing. This is the point at which we begin to wonder if we’re the only sane people left in the country, and whether the walls of the madhouse are to hold us in or keep the world outside.”

    At a certain point all the handwringing eventually peters away, because our wrists are exhausted; all the keyboard warriors stop typing because their fingers are numb; all the voices of dissent stop shouting because there’s no one shouting with them.

    This gradual acceptance of the status quo is a slow plummet to the bottom. Only automatons can go on without a break; only true zealots don’t stop to question themselves.

    They are unable to understand that opposition is an integral part of how running a country works, and that those who disagree are just as much patriots as them, and simply see a different path out of the woods.

    He is a bully and a narcissist; he has no regard for human life and basic morality; his obsession with the war on drugs precludes his involvement in other pressing internal and external matters that bore him and will be delegated to the incompetent or the corrupt; and he brings out the worst in both his supporters and his detractors. He is simply the wrong man for the job, and even his most fanatic devotees should pause for a moment and check in with their humanity at the most basic level.

    Worryingly, while the outraged middle classes are busy being aghast at the incivility of it all, and fighting ideological battles about the Marcos burial, he has quietly been amassing more power for himself.

    Through a clever use of propaganda, fake news, appeals to emotion, distortion of facts, and simply making things too confusing for people to follow and understand, there is popular support for authoriarian rule.”

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