Filipino apathy in the face of slaughter


The lion that did not get the memo . . .

By Joe America

Some of my least popular blogs often provoke the most enlightening debates. This happened recently in response to some rock throwing, I, foreigner, did at Philippine leaders. I suspect it was an unpopular blog because people don’t care to have foreigners throwing rocks at domestic notables. But that is beside the point . . .

Participating in the conversation were five long-term members of the Society of Honor, our peculiar blogging anti-echo chamber of insights and intellectual challenge: (1) Karl Garcia, the Society’s resident Military Liaison Officer, Chief Tanod, and Librarian, son of a Philippine general, occasionally emulating Yogi Berra in speech and wit, observed that “the (dead) lion did not get the memo” (the memo that said PH leaders are something less than dogs and apes for leading a nation into weakness). Well, (2) Irineo B. R. Salazar, our resident Rebel in Exile and Historian(1), imprisoned during martial law, freed by journalist Raissa Robles’ lawyer father, escaped to Germany to become a tech wizard, chimed in with a humorous observation that provoked (3) American Filipina Juana Pilipinas, the Society’s resident organic gardener and dual patriot extraordinaire, to ask a very intriguing question. Here’s the repartee:


“Kaya pala itiniwag iyan na gorilla warfare.

Magsaysay and comrades, not Maharlika.”


“No offense, karl and Ireneo, just want to ask why we (most Filipinos) go into the smart a$$ mode when confronted with an analogy that we need to discern?”

You can link over to the entire conversation, but it was soon enjoined by (4) our erudite Texan-Filipino Sonny, the Society’s resident Word Smith and Historian(2) who goes all the way back to WW II with his enlightenments. Sonny observed, and Juana returned with a real-life example:


“Because the punnery edge must be maintained, JP? And resistance is futile for the male … maybe?🙂 Or the male mode of multitasking, I don’t know really.”


It is not just a gender thing, sonny. I did not realize that I have a morbid sense of humor until an incident. We docked at a pier and hit a piling and my 3 year old son fell overboard. I was terrified though he had a life vest on. Hubby immediately jumped to retrieve him and when I got him in my arms, I laughed and asked him if he saw little “fishies.” A lady on a boat near us gave me a stern look and said, “That is not funny. He could have drowned.” She was right. I should had been crying instead of laughing. I should had not been making light of the incident. That day, I realized that I have a learned default behavior (defense mechanism) when I am under stress or scared and it is not accepted socially where I was.

Juana had done it. She had recognized that Filipino ways of reacting under pressure are very different than Americans. And a vibrant blog discussion ensued because she was kind enough to share her discovery.

The issue as I would phrase it: There is a tendency for Filipinos to joke in response to pain, or assume a stoic front when faced with crisis, or fall into a gross apathy when thousands of Filipinos are being killed at their government’s encouragement. Others will protest, complain, or DO something. In the Philippines . . . people fall into a kind of obedient quiet, not rocking the boat.

From the Senate to the citizens, the noise from people not rocking the boat is deafening . . . and to we outsiders, a little weird.

The Society’s (5) resident Guru, retired Australian-Filipino engineer, Edgar Lores, who thrives by taking on the toughest issues and enumerating thorough and elegant parsings of problem and solution, joined the conversation. He offered a wonderful insight in response to Irineo’s observation:


“JP, I see two typical Filipino reactions that prevent more action and vocalizing…

1) huwag kang masyadong maarte diyan

2) huwag kang magpaimportante

in fact I see them at work in the political discussion on EJKs – those who protest are seen as not really caring, but just exaggerating their reactions and trying to look important.

Why there are these cultural stereotypes and attitudes, I have no idea, but there seems to be a premium placed by the culture on being outwardly unmoved.”


“Two theories:

1. Bystander effect defined as “a social psychological phenomenon that refers to cases in which individuals do not offer any means of help to a victim when other people are present. The probability of help is inversely related to the number of bystanders.”

2. The fatalism of the Filipino.

I don’t think it’s the bystander effect. I am inclined to fatalism. The humor is, as you say, a defense mechanism to cover up for the powerlessness of fatalism.

Your reaction seems to be a cultural trait rather than a personal one. We — Irineo and I, not sure about Sonny — recognize it as being part of ourselves.

Our fatalism can be seen in the general reaction — which is more resignation and approval rather than resistance — to the killings.”

I don’t know about you, but I was rocked by a sudden clear realization that my wife laughs when I stub my toe on the furniture FOR A REASON. And Filipinos will protest an explicit offense like the sneak burial of President Marcos (as a SHOW?), but do NOTHING as thousands of their own country-mates are executed by police and vigilantes. Well, not nothing. They appeal to the UN or Legislature or that sacrificial Senator De Lima, or SOMEONE ELSE to do something about it.

And the vengeful attack on Senator De Lima perhaps illustrates at least a part of the reason “why”: the giant, oppressive ruling party’s gag that has suppressed Filipino expression for over 600 years. The powerful have ways to hurt those who get in the way . . . or who speak when they ought to remain compliant.

Which raises the point . . .

How will the killings ever be stopped?

How will they be stopped when Filipinos are content to wait for the President’s six year-term to pass, or the President to die, or someone else to step in to stop them?

The math is horrible if we look at the six-month trend and multiply it by the dozen semesters in a president’s term. The prospect of the death of 72,000 innocent Filipinos is not enough to get Filipinos worked up enough to do anything about it.

Now THAT is stoicism.

And the power that can kill so many without remorse is the power that can remain in office much longer than six years.

Perhaps we need to discuss why there seems to be so little compassion and so little shame that would ordinarily drive indignation. Even the Catholic Church, which was screeching at the top of its lungs about the RH bill, is deafeningly quiet. And legislators who have cited oaths to serve the Constitution, which was written to protect the people . . . and INC which rallied in the streets asking a President to resign over a minor legal incident, and the universities, and the police and AFP troops who also promised to serve, and  and  and . . . and millions of citizens who turned to the streets to welcome Pope Francis . . . but now are huddled at home sucking some kind of cultural/historical security thumb and muttering . . .

“Not my problem.”

Not yet . . .


104 Responses to “Filipino apathy in the face of slaughter”
  1. Bill In Oz says:

    I too have been puzzled by any major reaction to the thousands killed in the drug war campaign let loose by Duterte.. I came to the conclusion that if 80% of Filipinos approve why should I worry about it.

    But recently I read a major article in an Australian magazine “the Monthly” by a prominent Australian writer named Margaret Simons..She went there specifically to investigate what was happening. It is interesting, factual, awful & at the same time and emotionally hard read…

    Here are a few paragraphs from that article :
    “It is a quarter to midnight on 4 October. The air is warm like souring milk and it’s raining. The press pack is standing on the steps of the police station in Tondo, Manila, near the port and one of the poorest places in the Philippines.

    Water drips from the nearby shanties. They are built from the discards of a broken country – corrugated iron, scrap timber, peeling particle board and old political banners spruiking mayoral candidates, each proclaiming his love for the people. The faces have turned green from sun and mildew.

    It’s very dark. There are streetlights, but this is the kind of place where illumination is soon smashed or stolen.

    On the main road nearby, container trucks speed past people who live on the bitumen, sleeping on median strips. Children in this district sneak between pausing trucks to unscrew headlights, numberplates and bumper bars.

    This is the home of the war on drugs, launched by the Philippines’ president, Rodrigo Roa Duterte. In this country of just over 100 million, it is estimated that somewhere between 1.3 million and 3 million people are addicted to shabu (what Australians call crystal meth or ice). The police say there will be a big operation tonight – although every night there are corpses.

    An officer standing on the steps above us, arms akimbo, invites us into the station for coffee.

    How many doors of suspected shabu users will they be knocking on tonight?

    He says 20 or more.

    And what will happen if the suspects resist?

    He grins. “If they resist, we will change their birthday to the second of November.”

    The second of November is All Souls’ Day. In this Catholic country, it is the day for honouring the dead”

    The link is :

  2. karlgarcia says:

    Maybe apathy is seasonal or depending on the weather. weder weder lang yan.

    There are many concerned citizens who video child abuse, date abuse,robbery,etc.
    The bystander effect has many degrees,but why is apathy one of them?

  3. karlgarcia says:

    The posts of Crisostomo Ibarra and Andres 10k of collateral damage, the bigger picture of safety and all that hog wash, is it still about apathy or something else?

    • The intimidations of trolls and thugs is meant to impose the apathy . . . or unstated fear. It seems to be working.

      • sonny says:

        Can this apathy be explained like “headlights and deer” effect? Deer and alertness at the softest sound or movement are tied for survival. Yet the flooding of sense of sight paralyzes the instinct. For humans, steamrolling our life-sensibility in the face of a blitzkrieg of helpless carnage is surefire mechanism for apathetic paralysis, surely Pavlovian I think.

  4. Vicara says:

    These days, I find myself thinking less about Duterte than about the nation’s mental health. The violently negative reactions to perfectly reasonable questions raised by journalists like Raissa Robles regarding his self-confessed drug abuse; the public’s refusal to recognize the wildness of the President’s pronouncements, or to at least wonder about the key moments in which he totally disappears and fails to show up to fulfill his expected duties; they way they just take in stride his bizarre pronouncements and flip-flopping on issues–even when it’s been clear to much of the world that Duterte is a deeply disturbed individual: All this shows that the many Filipinos who refuse to question anything about him at all are of a co-dependent mindset more commonly found among addiction enablers.

    Duterte is a sick, older man who’s said a number of times that he doesn’t know how long he’ll last. But you have to wonder about those who cling stubbornly to the idea of him as the Best Tatay Ever. They’ll be around much longer than their idol. When he goes–as he will go, sooner or later–how will they fill the vacuum in their heads that he currently fills? What is going to be done with the collective fascination for on-the-spot executions, and for hounding–no real interest in accountability, just for HOUNDING–officials who may simply have been doing their jobs as best they could? The general public doesn’t appear to care that systemic, institutional reform is possible; they just seek the thrill of a hapless individual thrown to the lions in the arena. This is what this nation has come to. Was it always like this? Will it always be like this?

    I used to have as a mentor a Johns Hopkins-trained DOH official, member of a team that had conducted a mental health survey around the early 1990s that was the most comprehensive to date. The team traveled to the smaller island provinces and visited isolated communities living in remote mountain rangers. They were shocked by the high incidence of schizophrenia and other mental disorders, higher that the world averages of the time. Duterte has, if nothing else, brought to the surface many dark undercurrents in the Filipino psyche, and these will play out for a long, long time.

    In the extensive photocoverage of the thousands of summary executions that have taken place since he was elected, so often one finds children within the frame of the photo. Among them are the children who’ve just seen a parent summarily killed in their own home by agents of the State, and who are caught by the photographer in a moment of utmost fear and grief. Other children are just bystanders. And these kids are there to witness all this official violence going on, and the adults they live among just standing by–mute, or resigned or indifferent; perhaps laughing out of hysteria. All this is imprinted in them forever.

    So, how will all these things shape these children as adults? I don’t know that I want to be around when they’ve all grown up and are now in charge of the country.

  5. madlanglupa says:

    Herein lies the dilemma: some people are painfully aware of his antics, want to do something but they can’t voice their objections in public, they silently fear his militant online fanatics and their brazen firestorm of hate and fury — no thanks to a certain Nic Gabunada who created the program — who will not stop at nothing to destroy their reputations and privacy.

  6. In social media , I detect strong support for Du30. One really can’t quarrel with his war against drugs & corruption. I admire him that he is quite passionate and impatient in ending these two evils in stark contrast with past Presidents who were negligent and allowed them to thrive. i believe Du30’s mission resonates well with most filipinos and he has won a lot of supporters admittedly myself included.

    Now the means this president employ is another matter. While I see pluses in his approach, I have seen enough of the minuses so that the net effect is for me to come out to condemn him. I do speak out every chance I get even when the audience are all pro-Du30 exercising care not to engage in a bar-room brawl type of discourse.

    But let me make a confession. Maybe as a way to understand those who appear to us as stoic and uncaring. I believe that like me there are many among us who are just fed up and concerned about the evils of drugs & corruption and upset with grossly negligent past administrations ( i.e. PNOY, GMA) that allowed these evils to pervade our society. How can we denounce fed-up Filipinos who chose not to denounce Du30 as they disdain drugs & corruption with the same passion.

    Many of us believe that drug & corruptions in our country has reached extreme conditions. As one saying goes, extreme conditions require “extreme measures”.

    My belief is our challenge is to constructively & persistently impress on Du30 the need for him to ensure that limits of “extreme measures” are morally defensible, clearly defined and strictly controlled, monitored & enforced.

    May God bless us all!

    • madlanglupa says:

      > extreme conditions require “extreme measures”.

      Sure, with his favored supporters in place, in the most important positions in the legislature and judiciary, as well as law enforcement, he can shut down *everything* first thing in the morning, then appear on TV that he’s doing it “for the greater good”. He would, just like in 1972, bend everything so that it fits the agenda of his favored patrons, as well as removing the undesirables.

      But he can’t do it without the blessing of very important factions, especially the military.

    • This “I have seen enough” argument is the current pro-Duterte trolling rage, meant to seal others into their apathy. Look, if you are against the slaughter of Filipinos without due process, stop attaching caveats. Object everywhere. Summon the integrity to do that. There are plenty of facts about to debunk the ‘drug crisis’ argument. It is a problem many societies have. It does not justify murder. Kindly refrain from dispensing such disinformation here.

      • Rizal’s Noli: an elite man tries to change things nicely, gets pelted and blamed for it.

        Rizal’s Fili: an angry man thirsts for blood and revenge, saying ‘what is destroyed but evil suffering weeds’. Not a trilogy with a happy ending, that would be American not Filipino.

        • karlgarcia says:

          After a trilogy comes the prequels.
          If profitable expect a reboot in the future.

          Filipino versions are Mano po 7,Shake Rattle and Roll 15 and counting.
          Enteng Kabisote infinity.

      • Pinoy Puti says:

        I am confused. It is never right to kill without due process. Yet i have seen, read about, experience the dead of thousands because of drugs. On a daily basis more people die in the Philippines of corruption then by ejk’s. If 5000 die to save hundreds of thousands isn’t that worth the price? These kind of decisions are not taken lightly but frequently taken. Think of the bombs on Nagasaki and Heroshima.
        Secondly, the scare, apathy or fatalism is not unique for the Philippines. Think of the 6 million jews that were deported and killed. There were millions of bystanders that let it happen.
        People all over the world are getting tired of corrupt and incompetent politiciens. This happens in the USA and Europe as well. Where do you go as a civilian when your Barangay, City, Gouvernment, Courts and even Supreme Courts are corrupt.
        The French Revolution did not bring us freedom, equality and brotherhood from the start, it mainly took lives.
        Do i agree or support Duterte? No. But mainly, like Andrew Lim, because he is not honest in his fight. The Marcoses should be in jail, their money, possesions, shares, art and jewelry taken over by the state. Every police person guilty of protection and or corruption belongs in jail. Artists and children of politicians, like Joshua Orroyo, should be prosecuted.

        Not everyone that disagree with you is a troll. Give some space. Let arguments and feeling enter in this important discussion. I am still confused, searching for the right path. I am sure there are more than just me.

        • It is easy to figure out if you just think through why due process is important, and the concept of innocence. You are arguing for state endorsed murder when the real problems, poor moral and ethical discipline, and a lousy court system, are bigger problems than drugs, and poverty is at the core of everything. And, yes, there really are sophisticated trolls amongst us.

          • I would add that the killings have been going on for 6 months now, and if you are still confused, it is because you want to be, or figure that position works for you better than having a conscience.

            • Pinoy Puti says:

              It is your stubbornness to listen and understand other opinions that people become trolls in your eyes. Mr. Andaya like others are giving reasonable arguments. Not to convert you or sooth your moral superior feeling. Scaring of people to discuss arguments makes you the no. 1 troll of your own blog.

              • Editorial privilege. You yourself argue for a higher moral bearing in recognizing that corruption kills, then fail to hold yourself up to that higher standard when you use them justify police killings. You are corrupt yourself, it seems to me. You talk out of both sides of your mouth and merely choose to state ‘confusion’ so you don’t have to look the families of those killed in the eye.

              • I would add that addiction is generally a social problem (poverty and feelings of low self-worth) that becomes a health problem (the addiction). No one wants to become ill. Corruption is a crime of intent and greed. It is infinitely nastier.

              • Pinoy Puti says:

                You can find it at the same place where you found the evidence of state directed killings.

              • That would be a ‘troll’s blowhard reaction’, because neither your statement nor the claim of a drug crisis are true. Kill lists, police statistics, and graphic photos are everywhere. Proof of a drug crisis comes from the keyboard of Mocha Uson and you. The President talks only in hyperbole, and you buy it. hahaha Walking dumb.

              • The PH incidence of violent crime is about 19 per 100,000 people (2015). This is in the upper third, but about half of that of Columbia, which has been engaged in a US supported violent drug war. Violence begets violence. It creates a ruthless culture, as we are seeing today in the Philippines. It does not stop drug usage because the profits to suppliers are enormous.

              • Pinoy Puti says:

                I expected you to react like that. More and more you become aggressive to people that don’t agree with you, calling them trolls and put them in moderation. If you care to listen a little more to people with other opinions than preaching to your own parish we might actually learn from each other and get some decent discussions.
                The latest official figure about drug users is from 2012 by the Dangerous Drugs Board. There are no numbers on dealers, protectors and so on. Crime rates (as of 2014) according to the Philippine Statistics Administration are; Index crimes 493 per 100,000 population. According to the WHO (2014) 15,761 or 3,02% of total deaths in the Philippines dies through violence.
                Like you said, there is plenty of evidence through newspapers, television and internet that informs us about the influence of drugs on crime rates. I suppose when you live in a small village in Leyte you don’t see much of that but when living in the major cities you actually experience it yourselves.
                Let me give you a number from a US BUJ research 2004; 17% of State and 18% of Federal prisoners committed their crime to obtain money for drugs.” I don’t suppose it will be less in the Philippines.
                I agree with you that that corruption is a far greater problem here but the drugs generate so much money that it increases this protection/corruption problem
                Give this fight on drugs some time. Latest PHP figures show crime rate down by 31%. Daily crime rate July 1 – Aug 21 from 353 daily to 23. Rape down 49%. That is 250 girls less raped this semester. You doubt figures? What do you think, I do? So we have to keep the finger on the pulse.

              • It isn’t the opinions that bother me. It is the values (no remorse for those killed), accepting violation of a most basic right, presumption of innocence and court judgment (leading to a lawless nation), and argument that moralizes and makes up facts (trolling). The State runs an aggressive propaganda unit, breaking down trust. You pay the price for that, I suppose. Thanks for the crime statistics. There is nothing that says drugs are a nation-determining crisis. They are a problem and it can be dealt with by means other than slaughtering those without the means to fight back. (Opinions) Education, going after suppliers, and rehab. And building a wholesome economy rather than a dark pit of insult and murder.

              • karlgarcia says:

                We are not singing in a concert or a choir, we are not kissing anybody’s ass. I reiterate the so called killings due to self defense, too many caught in the cross fire is the main reason I hate this Presidential inspired killings.

            • Pinoy Puti says:

              You might be right to call addicted people sick but that no excuse for the misery and death they cause. I think josephivo is right, lots of people live in a bubble. They are seperated from real life. Far from this real world you accept the threats, killings and abuse from all the victims and cry for the guilty drug users and dealers that are being killed. There is no confusion on my part, i rather have the drug dealers, protectors etcetera killed then all the poor drugs victims of these drugs users/dealers. My confusion lies in the method and honesty of which Duterte is doing this. Why only the poor? Why not arrest them and kill them after due process. Yes, i am in favor of death penalty. We probably never gonna agree on this subject, but can you at least once think of the real victims. The people being shot, knived down, robbed and raped by these drug users. That is a lot more than 5000.

              • Kindly point me to your reference sources for crimes committed by drug users. Thanks.

                You are right, I disagree with the death penalty. The one being proposed is absolutely barbaric in terms of the qualifying crimes. And the trials will be by corrupt and politicized courts. It is a vehicle for arbitrary justice.

                Your confusion would be cleared up if you recognized that the killing of the poor users and coddling of the big suppliers is a gross form of corruption, but executive privilege will prevent the death penalty from being applied. That’s the way corruption works among the class of impunity, and the death penalty is but another grisly authoritarian tool used in place of REAL solutions, which are economic and justice/judicial.

              • josephivo says:

                Victims of alcohol use? Victims of white collar crime? Marcos stole 100kg rice from every Filipino, for how many this could have made the difference between life and dead? Why single out shabu users? Why the lazy and inefficient solution of killing little fish? Why not addressing the professional dealers and the structures above them?

                Why not communicating the real addiction figures based on scientific data, not individual guesses? Why not communicating the petty crime statistics coming down since many years? Why the fear mongering? Why using the most corrupt institution, the police, to take the lead in the fight? Why some people can collect “protection money” to avoid harassment?

                Could go on with questions I have. But too many enjoy the spectacle as long as it stays out of their street… Living out of the bubble is no guarantee to have all the facts. And untruth was the word of the year, for a good reason I think.

              • karlgarcia says:

                The unusually ridiculous number of death under investigation and killed while fighting it out aside from killing the innocent bystander is reason enough to condemn the killings.
                Many have been turned to statistics majors and utiltarianists saying that the death of mere statistics willl be for the good of the many.

                The plan for more rehab centers and more jails is commendable,no question about it. If they just do this,there might not be a need for the death penalty.

              • Pinoy Puti says:

                So when you meet Peter at the gate you can tell, i didn’t give a shit for the victims of drugs users but i feel remorse for the killed drug dealers. Hallelujah. So hypocrite.

              • If you felt remorse, you would not be confused. Which makes me realize, for someone who is so confused, you certainly are opinionated and judgmental.

              • edgar lores says:

                There is a logical fallacy here. The fallacy can be classified as the formal syllogistic fallacy known as “affirming a disjunct.” Or it can be classified as a “false dilemma.”

                In both fallacies, there are two propositions.

                In this particular case, the two propositions are:

                A = Don’t give a shit for the victim of drug users
                B = Feel remorse for killed drug dealers

                The illogic lies in the assumption that the two propositions are mutually exclusive. That is, it is an either/or situation. It goes like this:

                If one feels remorse for killed dealers, one cannot give a shit for the victim of drug users.

                This is NOT true. One can feel remorse for killed dealers as well as give a shit for the victim of drug users.

                In the first instance, the two propositions are NOT mutually exclusive. In the second instance, there can be MORE than two options.

                An example of the first instance is, if one believes in the rule of law and human rights, one can hold that drug users who commit crimes should undergo due process and be held liable for their crimes. At the same time, one can hold that killing drug dealers/users without due process is against the law.

                An example of the second instance is: Again, hold drug users who commit crimes as liable under the law. But one does not have to kill drug personalities. One can penalize the drug dealers and rehabilitate the drug users.

                The empirical evidence is that killing drug personalities is not an effective solution in the long-term.

              • madlanglupa says:

                Your preference for violent, medieval methods for solving our problems will create a much worse. It creates in impoverished children — especially those who witness these murders — greater contempt towards authority, the law, the state, and people like you who see them as less than human. Where will you be in 20 years’ time should they grow up to revolt against the system? Don’t tell me you’re somewhere in another land watching the country burn down on CNN.

      • Kamote Procopio says:

        Duterte was here in Singapore recently and a local colleague asked me if I would like to join most Filipinos working here to meet their beloved president. With a grin, I yes I would like to meet him with a huge placard showing “STOP THE MURDER OF FILIPINOS , STOP THE EJK!” He said similarly their country has a firm stand on illegal drugs but those accused undergo due process and then hanged if proven guilty. They are wondering why us, Filipinos, with these killings, don’t do much to object it. Do we have to wait before it’s too late?

  7. andrewlim8 says:

    @Miguel C. Andaya,

    “constructively & persistently impress on Du30 the need for him to ensure that limits of “extreme measures” are morally defensible, clearly defined and strictly controlled, monitored & enforced.”

    That’s the catch right there: DU30’s extreme measures are never morally defensible. Second, when you argue for “clear definition, strict control, monitoring and enforcement, ” that is rule of law and human rights.

    Which Duterte clearly rejects.

    P.S. Duterte’s war on corruption is meaningless, because he regards the Marcoses and what they did as a non-event.

    Duterte’s morality, which so many Filipinos have latched onto, is a self-defined, self-constructed one, with so many frailties. That is where he will fail miserably.

  8. josephivo says:

    It would be nice if was just apathy. I have the feeling that for many it is the opposite. The enthusiasm of the Roman spectators in the Coliseum when people were thrown before the lions. Panem et Circences, “bread and circuses,” for keeping the masses content with food and entertainment. And the people like it, just listen, “now we can feel safe in the streets”, “the bad guys are losing”, a little collateral damage makes it all so much more real.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      And we all know that Rome fell afterwards.

      • josephivo says:

        Isn’t the real question “how to reconcile the world of those in the bubble with the real world of those outside”? For us in the bubble the killings are emotional pictures and stories, and our indignation is very principled. For those outside the killings are very real but also very promising (or at least entertaining).

      • took 300 years or more. And Constantinople continued with circuses for very long..

        With Emperor Justinian deftly manuevering two Circus fangroups during the Nika (Victory) uprising – the Blues and the Greens. One group had burned down the first Hagia Sophia..

    • Right. Not apathy, but gross amoral rationalization to justify impotence, all tinged with vengeance.

  9. caliphman says:

    Maybe its just that the country is deeply divided rather than mostly apathetic. If you believe the surveys, the majority of the public still trust and have confidence in Duterte’s leadership. I.for one am willing to be part of a vocal minority which vehemently rejects this murderous drug war he is waging indiscriminately and outside the law against our own citizenry.

    • What are leaders for, if not to show the citizens a path to health, wealth, civility, and legal/ethical discipline? It is not to duck and cover like Dick Gordon.

      • caliphman says:

        Sadly those type of leaders Filipino voters by far still have to want, choose, or follow. Its not about Duterte, Estradas, Binays, Pacquiaos, Alvarezes and countless others who have quacked themselves into power but its about a culture and society that puts their ilk there. That it is an American raising voice and Cain for a kinder gentler and more virtuous leadership for this country is unsurprising and something something to be thankful for.

    • karlgarcia says:

      He went down 11 points in Mindanao, his bailiwick.
      Opposition law makers says that poverty should be the priority and not drugs. Other say that it was due to broken promises.

      I do not agree with ending contractualization and regularization for even temps.
      I do not even agree with a minimum wage.

      But that was how people felt and the palace is forever “positive” in its thinking, saying that his support nationwide has gone stronger.

  10. mellowyellow says:

    if one has not experienced being a victim of drug related and corruption related crimes, one tends to be blind with reality; i had been a victim and my friends and relatives victims many times. all we can say, because we do not have the power or the guts to fight back…sana makarma din cayo…thus…and… then karmaitor (karma giver) was born.

    • There are two approaches to crime. (1) Within the law, (2) in violation of the law. You have chosen the second, and all the blood flowing henceforth is on your hands. The innocents, the collateral kids, the fatherless families.

      • LG says:

        Local TV news this evening. A father, allegedly occasional drug user and trying to stop using), and his some 3 y.o. son were shot dead by a gun man who fled the scene as soon as the 2 shots were fired. He was a trike driver, has 5 kids and wife is pregnant with the 6th.

        A story repeated too many times with different families.

  11. What I can imagine is that shabu addicts or users are scary… this older article states it:

    “They are extremely agitated, restless and difficult to keep under control,” says Wodarz. “When asked how he knew a crystal meth patient was arriving, a colleague of mine in another clinic once said, ‘by the number of police officers accompanying him.'””

    The typical neighborhood addict in the Philippines might be similar in profile to the gin drinkers of before – I have read about some crimes by those drunk on gin and high on shabu at the same time. Add the effect ot shabu which makes them overconfident and uncontrollable… does sound scary.

    But what is happening now is not even a solution, just a Band-Aid. This is how solutions look like:

    Peter Henzler, Vice-President of Germany’s Federal Crime Agency, has called for more government controls of chemicals needed to produce crystal meth. Otherwise, he feels that effective police work may not be possible.

    • This is a video about meth addicts in rehabilitation, talking about the effects of the drug and how they became addicts in the first place… I wonder how much real information is being offered in the Philippines in this quality, aside from the usual fear-mongering bullshit. From Germany of the 1980s, I remember how excellent the information drives were against heroin which was the plague of those times, including crime to get money for drugs – I used to do the Friday and Saturday night shifts at McDonalds in those years, I remember the druggies then. Information and rational measures always are better than fear and witch-hunting..

      • About drug statistics… you never really know how many users and addicts there really are… but the numbers that Duterte pulls out of thin air seem doubtful to me..

        what motivated my recent research was a fact-based article about regular wastewater analysis of German cities… by testing wastewater they know more or less how much drugs are consumed in various cities… to be continued as it is a very complex topic indeed…

  12. andrewlim8 says:

    This is the most jarring piece on Duterte’s drug war yet:

    by Patricia Evangelista

    Share it.

  13. manilamac says:

    The apathy is rooted in the same blind class privilege that has gone on all along. As media coverage reflects, only murder victims above a certain class matter to the public. Oh, tabloids like to sell papers with sensationally gruesome murders, but the focus is on the blood & guts, not the “human interest.” LP Campaign workers in the 2010 election discovered a number of killings done by security forces of one candidate in furtherance of his real estate projects, but the LP campaign heads rejected attempts to expose these acts—because the victims were squatters. No one, LP officials said—presumably from experience—would be outraged by dead squatters.

    I am heartened, and a little proud, to see the level of awareness shown by students in protest of the Marcos burial. For one thing, it exposes the degree to which social media is under the control of paid & volunteer troll factories. But laudable as the actions of youth may be, let’s face it, the parents of many of the demonstrators are able to provide for those kids thanks to the persistence of Marcos-era corruption. That’s just a single example of the blindness of privilege.

    As the American election has just demonstrated, the class of people who support liberal democracy are woefully unaware of the realities of the very people their idealism (& technocracy) would to uplift. *We* know that the “drug problem” is *statistically* rather paltry, let alone a situation calling for a general slaughter-of-the-innocents type solution. *We* know that poverty, un- & underemployment, and a general sense of despair & uselessness is the root & that drugs are merely a symptom.

    What we are blind to is the bottom-up perspective. If you live in the areas in which the drug killings are prevalent, you do see drugs as a serious problem. As serious as the breadwinner of the family spending the food budget on drugs. As serious as the threat of being robbed. As serious as the taxi driver down the alley selling shabu to your son. We proponents of liberal democracy too often let the blindness privilege allows to keep us focused on the forests, when it is the trees who vote.
    The other blindness—that of the masa—ebbs & flows. Support for Duterte’s state sanctioned terrorism is much shakier than polls & surveys would suggest. Too many unequivocal innocents are being killed while the drug business, far from being wiped out, is actually being consolidated. Even in shantytown, you don’t have to be a weatherman to know which way the wind blows. Social media troll factories & sensationalist for-profit journalism to the contrary, the mood of the masa is slowly changing. The blindness there is episodic, not permanent.

    I wish I could say the same for the blindness of privilege. But that blindness is practically genetic. It goes back for generations—a product of inbreeding.

    I’ll stamp my above contentions with this: Statisticians count a Filipino family as five people. If, conservatively, 5,000 families have been affected by EJKs, that means 25,000 people are at this moment suffering from grave loss. Funeral expenses alone are well over half the yearly income of a poor family. That says nothing of the loss of a breadwinner, the demands of single parenthood.

    And yet there is not a single organization doing *anything* to help alleviate the suffering of these *other* victims—the survivors of the killings. Why is that? A typhoon or a flood that causes a loss of life that is a mere fraction of the drug war losses mobilizes “liberal” & “compassionate” response on a visible scale. Yet with the drug war losses we see no international intercession welcomed, no NGO relief, no church relief (on an organized scale) and a general media and public indifference to the plight of the people involved. No wonder the Marcos-Duterte axis found it easy to convince the masa that no one in gov’t cared about them.

    • Vicara says:

      You are right, Manilamac. Have wondered myself about organized help for the victims, even if only to provide the family with some assistance as they try to adjust to the loss of the family breadwinner. Who apart from PNP is tracking the names, the shantytown addresses? One would assume that those who provide any help to the family would have to do so surreptitiously (especially if they are based in the community), for fear that attention would be turned to them, somewhere down the line. The only non-government people who have details of kills it seems are the photographers and journalists who follow the police each night to cover this. And not all areas of the NCR are covered, every night. A lot is going on under the public radar. Also, many of those summarily executed are known in the community for being addicts and petty criminals.

  14. Machiattovelli says:

    I don’t know what to fear more, the apathy or the support given by the “majority” (given the recent approval rating) to a psychopath (He did say he killed and endorsed killings on national TV).

    I think people do not understand what a psychopath truly is, as I have encountered one in my life (confirmed by a doctor). What they think of rather are the characters portrayed by Hollywood.

    I wonder why you haven’t brought this topic up? It will answer why we are in such a mess. Moreover, this is a rich topic to debate on and share so people learn of the horrors of past psychopath leaders, such as Hitler and Stalin. Putin could be one, too, if you can see the pattern.

    Think about this: Why are psychopaths and other similar mentally toxic individuals be barred from flying a commercial plane with 200+ souls, and yet be allowed to wield power and rule over millions?

    • I refrain from casting such judgments as a matter of choice, focusing on deeds, to avoid getting thrown out of the country for being a foreigner undermining the State. He WAS duly elected, and I’d prefer to psychoanalize voters.

  15. edgar lores says:

    There is a difference.

    Filipina mother distracting a child with lighthearted banter: comforting.

    Filipina wife laughing at husband in pain: schadenfreude.

  16. josephivo says:

    Was looking at 3000 OFW’s in Singapore applauding DU30 as crazy when he mentioned the killings, all fists in the air, even banners condoning the murders. Apathy?

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Those hands that applaud and do the fist are the same hands that do the sign of the cross on Sundays in Singapore.

      Those throats who cheer are the same throats that sing Ama Namin and religious songs.

      Nice try to be Catholic, but Filipinos are not known to be consistent or reflective enough of what they do.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        Another irony: the hands that rock the cradle for many Singaporeans- since so many of the Pinoys there are nannies- are the same hands that give the thumbs up amid shouts of “Kill! Kill!”.

  17. andrewlim8 says:


    This is a great intel report. It appears on the SGRP website, which primarily satirizes the Official Gazette of the Phillippines, but this one is serious.

    It is about the Kilusang Pagbabago, the grassroots movement of the Duterte bloc.

    It is an unholy alliance of Duterte, Marcos, Arroyo and the CPP-NPA-NDF blocs to consolidate power, but ultimately you may expect them to target each other later on.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      This article reveals the real reason why the Communists have not broken their alliance with Duterte – aside from the opportunity for power, the machinery used to organize the KP on a nationwide scale is that of the communist NDF.

    • This is scary but the left said they are not willing to die for Duterte. That tells me that they are not all the way in. Namamangka sa dalawang ilog o sigurista?

      • andrewlim8 says:

        Their alliance with Duterte holds only if it gives them access to power. Both sides have no illusion that they are ideological kin.

        Which is why you see a bloody end to this tactical alliance.

        Duterte has no choice but to make the peace deal push through.

        If it fails, he loses because he has already set free several key officials of the CPP-NPA-NDF, has appointed them to cabinet positions where they gained access to valuable intel, the armed units of the CPP has consolidated, rested and re-armed.

        So either Duterte capitulates heavily to get the left to agree, just like what happened with China on the West Philippine Sea.

        In either scenario, the country loses.

      • parengtony says:

        The left that you speak of are nothing but opportunistic trapos. How can leftists be so anti-masa? Come on!

  18. Contradicting pronouncements by Yasay. One wants the US NOT to put any conditions on foreign aid to PH. Another wants the UN rapporteur to meet conditions set by Duterte to be able to come to PH to do a preliminary report on EJKs. Whattttttttt? Please explain these to me because I NO COMPRENDE.

    • Sure. The government has no principles other than expedience as determined by the President. That is the reason there is inconsistency, interpretations change hour to hour, and media, the public, lawyers, the UN or US are to blame for getting it wrong. It is a completely free government, bound by no law or value. It is completely amoral.

  19. An example of someone who is not just apathetic but cheering…

    the comments on the video show the attitudes of today very clearly…

    • madlanglupa says:

      If anything, some of us are now devolving to the level of the Taliban.

    • chemrock says:

      When I watched the OFW crowd in Singapore clapped as Duterte told of his heroic acts of personally shooting people, and knowing that come Sunday they will troop obediently to church, I had a vision of these OFWs holding a bowl of rice in sinigang soup and sitting on the toilet bowl having their meals. It’s a matter of decency which is lacking.

      All his talk of personal killings — one thing is for sure now. We know that Triplanes never lied when he first told us about this.

      • madlanglupa says:

        Religion is so overriding for the kind of people you described that even facts are irrelevant, they want him — seen as a prophet anointed by God and Marcos — transform the country into a facsimile of Singapore, a heaven on earth but built on the foundation of bloodied corpses and fear.

  20. I wrote this in July, and I often hate being right says Simoun to Basilio in Rizal’s El Filibusterismo – “Evil, suffering, miserable weeds that will be replaced by healthy grain. I would call it creation, production, giving life” to justify killing those against his revolution. When Simoun later has taken poison to not fall into the hands of the Spanish alive, Filipino priest Padre Florentino tells him: “we must win our freedom by deserving it, by improving the mind and enhancing the dignity of the individual”… but the interesting part is:

    “as long as we see our countrymen feel privately ashamed, hearing the growl of their rebelling and protesting conscience, while in public they keep silent and even join the oppressor in mocking the oppressed; as long as we see them wrapping themselves up in their selfishness and praising with forced smiles the most despicable acts, begging with their eyes for a share of the booty, why give them independence?”…”if the slaves of today will be the tyrants of tomorrow”.

    • Full reprint of an FB post of a citizen who asked questions at a QC Tokhang meeting – which shows that there are those who are starting to push back..

      This morning at the barangay meeting on Operation Double-Barrel and Taphang, my fellow residents spoke to Supt Eleazar and expressed our concerns and raised some demands.

      Ang sinabi ko po:

      Ako po’y batang Proj 4 kung saan talamak ang drugs. Natutulog pa nga ako na may kasamang screwdriver sa takot kong ma-rape. Pero malinaw po sa kin na hindi katumbas ng safety ko ang buhay ng ibang tao.

      At isa po ako sa sinasabi ninyong apathetic na hindi pumupunta sa brgy meetings at pumunta lang po ako ngayon dahil sinabi ng sulat nyo, mato-Tokhang ako kapag hindi. So may takot talagang ginagamit para pang-comply ang mga tao. At yan pong naririnig ko mula sa mga kaibigan kong urban poor na nakatira sa ibang districts ng QC – na dahil araw araw na ang pagpatay sa area nila, araw-araw ang pagtapon ng mga katawan sa harapan ng mga bahay nila na matindi ang takot nila. Sa sobrang takot hindi na pumupunta sa lamay ang mga kapit-bahay. Nakakabahala po yun dahil naiiba talaga ang kultura’t social fabric nating mga Pilipino na hindi na tayo nakikiramay sa kapit-bahay natin at natatakot na tayo sa isa’t isa. Bakit po tayo gumagamit ng terror para labanan ang terror? Hindi na po ako takot lang sa mga adik, ngayon takot na rin akong madamay sa mga shoot-outs. Nag tri tricycle po kami sa umaga ng mga anak ko papasok sa school. Ngayon sinasabi nyo 80% ng tricycle drivers ay drug users? So posibleng habang nakasakay kami ay mabaril ang driver namin at madamay kami?

      At ang sabi po ng Senado ay unconstitutional ang Operation Tokhang. Paano nyo po napapangalagaan ang mga karapatan namin? Dahil wala po akong narinig sa mga sinabi ninyo na may investment sa human rights education o sa anti-poverty programs laban sa kahirapan na sinasabi ninyong root cause ng drug abuse. Gusto po namin marinig na kasing tindi ng commitment ninyo sa pagiging drug-free city, ang pagiging EJK-free city. Kasi po ang balita ko, ang mga nagsu-surrender ay sila rin ang nae-EJK, so hindi pala nakakatulong mag-surrender dahil hindi naman rehab ang patutunguhan nila.

      Mga sagot ni Supt Eleazar (paraphrasing):

      Hindi totoo na inosente ang mga napapatay. Malamang drug users nga sila dahil hindi sila basta basta masasangkot sa drug-bust operation kung hindi nga sila adik. Shempre ang bali-balita na lang sa komunidad ay walang sala sila. So magitiwala po kayo sa min na ang napapatay lang ay sigradong guilty.

      Paniwalaan nyo kami na gagamitin namin sa tama ang database ng surrendees dahil hindi naman kami gumagalaw kapag hindi validated ang mga ito.

      Evidence-based po ang campaign namin.

      May conceptual framework pa kami.


      (1) Class-based ang campaign na ito. PNP and LGUs are clearly very conscious of the differences between gated communities and urban poor areas, saying that they changed their rhetoric when they got pushback from the gated communities; and that they’re only able to target low-level drug addicts and pushers in the urban poor communities;

      (2) Fear, terror and snitching on our neighbors are the primary strategies that produce their results, the kinds of social control that police states elevate and institutionalize in the name of law and order. Their very campaign and system cannot work without our consent and participation;

      (3) Mahalagang dumalo sa mga local barangay meetings ninyo dahil doon nakikita ng PNP at LGUs na merong mga taong hindi sumasang-ayon sa campaign na ito. Pinalakpakan ang mga tanong ko at ng mga kasama ko. Tapos sunod-sunod ng mga tanong re safety of citizens, transparency, communications, human rights commitment, etc. Naging sensitive at slightly defensive sila noong tanungin about human rights violations. We need to keep adding pressure and scrutiny at the very local level and register our dissent, explicitly withholding our consent.


  21. J. Bondurant says:

    Every time public apathy towards extrajudicial killings is discussed, I can’t help but think of that old quote about the Philippines being a country of several million cowards and one son of a bitch.

    • edgar lores says:

      Perhaps we should put the enablers — in the House, the Senate, the Supreme Court, and in the general population — in a different category.

      Cowards are passive accomplices. Enablers are active accomplices.

  22. Francis says:

    The picture (hopefully) is far more nuanced.

    “What this suggests to me is that the public is of a mind as to the following: the killings are not only wrong, but they are making people fearful that a loved one might become a victim. This suggests –when you consider the jury being out on whether the police are believable or not—that people are assigning culpability to the rank-and-file cops, but continue, as of now, to hold the President and his senior subordinates blameless.”

    I was particularly surprised by the last statistics mentioned: an overwhelming sixty percent of respondents believe that the administration is at least “somewhat serious” in tackling the issue of EJKs. How the Duterte administration gets those numbers despite all his gunslinger statements is something that boggles the mind. Do ordinary working people (people cynical enough to believe in conspiracy theories, people street-smart enough to keep themselves safe on the streets) actually take the “take his words seriously, not literally” spin…literally and seriously? Surreal.

    Yet, it also worth noting that an outstanding plurality of forty-two percent are “undecided” when it comes to believing or not believing in whether the police are telling the truth in saying “nanlaban sila” or that the suspects fought. That dominance of social media isn’t quite the total victory. And what must come up, must come down; nothing can get higher than the peak–which is now.

    These show that public opinion is both not firmly in favor of the administration and of the opposition (in holistic terms, personality and views/policy) and that the debate is still in play. Time will be the test. The administration is still experiencing a honeymoon period. It is riding on the economic gains of the previous administration.

    2017 and 2018. 2017 and 2018. Those will be critical years.

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