Events Explicate Techniques Of Politics



Event? [19th century Indian lute from Met Museum. I like inserting real art into an artist’s writings. editor]

By Popoy del R. Cartanio

I did write in the previous piece that the eleven political issues listed were EVENTS, not judgments and criticisms but red flags and wake up calls.  Let me re-post the events in random order:

  1. PNP and the murder of the Korean businessman inside the Police National Headquarters,
  2. Waking up from deep sleep of the Catholic Church on the issue of EJK,
  3. the completion (not the end) of the peace talk and  cancellation of the cease fire truce both by the CPP-NDP-NPPA and Philippines government,
  4. failed visit of UN official to monitor the drug war,
  5. the burial of late President Marcos to the Heroes Cemetery;
  6. the investigation and report of the AI (Amnesty International) about EJK (extra judicial killings) as a crime of genocide as sufficient case for trial by the International Criminal Court, and for sanctions by the International Court of Justice,
  7. the sudden stoppage or suspension of  the anti-illegal drug program and activities;
  8. the irreparable verdict by the President of the PNP  as a damaged institution;
  9. continuing operations against Muslim rebels in Mindanao,
  10. continuing loss of lives of  AFP soldiers to operations of the NPA, and
  11. the expected resurgence of guerrilla war waged by  the Communists New Peoples Army.

A few more words (meaning a lot as always from me) might clarify EVENTS  as the underbelly of the article. Yet to be formulated and recognized as technique in political analysis, e.g. the “event technique” it could be the simple math of political issues. One need to have attended or taught simple project scheduling course called PERT/CPM (Program Evaluation Review Technique/Critical Path Method). It was fifty years ago so I am no longer aware of its ramifications through time, or its obsolescence because of the ascendancy of computers in development project planning on a scale of say planning for a nuclear war or something tiny like planning to win the election for Donald Trump; or beauteous planning for a million pesos project like the 2017 Miss Universe Pageant.

Anyway (from fading memory) the basics define the animal and definitions must rule. An event is a point in time. It does not consume time. It does not consume resources. Time is not a resource, IT IS A CONSTRAINT. Everybody has the same amount. A predecessor event is followed by a successor event conjoined by actvities. A single event or hundreds of them might constitute a political issue easily simplified like the election to the Presidency of Rodrigo Roa Duterte. Events are mere solitary dots, almost useless except to pundits and opinion makers and bloggers (like me) who can spin events into nuggets or fool’s gold.

ACTIVITIES connect events to other events. Activities consume time and resources. In governance, job time is defined by law: eight hours a day; forty hours to a week, etc. Resources conventionally include the four Ms:  Money is most important because it can buy all the other Ms;  Men, Methods, Machines, Metcetera.  Social particularly political issues are better dissected as multifarious activities than as events. Activities can be concurrent and parallel ending in the same event. Critical activities must be completed before other activities can be started.

For example, the concept of corruption is better analyzed as numerous  activities and not as an EVENT.  Resources expended or earned by corrupt activities could run into billions of pesos. Genocide and EJK can be analyzed from both perspectives as Event or as Activity. It is not a flat either/or conundrum. The pendulum swing of analysis from being an event to an activity and vice versa should widen instead of narrowing; deepen instead of superficializing insights.

In a limited sense, it is causation too: when activities cause or lead to an event. That’s like when too many bullying activities cause or lead to eventual suicide of  the victim. Activities consume resources and as such have direct and indirect costs. Human lives depending on the objectives of  a policy (for example the policy of eradication of illegal drugs) could be direct costs or indirect costs.

Because activities required to implement a policy consume time, underperformance (failure to complete on targeted time) could result in time slippage. Time slippage means cost slippage: COST OVERUNS.

The execution of a national policy entails tremendous cost to the government. National policy almost always implicates and requires interdisciplinary participation of several government agencies.  Applying a set time to completion on the manageable control of a social disease, say from one year to six years, means ENORMOUS cost to the taxpayers who pay (like in “hulidap”) through mandatory withholding tax.

Constant cost overruns sourced from national policy failures caused by ineptness, by corruption and unmitigated   perennial force majeure (like typhoons and floods) may have committed the public and private sector wage earners to permanent “make both ends meet” lives. Mistakes made in performing  governance activities are EXPENSIVE.

Mistakes are not ERRORS. The former, like accidents, can be avoided and are usually man-caused while the latter can be traced to vagaries and features of nature which can not be avoided. Being gay is more a genetic error than a mistake in fertilization, conception and gestation. Passenger jets crashing can’t be due to pilot error which could be pilot mistakes that are expensive to insurance companies, also to lives lost.  To say, “Sorry, my error,” is erroneous. Better to say, “Sorry, my bad, este my mistakes. So I must pay.”

In the same vein, Congress by its Senate and HoR should have reduced annual salaries and perks as rectification if they have COMMITTED THE MISTAKE (not the lawmaking error) of allowing themselves to put their hands – through  endorsement and approval — on policy activity resources (pork barrel projects) which have nothing to do with law making.

PLUNDER is an event resulting from mistakes which happened while consuming Activity resources in a corrupt way –very expensive indeed to the taxpayers.

When and only when the Executive, the Legislative and the Judicial Branches of  the government make constant mistakes, the result is intermittent diarrhea to the lowly taxpayers and their dependents. The people should thank God that diarrhea is not cholera.

Consumed policy resources attributed to cost slippage and cost overruns can make the Cost/Benefit Analysis technique an economist’s big joke. However, to explain WHY will be like beating dead meat.

Finally, Policy Events may have its serendipity (THE GOOD) and its opposite which I will tentatively call by analogy the “malevolent hiding hand principle” (THE BAD AND UGLY) first coined by economist Albert O. Hirschman and later modified by Bent Flyvbjerg and Cass Sunstein. Serendipitous it is when, for example, as an unforeseen result of the illegal drug policy, the taipans of Malls and government agencies unexpectedly give priority to employing rehab(ed)  addicts.

On the deleterious contrary, the illegal drug policy might unexpectedly alienate the large population from government authority resulting in unrest and imposition of more drastic measures of  behavior control like martial law.


55 Responses to “Events Explicate Techniques Of Politics”
  1. edgar lores says:

    1. Couldn’t events be elongated points in time? It would seem to me that events 2, 9, 10 and 11 are elongated. As such, they “consume” time.

    1.1. The given explanation is that an event is a single happening at a certain point in time, and everything surrounding it are activities. If we take the case of event 2, one could say that the main event was the recent release of the CBCP letter. However, there were individual bishops speaking against EJKs before that. True, these can be classified as predecessor events, and we can expect similar successor events – such as the recantation of Father Tabora. But all events – predecessor, main, and successor – comprise, in toto, the “waking up from a deep sleep of the Catholic Church.”

    To me, it is more a process consisting of several events rather than a single one because the waking up has taken time and some entities are not yet awake.

    2. In the same vein, couldn’t events consume resources? All the listed events consumed the resources of (a) presidential advisers considering and laying out courses of action (pre- and post-), (b) the executive deciding what policy to adopt, and (c) spokesmen explaining adopted government policy.

    2.1. Money can now buy a fifth M – media.

    3. Perhaps the model should be: Process –> Events –> Activities?

    3.1. In this model, plunder can be considered to be a process that subverted the use of the pork barrel for public projects to private hands. The events would be the fake projects, and the activities would be the laundering done by Napoles et al and the pocketing of the funds into private accounts.

    3.2. Isn’t calling plunder a mere “mistake” a grave mistake? Or should one say “grave error” because plunder is a feature of human nature that cannot be avoided?

    4. I am aware these are perhaps quibbles, and that the given definitions must rule as we here at TSH follow Humpty Dumpty’s dictionary.

    • chemrock says:

      1.1. I feel ‘activities’ and ‘events’ has no permanence, it’s situational. For example, if many more bishops start talking about EJK, which you say are successor events, and let’s say someone got so peeved as to issue an EO to clam down on the church. Then all those ‘talking events’ become the activities leading to the EO event.

      3.2. A ‘bribe’ is a grave error, a ‘goodwill money’ is a mere mistake. Was Wally Sombrero so witty or soeone pulled it out under his wig for him?

    • popoy del r cartanio says:

      Edgar thanks. That’s amplification and elaboration which can both clarify and lead to deeper thinking. I will just say it is just a tool from technics into techniques, it could be flawed and erroneous, or could lead to better methods of analysis in any undertaking, even lips to lips kissing. I am not Albert Einstein but read a lot about him. He was always deductive, but the physicists or mathematicians who were inductive won their Nobel Prizes by cutting to pieces or elaborating his deductions. Many were even surprised when late though it was, Einstein won his Nobel.

      I was thinking, anticipating questions which may arise out of this piece. I see now I am way off of the mark. Hopefully JoeAm will post it as part three.

      • popoy del r cartanio says:

        Edgar if I may, I think your premises can be drawn and pursued to completion as a new technique for analysis. We will differ in skinning the cat because we are different product and captive of our particular background (education, training and experience). Still our output certainly could be the same light illuminating the same issue. The same elephant. In plane surveying I learned error is simply unavoidable while mistakes ARE AVOIDABLE. To measure linear distance by walking I have to do it many times to establish my stride (accurately 2.07 feet in the 60s) by painstaking trials. Yet there could be my mistakes in establishing farm area in the mountain because of topography.

        I (not copycatting Einstein) generalize by putting haphazardly alike pieces together to know what it means. Eche bucheche valueless and timeless could by a long shot to mean something if put together AS A SINGLE POINT OF ANALYSIS. Let that block of ice melt into molecules of meaning.

        “3.2. Isn’t calling plunder a mere “mistake” a grave mistake? Or should one say “grave error” because plunder is a feature of human nature that cannot be avoided?”
        I see a spin for the above sentence. When a politician joyfully hibernates in jail, then hanged for plunder, destroying for the longest time the honor of his family and descendants, IT IS A MISTAKE of no one but his.

        Plunder either or both as cause or effect of corruption is a matter of opportunity and personal inclination not a feature of human nature endowed to all. Unless humans unavoidably are created to commit errors. All are born sinners Eh? Like the song of mortals: “Sapagkat Kami Ay Tao Lamang.”

        If this spin is erroneous, the words of my thoughts are my mistakes. My Bad. I am sorry for that. But let me finish my imaginnings, my abstraction when I turned Events into numbers consuming zero time and resources, when my magic wand turn activities into projects that consume lots of time and resources.I don’t give marks anymore, but some people might learn from it.

  2. chemrock says:

    Thanks Popoy, a good read and coming at an opportune time right after Edgar’s “Filipino Sense of Time’.

    Someone once said Philippines is an events-rich country, and how right he was. Unfortunately, mostly they were’nt of the serendipity type.

    The fine distinction of activities and events certainly helps in the way one analyses through complexities. So all those thievery and human rights abuses during Marcos time are the activities and Edsa is the event. This follows that events are always in broad daylight, but whether activities will be in broad daylight or not depends on the objectives of the planners. Those of the nefarious types are almost always have activities that are unseen. Thus, lots of unseen activities must have taken place leading to the event yesterday on the declaration of Calida to free Napoles.

  3. Micha says:

    I do not know if engaging in technicalities and semantics is useful when dealing with a calamity – man made or natural. The war on drugs and its attendant tragic results of having hundreds (thousands?) of collateral victims is a calamity and merely calling it as an event deodorizes the stink and scandal of this horrendous policy.

    The murder of a Korean inside Camp Crame is not just a red flag. It is, in and of itself, enough reason to disrobe this murderous psychotic autocrat if our value system as a country and as a people is less dysfunctional.

    We have a self-confessed killer for a President and somehow it has numbed us to the point where we are able to suspend judgment and criticism for his murderous acts while in command of the whole resources and armed security of the state.

    • popoy del r cartanio says:

      thanks micha for succinctly unequivocating my thoughts waywardly shouting behind the lines.

    • a distant observer says:

      Couldn’t agree more with your comment Micha.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Yes Micha,
      Time and again we lament the lack of compassion,dysfunctional values of the Filipinos.
      They say if you lose something you find value. With so many lives lost, we still do not find that human life is valuable.

      Micha you may not agree with what the catholic church or any church for that matter stand for, but their late awakening is important enough for people to gave a channel for dissent.

      We may not agree with Trillanes all the time, but what he is doing,no one will do.( as if he has nothing to lose). He can’t go lone ranger and batman all the time, he needs support not just sulsol or support only when there is no trouble yet.

  4. I like this framework. I would further like to hear your analysis that follows from the events you have listed.

    I note further that many activities can be broken down into smaller units of activity separated by lesser events. This gets around the problem of an event appearing to have duration. The definition of an event is as a point in time. It is not useful to tamper with the definition. It is useful to think about and carefully select degree of detail.

    For instance EDSA may be seen as a single event when viewed from the perspective of a brief summary of the history of the Philippines form the time of Magellan until the present. But a history of EDSA would obviously include many lesser events leading up to and following EDSA.

    Perhaps I should mention that I have used PERT (Program Evaluation and Review Technique)
    in a number of NASA projects. The largest difficulty that occurred had nothing to do with the PERT model and everything to do with the data input to the model. No one wanted to be pointed out as holding up a project so there is lot of gaming that revolves around the reporting of the progress on an activity. So covering up a lack of progress on a critical activity is common problem in the actual use of PERT in planning.

    I had not thought of its use in analysis but can definitely see the applicability. Thank you Cartanio po for pointing it out.


    • popoy del r cartanio says:

      boblq@boblq WOW (squared) Thanks. My (good) bad is that in life I straddle both the social and physical sciences.

  5. @Micha abstract analysis may well seem bloodless and uncaring to you. However while I certainly agree with you that “We have a self-confessed killer for a President and somehow it has numbed us to the point where we are able to suspend judgment and criticism for his murderous acts while in command of the whole resources and armed security of the state.” I do not think throwing away any tool that enables one to see deeper into reality is a wise approach.

    For me the remarkable thing is serious lack of outcry from the vast majority of the Filipino people. Yet the death of one Korean businessman creates such an outcry.

    Recently I read “The Fatal Shore” by Robert Hughes. It is a brilliant history of Australia from the time of its first organization as a prison colony. Commenting on the brutal governor, George Arthur, he wrote, “for people will love an autocrat if they believe he is a savior.” This seems to be perfect description of Philippines under Duterte.

  6. NHerrera says:


    A relatively trivial idea using terms used by Popoy — EVENTS and ACTIVITIES.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    I think errors are anomalies, but here in pinas anomalies involve corruption. I therefore conclude corruption are errors.

  8. Thea says:

    1. Mistake is the opposite of accuracy, therefore it can be corrected by correcting the act and repenting. Error is almost synonymous to mistake by definition, but Popoy gave a little twist between the two. I will take from it.

    2. Plunder and EJK are not mistakes nor errors. Both are not correctable nor corrigible. Both are crimes committed through abuse of power. Period. An abuser or a criminal couldn’t just say:”Oh my, My mistake. I am sorry. I will not do it again”.

    3. Since plunder and murder (as Micha said) are crimes, offenses against our morals and laws then the abuser/murderer must be condemned by the church where he is baptized and punished by the law.

    4. How could we say our officials are committing mistakes when they seem very accurate to the point of perfection committing these two crimes? Not even a whistle blower can put them to jail.

    5. We say, the election of the “unfits” in the present government is a gross mistake. A very expensive mistake we can admit, repent and correct. And because it is very expensive, not even the awakening of the Catholic Church can correct it this time. Her faithful listens, but the media can create louder noise that makes the former deaf and confused. Or numb.

    6. I should hear a strong denunciation first from the Catholic Church to excommunicate the plunderers eg. Marcos, et al, to believe the so called awakening.

  9. A very timely satire by Bernard Ong as it dovetails beautifully with Popoy’s article. An alternate universe in the time of alternative facts. I have a truly bipolar reaction to it: Laughed and cried at the same time. Truth hurts but there is something comical about it:

    • popoy del r cartanio says:

      thanks Juana pilipinas; read that link.if my WOW has the power up to ten I will rate
      that piece a WOW to the power 10.

  10. NHerrera says:


    The PH is not in a desired situation right now. Currently, we may be in some sort of equilibrium. However, the PH is in an unstable equilibrium illustrated by the case of the diagram at the left, compared to the stable equilibrium at the right.

    To be mild or understate our situation, it may be illustrated by the diagram at the right — the stable case — a lukewarm one. We don’t want to stay there.

    My characterization of our case as unstable provides an opportunity to get out of the rot towards a pleasant one, but carries risks too.

    • popoy del r cartanio says:

      In the late 80s as OFW I joined an 18 days North Coast Patrol to visit the coastal villages of a South Pacific country. There I learned to eagle eye watch what the natives call the freak wave which could capsize our boat and bury us at sea. Then there is the noon bright sun suddenly become covered in darkness by the imperfect storm. I knew the actual feeling of dread of calm turned smouldering seas. A globe of a ball is just a bubble to ride the crest and troughs of stormy waves. What’s the freak wave in PH?

      • karlgarcia says:

        I do not know what they call it be it pambihirang alon, kakaibang alon. or kumakaway sa di naman kakilala.
        The storm surges and tsunamis of recent history has awaken us somehow.(another awakening event)
        Every earthquake we fear of tsunamis, the recent one in Surigao we learned that there was no tsunami because the movement was sideways or horizontal and the tremor was due to a strke slip fault.

        Speaking of capsizing boats. I had one traumatic experience, we were just having fun riding a motorized boat in a beach in Cavite, but we were overloaded I suppose, and the boat capsized. Good thing we were rescued and we alll survived.Thanks to the fishermen.

        • Thea says:

          That is called “daluyong”. The strong big waves created by the eye of the storm. Being born in the coastal town, I heard small fishermen talked about these killer waves. They said that when the ocean becomes eerie calm, better turn back to shore than be lost forever.
          When are we going back to the shore?

          • karlgarcia says:

            Thanks Thea!
            I wonder if the pasig river near mandaluyong ever had a big wave for mandaluyong to be named as such.
            The calm before the storm.
            If this is the calm part ,we are in trouble.

            • karlgarcia says:

              the etymology of mandaluyong has a native myth version and a version from a Spanish navigator which confirms what I guessed.


              • popoy del r cartanio says:

                Karl, I got a myth about the opposite banks.

                Hi everyone barbs este bards (see how a letter mistake can kill goodness) of nature, ye sons of ecology in TSOH. Remember a solution piece I doodle some years ago about an ASVEN to take care of typhoon darlings and the waterfall of showers by macho Habagat that comes like winter every summer? And there’s more unconnected dots of wet experience from my years looking for bread. Mandaluyong eh?

                On the opposite banks of the Pasig, the Indios were shouting: “May kati, kumakati, may kati (It’s drying up, it’s drying up referring to the ebbing water of the river banks). Indios they were perhaps they didn’t know the Bae (bay) of Manila was at low tide. An lo and behold innocence turned urban legend became a buxom city becoming sumptuous bread and rich butter for politicians’ families.

                Ah yarns of yore yonder vegetating boring tales. In the mid-fifties for free lunch and for heavy pakwans we can carry home, we public service field men visit our farmer friends’ farm in Napindan, Taguig where situates in modest sexiness, the tiny lush green mouth of the Pasig, not known to many as Pasig’s headwaters. In the Maykati of my youth lads drown when turbulent salt water flow meets at its middle no less the shooting flow of fresh waters from the Bay of Laguna. In the mercados of poblacions, we greet the young tinderas: Miss, ganda nyo, magkano ang Pakuwan? (joke only eh.)

              • karlgarcia says:

                Haha on the watermelon.
                Asven was only a few months ago,wait was it more than a year? Tempus Fugit.

                Thanks to Thea, I learned that daluyong is the tagalog term for freak waves.

              • popoy del r cartanio says:

                karl for septuagens like me time flies so quickly it is scientifically proven your one minute is 4 minutes elapse to me. writing a paragraph to you is one minute, darn it takes 4 minutes for me to write a clean one. your slowest time is between ages 20 and 40 (see your resume); my fastest time is after retirement to the grave measured from resumes.

              • karlgarcia says:

                They also say time flies when your having fun.

                I was watching the allstar weekend when I heard this quote from the late Craig Sager.
                The long time sports journalist who died lat December.

                “Time is something that cannot be bought, it cannot be wagered with God, and it is not in endless supply. Time is simply how you live your life.”

              • So ‘spot on’ for next Wednesday’s blog.

              • karlgarcia says:

                When dreams dissolve. We will be looking forward to another excellent piece Joe.

            • Thea says:

              We are in the middle of the storm, Karl. The 16M did not listen to the warnings, now we have to think how to survive it and how we can rise the country after the storm.

              • karlgarcia says:

                That is exactly my sentiments. We are in survival mode.
                Nakakawalan gana na nga. Maybe irineo is correct to notice that sometimes I seem to be jaded.

                We will overcome.

      • NHerrera says:

        Freak wave in PH = the torrent of EJK to benefit the mostly poor people of the country, when practically all of the people killed are poor.

        If that is not freak, I don’t know what freak is.

    • popoy del r cartanio says:

      Bill in Oz, isn’t it our summer is your winter in May where floods rampage in some parts of New South Wales and the state land of the Queen? I said here already some last time, should have said it this way: if martial law is freak wave big as tsunami will it be triggered out there overseas? No feeble earthquake may cause a tsunami. The big ones always happen overseas, este under seas. Is martial law a kind of a lingering freaking freak wave or a Hiroshima kind of explosive tsunami?

      • popoy del r cartanio says:

        The war against illegal drugs has reached the law of diminishing returns; from its peak to its valleys and may no longer strongly be the reason for national security as justification for martial law. To be a spent force soon, it’s carbon dioxide, should no longer be in the air we breathe.

        • popoy del r cartanio says:

          Don’t tell me the above is the last word for the above topic. I already have done and submitted a deductive PERT (a paradigm shift) of the Du30’s anti-illegal drug war, a solution piece like all my other predecessor pieces which was not enough so as a follow up part three I was about to be inductive because I have thought out the innards of the PNP role as the cavalry (not the infantry for mopping up and demolition job) of the drug war as a project PERT(ed) to open the eyes of snarling dogs of war but from whose lips was it who (Heraclitus it was, eh) sagaciously whimpered : “No man ever steps in the same river twice” ? in the same manner I can sufficiently tackle the question as if like a river: Is terrorizing bullying? In behavioural science, is terrorism a stimulus or a response? Funny, President Obama’s (a lawyer rhetorician) answer to the economic collapse of 2008 was “stimulus” instead of a “response.”

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