Popularity is a lousy way to run a nation

By Joe America

One of the common arguments pro-democracy ‘yellows’ hear from supporters of President Duterte is that his popularity gives him a mandate to lead, and we should follow. Anyone who criticizes the President is being unfair or even unpatriotic.

We can see this “popularity” argument is more than just an argument when we watch legislators vote or hold hearings to attract popular applause, whether it is good for the nation or not. The arch-populist in my eyes is Senator Poe. She went into attack mode against President Aquino over Mamasapano, yet, she is quiet about Marawi, I’d imagine because she might face criticism if she looked into into President Duterte’s acts and AFP casualties.

The Mamasapano hearing shaped the results of the 2016 election. Popularity rules.

We can also see popularity at work in the way political parties are put together. They seldom have distinguishing platforms, and are merely collections of popular people.

And we see a legislature packed with actors, a champion boxer, and people who are popular locally but know very little about what the nation needs in terms of laws. And are incapable of articulating the principles upon which a nation would rise. They hold to the favors and greed of the populists, and the Philippines is what it has been, and is today. A poor nation struggling to get anything constructive done because legislators are being popular (holding investigative hearings) instead of getting useful work done (writing a national land use law).

What is interesting . . . ironic, I suppose . . . about today’s great divide between Duterte supporters and ‘yellows’ is that we can see the emergence of principles of governance that truly distinguish one set of people from another. The Duterte supporters are for a breakup of the nation into federalist states, a decentralization that would likely place power with popular local dynasties and weaken the national government. Let’s call them Federalists from now on, and imagine a political party called the Federalist Party.

The ‘yellows’ defend the 1987 Constitution and the values (freedom, fairness), laws, security, and human rights contained within. We can call them the Democrats from now on, and imagine a political party called the Democratic Party.

We have a lot of other special interests represented in party lists, and of course the leftists or people’s groups. Perhaps we have one or two additional parties such as the People’s Party or Green Party (pro-earth). The names of the parties give visibility to their main causes.

Well, the peculiar thing here is that there has been no coalition formed among the various parties whose legislators defend the Constitution. They each prefer to hug their own band of brothers and sisters rather than make the sacrifices needed to join with others. They remain separate. Tribal. That is probably the second biggest weakness of Philippine democracy, behind populist decision-making.

The Liberal party, Akbayan party-list, and Magdalo party-list groups come to mind. Their aims are not that much different, but they don’t join forces, even if it would help them achieve what they want.

Tribal self-interest is the great divider.

If we use the Senate as an example, we can see the hodgepodge of tribes. The majority is anchored by PDP-Laban, Nacionalista, and NPC parties with eight people altogether. The Liberal Party has five people. LDP (Angara). UNA (Binay, Honasan), CIBAC (Villanueva), Akbayan (Hontiveros). And we have five independents: Escudero, Poe, Trillanes, Lacson, and Gordon.

Most of the senators are pro-Duterte and presumably will support federalism. The Liberal Party senators, along with Trillanes and Hontiveros, are strongly pro-democracy. A few senators are not with either group, or can shift depending on the issue under discussion. Senators Binay and Lacson are examples.

So the failure of Philippine democratic institutions, and the nation as a whole, can be found in two deeply rooted cultural and political norms:

  • Populism
  • Tribalism

These forces undermine unity and good work. And, among the electorate, they lead to bad voting decisions.

I would like to suggest that it is critically important that the pro-democracy groups break out of these traps. They are the people who presumably are most understanding of concepts such as accountability, debate, and concession . . . the fundamentals which can drive the formation of a coalition and stronger speaking voice based on PRINCIPLES.

Set aside populism, focus on the work to be done, and teach Filipinos why it is important to think about the downstream results of their decisions. Teach them that skill is important among elected officials. Star power is worthless.

Set aside tribalism and unite. Form a more perfect union. Leave the bitter in-fighting to small-minded tyrants and needy souls.

Populism and tribalism have failed.

Take a different path.

Unity. Good work.


151 Responses to “Popularity is a lousy way to run a nation”
  1. Benjie says:


    • Vicara says:

      Remember that as president you do not RULE this country. You simply run it–and not alone, either. There are two other co-equal branches of government. And hundreds of thousands of civil service directors, managers, sub-managers and career personnel, quite a number of whom are actually competent.

      If a democratically elected president, you have six years to do your best, make your mistakes–and rectify them. Be guided by the Constitution, follow the laws, build on the good things your predecessors accomplished–and undo the bad. Appoint able and honest Cabinet members. Engage with Congress and the Senate on the basis of shared principles and the common good (although, political animals being what they are, there has to be give-and-take.).

      Don’t fabricate an alternate “reality.” Follow the principle of making every individual citizen’s life count. Bring out the best in us.

      • Very well stated, Vicara. There’s a certain elegance to the way you put it.

        • Trump was popular enough to win the Electoral College, and his base is really loud, so in a sense, popularity does count for something,

          but the real popularity that counts is among other elected officials, Congress and Governors, even Mayors… hence, representative government, it’s suppose to be just them wheeling and dealing,

          the difference with Trump is he’s able to rabble rouse his base (loudest) and the media, against their own interest, manufacturing a larger sense of popularity, thus creating a mandate (based on illusion),

          which he uses to leverage those who disagree with him, whether Democrat or Republican.

          this “manufacturing” of “popularity” counts for something for sure.

          With DU30 I think, there’s really no “manufacturing of popularity” , what he’s “doing” is just really popular, from kissing girls, to his tasteless jokes, to EJKs, to singing for Trump.

          • All true, but if you make decisions on the basis of popularity, you get the Philippines. So somewhere along the line there has to be an appreciation of hiring (voting) for skills and making decisions that may be unpopular, but are the best for the nation (raise taxes).

          • Micha says:

            Nothing wrong with populism if the populous has some sort of collective wisdom.

            Populism led by a demagogue is divisive and dangerous.

            • Agree.

              The difference is that with Trump, it seems like true Populism, wherein he adopts certain values or policies, but at heart he’s got what Ted Cruz called “New York values”, basically he’s a Democrat, but he’s tapped something from watching a whole lot of FOX News into some truth in America.

              My point, you can track Trump’s populism, that indeed it is gamesmanship.

              But with DU30, it seems there is no gamesmanship, he says what he means, and means what he says, and does it. And that a wide range of Filipinos over there agree with him, is the problem… not so much DU30 himself. Basically,

              DU30 is the Philippines, and the Philippines is DU30, is my point above, Micha.

    • Kindly take off your cap locks, Benjie. No need to shout or have apoplexy because of a simple misunderstanding. Yes, popularity is important to get elected and to secure “buy-in” to laws and decisions. That is constructive popularity. But that is different from using popularity as the basis for decisions. Decisions should be made on the basis of information with the goal to take care of Filipinos. Today, decisions are being made to garner popularity, and the decisions that are good for the Philippines are not being made. WHY IN THE WORLD DO YOU FIGURE THE NATION HAS BEEN WRACKED IN POVERTY AND DISSENT FOR OVER A CENTURY?

      Decisions made for the wrong reasons.

    • NHerrera says:

      Implied is the question of which comes first, the chicken or egg. It has worked for some to better themselves and their families, as some OFWs have done to get out of the rot (e.g. of spending money as it comes with no thought of tomorrow.)

      I believe the blog article suggests — impliedly — that not only the politicians but also the voters should try hard to get out of the rot that has been the tendency, interrupted only by a few periods of rationality — getting away from the extreme concepts of populism and tribalism. (Emphasis on politicians.)

    • chemrock says:

      No CEO of huge companies bring success and greatness to their wards by being popular. They are mostly sobs driven by visions and competency in their area of responsibilities. Yet many of them are well loved because whilst they may have dictatorial streaks, they are not killers but fairly decent people who treated their folks fairly.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Duterte is an sob, but I think it stops there.

        • karlgarcia says:

          To attempt to be fair, was he an sob driven by vision and competency?
          Peace talks- result-Marawi, shoot to kill order of NPAs = Vision with no competency

      • Thea says:

        That is the missing point. Many of our leaders have no corporate work experience. Most of this many did not work in a private company that is why they don’t have concept of an efficient leader and collective success. What they get is a crash course and seminars of leadership here and there.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Speaking of crash courses. UP’s National College of Public Administration and Governance which our very own popoy was a part if prepares the crash courses for neophyte congressmen.


          For our civil servants,
          The civil service exams was like a college admission test, I tried once.
          They have review centers for that too.

          I think The local government must also have a crash course for its officials, and staff.
          But with our bloated bureaucracy, they bloat it even more by hiring temporary permanent casuals to make it appear that the bureacracy is no longer bloated.
          Same or more number of staff with lesser benefits.

    • edgar lores says:

      1. Good answers, everyone.

      2. I would like to point out that for a President, there is no good reason to base decisions on populism once he is in office… because the Constitution limits him to a single 6-year term.

      2.1. The single-term limit in the 1987 Constitution was introduced to deter the rise of another Marcos.

      2.2. In the 1935 Constitution, a president could serve for two 4-year terms. What this meant for most presidents was to curry favor in his first term in order to win a second term.

      3. In a parliamentary system, like Oz’s, populism is a cancer. Prime Ministers do not serve fixed terms and tenures and can serve as long as they are popular with the people and the party faithful.

      3.1. Sir Robert Menzies served for 18 years and 163 days. In recent times, he was followed by John Howard who served for 12 years and 267 days.

      3.2. The fiasco that is the National Broadband Network (NBN) is a result of populism. The Nauru solution, the inhumane treatment of boat people, is another.

      4. I would also point out that while “constructive populism” (JoeAm’s term) is required to win office, the other side of the coin is that voters should wise up and not elect candidates on the basis of popularity. A Pacquiao in the Senate? Sus!

      • karlgarcia says:

        If two terms of four years is short for some why not two six year terms for all elected officials, from the president to the baranggay kagawad.All synchronized elections.

        With that populism will be only for the first three years of the first term then what follows are results?????

        • edgar lores says:

          There are pros and cons. In the US, two 4-year terms seem to work.

          I think it has to do with attitude and the system. US presidents tend to buckle down in their first year. They can focus on their advocacies because there is no need to recover the cost of elections. The second term is seen as a reward for their good performance and for its continuation.

          Whereas in the Philippines, the elected president in his first term has to pay off debts to his backers — his utang na loob as Duterte is doing. So the first term, whether 4 or 6 years, is seen as mere prelude. The advantages of incumbency guarantee the certainty of a second term, not as a reward for good performance, but to pluck — since there are no predefined long-term goals — whatever fruits that remain unplucked.

          • karlgarcia says:

            We can make it work, it is all a managing of the cons or turning weakness to strengths and getting opportunities from threats.

            • edgar lores says:

              The system is subject to deconstruction and is amenable. It’s the psychology, the conditioning of the people that is hard to reshape.

              How do you change the perception of public office as a private trust fund to that of a public trust?

              • karlgarcia says:

                If it can be as simple as turning the air conditioner and using a hair conditioner.

                Sup, said have a foreign council? Maybe a good idea.

      • Thea says:

        On no. 4.
        It is a given that our populace is not wise. Can COMELEC be wise enough to adjust or level up the candidates’ qualifications? Yun ngang sales ladies ng SM should have a college degree with sales experience, good moral records and pleasing personalities, why not our representatives and senators? Susmaryusep!

        Yung pleasing personality, optional.

  2. arlene says:

    Oh, oh, you’ve nailed it Joeam. Being a public servant should not be based on popularity alone. One must be discerning enough and responsible enough to know what the nation needs and what the people want. Popularity is just one small aspect of the game. Good morning Joeam.

  3. Sup says:

    Not to insult but just trying to thing outside the box…..

    There are for all situations existing laws, correct?
    The problem is it can take up to 30 years to solve it by courts..
    The laws are clear (ok, maybe not for lawyers but for regular people they are :-)…)
    What if you can form a independent commission out of decent foreigners (like they do in ICC / UN/ World bank etc.) Who are empowered to look in ALL bank accounts, BIR, SEC etc etc etc, anything they wish to look into and have them to monitor all politicians and government employees ( They did sign a SALN to allow all of that , right?)
    Let that commission do its job to weed out corrupt government workers, from top to lowest.
    This will stop people from joining government only for ”self enrichment” reasons.
    Cases should be investigated as fast as possible by using existing laws and civil service guidelines.
    Many companies are also asking international opinions, help advice, workshops.
    Am i crazy?

    • karlgarcia says:

      No you are not crazy Sup. It is outside of the box thinking, with our tribalist and populist nature, it would be hard for it to be inside of the box.
      Sovereignty and meddling are the words that willcome out in the protests to your idea.

    • chemrock says:

      You are not crazy and your thoughts are driven by exasperation. But it’s been done before.

      The use of outsourced legal services is actually quite widespread, especially in the fields of patents. It’s called offshoring.

      Long time ago during our city state’s infancy, Singapore’s final courts of appeal was the Privy Council in UK.

      In the initial years of Singapore as an independent country, Lee Kuan Yew did not have total confidence in local security groups. He utilised a special contingent of Gurkha left over by the British. The Gurkhas formed a special police unit. They are highly respected for their loyalty to duties. These guys are still around, and we built them a special residential space called Gurkha Cantonment.

      • Sup says:

        Thanks karlgarcia and chemrock… Sometimes i just wander off in my mind to find a way to make things better….

      • I remember seeing Sikhs in the Singaporean military, chemp. But didn’t know about the Gurkha arrangement there, this is really cool, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gurkha_Contingent#Social_life_and_impact

        I’m assuming their arrangement is totally separate from the British Gurkhas? though in Wiki it says recruitment is for both GC & British Army in Nepal. I’m wondering if the GCs are simply wash-outs from the British Army litter or they actually are smarter than the average bear, hence GC assignment, and not the British Army,

        i’d like to know more about how these guys are picked. But very interesting! Thanks.

        • chemrock says:

          Hi Lance
          I don’t know the details, only that initailly most were from the British Army, then followed by direct recruitment from Nepal. These guys are really trustworthy. So many years in Spore and never a whiff of scandal or any ill discipline of any sorts. These guys are inscrutably upright.

          Regarding Sikhs, there are fearless warriors. Standard Chartered Bank used to have a TV advert that says “Big, Strong, & Friendly” and then you see a smiling Sikh security guard opening the bank lobby glass door. After WW2 lots of them were pows and the Japs tortured them like hell because they refused to dis-avow the Brits and bow to the Rising Sun.

    • Not crazy. However, if I remember right, PNoy and PRRD had attempted something of the sorts (truth commissions?) but it was shot down by the courts.

      Thus, though well-meaning, it’ll probably be unconstitutional. Why? Because it is someone’s job already. To quote a discussion I had of the process:

      // …Ombudsman does not prosecute govt officials, it merely investigates. After investigation, the Ombudsman files charges with the Sandiganbayan and the prosecution is done by the Office of the Special Prosecutor. //

      And as for what happens next, the article you’ve shared has discussed more reasons for the problem.

      So if we would want to address these problems, the only option is to empower these offices. And to be honest, I really don’t have any idea how. The justice system has always been an enigma to the layman.

      • Sup says:

        But ombudsman and Supreme court justices are still appointed by the president…
        Actually now the foreigners already control you a bit by giving credit ratings witch makes it easy or difficult to get a loan like Standard and Poor…..Big companies are also checked by independent accountant firms…
        Coa is still government…..not independent.

  4. Francis says:

    “Popularity is a lousy way to run a nation”

    No. Rule-by-Popularity is unfortunately the price one pays for democracy—worst of all forms of government, save when compared to the alternatives. To reject the power—the prominence—of popularity in a democracy is to be in danger of being irrelevant in a democracy.

    In a democracy—whether one is demon or a saint—all are obliged to become salesmen of their political wares, in short as entrepreneurs of hope. Or delusion. Thus, it’s either sell or go out of business.

    “One of the common arguments pro-democracy ‘yellows’ hear from supporters of President Duterte is that his popularity gives him a mandate to lead, and we should follow. Anyone who criticizes the President is being unfair or even unpatriotic.”

    We must take care to not dismiss this as baseless populism. There is a grain of truth in this that must be considered.

    Why is Duterte more appealing than the Yellows? Because Duterte offers the illusion of democracy—I speak in your vernacular, warts (cue bleeps) and all. I am a guy you can drink with. That, of course, is not democracy—which is real and authentic representation of the voices of the people, as well their genuine and meaningful participation in the policy-making and politics. That is posturing to be democratic: making people feel they have a voice, they can participate in governance: cue the Duterte camp’s heavy emphasis on social media as a way to link government and citizenry.

    Cheerleaders /=/ Citizens

    Yet, one asks: don’t the Yellows offer democracy? Note: I don’t hate the Yellows. In many ways, I am a “Yellow” of sorts; I like liberalism and a regulated market society. It is just that—just as someone has to inform his/her friend of his alcohol issues, so I must be equally blunt: the Yellows do not (yet) offer democracy. Oh sure, they offer republicanism (a nation ruled by law, constitutional rule, etc.) above all) as opposed to the chaotic, anything-goes “I say it happens!” populism of Duterte but the Yellows have only been democrats in words—not in action.

    How so?

    The LP isn’t a mass party. Akbayan technically is. Unlike in the West though—a normal citizen can’t easily join a party to participate in the wider politics of his/her nation. Parties—even (and sadly) reformist ones—in the Philippines are collections of influentials who band together to achieve something, whether that be more organized looting of the state or (in the case of reformist parties) trying to enact good government policy. No citizen input whatsoever.

    What disappoints me is that—and this is why I think Duterte’s Social Media Popularity works so well—it ends up looking like this for the “Yellow” forces: vote for me, and I and my experienced colleagues of reformist trapos and civil society leaders will do the slow and incremental change for you—just sit back and relax.

    Which doesn’t sound that bad…except when you compare it to the pitch of the other side: vote for me…and I will usher in a revolutionary government/strongman rule that will do rapid and YUUUGE change for you—just sit back and relax.

    What the “Yellows” offer is technocracy, rule of experts by the experts—with a thin veneer of “grassroots participation” by inviting the occasional citizen (a leader in civil society like an up-and-coming NGO leader) into the charmed circle of well-intentioned reformists.

    I’m not saying that’s super evil or anything. I don’t deny that it is well-intentioned. But it isn’t democratic—and it deprive the people of fulfillment that instinctive need to rule by and for themselves in the spirit of liberty.

    I say the answer is awfully simple:

    Beat the administration at its own game. Beat the illusion of democracy, with true democracy. Build parties that genuinely link normal people to their leaders.

    A relevant anecdote as I am a college student: good group projects may have one guy doing all the work—but excellent group projects only happen when everyone pitches in.

    • Francis says:


      “I’m not saying that’s super evil or anything. I don’t deny that it is well-intentioned. But it isn’t democratic—and it deprives the people of the right to fulfill that instinctive need to rule by and for themselves in the spirit of liberty as free men and women.”

      (Some really minor errors in grammar and wording.)

    • The Spanish legacy of Philippine democracy shows there – with its different classification. Basically Spanish democracy used to be a democracy of the Dons. Common people counted little. Conservatives were for being a bit stricter with the people, Liberals a little bit less strict.

      There has been an evolution in the Philippines from imagined participation in 1986 to more real civic society participation during the Aquino period – but as you noticed correctly, selectively.

      The response by the conservatives or even reactionaries was to put a populist forward, giving the people an illusion of participation similar to 1986. That this illusion has fizzled quickly is because social media is, inspite of the lies propagated there also, giving a quicker picture.

      The Liberal Party under Pangilinan and Robredo has opened up to “non-politician” members. Similarly, it seems PDP-Laban is doing this as well. Possibly there is a development now towards real political parties with card-carrying members, like unions are based on members.

      But first, both sides (liberal and conservative) had to push populist candidates – Du30 and Leni.

      One must not forget that Leni was only even considered when Grace Poe had said NO. Both sides are accusing the other side of just putting up a front where what is behind it is the old politics: Arroyo/Marcos on one side, Aquino/Roxas on the other. Powerful vested interests.

      There is ex-Communist Mila Aguilar who postulates that the perspective of the liberals did change during Martial Law because they were outside of power. That is true. But it also changed for the conservatives/reactionaries when many were put in jail from 2010-2016.

      Probably less of a lesson learned than a sense of vengeance which they are living to the hilt. YOU impeached OUR Chief Justice? Payback time. YOU charged OUR President? Same. YOU jailed ARROYO? In you go, DE LIMA. There is sheer violence in them nowadays.

      One must not neglect that real cause-oriented advocates have thrived under the Liberals. Thinking of CJ Sereno, VP Leni, Florin Hilbay and some others. De Lima to some extent.

      How the landscape of Philippine politics evolves will depend on the maturity of its voters.

      • https://www.spot.ph/newsfeatures/the-latest-news-features/72194/bonifacio-is-your-cubicle-seatmate-a1507-20171130-lfrm4 – this is about the time of Bonifacio, but it says a lot:

        “we have to understand the four great divisions in our society at the time: the ilustrados, the principalia, a tiny middle class, and everyone else”.

        – principalia – local elites dating back to the chieftains the Spanish took in to help in ruling. By the 19th century, Quezon says their possibilities to get rich in those positions were waning. As we know, these local elites evolved into trapos during American and Republican times.

        – ilustrados – new elites that made money with the new business opportunities of the modern age that started in the mid-19th century. Some of them very educated as a result of wealth. These are clearly the ancestors of oligarchs and liberals, as well as some new intellectuals.

        – a tiny middle class – there was a bit of a growing middle class due to foreign companies in Manila. Other articles show that nearly all the Katipunan were working for foreign firms. Somehow remiscent of today’s BPO workers. Restive and discontented of course.

        – everyone else – just like today, even if there is a major difference between urban and rural poor. Urban poor are those who looked for opportunity but failed, or those who slid back.

        + La Solidaridad: ilustrados

        + La Liga Filipina: ilustrados (Rizal) + middle class (Bonifacio)

        + Katipunan: middle class (Bonifacio) + principalia (Aguinaldo)

        + Revolution: principalia (Aguinaldo) + ilustrados (Luna)

        what the US period and the Republic added were functional groups including their elites: academics (UP), the military, courts and lawyers, civil service (the last two dating back to Spanish times and evolving from there in attitudes and behaviors) – all added to middle class.

        • Give total power back to the principalia, and they will need neither the cosmopolitan rich nor the middle class nor the intellectuals – Federalism will give them back their fiefdoms of old.

          They will need the poor, an indifferent middle class that is merely wealth-driven – and police.

          Police to shoot those who oppose them. They might do away with laws altogether and rule like Honorable Imbecile Alvarez might prefer to – by pure capriciousness, by order of the day. No more niceties of legality to bother with, way too complicated, back to before the Magna Carta.

    • Yes, excellent points, especially that the people want to realize benefits NOW and the yellows are speaking patience. But I think one can generate HOPE now, and start to fulfill it pretty quickly. Illusions are important.

      Yes, democracy is a government of popular will, but it does not mean decisions have to be made to satisfy the pollsters. Or, if a decision is at the outset unpopular, it ought to be packaged up in a pretty wrapper and presented well. And people should be taught that an unskilled actor or boxer really is unlikely to deliver what people need. Skills count. Or are you saying democracy is fated to deliver Pacquiaos and Sottos and there is nothing to be done about it?

      • Micha says:

        Representative democracy has been sold to and captured by the highest bidders.

        What we have, as Francis stated above, is an illusion of democracy, both during and after the Marcos era. Yes, people still vote but in the policy making process that directly affect their lives, they have very little say, if at all. Policies are enacted by very few individuals whose loyalties rest not on citizens they’re supposed to represent but on the perpetuation of an oligarchic rule based on a very anti-democratic economic system.

        If it is any consolation at all, this trend is not exclusive to this country – it’s a global phenomenon whose essence has been excellently captured in a book called “Nothing Is True And Everything Is Possible” by Peter Pomerantsev describing the current authoritarian stratagem of Vladimir Putin.

        The strategy of lying and believing in deluded alternate reality had been exported – via Trump – to the land where democracy has supposed to have been nourished and lived.

        Market based neo-feudalism, alas, has gone global.

        • What goes up, must come down. To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction. Life’s a bitch. ______________ (insert useful platitude).

          The condition of the condition is being examined, and there is pushback. Whether we are wise enough to enchant the disenchanted is yet to be determined. For sure, there are scary, thuggish elements to the alternate reality.

  5. edgar lores says:

    1. Rule by Popularity describes Philippine democracy. It does not describe the democratic ideal.

    2. The democratic ideal is Rule by Absolute Majority (over 50%)… with the proviso that the minority is not harmed.

    2.1. The Constitution says: “Section 5. The maintenance of peace and order, the protection of life, liberty, and property, and promotion of the general welfare are essential for the enjoyment by all the people of the blessings of democracy. [Bolding mine.]

    3. The Rule by Popularity translates into the Rule by Plurality. All elective positions are won by a plurality (or first past the post), which may or may not be an absolute majority.

    4. Still, voters must educate themselves not to vote for whom they know, but for whom they ought to know. This means the use of, more or less, standard criteria and critical reasoning. Section 1 — and 2 — of Article XI lists some criteria.

    5. The statement that “Popularity is a lousy way to run a nation” is still a valid observation.

    • I’ve read nothing that says otherwise. Most arguments seem to be that popularity is ingrained in democracy and it is no use to complain about it. Well, I wan’t complaining, I was describing a situation that ought not be there in an ethically rigorous democracy. Government decisions ought to be predominantly patriotic (respectful of oaths), not predominantly self-serving. It’s a goal that can be achieved if recognized, and if earnest people apply themselves.

  6. Micha says:

    It’s all one big show.

    As one personality on Russian state-run television puts it, “We all know there will be no real politics. But we still have to give our viewers the sense something is happening. . . . Politics has got to feel like . . . like a movie!”

    Human civilization is destined to fracture and humanity is being polarized, at will, by those at the top who does not necessarily represent the best of humanity.

    • Francis says:

      Maybe—it is the idealism in me, but I think that the best way to approach political problems is to approach them like any other problem in say, the sciences: a puzzle waiting to be solved.

      When we are either too idealistic and believe that sheer willpower and virtue will overcome anything—or too cynical and believe that we shall forever be damned like Cain whom God cursed to wander the Earth forever—I think that we give our problems a mystical aura that protects them from solutions and makes them even more unreachable and unfathomable. This is why I don’t like one prominent discourse in Filipino politics: the culture card. I am not a guy inclined to much dislike, but I absolutely dislike it when I hear someone say, “Filipinos are [—], yan ang dahilan kung bakit hindi tayo aasenso.”

      We must resist the temptation to reify our national ills. We must disarm that mystical aura, dispel it. The problems we face are just that—problems. They have no power over us, if we choose to believe that they are nothing more than complicated puzzles, equations waiting to be solved.

      I believe that dynasties and the oligarchs are the result of certain historical and social factors which can be properly analyzed using the much available tools of philosophy and political science—tools which can inform us of the best tactics and strategy to help solve these problems. Our national problems are not immortal—they are made in our image, which is to say: human.


      • Micha says:

        I wish I could share your optimism on the matter. That somehow we could transcend and solve this human induced problem in both our politics and economics. Transcending, that is to say, even the laws of physics.

        How do we solve a problem like Duterte, for example?

        Granting that enough people would wise up to his lying and outrageous behavior and decide to kick him out of office tomorrow, the fundamental problem which gave rise to his seizing of political power still remain.

        If at all and to be optimistic about it, I’d give it, at bare minimum, a generation to correct.

        We’re suppose to have wised up to the despotic rule of Ferdinand Marcos too, but look where we are now.

        The fundamental problem of inequality and the very anti-democratic capitalist economic system has to be given a solution first before we can have a more decent and humane political environment.

    • NHerrera says:


      Sometime back I recall browsing through a business-oriented book on “complexity crisis.” One can just guess that the author will offer something to get out of the rot from such crisis. In short, he suggests “simplifying” things. Nothing really earth-shaking, simplify being in fact an antonym to the word complicate. In the handling of personal things or a business, such can be done not without difficulty, but with a good amount of “science,” persistence and will — resulting, however, in some collateral job losses in the case of business.

      In the case of the country Legislators pass laws upon laws having good intentions when focused narrowly, but loses their effectiveness when viewed in their interrelationships and conflicting priorities. Made worse with budgetary requirements not given as much thought as deserved. We soon get to an analogous “complexity crisis” in that government. Unfortunately, simplifying things is not as easily handled as in business. It usually requires a slow step by step process. A “popular” Leader is then tempted to thinking about short cuts around these laws and suppressing critics of the Administration; and to thinking about concepts such as a Revolutionary Government to simplify the running of the country. This however will eventually lead to a crisis worse than what it intended to solve.

      The more contrived this popularity of the Leader is, the more there is a temptation to simplify things fast — most probably because such popularity by contrivance can’t realistically last.

      • Micha says:

        That is all, unfortunately, true.

        The descent towards despotism is all too real. And because the political opposition is weak and has all sorts of internal contradictions, even if we manage to get rid of this Duterte character we will most likely just be repeating what we’ve done after Marcos – squandering the moral and political capital gained and revert back to the equilibrium dominated by the oligarchy.

        Garbage in, garbage out.

        Life’s a bitch, according to JoeAm.

      • Duterte finds government too complicated, he once said, and would want to replace it with something simpler. I wonder what – autonomous barangays that decide over life and death by themselves, without rule of law and other cumbersome “nonsense”?

        Trouble is, many simple Filipinos do not understand the usefulness of various branches of government – possibly all many know are foreign words that they once had to memorize.

        The culture (c) Francis of many froze at the level of the barangay mind (c) chemrock because the educational system failed to pick them up from there. And the political system failed to really make them part of the democratic process – so Mocha and Duterte did. 😦

  7. My own observations from Philippine overseas associations jibe with Joe’s on present politics:

    1) usually it is small groups / cliques that work well together. Usually from the same region, somehow kumpare / kumare or intermarried families. What can happen to an outsider to such cliques is that he/she is often not invited even if there is a formal role – somewhat like VP Leni in Duterte’s govt.

    2) Different small groups may band together for a while against a perceived common enemy that they resent. Sometimes it may even be a former patron. Witnessed this happen with groups that once had been “loyal” to a woman working for a church organisation – with funds to help Filipino migrants. The “loyalty” they had to her was only in the beginning, when they were new in Germany. Similar, rival group was those around the wife of a known nursing recruiter in Germany in the early 1970s. Those leaving the one from the church organization split into 3 groups eventually due to very minor stuff.

    3) Very little sense of commitment. People say “yes” to something and then re-argue it later on. This includes where the lumpia stand and the pansit stand will be at a summer fest, with one feeling right and the other feeling disadvantaged by the organizer – although all was discussed and fixed long ago. That can also include quarrels about the percentage of money given to the food stall people, if for example the festival had a system of buying paper vouchers at the entrance. How much of the money goes to common costs, allegations that the cashier stole, backbiting – more exciting than the Senate!

    4) Cheating and allegations of others cheating. Division of profits between different organizations is questioned after the fact by the largest organization which happens to have handled the incoming cash. The smallest organization says never mind, the second largest organization fights it out but the head of the largest one makes all kinds of insinuations. At another occasion, one head tries to change the rules of a raffle, against all agreements, at the night of the party. Since his people are all there, he “wins” but there is anger on the other side. No wonder Philippine government has so much red tape.

    5) Wanting to be around those considered “strong” even if they are seen as immoral by very many.

    6) if many groups work together, it tends to be one group making decisions alone and excluding the others. Formally you have an organization, but the true decisions are made by the leading clique in the living room of the bossman. In the end, subgroups with a critical mass leave, feeling left out. But what also can happen is that if you are the bossman and let groups outside your own have a share of the decision-making, people in your own group think you are not sufficiently on their side. Or the groups outside of the main group become bold, shameless even, seeing fairness as a form of weakness.

    Of course one should not blame culture (c) Francis all the time. Culture can change. But considering the typical patterns of behavior, how will people change – or be bold enough to risk and to trust?

    Especially if the other “tribes” will go after your head for “mistakes” that aren’t? “Legally”, of course.

    • chemrock says:

      Micro views, Irineo, all true but not necessariy the monopoly of Filipinos. Other races too have fair share of all these cinderrela bitchings.

      • That is true, but if you have a Zeitgeist (spirit of the times) that wants to strip away all mechanisms that (semi-)formally regulate such conflict for good reason: manners, decency, laws – as “foreign impositions” and “not truly Filipino”, you can end up with total madness.

        It might be true that other cultures have that too, but their usually homegrown (or integrated into the culture like British stuff is an integral part of Singapore) conflict resolution and mediation mechanisms, or mechanisms of order, keep such stuff effectively at bay. What does one have in the Philippines now? The Congress letting an Associate Justice let out irrelevant Cinderella bitchings, in the hope that the contest will be decided by popularity – attempting to dirty CJ Sereno for so long they hope that popular opinion will finally hate her.

        • edgar lores says:

          1. The testimony of Justice De Castro in Congress has opened a Pandora’s Box. The SC en banc should not have allowed it… or should have first established the perimeters of engagement and disclosure.

          2. There is the notion of executive privilege whereby the executive branch can resist interventions by a co-equal branch. There should be a similar judicial privilege whereby the judiciary can resist interventions.

          3. Right now Congress is crowing in its superiority over the judiciary. You have Alvarez threatening to dismantle the Court of Appeals and you have Umali threatening to jail the Chief Justice for contempt. The boundaries of the separation of powers have become fuzzy.

          4. Similar to executive privilege, the perimeters of the judicial privilege would revolve around (a) the Chief Justice communication privilege and (b) the SC deliberative process privilege.

          • The SC order did establish perimeters of engagement to the specific violations raised by the House Committee. CJ Sereno was in a pickle, I think. To restrain testimony would have thrown fuel to the fire that she is a ‘bad judge’, proving betrayal of trust and further grounds for impeachment. The argument is that loose. So they allowed De Castro to do her whining and everyone knows the truth, De Castro is a bitter, small-minded woman and nothing she has said points to an impeachable act. Indeed, it clears the CJ. There was no way to keep the lid on Pandora’s box, so they let truth be shown in a way that protected judicial privilege, which was, after all, why the CJ did not attend the hearings.

            • edgar lores says:

              Thanks for that. Given the present composition of the High Bench, which tends to come up with questionable decisions, I concede the en banc would decide to allow intervention.

              De Castro has acquired the character of a jailbird snitch. The en banc may have allowed her to testify, but I wonder if she should have unilaterally considered whether her charges rose to the level of impeachable offenses. As it is, she played coy… and revealed her judgmental disability.

              Overall, I would say that her stature and that of the Judiciary have been much diminished.

              • It gave visibility to what many have known, that it is a political court, not objective and laws based. I think the SC was already diminished. If the Court has its CJ impeached, then it will become diminished to zero.

              • NHerrera says:

                Another way of saying it:

                The Executive, Legislative and parts of the Judiciary can be wild and irrational, but so long as the Supreme Court acts rationally for the good of the country, there will be hope still.

              • NHerrera says:

                We may ridicule Trump as much as we like — not that he does not deserve it — but I am greatly impressed by the way the US Government is handling its investigation on the interference of Russia in the US Election. Special Counsel Mueller is a creation of the US Department of Justice under the Executive Branch and it has netted so far Manafort, Gates, Papadopoulos and now Flynn. Imagine a creation of Aguirre’s Department of Justice doing an equivalent thing. I cannot imagine it.

              • edgar lores says:

                In the US, it’s the Rule of Law in all its majesty.

                Here, it’s the Rule of Power in all its baseness.

              • I shared this comment from Ricky Avancena on Facebook this morning:

                Ricky Avancena

                Former Gen. Flynn, 1st National Sec.Adviser pleads guilty to lying and will cooperate with FBI in probe against Trump! Talking to Americans and Filams in the US, when I tell them how bad Duterte is, they would say, yes but we have Trump. I answer, ‘ but your system of checks and balances kicks in, unlike in our country a popular President has the majority of all branches of Govt. jumping on the bandwagon – even approving of mass murder. This latest news is proof of that great American republic democratic system in action. ” The wheels of justice may grind slow, but grinds exceedingly fine”. Oh well, the FBI will take care of Trump, we shall have to wait for the International Criminal Court to sentence Duterte for crimes against his own people.

              • NHerrera says:

                In Pilipino:

                Mangyayari iyan sa Pilipinas pagka pumuti na ang uwak.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Uso naman ang whitening.

              • NHerrera says:

                Hahaha! 🙂

              • NHerrera says:

                @edgar, short and sweet your December 2, 2017 at 11:00 am post.

              • edgar lores says:

                Heh. Here we cannot even find Tita Nanie.

                Where’s Gordon? Where is that chairman of the Komite de Abswelto hiding?

              • Ah, you do inspire my twitter posts. If I had to pay you royalties, you could retire.

                wait . . . wait . . .

              • edgar lores says:

                Sprinkling angel dust from old fogeys is rewarding enough.

                Wait, wait, I didn’t mean to include you…

              • NHerrera says:

                The dust that I sprinkle here is not so angel but do you include me as one of those old fogeys, Sir? 🙂

              • edgar lores says:

                Yes, Sir. You eminently qualify in both respects. 🙂

              • NHerrera says:

                There, I am stamped, sealed and delivered by the guru, karl. No amount of protestation that I am not really a geriatric will amount to anything from now on. Please correct your Library record, accordingly. 🙂

              • Sup says:

                @ Edgar: Dick Gordon is busy looking at his flag pole… 🙂

              • karlgarcia says:

                I will catalogue you as angel dust.

          • karlgarcia says:

            Re: Judicial priviledge.


            “Constitutional protection. Thus, Senate vs. Ermita (April 20, 2006) unanimously held that “… members of the Supreme Court are exempt from the power of inquiry [of Congress]… on the basis not only of separation of powers but also on the fiscal autonomy and the constitutional independence of the judiciary. This point is not in dispute, as even the counsel for the Senate, Sen. Joker Arroyo, admitted it during the oral argument upon interpellation of Chief Justice [Panganiban]…” “

        • chemrock says:

          Irineo — your beautiful words that ring hollow in Philippines — “formally regulate such conflict for good reason”, conflict resolution, mediation mechanism.

          • Exactly. Conflict is part of life.

            Dealing with it, in order to be able to find common ground and work together, is another part. Filipinos can work together only under two conditions – coercion or harmony. Not enough.

            • Harmony – small barangays. Some coercion – in bigger barangays even including Davao City.

              Maximum coercion – colonial regimes until their successor, the Filipino nation-state. Even if the elite that controlled the state had some harmony within from 1916-1966. Too good to last.

              One should not forget either that Quezon was the one guiding things from 1916-1941. Knew how to play the popularity game – his first confrontations were against the likes of Ricarte and Sandiko – but for the common weal(th). After the war, the founder’s spirit slowly dissipated.

              • Harmony in bigger groups > religious groups like Iglesia etc., political semi-religions like the original Yellow around Cory Aquino with its Marian undertones, or the DDS with its Black Nazarene undertones.. the Katipunan had strongly folk-religious undertones (anting-anting)

                Coercion in bigger groups -> military hierarchy (harmony is via honor codes taught at PMA), hierarchy in the Kuratong Baleleng criminal organization modelled on Filipino clans – kuyas or elder brothers as first level, second level were uncles, third level was I think the highest one.

                –> Abstract hierarchy and abstract ideals do not exist for a large number of Filipinos. Beautiful words that make sense elsewhere seem to ring hollow, as chempo mentions in one example. People I guess need to fulfill a few basic Maslow needs first to move on to the next level.

  8. Sabtang Basco says:

    “Set aside populism, focus on the work to be done, and teach Filipinos why it is important to think about the downstream results of their decisions. Teach them that skill is important among elected officials. Star power is worthless.” – JOEAM

    Absolutely unequivocally agree !!! Let us not start teaching Filipinos! Let us start teaching unprofessional unintelligent dead-author-quoting OP-EDs in American-Wannabee Filipino newspapers because they are the one that teaches Filipinos that Filipinos read out from that Filipinos thought they were intelligent.

    TO THIS DAY, Philippine Fake News has not come out with NEW and LATEST DETAIL OF PHILIPPINE TAX REFORM. Nothing like what we have in Trump Tax Reform NEWS REPORT.

    I am not concerned about taxes on salary which Filipinos earning less than 500k would surely benefit. The working class and minimum wage earner Filipinos do not know yet how it affects their lives. I am not concerned because I am not deriving my income from the Philippines. WHAT I AM CONCERNED OF is vehicle excise tax of 30%. NO MATTER HOW I FINE tune my search filters I still do not hear anything from Philippine Fake News.

    See, I hear rumors there are panic buying of vehicles in the Philippines to beat the 2018 implementation of excise tax but … BUT … no DETAILS !!!! The Philippine Fake News and their unintelligent columnists are so busy about POLITICS !!!!

    I am buying three motorcycles: One for my convenience and the other two for my barrangay. I do not have money now. Not yet. Until February. If I wait I’ll be hit with 4% excise on top of 12% VAT. I cannot take out a loan from Rural Bank because I cannot show income and residency.

    What the heck. Our BIR outpost doesn’t know either. What the heck.

  9. Micha says:


    Republicans in US Senate is about to give a $1.5 trillion christmas gift to the already wealthy class in the form of permanent tax cuts to corporations and billionaires.

    They are rushing the vote along partisan lines with practically zero public hearings and/or deliberations because they know this tax bill stinks to high heavens.

    This is a reverse Robin Hood legislation of taking from the poor and giving some more to the rich.

    The looting continues and America is devolving from what used to be a decent form of democracy to a neo-feudal plutocracy. This is not going to end well.

    • Sabtang Basco says:

      They approve this with a prayer hoping the economy works as they will have predicted.
      THE LOSER OF THIS TAX REFORM? The Trump supporting high-school drop-out white racist rust belt red necks in rural America.

      My parents are clinking glass for the pass-thru S Corporation. What they benefit, I benefit. So does 80% other small-time LLC and single-proprietorship. I am a registered fence-setter neither a republic nor a democrat.

      • Micha,

        What do you , and what’s your opinion on Finland’s BASIC INCOME experiment? it makes sense to me.

        • “Even though the experiment has been running since the start of the year, it has already yielded results by cutting bureaucracy, which both customers and Kela appreciate. The experiment is running smoothly with little input from Kela. The basic income is paid every month at the same time. This gives customers peace of mind and freedom from immediate money concerns, allowing them to focus on finding a job, starting a business, etc. And indeed many have done so, while others have decided to learn a new profession or care for their elderly parents. Some have reported experiencing significantly less stress, too.

          Naturally, free money is not the perfect solution for every customer. The important thing to remember is that the basic income experiment is only one of several actions to be taken when addressing the problems of working life and social security. Some people need other kinds of support to cope with life’s challenges, such as rehabilitation, or medical and social care, and we must also invest in such programmes. The basic income is a way forward as we further develop our unemployment benefit and other social security systems in order to eliminate excessive bureaucracy for everyone. That frees us up to take better care of the customers who do not benefit from the unconditional basic income, but who also need our support in managing their lives.”

          • Can it be applied in the Philippines, in small scale first, like Joe’s island, or Sabtang’s Ireland in the Philippines, but it makes sense let people spend it as they see fit,

            though I fear it might result to this, over here,

    • It is after all their House and Senate, I’m just surprise it took ’em so long to pass anything. But yup, 1st actual victory (its looking like) for the Republican legislature.

      Next up is Net Neutrality on Dec. 14. I think that’s the more important fight. That Republicans favor the Trickle Down theory of Economics is no mystery, Micha. All 3 branches of gov’t is right now technically Republican held and/or sympathetic to said values.

      Net Neutrality to sum up…Question: Is the internet an FCC matter or is it FTC? Are Google , Netflix, Amazon, facebook, etc. actual victims , or are they as powerful or more, than the Internet providers. That issue to me, shapes the future more in the long term, whereas Reaganomics is a tug and pull, you pull too much one way and its free hand-outs to everyone who don’t wanna get off their behinds & work.

      So it makes sense to tug it the other way. Though I agree w/ you , Micha, carried interest tax/corporate tax I view also as welfare state bs. Same-same.

      • Sabtang Basco says:

        Ha! Who cares about Net Neutrality. I am so used to paying 1,150.00 basic internet that is as slow as the carabao gait if I get lucky to have a service.

        Red neck rust belt high-school drop-out Republicans do not care about Net Neutrality. They cannot afford internet. They are still using smoke signals from the Appalachian to Idaho.

      • Micha says:

        Your guess is as good as mine on how the already rich will spend this loot. Being good stewards of what they have plundered, they will most likely just hide it under their beds or call their accountant lawyers to stash it away in a place called Panama or Bermuda. No trickling down for those peasants.

        And because their stooges in the Grand Old Plundering party are also deficit hawks, they will then scream for cut backs on federal spending and that means reduced budget for infrastructure and other social programs.

        The only upside on this will be that the Grand Old Plutocratic party will suffer a huge trashing in the midterm elections. Assuming of course that the peasants will see it for what it is.

  10. Sabtang Basco says:



    1. because he felt abandoned by Trump
    2. he’d rather protect his son than Donald Trump
    3. he cannot squander his millions to protect himself, his son and Donald Trump

    What is weird is twitter-trigger-happy Donald Trump is quiet. Eeeerily quiet. Not even attacking tattle-tale ratting Flynn hoping not to anger Flynn.

    The next in sight is Kushner.

    1. Ivanka felt his Dad abandoned slumlord Kushner to Mueller dogs
    2. Ivanka will talk to Mueller to retaliate against his Dad
    3. Kushner will talk to Mueller

    White House will crumble. Trump will be in catatonic disbelief.

    This is a good one. Because Americans do evidences. In the Philippines all they do is talk.

    • “In the Philippines all they do is talk.”

      Type “affidavits” and “University of the Philippines” again, please? 😉

    • Compliciting. Lovely use of the word of the year. The US drama is better than PH because the opposition is louder. The PH is an old man wandering around being nasty and social media howling into the wind for distance.

    • RE Gen. Flynn , I think he was just being a general, ie. taking care of business, and getting ahead of things. Another thing that happens a lot in the military is to shield the folks up top, ie. a LCPL will tell his SGT I’ll handle it sergeant (and the sergeant will never have to know, knowing that also means shit won’t roll up hill). That’s military culture.

      Micro-management is widely hated in the field, but you get closer to DC is celebrated, weird.

      So Gen. Flynn one can conclude is just not too politically astute, which is why he should’ve relied on his lawyer. Don’t lie to the FBI because for anyone who watches Law & Order and other cop investigative movies, if police asks you a question in an interrogating room, chances are they already know the answers,

      and just want corroboration, or in this case to ding you for lying to the FBI.

      But what I’m more interested in , and the point here is… would what Gen. Flynn had lied about been illegal, ie. for an incoming administration, to already start talking to foreign gov’t, especially foreign gov’ts the Obama administration has given the silent treatment/cold shoulder? That’s essentially what happened.

      OR does Mueller have a bigger leverage on Gen. Flynn not in the news. My point, Trump’s correct in the above tweet, I don’t think its illegal for an incoming administration to start back-channel talks (maybe it is, but then why is Gen. Flynn just getting pinch for lying to the FBI?).

  11. Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

    Democracy is in and of itself an opportunity to be both hero and villain. Of course, you need popularity to win the race. But what creates heroism in a democracy is the courage to encash popularity values in exchange for real, long-term growth. Ninoy Aquino showed a promise to be both popular and heroic. Cory fumbled but continues to be held in high esteem for her willingness to step down after her six-year term. Noynoy also showed heroism, parlaying what could have been a certain Mar Roxas electoral victory for astute deployment of SSS funds, for example. President Duterte? Does he even know the difference between hero and villain? He’s stuck at being popular, holding on to his nuts while he is captured by history. (Nuts, meaning monkeys are caught by placing nuts inside a basket with a narrow throat. Once the monkey holds on to the nuts inside the basket, he is easy pickings for captors, because by clenching his fist, he cannot extricate his hand from the clever basket.)

    • NHerrera says:

      The quote that will get me going for sometime to come:

      … what creates heroism in a democracy is the courage to encash popularity values in exchange for real, long-term growth.

      Thanks, Will.

    • karlgarcia says:

      hpHeros can be heels depending on the eye of the beholder.
      Until now Aguinaldo and Bonifacio being heros or heels is an academic debate.
      History is still the best judge, but is said to be written by a guy named Victor.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Why did I use heel when I should have just used villain?
        I am more of a pro-wrestling fan than a super hero fan. Nah,that can’t be it. I love superheroes and I loved the Justice League. even if it flopped.

  12. What do most Filipinos expect if, for example, Akbayan and Magdalo joined the LP, and they win?

    What else? That Trillanes and Hontiveros will be sidelined and Roxas will come forward, grinning.

    In fact I myself consider that possible. You are either part of the leading clique or just a TOOL.

    As long as that does not change, don’t expect any alliance to be more than that. Temporary.

    It is still a winner-take-all society. The fear of being relegated to the backburner is ever-present.

    • A German relative once explained to me – very long ago: “if everybody had his own political party to represent HIS interests, it would be chaotic and ineffective. So forces join”.

      But for forces to join, I guess the following is needed:

      1) abstraction – looking beyond one’s own personal interests to group interests

      2) trust – believing that someone who isn’t exactly like me can represent common interests

      There are I think the following forms of representation among Filipinos:

      a) lookalike representation – Pacquiao, Duterte etc. – he look like me, he talk like me, he for me

      b) tribal representation – he is Ilocano, or he is a soldier, or he is an intellectual just like me etc.

      c) group representation – Dilawan, Dutertian, leftists. Ideologies partly real, partly for show.


      Then of course the trapos with their economies of favor – the old system.

      and of course with reps that often lack 1), you have people lacking 2).. prisoner’s dillema.

    • We can cast a thousand scenarios. The tack to me would be to agree that one party is better than three, and it ought to have a new name to cast aside the old baggage. The first two priorities would be to sketch out a platform that all can accept, and the second to sketch out a set of roles for each key person that is realistic. Hypothetical: It would start with an aim to take back the Senate for decency in 2019, running heavyweights such as Mar Roxas, Noynoy Aquino, Florin Hilbay, Gary Alejano and others to be named later. It would target having Leni Robredo in the President’s office in 2022 with Ban Aquino as VP and Sonny Trillanes as Defense Secretary. The president of the party would be an administrative person, not a political person.

      The most difficult platform issue would be what to propose to do with the officials in government responsible for 13,000 deaths that are largely not accounted for. Other issues are fairly easy. Abide by international law in the WPS. Rely on the US and other partners (Japan, Viet Nam, Australia, India) for defense. Treat drug usage as a health issue and drug supply as a serious crime. Bring the PNP back to a protect and serve role. Implement RH and other family matters forthrightly. etc.

      The campaign style would have to be more aggressive than Roxas/Robredo ran in 2016, with social media networking an important part of that, as well as large scale rallies, and a few important messages that resonate with common citizens (tangible, emotional). That requires a lot of thought.

      The main goal would be to bring respect for Filipinos back . . . and decency.

      • If each person seeks to be President, forget it. Might as well as have a dictator because democracy won’t work right on a tribal foundation.

        • Wilfredo G. Villanueva says:

          President Duterte is forcing us to unite. Will we be equal to the task, for the sake of the future which seems to be sliding off into the abyss as long as authoritarianism holds the country in its grip?

          • I am pessimistic due to an absence of ‘community spirit’, versus ‘I’m gonna get mine’, even among top people. But I remain hopeful that someone of action and good values will be able to inspire unity.

      • The basic “locales” of such a party could possibly be like Philip Jr. Lustre’s (Will knows him) regular “Tertulia sa Kyusi” – a group of QC citizens who meet regularly to discuss politics, occasionally inviting speakers like Trillanes etc. – these groups would be the local strength in campaigning and also if they want to give inputs on the programs of the party, like what happens in normal political parties where there is a top-down and bottom-up feedback loop.

        If such groups manage to learn how to stick together inspite of usually minor differences, avoiding the usual Filipino trap of petty quarrelsomeness, the sum total can be very strong.

        Local groups = boots on the ground. National party = strength in numbers and synergies.

  13. Thea says:

    President Duterte was popular, there was no doubt about it. He aligned himself with the poor by wearing broken shoes, sleeping inside a kulambo and eating with bare hands in an unknown carinderia. He was not original though. Erap did that and won. Binay did that too but lost.
    The point here is, beyond being popular there is also an “it” factor that appeals to voters and that I should say is “being a new kid in town”. Erap got the impression of “unsophistication” or the not so intelligent guy (who will forget the soft-bound book without anything written in its pages?)
    while Duterte has got big mouth, macho image. These impressions nonetheless were new and people prefers it. This preference is universal and is not only present in Philippine politics. Former US President Obama did the same to connect with the whole world. Worn shoes, pies and caps. Also, a new political breed, the first.
    There is nothing wrong with having a popular president. It is good that people could identify themselves with their leaders and it could be easier for a leader to lead them in return. However, popularity is not parallel to good leadership. One can be popular yet not a good leader and vice versa. Popularity has celebrity effect. One can be a rock star today, tomorrow he might be a falling star devoid of gas.
    For now, Duterte is sorrounded by sycophants testing waters every minute just to maintain what remains of the popularity Duterte once enjoyed. Revgov rallies failed, a vivid truth.

    No, Duterte is not popular nor a good leader. He is a notorious president. 2B plus 6.4B less popular before 2016 election.

    • I’m starting to think his support is like an egg shell. Thin, widespread, empty. Cracking.

      • Thea says:

        Yes, indeed. Time and again, his support is based on social media which we couldn’t say reel nor real. But the disbelief and dissatisfaction can be gauged not on surveyed numbers but on the silence of people. Of my relatives and friends supportive of Duterte before. Comparing this silence with my parents’ anger. Never trigger, it will burst.

  14. karlgarcia says:

    Some people actually think that the advisers and assistants can take care of the president, or any elected national leader.
    But look at Paquiao,I am sure he hired advisers and listens to them sometimes, Lito Lapid always had a headset for translation from english to tagalog( seriously,it was even shown on anc)
    We all know of speech writers, pr staff etc.
    But with Duterte, Abella became Aberya everytime he had to defend the indefensible and with all the compliciting he has to undergo, now we have Roque.
    Duterte does not even read scripts, he is an advisers nightmare, I wonder how Bong Go lasts?

    As far as popularity, what choice do we have, we don’t have a party system with consistent platforms,.
    Let us say dynasties are not allowed, then what will be our basis for elections?
    The longer the laundry list of promises? Track record on a different field of expertise?
    Edgar said it is the psychology, For Francis it is culture, it maybe conditioning, ok popularity maybe a lousy way to run a government, but what is the alternative for selecting and electing officials?

    • mercedes santos says:

      Which is more important to Pinoys, notoriety or popularity ?? One wonders ☂

      • karlgarcia says:

        Anong tagalog ng notorious? Sikat pa din ata eh.

        • mercedes santos says:

          Karl, ‘tanong mo sa mga taga ilog taga lingayen ako. Methinks it’s lampasido, as in
          lampaso ☺

        • isk says:

          Yup, sikat talaga ang mga balasubas ngayon.

          • Letlet says:

            As the meaning of notorious is famous or well known for bad deeds or something bad, therefore in Tagalog, notorious is sikat. Karl is right.

            • mercedes santos says:

              Could be in tagalog, but quite a number of people are popular for being notorious, think Napoles and her ilk. Popular due to notoriety. Methinks in tagalog kilalang manlilinlang hindi sikat na manlilinlang. It’s a user’s choice. I would never pair sikat with the word manlilinlang. For some folks, wrong can be right, ALAS ☃

              • edgar lores says:

                Isn’t it significant that Tagalog does not distinguish between famous and infamous? It doesn’t seem to matter that a person is one or the other.

                As long as he is popular. As long as he is known. Kilala.

                To me, this lack of nuance — nay, this absence of distinction — points to the basic amorality of the Filipino.

                Thus, a politico will strive to become popular by any means — bad or good, by media or by sports — to win office. And the people will adore him… no matter what and come what may.

              • I wrote this for social media yesterday:

                “It is stunning that millions of Filipinos think good things come from being murderous, untruthful, mean, rude, and crude. If they are Christians, best to tear up the Bible. It is worthless. They weren’t praising the Pope when he was here, they were praising their own vanity.”

                Your comment clarifies how it is possible for Filipinos to cheer both Duterte and the Pope. It means the goal should be clear: to teach people to rationally and emotionally distinguish when they will be hurt by laying praise on people of bad character.

              • edgar lores says:

                ❗ ❗ ❗

              • I wrote this for social media yesterday:

                “It is stunning that millions of Filipinos think good things come from being murderous, untruthful, mean, rude, and crude. If they are Christians, best to tear up the Bible. It is worthless. They weren’t praising the Pope when he was here, they were praising their own vanity.”

                Your comment clarifies how it is possible for Filipinos to cheer both Duterte and the Pope. It means the goal should be clear: to teach people to rationally and emotionally distinguish when and how they will be hurt by laying praise on people of bad character.

              • karlgarcia says:

                You articulated what was trapped in my head or my tongue or my fingers.

              • “To me, this lack of nuance — nay, this absence of distinction — points to the basic amorality of the Filipino.”


                I’m sure if you dig enough, you’ll find some folksy, pithy Filipino saying or quote, like the ones below,

    • edgar lores says:

      Karl, now don’t get confused.

      1. My answer of “psychology” and Francis answer of “culture” were said in different contexts.

      1.1. Francis said he disliked the “culture card” being played to explain our problems.
      1.2. I said our problems are systemic and psychological. The first can be fixed, but it is harder to fix the second.
      1.3. The similarity between our answers is that “psychology” and “culture” can be interpreted to mean the same thing: I am saying it is hard to fix our psychology (or culture).

      2. As to your question — “…What will be our basis for elections?” — I would ask another question. What is the difference between PNoy and Duterte? And between Sereno and De Castro?

      2.1. If I were to put it in one word, it would be this: character.

      2.2. What is character? It is “the mental and moral qualities distinctive to an individual.” I would put emphasis on the “moral” aspect.

      2.3. PNoy and Sereno have character; Duterte and De Castro don’t.

      2.4. But things are not black and white. Character is a continuum. So while people are a mixture of bad and good, we look at the preponderance of badness or goodness.

      2.5. Also, character is the aggregate of traits that form an individual. So apart from the moral aspect, one can break it down to other aspects such as intelligence, education, experience, memberships, awards, competence, integrity, probity, and independence.

      2.6. But then again, one does not look at a candidate’s character in isolation. One has to extend it to his milieu. What is the character of the candidate’s associates? What is the character of his political party? What is the character of his friends?

      • karlgarcia says:

        I like being corrected by you because things get clearer, way way clearer.
        Is it safe to say because of some anomalies in our culture, we can’t see character even if it is in front tof us.
        We can’t even judge a book by its cover.

    • I tend to think Bong Go is one person the President does listen to.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Now who does Bong Go listen to?
        But I guess the rambling and rumbling is all Duterte, but I guess you are correct that he lets Bong Go do the talking to other people when it comes to decision making, I guess he is even the one talking to the executive secretary who is supposed to be the little president.

  15. karlgarcia says:


    My dad told me that he read your blog a few days ago.
    I have been telling him to do that for so long and it had to be a nudge from other people, I hope he won’t read the open discussions where I copy pasted his papers, or I will never hear the end of it.

    He liked what he saw, but he remarked that he must not be too yellow whatever that means.
    He even asked if I have any idea as to who you are, and I said I have no idea, and it does not matter to me.

  16. NHerrera says:


    There were of course many blog articles in TSH helpful in thinking about the country and how to better it, but the current one to my mind is tops with its operative word, popularity. Thanks to all for the elaboration.

    To be fair, popularity of a leader or an entertainment celebrity and their adoring millions is not the country’s monopoly and as the discussion shows, it has its uses, but PH has taken it to extremes — to an art form.

    How to channel that popularity for the country’s sake – even a fourth of it — for the PH’s sake is the magic wand. And the crucial thing is that the magic wand, if found, should be waved not only by one but most of us, if not all.

  17. Can somebody point me to a post that explains one or two alleged violations of the constitution or a democratic principle? I’m German and have no clue, but i’m a bit suspicious of Reuters and co at the moment who only represent the opposition and don’t lay out the case properly.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: