Duterte’s divided nation: Philippine institutions push back


[Photo source: Wall Street Journal]

By Joe America

I’ve written two prior articles that provide background to this discussion. One said that the fate of the Philippines is in the hands of its institutions (link). The other identified three major issues that are so fundamentally problematic that it is hard to get past them to give the Duterte Administration credit for constructive things being done (link).

The three major issues, which I likened to elephants in the Presidential Palace, are: (1) extra-judicial killings (EJKs), (2) the nation’s sovereignty pertaining to Chinese incursions into Philippine waters, and (3) government by propaganda instead of transparency.

How division has been created

The nation has been divided by efforts of President Duterte’s Administration to insult, diminish, or try to jail those who hold any contrary view to that of the Administration. The divisiveness can be witnessed in the vicious attacks on Vice President Robredo, former President Aquino, and Senator De Lima, among others. We can see it in accusatory or unverified charges from Administration Spokesman Andanar, Secretary of Justice Aguirre, Admin Attorney Panelo, and propaganda armies most popularly identified with the works of Mocha Uson, Sass Sasot, and online trolls.

The Administration makes the case that it has a mandate to do what it wants because it won the Presidency and is getting high satisfaction ratings. Objection is disloyal to the Philippines.

Critics make the case that the Philippines remains a nation of law under a Constitution. Free speech is one of the fundamental rights, under that law. They emphasize that more than half of all registered voters did NOT vote for President Duterte, and there are huge asterisks attached to his satisfaction ratings, most notably, the Public’s reservations about EJKs and Chinese incursions into Philippine waters.

The institutions pushing back

The institutions pushing back include:

  • The left, whose organizations are front and center and in the streets (see photo, above) . . . and whose military wing has recently returned to the battlefields.
  • The legislature . . . mainly the Senate . . . where a good number of members have expressed objection to EJKs, with Senators De Lima, Hontiveros, Trillanes, and Pangilinan, and Representative Baguilat, most outspoken among them.
  • The mainstream media, who continue to report on incidents uncomfortable to or critical of the Administration; these reports become an offset to propaganda-inspired ‘fake news’. Opinion columnists issue frequent criticisms.
  • International media, who continue to portray the Philippines as an inhumane killer state.
  • Citizens, who are taking individual initiatives on social media, in street protests (Marcos burial), and via lawsuits.
  • The Catholic Church, which is adamantly opposed to EJKs and proposed death penalty legislation.
  • The Supreme Court and Ombudsman, both of whom continue to adhere to their Constitutional charter, resisting the Administration’s criticism of their works.

I can only speculate, but I think the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) is doing a restrained, diplomatic push-back as well. Although the President complains mightily about the US military presence in the Philippines, training exercises with the US will continue (albeit transferred out of the conflict-ridden West Philippine Sea) and implementation of the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA) with the US is moving forward. Also, to the extent that Senator Trillanes represents the legislative mind nearest and dearest to the military, his critical voice may stand in as a proxy for what some generals think.

Evidence that push-back is a real force

During the past few weeks, we have seen remarkable evidence that the push-back is shaping the way the Administration works:

  • The President has curtailed anti-drug activities of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) due to incidents of police involvement in killings, apparently including the hiring of paid executioners. The focus has been shifted to cleaning up the two policing organizations.
  • The President has ended the cease fire with the New People’s Army (NPA), explaining that the armed forces would not accept the NPA peace negotiation terms demanding the freeing of prisoners.
  • The Administration has said publicly that it has not set aside the Philippine win in a UN arbitration hearing against China, and has issued diplomatic (“note verbale”) protests with China over the militarization of the islands China has constructed in disputed territory.
  • The Secretary of Justice has apologized to Senators De Lima and Pangilinan for erroneously accusing them of bad faith dealings. Public criticism of Aguirre’s comment was intense.

We also see rising public criticism about continued transportation breakdowns and congestion, and about ”fake news” and government sanctioned abuse of social media platforms.

Institutions that have clearly lost their independence

It seems pretty obvious that two Philippine governmental institutions no longer operate with the Constitution as their mandate, having replaced the Constitution with the President’s will:

  • The House of Representatives
  • The Philippine National Police

It is possible that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) will lose its independence with the recent resignation of its Head and a likely replacement appointment sympathetic to the Administration.

The Supreme Court remains substantially influenced by political concerns reflecting the advocacies of the Duterte/Marcos/Arroyo alliance.

The Philippines is not yet dead to civility and democracy

The Administration has tried to impose its will but has instead generated serious division and push-back. Unity seems a long way off.

The political persecution of Senator De Lima did not stop others from protesting EJKs. The current effort to persecute President Aquino on a rehash of Mamasapano is likely to sow deep division. President Aquino was, after all, a very popular president. For a great many people, his earnest and honest approach stands out as refreshing against the Duterte Administration’s gameplaying and sponsorship of death.

As I have written before, I personally find it hard to trust people who speak for the Duterte Administration. There are so many false and manipulative accusations flowing forth, a drive to hide information that does not paint a good picture, and very little forthright debate, devoid of insult.

It is easy to be skeptical about the halt to PNP and NBI drug raids. Critics observe that it may just be a way to cool the protests so that a new version of State Police can resume the imposition of deadly “discipline” and “unity” on the nation. Similarly, until the Philippines actually stands up to Chinese incursions, it is hard to see the official policy as anything but concessionary . . . and as a failure to defend Philippine sovereignty. Finally, ill-intended propaganda continues to flow forth freely, spewings of bad faith . . . not unlike emanations from a broken sewerage pipe . . . emanating from the Palace via its spokesmen and its social media army.

It is also abundantly clear that there are favored people. Ending impunity is not one of the changes brought in by President Duterte. The higher the rank of drug lord, the more compassionate the treatment. Furthermore, it is clear that the Marcos and Arroyo families, and the Duterte family, stand as royalty among the other elite families.

So the elephants may be wounded by the pushback, but they are still in the room.

It is heartening to know that there are well-meaning individuals and institutions keeping watch. The President does not operate with complete impunity, although he certainly has control of the nation’s destiny, and plenty of supporters . . . or enablers of death, to those of us who think human rights represent humankind’s best effort not to act like remorseless animals.

One is inclined to wonder what kind of results the Duterte Administration would get if it stopped trying to fool, manipulate, threaten, and kill people, and just set out to administer a productive government.


61 Responses to “Duterte’s divided nation: Philippine institutions push back”
  1. subscribing to comments..

  2. josephivo says:

    The discussions can have different levels, on the objectives of the issue, the path to reach the objectives and on all the spin generated or spin-offs of the issue. One can discuss the mean or average, the full range and variation, but often they focus on one outlier or just one discusses only to show their own supremacy.

    The problem with this President is that often I can support his objectives even if they need some clearer definitions. Seldom I agree with the path he is following to get there. My feeling is that the people too support his objectives, even his brazen style while enduring his methods. But in the end he will be measured on results.

    Fight addictions, yes. Especially if they hinder other people, like the addiction for entitlements, excess money, gambling, alcohol, nicotine and also drugs. Is drugs addiction the most harmful? Maybe because it generates and supports criminal gangs (in and outside the FNP). But one cannot fight addictions with a gun in his hands so the end result will be compromised. When will the president realize and start panicking?

    More sovereignty, a more adult relationship with the Americans and other powerful nations, yes, yes. The submissive, subservient attitude towards foreigners has to improve. But is barking as loud as you can at the wrong tree the solution?

    More involvement of the citizens in politics, more intense communication with them on items that concern them, in language they understand, yes, yes, yes. But with real facts, not with just suspicions, planted evidence or wishful thinking. Come up with arguments and see the difference between people disagreeing with the objectives and people disagreeing with the methods.

    • Yes. Yes. Yes. I think the mayorship of municipalities is a training ground on bitterness and power (high level of violence), and does not foster diplomatic or patient solutions that accept criticism as constructive. I don’t know if the President is capable of learning new skills. He needs to if he wants a more unified nation. There are too many educated people here who know when they are being played for fools.

      • Ancient Mariner says:

        Joeam, I think you hit the nail on the head when you singled out the mayors.
        In my opinion they 8are the root of corruption. They are all powerful because they bring in the votes of the masses.
        How do they do it? How many non- registered tricycles and motorcycles are plying the roads driven by persons without or with out of date driving licences? Motorcycles driven by underage children, persons without crash helmets and/or with up to five persons on one motorbike. No lights, no wing mirrors and no brake lights.
        Jeepneys and pedal cycles, mobile stalls and mobile haberdasheries they are all up to their elbows in traffic offences.
        How do they get away with it in almost every barangay in land? The mayors influence over the police (and in part police intransigence).
        Why do the mayors not pursue a municipality, town or city with law abiding road users? One word “votes”. Mayors bring in the votes and mayors who crack down on these criminal road users who are mainly from the lower classes soon lose out on the votes of the masses.
        So in my humble opinion revamp the system from Governor down, enforce the law on the roads, by doing so make people realize that laws are not there to be ignored and you are half way there.
        How is that done? It will take a lot of better men than me to come up with the answer but it is really time for the cloak of impunity to be removed from this nightmarish aspect of our everyday lives.

    • Yes. Yes. Yes. I think the mayorship of municipalities is a training ground on bitterness and power (high level of violence), and does not foster diplomatic or patient solutions that accept criticism as constructive. I don’t know if the President is capable of learning new skills. He needs to if he wants a more unified nation. There are too many educated people here who know when they are being played for fools.

      • chemrock says:

        “I don’t know if the President is capable of learning new skills.”

        Joe allow me to narrate a little lesson of our founding fathers,for I believe there is great wisdom.

        Pre-independence from the British, Lee Kuan Yew and his small band of western-educated intelligentsia wanted to form a political party. They knew they had problems reaching out to the Chinese masses who are mostly Chinese-educated at that time. So they roped in a group of socialists-communists minded chaps and formed the People’s Action Party. Lee was using the well-organised and strong commies to connect to the massa but the western-educated group knew the real fight will be after independence between democracy-minded group and the commies. It was a period Lee called “riding the tiger”. Soon enough there was a period of great strife, students and labour unions in street violence, and a great battle for the minds of the people.

        In 1996 on the death of one of those commie leaders, Lee wrote in his obituary about their clashes, there was nothing personal. It was all a matter of ideologies. In fact, he admired greatly the dedication and commitment of the commies to their cause, their great capacity for personal sacrifices and physical sufferings, and the frugality and humility in their personal lives that gave them the credibility to lead. Lee said if was from them that he learnt to be frugal himself. (We have seen Du30’s house. Lee’s is even worse — it’s very spartan.) That is also the reason why from the very beginning to this day, in many state functions, such as the national day parade, all PAP cabinet members are in simple white long sleeves and white pants — symbol for humility and incorruptibility.

        In addition, because of multi-culturalism, Lee took up Malay, Mandarin and Hokkien late in life. He knew as a leader he had to communicate directly to the massa. His prowess of Malay earned him a lot of respects from Malaysians and Indonesians.

        The right skills, appropriate for the circumstances, are absolutely critical for political leadership. If there is one thing that the elite-libertarians need to do if they want to continue and play a greater role 2022 forward, they need to act now and get street cred. That is something that only Du30 and Binay had in 2016. The likes of Bam, Hontiviras, Agarra etc — they need to enmesh themselves in low down baragay type social activities. They need to get dirty and go local. What Leni Robrero is doing is a big deal and should be emulated.

        • What is interesting is that VP Robredo is not a popular hero. She goes barefoot and local, but people need a strongman to represent . . . I dunno . . . common man strength, I guess.

          • As I reflect on that, they need someone who will crab the established ways, a rebel, a crook and killer, even. So someone with lawful values, our brand of integrity, is disqualified by having the wrong character. They woul have to lie and cheat to beheld in high esteem. But they can’t.

            • chemrock says:

              Joe the pendulum swings both ways.
              Tired and frustrated with the slow change of the data guys, the people fell for the populist with promises of immediate change.
              Give another one or two years of this bumbling, lawless, con style of the admin, I suspect we will see another sea change of public opinion. At the end of day it’s results. If the adin can’t deliver, out they go. No Mocha Uson or Sass can help them.

            • maybe some are looking for “true grit” and think the too good guys are too weak to handle the chaos of the real Philippines, not just the driving without helmets or the counterflows..

              Was Magsaysay the last to have had that and be a good person as well?

              • Yes, exactly. Trillanes seems closest, but lacks charisma, I think. De Lima says the right things, but is a woman and has been toasted. I’d like to see VP Robredo go volcanic on someone.

              • edgar lores says:

                There are hardly any good guys left. Only good girls. And for each good girl, there is a bad one.


                In a matter of days, the American Judiciary was able to block Trump’s executive order on the immigration ban.

                For months, the Philippine Judiciary has not been able to hand down one single TRO against Duterte’s war on drugs. There has been no Executive Order issued on the drug war. The war is based on oral directives.

                It is only in the last week of January that there has been a legal challenge to Operation Tokhang. And the challenge is limited to suspending the war in some areas in Quezon City.

                With 7,000 dead, one would suppose the Supreme Court would act with alacrity. But neither has the Court acted to lift a partial TRO on the RH Law restricting the distribution of several contraceptives for being abortifacient in nature.

          • As I reflect on that, they need someone who will crab the established ways, a rebel, a crook and killer, even. So someone with lawful values, our brand of integrity, is disqualified by having the wrong character. They would have to lie and cheat to be held in high esteem. But they can’t.

        • NHerrera says:

          Thanks again for that historical note. If you described one who is other than the highly educated, highly intelligent, logical, pragmatic LKY, I may say that the evolution of events in Singapore is probably a chance development and may not be attributed as being planned by the great man.

          With respect to Duterte, although now carrying a heavy baggage or tainted by past events, he may just redeem himself — meaning, taking your words: learn new skills.

          I recall the phrase used often by our host in past blogs or commentaries: time and circumstance. The time and circumstances in the Philippines and the time and circumstances surrounding LKY are different; and this may be agreed without enumerating them. So, notwithstanding a vastly different start between LKY and PRD, the latter still has a lot of time and influence to do a re-working of things if he wants to; aided by the pushback suggested by you and others here in TSH.

  3. popoy del r cartanio says:

    while waiting to watch super bowl at break time I was musically lyrical to write :


    By Alejandro B. Ibay (LYRICS ONLY)

    When typhoons come, visit your islands,
    When rains flood your cities drown all your poor
    And your government just won’t get up
    It’s time to wake up get my boat
    Like a young sailor I will paddle down
    I’ll save some people.
    Like a young sailor I will paddle down
    I’ll save some people.


    Philippines my country, my love,
    When politics is making you sick
    When your wealth robbed so hard
    I will take the street
    I will clenched my fist.
    And when fire trucks come
    To drench us all around
    Like a young sailor I will paddle down
    I’ll save some people.
    Like a young sailor I will paddle down
    I’ll save some people.

    When you’re weary, feeling small,
    When tears are in your eyes, I will dry them all;
    I’m on your side. When times get rough
    And friends just can’t be found,
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down.
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down.


    When you’re down and out,
    When you’re on the street,
    When evening falls so hard
    I will comfort you.
    I’ll take your part.
    When darkness comes
    And pain is all around,
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down.
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will lay me down.

    Sail on silver girl,
    Sail on by.
    Your time has come to shine.
    All your dreams are on their way.
    See how they shine.
    If you need a friend
    I’m sailing right behind.
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will ease your mind.
    Like a bridge over troubled water
    I will ease your mind.

    Philippines my country
    My only love.
    You know we care, will fight
    It’s time for all nations to see and feel
    You are Orient’s pearl
    If you need sailors and soldiers
    To defend your seas and borders
    Like a young sailor I will paddle down
    I’ll face some people.
    Like a young sailor I will paddle down
    I’ll come save your islands.

    N.B. The song, Bridge over Troubled Water, Lyrics and Musical composition are by Simon and Garfunkel (Paul Simon), the Lyrics Philippines My Country My Love written by Popoy if performed by any Band or Singing Group or Artist for copyright reason WILL NEED PERMISSION APPROVAL of Simon and Garfunkel.

    So sorry the two columns supposedly side by side of the two songs got mixed up in copy and paste.

  4. popoy del r cartanio says:

    I’ve just watch over TV break time of the Super Bowl, Lady Gaga performing as great as her country.

    The question of greatness is which country in the world can even approximate doing such awe and inspiring spectacle? EVERY part and piece of the show: artists people, smoke, fire and lights, gadgets and music, the drones like fireflies in the sky, the sensual artistry of Lady Gaga, the genius blending of art and science, the dynamic molecules of ideas alone splashed in a masterful canvass spells the greatness of US: symbolic demonstration of the senescent word EMPIRE.

    But most important watch history gamely replayed between North and South in physicality, look at the players, Kreme de la Kreme of sportsmanship and imagine the chemistry driving US to greatness.

    The super bowl score at this moment: NE=9; ATL=28.

    • I like that illustration, Manong NH. The division is between a rock and a hard place so with more pushback pressure, it will be squeezed out or squashed. May this serve as a cautionary tale to the administration.

      • popoy del r cartanio says:

        As part of my public service many decades ago when Rizal Province properly (my assigned territory) was big and not yet dismembered into several cities I climbed the Montalban side of the Sierra Madre for an ocular inspection and verification of a map of homestead application. I liked too but never saw the evidence of the two big rocks Bernardo Carpio purportedly pushed and kept apart to prevent earthquakes as part of Filipino mythology. Colleagues natives of Montalban said the rocks really exist and could take me to them. Bio anecdotes galore for my stint on the Sierra Madre for mountain brooks on the Antipolo side, two months of college farm practice and Dumagat folklore on Sitio Pinagitlogan, Sampaloc, Tanay side, and the bald slopes on Carranglan, Nueva Ecija side before my make over to become a nondescript wannabe academic public servant paid by taxpayers’ money. Philippines Sierra Madre have infectious integrity.

        The conjecture: NH must have seen or had knowledge of Bernardo Carpio (not probably a forebear of Justice Carpio of the SC) to have conceptualized the two rocks President Duterte keeps banging against each other. The point? In TSOH sly humour (unlike SNL’S) uninsulting, might elicit smiles instead of thunderous guffaws. In TSOH we now have the NH Rock of wished for unified society of welded rocks. Rocks be they igneous, sedimentary or metamorphic marble never weathered into physicists’ ether.

        NH sounds like Germanic N-Ach but that’s another anecdote on David McClelland’s achieving society,

        • NHerrera says:

          No popoy, I didn’t have Bernardo Carpio in mind when I made that sketch. But thanks for bringing that up along with your associating it with a fragment of your life in public service.

  5. madlanglupa says:



    Even a retiree wasn’t spared. Felt like I want to throw around a lot of curse words.

    • NHerrera says:

      I am trying very much to be balanced here not knowing any fact except if true, that the killing was done by “one of two motorcycle riding men.” This should be investigated at the very least. But by whom? By the PNP, labeled as 40 percent corrupt to its core, by Duterte himself? (Sorry, I just lost a little bit of my balanced view in that last line.)

  6. Gemino H. Abad says:

    May our Supreme Court — despite those 9 justices ruling on Marcos’ burial as hero!! — stand firm on our Constitution as our people’s ideal, vision, and dream of a just and humane society. I remain grateful for the Society of Honor: RIGHT ON, JOE!

  7. Zen says:

    A time to be optimistic and proactive. Yes, let’s go out unto the streets even just for the Church sponsored ‘Walk for Life”, not to miss the call for another EDSA/ Luneta rally should it be necessary. Push backs should be seen anywhere where people could express their feelings, opinions – in schools, social media and out on the streets. Thanks Joe for expressing the country’s current sentiment. Hope it moves us forward!

  8. NHerrera says:

    First, I believe that the roll of the dice in politics placed Duterte to where he is now. Duterte, in my view is in a unique situation to undertake some changes needed. Even the critics here at TSH, acknowledging the reality, with some variation, I believe share this view. But …

    But we want Duterte and majority of us, not only the 16 million who voted for him as President, to succeed together.

    So, I assert, that it may not be accurate to say that we want the situation to be returned to the old situation. The pushback that is mentioned in the blog, I am sure, is a qualified pushback. Acknowledge and encourage the positive, for there were (are) positives; but correct the negatives, especially the BIG ones.

    And the pushback, of course, can be achieved only if the mass of us join in the pushback. The groups undertaking the unenviable job has a big job cut up for them.

    Borrowed from Winston Churchill’s 1940 speech, here is a re-wording:

    Let us therefore brace ourselves … so, Filipinos decades later will say, “This was their finest hour.”


  9. edgar lores says:

    On the aspect of the criticism from the Church, the counter criticism of Duterte and his band — House Speaker Alvarez and PNP General Bato — has been directed at the hypocrisy of the bishops.

    The reasoning seems to be: You, the princes of the Church, disobey God’s commandments, so we, the princes of the state, can ignore and bypass you.

    In following this reasoning, though, there is no direct wrestling of conscience with the tenets of the faith, in particular, the teachings not to kill, not to lie, and not to commit adultery.

    And so it is with a minority of believers.

    Religion and its precepts is a garb worn on Sundays. At times, never on Sunday. Most of the time, kept in the aparador, for baptisms, weddings and funerals.

    The majority of citizens, of whatever faith, should push back, put on their resplendent garments of righteous anger, and put an end to this immorality of indiscriminate killings.

  10. The most hilarious thing I have seen since Tina Fey’s spoof of Sarah Palin. PH need a show like Saturday Night Live because we Filipinos love to laugh. Here is Melissa McCarthy as Sean Spicer, the White House Press Secretary:

    • 🙂 Yes poking fun would show how silly is real life. I’ll recommend doing a show to my friend Kris Aquino. 🙂

      • parengtony says:

        Willy Nep might be interested. I’ve watched him closely since his UP Diliman days and it sure seems to me that doing Duterte is right up his alley.

        • popoy del r cartanio says:

          Comedy’s sole purpose as I understand is to make people laugh; primarily not incidentally to make oodles of money. Poking fun of persons is a matter too of many debatable issues like a matter of taste, political correctness, abrasive insults, dry or toilet humour, to name a few. As freedom of expression it’s democracy’s Excalibur against dictatorship. Filipino humour (got them from Americans?) is combat judo caress of the victim. Those are deductions. To be inductive: I saw Willy Nep perform a few times, never INSULTING, I see talent grew from dedicated practice, objective intelligence and skill not the cleverness of exaggerated politicized backlash. Kevin Spacey (find it in YouTube) may be, is Hollywood’s Willy Nepumuceno. Somebody should lecture me on the kinds of literature like satire, comedy and tragedy. I am listening.

  11. Juana Pilipinas says:

    “One is inclined to wonder what kind of results the Duterte Administration would get if it stopped trying to fool, manipulate, threaten, and kill people, and just set out to administer a productive government.”

    IMHO, the administration has lost its credibility because of all the fooling, manipulating, threatening and killing. Filipinos would not know how to react if the admin start being transparent, kind and professional. The masses will be waiting for the other shoe to drop.

    BUT there is still time for the administration to turn a new leaf. Machiavellian way had been tried and did not work. It is time to regroup and try a more egalitarian governance.

    The fooling, manipulating, threatening and killing is not a CHANGE to PH. That is old tribal mindset and we had been doing it over and over again and expecting different result. The real CHANGE is when we as a nation confront all the elephants in the room instead of ignoring them and for once, respect the Constitution and put it to good use.

  12. josephivo says:

    Are all these push-back forces important? In the end the voters or the “masses” will decide. Last year the shared a dream with the current president (less violence, less waste as waiting on the roads or money on corruption resulting in higher income.) and they taught that he had enough trustworthiness (results as a major, authoritarian, speaking a language we understand). But at one point in time dreams will not suffice anymore and trustworthiness no longer based on thoughts. Results (perceived facts) will take over. Violence in my street? Traffic jams? Salaries and price hikes? Job opportunities and especially remittances – US? When change does not come DU30 will have problems.

    Perceived improvements are the key words.

    • NHerrera says:

      On a weight basis the un-achieved promised improvements (“it’s the economy stupid”) is the key factor. But, I believe, the pushback forces and efforts are important in heralding or cautioning the masses to be watchful.

    • edgar lores says:

      Push-back is important. As I noted above, the American judiciary was able to block Trump’s travel ban after a few days. On Day One, ACLU lawyers were on hand at airports to defend travelers caught in Bannon’s hastily woven web. Trump has been checked and balanced.

      Here, we have no such immediate mechanisms in civil society to check Duterte. There is a Philippine Civil Liberties Union (PCLU) but their presence is only felt on FaceBook. Except for calls for vigilance, I can find no action taken by them against the drug war.

      I believe you noted before that the Philippines has no middle layer, no secular civic organizations, between the government and the citizens.

      • Bill In Oz says:

        Edgar, did you manage to watch “Ice Wars” on the ABC TV this evening ? Program one of a continuing series. One thing emerged very clearly, even a comparitively wealthy nation like Australia has difficulty dealing with this scourge in a legal & healthy way. What chance has the Philippines ?

        I think it can be watched for free on ABC IView.

        • Edgar Lores says:

          Bill in Oz, Thanks. I’ll try to catch it.

          • popoy del r cartanio says:

            “No middle layer, no secular civic organizations” my foot ! It is easy to forget from the time of the sickening slide, the time of Ramos, Erap, Gloria, then PNoy, the Philippines have PHILCONSA, the IBP. Need to say more on free loaders of decay? NGOs, People’s Orgs ? My foot !

        • NHerrera says:


          I read this item on Australia’s “Ice Wars” containing a 2-minute video clip:


          The question you asked What chance has the Philippines ? is rather apt.

          At the very least — taking out consideration of the policy that spawned EJKs and the corollary kidnap for ransom/ killing in the Philippines — Duterte brought the attention of the scourge of this illegal drugs. If Duterte now changes policy that is much criticized for good reason, he may still be recorded as the President who fought that war first one way and then changed for a better way, especially now that a lot of sectors are ready to help after being made aware of the magnitude of the scourge.

          • Bill In Oz says:

            N’Hererra, If you have the capacity to watch the whole program ” Ice Wars”, it would I think be worth it. Watching is free and there are no advertisements.
            It is an hour long program and part of a series on this issue. It is not an ‘acted’ program. It is all actual live footage.The program includes footage of a raid on a drug lab; extensive interviews with an Ice addict who is also mentally ill; interviews with police authorities in Sydney; interviews with hospital staff who are dealing with psychotic overdosed ice takers in Casualty departments of hospitals.

            At first glance Australia may seem to have the resources & capacity to deal with this drug problem. But it takes a huge effort. Hence my question, does the Philippines have this capacity & resources ?

    • josephivo says:

      I don’t know how far you can compare the American situation with the Philippine one.

      Americans are more principled, religious convictions, Republican Party with small government, no interference, a fraction of isolationists, inequality in races, in education, in opportunities, winners and losers… and Trumps secret dream: “me Trump, the biggest, the best”, supported by his media skills.

      In the Philippines (day-) dreams are much more important and the trustworthiness based on the “I know you” feeling with celebrities, the language used, autocratic behavior… Day-dreams are the only thing many people have, winning a boxing or a beauty competitions, telenovelas and movies, cockfighting and the number games… Elections belong to this category, nothing to do with principles. Later, if you can’t deliver, they will punish you and hunt for new dreams.

      • popoy del r cartanio says:

        Anecdotes galore. Experiential conjecture. We Filipinos like ducks are Americans said some Brits. When we’re outside the Philippines we are (un)ugly Americans in Asia, Middle East and in Europe or even wherever.

        In 1967-68 as PG student in UK, a Professor one lunch time (yes, the faculty have their daily lunch with their students) told me condescendingly : “You Filipinos are like Americans, your English is American, you talk and sound like Americans, you even look and measure our system the American way. You are so very Americanized. “ This professor may not have heard Ilocanos and Visayans converse in English or the Pampangos say in English: “The I ouse in da I ill,” eating, silencing the letter h. Nevertheless, outside the classroom and lecture halls I don’t argue with my Professors’ sarcasm who make my grade at the end of the semester.

        THE POINT: After nearly 50 years from that colonial remark, with the birth of OFWs growing old and strong everywhere and the large Filipino diaspora in US, we Filipinos are really NO DIFFERENT from good Americans only if and only if when we are OUTSIDE the Philippines. Was it pen-gifted Jessica Zafra who postulated that Pinoy OFWs and immigrants are the new world colonialists?

        But I hazard to say that our Pacquiao, our three Miss Universes day dreamers galore are different and even better than some of Hillary’s common Americans.

      • edgar lores says:

        In reality, there is hardly any comparison. But the comparison is instructive nevertheless, specifically in the mechanisms of check and balance to presidential power.

        The comparison shows there is a dearth of any such mechanisms in the Philippines, especially when the Legislature and the Judiciary are aligned with the wishes of the Executive.

        The citizens are left with nothing but frequent protests in news and social media and in infrequent mass demonstrations.

  13. madlanglupa says:

    OFFTOPIC: A woman, a former drug user who decided to quit, turn a new leaf by selling foodstuffs down by the street just hours ago, was gunned down by a quartet of assassins on motorcycles. Same pattern, same death, same lack of resolution, an open case.

    All that happened just 10-15 meters away from where one of my friends were standing, as he was taking a breather after work inside an acquaintance’s house in a slum in Pasay.

    He was incensed enough with the increased number of unsolved EJK murders in that slum alone, near NAIA Terminal 1, that he challenged PRD to come down from his pulpit and see what havoc and injustice his words have wrought. Oh, boy, the Big Man sheds tears for the cancer-ridden children, but this dead woman, I was told, left several children without a parent!

    • Bill In Oz says:

      Duterte has declared the War on Drugs suspended because of police corruption. But the corrupt in the PNP will still seek to protect themselves from people who could become witnesses testifying about their involvement in the drug trade. I suggest that what your friend saw was an example Madlanglupa.

      All those who “decide to quit and turn a new leaf” are truly vulnerable to attacks by their former drug business associates.

      • madlanglupa says:

        Whatever, this regime expects fear and compliance, the drug business expects secrecy and profit. Hell, I’m sure that former president Gavira’s OP-ED in NYT will be ignored since the bent of this regime borders onto religion.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Sorry to inser this comment here, but since parents were mentioned.

      Killing parents and jailing 9 year olds.
      The alternative for jailing 9 year olds is to impose a heavier penalty on parents what if their parents were killed via EJK, who is left to care for them?
      Jailing parents won’t help the children too, sorry, I know there are no easy answers.
      I am still not convinced on reducing the criminal liability to as low as 9.

      As too Bill’s concern that if a first world nation is having problems with resources, what more a third world nation?
      True that.

      • madlanglupa says:

        To the Man in the Palace, law and order is everything, “heavenly peace” is also paramount, even if it means the equivalent of bringing out the leather belt, or let blood flow to appease his favorite audience who also repost religious imagery.

  14. karlgarcia says:

    A few days ago we noted thatthe Human Rights lawyers offiering pro-bono services.
    Even if the Catholic church (catholics)is divided on Duterte’s drug war and EJK whether it is 50-50 or 20-80, the pushback is apparent.

    About true grit, those mentioned above in the comments and the article itself, are more than enough not to have a defeatist attitude.

  15. Example of pushback on elephant #3:

  16. chemrock says:

    Do take note. EJK is not suspended. It’s the PNP and NBI’s role in durg raids that’s expended. Whilst they “cleanse” up PNP and NBI, drug war will be lead by the AFP. The soldiers are gearing up.

    Will AFP be more brutish? Don’t know.
    But PNP / AFP turf wars may erupt. And so they said, when 2 elephants fight, the grass suffers. More woes to the poor.

  17. boom buencamino says:


    I would add another another elephant to your list. Corruption.

    Corruption is what will bring Pres Fentanylla down. By themselves or even taken together those elephants might not be big enough to trample Fentanylla: (1) China is not palpable to the masses, (2) the regime’s propaganda has been very effective not because it has a good and effective message but because this regime has concentrated on reach/dissemination…hence fake news etc..(3) EJK won’t bring him down because Filipinos have a great tolerance for vigilante justice and EJKs…Mobs beating up suspected thieves/snatchers etc are a common sight in this country, the Kuratong Baleleng massacre during Erap’s time did not bring about widespread condemnation, in fact it was applauded by an uncomfortable number of people…Maybe it has to do with the failures of our justice system, maybe because we have yet to learn the true value of due process…that’s for social scientists to figure out

    But Filipinos won’t stand for blatant official corruption..popular movie star Bong is not getting much sympathy these days… Erap went down because of corruption…The Marcos case is telling because 30 years after his downfall he is less notorious for human rights violations and killing Ninoy than he is for the plunder that he and his wife committed…GMA is the exception but she had to spend her last six years fighting for survival and we all know how much that cost her and the country both financially and morally

    The good news is we are beginning to see the corruption we all expected to see in Pres Fentanylla’s govt. There’s the PNP kidnap murder, the videos of raids shown by Sen Lacson, the hearings on the P50M extortion on Jack Lam where DOJ Sec Wiggie is looking more and more a principal player, the recent exposé of favors for convicts who testified against De Lima, the blind item in Inquirer’s Bizbuzz about the tourism secretary arm-twisting a resort hotel for freebies…the killing of Espinosa in prison which looked like it was meant to silence him.

    And Fentanylla is becoming careless. At Bato’s birthday bash, he told PNP officials he tolerates certain forms of police corruption He told them it was okay to smuggle, to get involved with gambling, and to accept “help”, He was willing to overlook them as long as they stayed away from drugs and kidnap for ransom At one point he admitted graft and corruption will always be around so he told them just to make the streets safe. I made a 3 minute video from excerpts of that speech just so there’s a record of a president telling his law enforcers that corruption is okay with him. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cuy_tcgvNag t

    Fentanylla can and will get away with a lot of things for as long as the public percieves him as honest. Once people begin to doubt, then China even if they do not really understand it will be seen as sell-out, and the propaganda and EJKs as a tool of cover-up and intimidation against those who are exposing Fentanylla’s corruption. Remember how scared he was when the too late to have an effect BPI secret account exposé happened?

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