Do Philippine Mayors make bad presidents?

Presidents Aguinaldo, Estrada, and Duterte. Former mayors.

By Andrew Lim

Another mayor, another failure?

There have been three former mayors-turned presidents in our history: Aguinaldo, Estrada and Duterte. If you go back to the historical record of their terms, there is a strong argument to be made they did not do very well.

Sure, they had personal accomplishments, but if we make the judgment that on the whole, their shortcomings and transgressions far outweighed their contributions.

Let’s review:

1. Aguinaldo – Held responsible for the assassination of his Filipino political opponents (most are now in the pantheon of heroes of the Revolution) and accused of prioritizing people instead of principles. The writers and producers of the Luna-Goyo-Quezon trilogy has a similar view of history, hence these lines in Goyo, Ang Batang Heneral: “Aso ka lang, Goyo, hindi ka sundalo!”; “ Tao lang ang ipinaglalaban mo, hindi prinsipyo!” In hindsight, he is also considered a poor military strategist for rejecting Luna’s idea of guerrilla warfare at the outset, only to adopt it later.

But perhaps the most scathing rebuke of Aguinaldo was Mabini’s:

“ To sum it up: the Revolution failed because it was badly led; because its leader won his post by reprehensible rather than meritorious acts; because instead of supporting the men most useful to the people, he made them useless out of jealousy… He judged the worth of men not by their ability, character and patriotism but rather by their degree of friendship and kinship with him; and anxious to secure the readiness of his favorites to sacrifice themselves for him, he was tolerant even of their transgressions.”

2. Estrada – Ousted by popular revolt. Convicted for plunder but pardoned. His term was characterized by terribly low ethical standards, corruption and mismanagement. The military did not respect him at all, making its “withdrawal of support” easy. The Philippine stock market took serious hits due to cronyism. His administration could also be described as incompetent in economic affairs- factions within the cabinet led to turf wars which could happen with Duterte, as well.

3. Duterte – It’s just been two years, but it’s a litany of failures and disasters- from human rights record to support of fake news purveyors, to poor appreciation of international relations, to ignorance on economics leading to shortages, inflation and deterioration of many economic indicators, even sartorial choices.

Why such a dismal record? We have more than a few theories:

1. Perhaps it’s the way they conducted business in their former jobs – they adopted a transactional approach, the old style of back-slapping, you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours instead of being a transformative leader who changed how things were done.

2. Tribalism. The age-old problem of Filipinos, putting one’s tribe ahead of any consideration – including morals, faith and the law. (I don’t care if other Filipinos suffer, as long as we Davaoenos benefit! Marcos was corrupt and brutal but he took care of us Ilocanos! ) This deserves a blog of its own. I am still astounded how supposedly decent, well educated Filipinos of faith do this without blinking.

3. Weak character. The temptations of the job may simply be too great for their upbringing – the temptation to steal, lie, to be brutal, to love blasphemy.

4. Inability to transition to global stage. Like it or not, international diplomacy has its own code of behavior, modified through centuries of practice. Is the smallness of their former fiefdoms a burden to smooth transition?


81 Responses to “Do Philippine Mayors make bad presidents?”
  1. Andrew, your four reasons are correct. However, the system usually breed the characters.

    Why does the system or the culture do this, and what can be changed to avoid it in the future?

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Why does the system do this? I don’t think it’s only here, but other countries do better at learning from past mistakes.

      What can be changed to avoid this? After only so much pain and suffering due to a failure to learn the lessons of history. Specially for tribalism, which is worsened here due to language differences.

      The bottom line, which is very sad, is that many Filipinos simply have poor capacities to learn and remember, so they keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again and suffer for it. Dinadaan na lang sa “puso!” or “sipag at tiyaga!” or “huwag susuko” without figuring out where things went wrong.

      Just look at how stupid Filipinos are when think they have a chance at international basketball:

      What went wrong in the last Games? “Puso!”

      Can we assemble the team earlier for longer practice for chemistry and cohesion? “Puso!”

      Are we better off in sports where height is not a huge factor for success? “Puso!”

      Puro puso, walang utak. 🙂

  2. arlene says:

    Maybe it’s because they are used to the local scene and try to imitate it at the presidential level.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Exactly. Look at how he scaled up the drug issue. He has run into problems because:

      1. He has nowhere to sweep the problems into, unlike in Davao where his favorite solution was to drive away all the malcontents into the neighboring provinces or have them killed.
      He thinks killing them all can solve it.

      2. He now has to deal with the smuggling from abroad, something he has never confronted before as mayor.

      And then there’s economics and foreign policy, something which is big and conceptual, so a mayor is hardly equipped to handle it.

  3. edgar lores says:

    1. The fourth reason reminds me of the Peter Principle.

    2. It is a problem in small-mindedness — and what we call scaling in computers. Scaling (or scalability) is the ability of software or hardware to perform on a large scale as well as on a small scale. Hardware does not scale if it cannot handle a million records as well as it can tens of thousands of records. Software does not scale if it cannot handle millions but not billions. Obviously, the minds of these three mayors do not scale well, and they cannot grasp the complexity of managing a nation.

    3. The problem would not be so severe if we were only talking about mental capacity. No, we are talking of criminal tendencies. For Erap, it’s corruption. For Aguinaldo, it’s corruption and murder. And for Duterte, it’s corruption and murder as well. The difference between the latter two is that the first murders his fellow leaders and the second his fellow citizens.

    4. The keys to small-mindedness would be mental flexibility and exposure to broader horizons. A prerequisite to the presidency might be some years serving in Congress, in particular, the Senate. But even these are not enough. Leadership qualities, this thing called vision, and perhaps moral character above all are the necessary ingredients to the presidency.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      These two incompetencies- moral and intellectual is so prevalent. In Duterte’s case moral incompetence led to job incompetence.

  4. What makes the best training ground for presidents? Mayors do seem transactional, and that is why few cities have much forward thinking or conceptual solutions to problems like traffic congestion. There are very few rules and signs guiding traffic, for instance. Little land use planning, looking forward. So cities just do what they do.

    The Senate provides a good grasp of laws and structure of government. It is probably better. What is unfortunate is that the Vice Presidency is not used to better the nation. Had Duterte not been such a knee-jerk president, and if he’d had just an ounce of concern for the nation, he would have kept Leni on his cabinet and given her a substantial job. Roxas had superb training, but no one recognized it for the emotionalism and nit-picking.

    The whole nation needs to be pushed for wider, forward-looking, conceptual grasp, I guess.

    Business would be a good place to look for presidents, top-line executives. I don’t know why the political parties don’t go that route.

  5. I just read Luis V. Teodoro’s article in Business World. He pointed that this administration lacks a “rational and coherent platform of governance” and is so clueless about governing that it fumbles and bumbles. He articulated that the method to this administration’s seeming madness lies in its end goal: “absolute power and political dominance.” Ergo, it is a self-serving administration that do not really care about Filipinos and the country’s future.

    “Despite the bluster of President Rodrigo Duterte and his equally loud lieutenants, yes-men and accomplices in the Cabinet, the House of Representatives, the Senate, and the Supreme Court, his regime is in reality completely without anything that even approximates a rational and coherent platform of governance. It is making things up as it goes along, and patching together ad hoc attempts to make it seem as if it were addressing the urgent problems that haunt the nation, most of which are of its own making.

    But there is some method in this seeming madness. Devising the right solutions to the country’s problems is not only beyond the regime’s capacity; it is also the last of its priorities. What it craves most is absolute power and political dominance, to achieve which it uses the most absurd and politically self-damaging means to silence and suppress its critics as well as anyone else opposed to — among its legions of offenses against this portion of humanity — its lawlessness and contempt for human rights, and the terrible cost in lives of its savage “war” on drugs.”

  6. Andres 2018. says:

    I personally believe that being a mayor in your bio-data is a plus. A mayor and a president are both executives after all. However, to be a successful president, you need to consider a lot of factors. Thus, being a mayor (or not) in your bio-data seems irrelevant. I do believe that the presidents success mainly lies in his appointees. Alexander the Great was a successful conqueror because of his well experienced and battle hardened generals, well disciplined and well trained infantries and cavalries. The president should act as the foundation, the face, the one that holds the cabinets together, the one that inspire and influence, motivates and encourage.

    And also, theres the opposition. People of different ideology and agenda. A successful president should address them very well, if not, they will cause your downfall.

    • chemrock says:

      Para 1 – I agree with your sentiments generally. Any experience of service to the people is good for the bio-data for one with presidential aspirations. But as Francis noted — it’s not a case of mayors make bad presidents, it’s bad mayors make bad presidents. Knowing a bad mayor, why alleviate him to higher office? Don’t we need a spanking?

      “The president should act as the foundation, the face, the one that holds the cabinets together, the one that inspire and influence, motivates and encourage.”
      The president is the leader so we require of him good leadership traits. We can write a book on this. For here, I would require of him to be visionary. With no vision, where is he leading the nation (I don’t know economics I leave that to the economic managers — is not something I want in a CEO). As to ” influence, motivates and encourage” I would differ as I think you are referring to the cabinet. The cabinet is no boot camp. These are top honchos in their functionary agencies. They are there to guide the president, to formulate policies, to execute the functions of the agencies. If they need the soft attention of the president, they don’t deserve to be there.

      “And also, theres the opposition. People of different ideology and agenda. A successful president should address them very well, if not, they will cause your downfall.”

      If the president believes in democracy and the constitution, he should accept dissent and criticism. He should not “address” them, but manage them. As to causing downfall if not “addressed” — do not presidents/monarchs etc fell due to their inadequacies, tyrannies, corruption, cruelties, etc. Marcos fell due to tyranny. Erap fell due to corruption. Period.

      Once again Andres, your comments are always nuanced. You are a true blue apologist from the South.

  7. chemrock says:

    “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them”

    These mayors have none. The tragedy of Philippines is the people are unable to see mediocrity behind loud noises and celebrity stardust.

    Philippines is always about the form, never the substances. I’m laughing when I read about the latest DOJ protestations re Trillanes case. It’s all abt the application form that Trillanes is unable to produce.

  8. Francis says:

    There are counter-examples. Mayors who have taken advantage of the promise of decentralization. Mayors like Jesse Robredo.

    In which case—it isn’t exactly a matter of what makes mayors bad presidents, but rather what makes bad mayors bad presidents and why bad mayors often end up presidents in the first place.

    Forgot to comment on the previous blog article but here’s my take on the notion that the VP is often percieved as weak:

    The VP is a team player. She doesn’t make it about herself, herself and herself. Which is great. I loved that recent Rappler interview regarding her take on the direction of the opposition precisely because of that; she talked not about herself, but about strengthening institutions—like her own political party—to make it more responsive to the needs of the people.

    [[I don’t mean to offend but my gut has this odd feeling regarding many of the reformists and do-gooders in this country—so correct me if I am wrong because there’s a good chance that I am wrong. A lot of them (whether intentionally or unintentionally) tend to be something like one-man crusades, like those weird one-man bands with the trumpet and the cymbals and all that attached to one bulky suit.]]

    [[Which is not a bad thing in itself—except for the fact there is only so much that one person can do. And that there is also the strong possibility of succumbing to ego with this whole one-man crusade state of affairs. And it doesn’t help that Filipinos are so fond of Messiahs.]]

    Jesse Robredo succeeded because he built his reformism not just on the strength of his personality—but on institutions, in the form of lively and vibrant civil society. He made his city great (sue me) not on his own but in collaboration with the citizens, with the organizers.

    Decentralization has presented immense opportunity for policy innovation among LGU officials. A mayoralty can be a good training ground for future national leaders. The question—why do we get Mayor Erap and Mayor Duterte?

    It isn’t so much that they are mayors—but that they are populists. If they have become president because of their being former mayors, it is because being mayor has taught them how to play intimate politics extremely well. And local officials have the possibility make fine populists—especially for mayors who have both relatively broad powers and a degree of closeness with the people.

    • Francis says:


      I’ve been on-and-off connecting the dots with populism and stuff—and this SWS survey has been on my mind for some time:

      I think Chart 3 and Chart 9 are interesting.

      Chart 3 and Chart 9 are both about “Quality of Life” and whether one sees oneself as a “loser” or “gainer.” Chart 3 pertains to the overall PH trend, while Chart 9 breaks it down by class.

      What is interesting is that Q of L only started become net positive during the latter half of the Aquino administration—and really accelarated during the current Duterte administration. This is seen in Chart 3 where there is a modest tick upwards in the previous administration’s last years before hitting the highest points ever recorded during the current administration (for now).

      Chart 9—which breaks this general national trend down to the class components—is even more interesting. Throughout the previous administration—only the ABC reported gaining for the most part, with D and E still reporting as feeling more like net “losers” in the Q of L survey. This was also observed in Ramos (to a lesser extent), in Cory (to a much lesser extent) and one brief spike in Erap’s case.

      What sets apart the previous administration though is that it bears the distinction of being the first administration recorded (with the brief exception of Class D during the start of the first Aquino administration) to report somewhat sustained (albeit modest) “positive” Q of L ratings in the latter half of the administration.

      There was a slow turn around to a more stable path, a situation that would have rendered us relatively immune to populism…


      In the Philippines—there were clearly conditions for angry populism already there. The previous administration made some modest headway at reversing these conditions but the opportunists who took advantage of this latent anger and frustration in the public brillantly nipped things in the bud.

      Some interesting food for thought.

      • Francis says:


        What sets apart the previous administration though is that it bears the distinction of being the first administration recorded (with the brief exception of Class D during the start of the first Aquino administration) to report somewhat sustained (albeit modest) “positive” Q of L ratings for the D and E in the latter half of the administration.

      • It is fascinating to me that a population that was basically satisfied with President Aquino and growing in optimism would be so impatient or demanding for change. Now that optimism continued during the first two honeymoon years of the Duterte Administration, but the D class indeed did go flat. People want it better now, seeing it all around them I suppose. But don’t grasp that it took decades to dig the current hole and it will take time to climb out. I have no idea if President Duterte is digging or climbing at this point.

        • edgar lores says:

          It is the optimism that caused the anger?

          Hope, the tide of rising expectations, may have been the spark of the desire for change. People were no longer apathetic.

          • Could be, maybe the optimism fueled the “I want it now” mentality, attached to someone who clearly was outside the box, and “like me” for being that way. Just about every cock-fight patron in the nation voted for Duterte, I suspect. It was not really an intellectual vote, but an associative one.

        • Francis says:

          There was a sickly patient. One day, the doctor decided to put the patient on a steady regimen of exercise and nutritious food, besides the regular medication.

          It took a long time—but the patient eventually started having stronger and more fit body. However, the condition of this patient had only started improving when he heard this con-man offer these suspicious supplements called Con-Ass Fed and Tokhang.

          The problem isn’t exactly the people—Duterte never got a plurality and had we had a French run-off system, I doubt we would even get someone like Duterte[1]—so much as the timing. The opportunists took advantage of the fact that the reformist program was so vulnerable, still premature to sweep it all away with grand promises while living off (and taking advantage) of the fruits of said reformist program.

          [1] I know that Duterte enjoys widespread SWS support so it seems odd to suggest that his support is not as overwhelming as we think it is.

          One of my profs mused that it is likely that part of Duterte’s “immense” popularity is not just about the guy but about his office. His previous approval ratings per SWS were nowhere near an overwhelming majority like it is now—yet only when he became president did his ratings reach the teflon heights we’re familiar with.

          What changed—the fact that he became President.

          And all duly-elected Presidents of the Philippines get exactly this same treatment. So long as Filipinos get to properly elect their Chief Executive—they will give said Chief Executive unwavering trust.

          The way I see it (@Irineo—you might find this fascinating) is that Filipinos essentially treat their Presidents like elected Monarchs. There is unwavering support until some major crises or bad economic conditions.

          (The depressing implication of this is that EJKs don’t count as a deal-breaker in the eyes of people…)

          • Francis says:


            Note duly-elected:

            This is why we didn’t like Gloria as President—we didn’t elect her in the first place, and she stole her election in the second place.

            Not much legitimacy there by Filipino standards.

          • Interesting theory, but I know for a fact that the Aquino Admin major players did not think they were treated like monarchs. More like whack-a-mole targets.

      • NHerrera says:


        I display Chart 9 of that SWS Report referred to by Francis. I find a lot of information shown in that chart — something lost if we only have the numbers without the benefit of the colored coded charts. I make the following comments:

        1. First, the obvious: whether the gains are low or high, the ABC class (green) which includes the businessmen and well-off class are always above the D (red) and E classes (blue). It is also not surprising that the D class is above the E class in gains.

        2. Cory Aquino’s Administration was marked by modest gains after the Marcos’ plunder, but towards the end, it suffered from the energy (electricity) crisis and coup attempts.

        3. Ramos’ Administration tried to stabilize the situation — he was successful in making his Admin comparable in gains to the early part of Cory’s Admin

        4. But then came Estrada who in 2 years successfully managed to reverse the situation and continued to the early part of Arroyo’s takeover.

        5. Arroyo being an economist instituted economic reforms and so we see the lines going up, declining only towards the end — when corruption associated with husband Mike Arroyo, like the NBN-ZTE Broadband Project (later aborted) and other projects exacerbated by Arroyo’s questioned legitimacy in the flawed 2004 Election (ref, “Hello Garci”) affected the economy..

        6. Then we have B Aquino’s Admin marked by reforms in various sectors and we see a general steep monotonic increase in gains.

        7. The gains in the 2+ years under the Duterte Admin is there, but it may be conjectured that the reforms under Arroyo and especially under Aquino were such that the strong momentum carried over to Duterte’s time. I notice that there is a tapering off or plateauing of the lines for all classes.

  9. madlanglupa says:

    I would like to add the fact that politicians up to city or provincial level often harbor a autocratic and/or monarchic streak, which means they do as they please, the city/provincial council is just a rubber-stamp congregation, as the mayor/governor often has the last say on anything, asides that he/she has the lion’s share of involvement of anywhere from infrastructure to funding, that he/she could command the punishment of a foe and the rewarding of loyalists, and of course attempt to maintain perpetual power.

    LGUs today have too much power, almost bordering to city-state autonomy, what more would be once they gain from “federalism”?

  10. I think this is because Good leaders don’t have an avenue for national prominence?
    I only knew of Jesse Robredo after he won the Magsaysay memorial award.

  11. karlgarcia says:

    Our heroes have their faults but still our heroes (Including Aguildo).

    I could not imagine that one day Duterte would be described as fallible but a hero.
    Unless the historian is BBM and Enrile, those revisionists, grrrrrr.

  12. karlgarcia says:

    How do we avoid repeating history, first we must stop revising history.
    Ehem, JPE!
    Not having people like him who revises history, who plots coups, who plots rebellions, who is an alleged smuggler,alleged murderer (covered up son)

    Can we remove the power brokers?
    The power brokers are the ones destroying all the nations, that is why they are brokers they break things or they make nations broke.

  13. Micha says:

    Matapos ang i-pepe at i-dede, nag tete’-a-tete’ ang dalawang nuno ng kasinungalingan.

    • andrewlim8 says:

      Yung usapan ni Bongbong at ni Manong Johnny parang usapan ng anak ng dating amo at ng dating houseboy.

      Ito dapat ang kasama:

      Bongbong: ” E bakit ka tumulong sa pagpapatalsik ng aking ama nung 1986? At ano yung pinagsasabi mo noon na talamak ang dayaan nung 1986 snap elections at peke yung ambush mo nung 1972?

      Enrile:” E yun na nga move on na tayo, hi hi hi akala ko kasi mamamatay na ko nun, pinasugod ng tatay mo si Ver sa amin… kaya yung totoo ang nasabi ko…. ngayon iba na…. balik na tayo sa dating gawi….

      • NHerrera says:

        ! ! !

      • Micha says:

        Hahaha, maliwanag na ginagamit lang ni Junior si Lakay Johnny dito. He is willing to listen to any conceivable lies from the old man to put a veneer of legitimacy to the declaration of martial law and his parents’ conjugal dictatorship.

      • andrewlim8 says:

        Katuloy ng “usapan” ni Bongbong at Enrile:

        Bongbong: ” Kamusta na yung benta ng libro niyo- yung biography? ”

        Enrile: “Naghahanap ako ng kopya kahapon, wala na…. yun pala nilagay sa fiction section, naka discount pa… ang daming kopya pa….”

        Bongbong: “95 anyos na po kayo. Ano po ba ang nais niyong maging legacy?”

        Enrile: ” Aba, si Thanos mamamatay na sa sequel ng Avengers Infinity War, ako buhay pa…E sabi nung iba yung Delimondo corned beef lang talaga ang matinong legacy ko…bahala na ang kasaysayan sa akin…. asan na yung salamin ko?”

        Bongbong: ” Suot po ninyo.”


        • Micha says:


          Doon sa website ni junior isinusulong nila ang tandem na bongbong-sarah sa 2022. Bubuhayin daw nila ang PC at gawing defense minister si Enrile.

          Mga halang ang kaluluwa.

        • Thanos is in Baguio City at the end of the movie. JPE can bunk with him in his shanty with a view. O baka na mudslide na yon ngayon?

          • popoy says:

            An illicit power paradox ?

            People may not have noticed, it was a friendly tutorial discourse where the son of an autocrat was having a dialogue with the person who caused his father’s downfall. Can this happen onli in da Pilipins ?

      • Puede ring sagot ni Enrile:

        Kasi mahirap magsinungaling sa dami ng ebidensya…walang maniniwala na hindi nagkaroon ng dayaan. I had to tell the truth para hindi ako kuyugin.

        • canadadry says:

          Enrile as a 90 year old would have been kicked to the chin by Enrile of 46 years ago…

          • canadadry says:

            by the way strange things have happened to youtube-seem like its now engulfed by pro marcos pro duterte videos…hhhmmm weaponizing even youtube?

          • sonny says:

            There is much material for anybody of this generation and mine who were 8000 miles away in space and far removed in time, to reflect on and come out with appropriate takeaways for fair interpretation. That JPE & BBM can talk about those events and still manage to divide people is surreal to say the least.

            • sonny says:

              Trivia: During the heady days of FM’s ‘exile’ to Hawaii (compliments of Reagan, Solarz & Laxalt), our neighborhood Filipino expat community mounted on-stage a local version of the Camp Aguinaldo, EDSA standoff. I played Cardinal Sin. Our stage production effort must have been passably believable: When I blessed the audience, our audience did respond in unison and crossed themselves. Honest. 🙂

  14. Ron Haley says:


    This is fun..

    So entertaining!!

    Do you have some more??

  15. “2. Tribalism. The age-old problem of Filipinos, putting one’s tribe ahead of any consideration – including morals, faith, and the law. (I don’t care if other Filipinos suffer, as long as we Davaoenos benefit! Marcos was corrupt and brutal but he took care of us Ilocanos!) This deserves a blog of its own. I am still astounded how supposedly decent, well educated Filipinos of faith do this without blinking.” – Very true and I agree with this. This aspect of regionalism is very strong especially among Mindanaoans (Davaoenyos in particular). A sign of bad education and low standards.

    • I wrote about this two years ago. The trick is to find the unifying event or person or cause, because you are absolutely correct. It is a huge problem.

      • sonny says:

        Indeed you have, Joe.

        “The Philippines will never be strong until the nation finds a way to master its tribal divisions with a compelling reason to unify. War often does the trick. I’d like to think there are other ways, too. Better ways.

        Perhaps we should put forward a great effort to find them.”

        The 12/09/2016 installment painfully enumerated almost all the centripetal and centrifugal factors that go into tribalism. The solution to this perennial problem was already proposed 2000 years ago by the Eternal Galilean:

        “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. … And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.”
        — Matthew 7.

        The PH Constitution invokes and the US Declaration of Independence alludes to “Laws of Nature and Nature’s God” (LONANG) as foundations to any effort towards legitimate human unity and lasting peace.

  16. popoy says:

    This missed the previous thread . . .

    To be a teacher or a mentor of assumed clueless souls in any level from grade school to high school (where the teacher is always right) to doctorate studies I learned after years of retirement any mentor can theorized to be ABOVE AND BEYOND one sidedness in any question of thought. Even to be above Justices of the Supreme Court who are paid handsomely to render and administer justice in accordance with law (plentiful) and conscience (which may be parsimonious). Ayn Rand amplified it as OBJECTIVISM.

    Cease to be clueless and get a load of Ayn Rand from the above link.

    The Antonio Trillanes IV case has been carelessly made into something extra-national: a concern for all democratic countries, it’s even ideological to those where democracy is an ideology. The grievous issues he raised against the integrity of a President and the backlash he received in return makes his case ultra political. It is right and just therefore that Trillanes be put on the dock and be investigated no less than by his peers in the Philippine Senate.

    Contrary opinions of snoozers in noodle land NOTWITHSTANDING, Senate in the Congress is the most POWERFUL voice in Philippine Democracy. Beside being the halls of the best second opinion, anything uttered there by a senator cannot be questioned outside or elsewhere for ALL TIMES. No proscription for the word of a Senator. It’s a singular awesome power NOT enjoyed by the Gods or members of the Executive or Judicial Branches. The voice of a Senator may not be the voice of God, and just the voice of the silent majority; yet the people know if it is their voice or the voice of an impostor charlatan.

    So powerful is the people’s (eg Patrick Henry’s) voice that it caused the less bloody American Revolution against VIRTUAL taxation by England., and the very bloody French Revolution against aristocratic excesses which flooded Paris streets with human plasma.

    Hey, HEYyyy, wait a second, those are mere deductions. What about the inductive aspects of the Trillanes Gordian Knot? You mean for snoozers right in the Senate? Is that it?

    I said it up there already Eh. To be more specific, if the Senate is not busy doing its real mandated job and having instead its daily bread of investigating whatever remedial legislation that remedied scores of problems that continue to pester the country, the senate should investigate Trillanes for the purpose of amending or repeal of laws that says any member of Congress cannot be sued or questioned for utterances made while in sessions; moreover in other branches that high officials can be removed only by impeachment or can be sued only after their office tenure.

    Let Senator Gordon chair the investigating committee (not the Old Boy Ethics Committee) for remedial legislation. Let Senator Trillanes sing like a hungry tenor canary and present all his evidences; Let Chair Gordon invite the Gods as guest witnesses to confirm or confute the issues at bar against them; let the banks open their underbellies for people to see. Let Senator Trillanes speak out so the people may know whether he is the devil’s charlatan or the voice of the people at large. Thereafter, the proper courts shall put these political and moral eche bucheche to it pidgeon hole.

    As a teacher doing smart alecky digression, just to wake up students in their slumber, just ask a hypothetical (not acceptable to JoeAm) role reversal question. Suppose, just suppose if Senator Duterte is the Chair of the Remedial Committee investigating corruption, will he invite or subpoena President Trillanes IV (cannot be sued) as guest witness to present mountains of evidence as inputs to help craft corrective legislation. If President Trillanes refuses to do so, can he be declared by Senator and Chair Duterte guilty of contempt of the Senate and be arrested and confined in the Senate chamber until he agrees to testify. NOW FOR THE REAL WORLD, as Senate remedial chair, can Senator Gordon do that to Sen Trillanes and Pres Duterte? Perspicacity is an inherent trait of honorable men.

    Just remember the conjecture above: Just as the voice of a Senator is the powerful voice of many people, it can ALSO be the lone guttural voice of a charlatan.

    In grade school, high school to college level, it CANNOT BE, but in masteral and doctoral levels any mentor can be disliked by students as academic crackpot.

    • popoy says:

      Jose Wright Diokno, Claro M. Recto, Cipriano Primicias Sr, Lorenzo Tanada, Amang Rodriquez, Sergio Osmena Jr III, etc, etc, had proven even before the book 1984 came out that the Senate can make the Filipino people WATCH Big Brother squirmed and not the other way around. An exaggeration may be; but it’s a matter of perception and incumbent Senators’ competence and integrity. Recent history in the Senate investigation even had established it can through its members ALLEGED and stayed unrefuted cowardice of the high and mighty.

  17. popoy says:

    oot (out of topic) . . .

    The WHY of the way we were . . . . not as sang by Barbra Streisand:

    I heard it before “kupong-kupong” time, between 1961 and 1965. A turnback PMA plebe doing monitoring work in the Bureau of Customs was told by an insider: Nasa Sistema yan. It’s in the system. Wala tayong magagawa diyan. Nothing we can do. Even if you give me a worker with Jesus Christ nailed to the Cross tattooed on his chest, I will take him every night to the night clubs of Roxas Blvd. to make him taste the good life and nothing can stop him from being corrupt.

    There was then an urban tale going around that MPD Chief Quintos was so mad nagmumura sa mga sikyu guarding the Customs Gate, because he negligently had his arm hanging outside the car’s window (air cond cars were rare then) and as he stopped his car to wait for the boom to be raised, a sikyu came from behind and was groping his closed palm as if caressing it, looking for something.

    And … Then there was this unabashed tourist who came to his office to complain that he lost his expensive watch to a snatcher. The MPD Chief so the yarn was spread around, asked the tourist where the snatching happened and told the tourist to wait outside while he continued signing papers. In less than half an hour of waiting, the watch was returned to a happy unbelieving tourist.

    And finally . . . a construction outfit owner told me this urban tale:

    There was this Mayor of a satellite city of Manila who signs his approval of permits involving big business and construction works in the presence of many permit applicants. The story teller said these were the words of the city mayor after he called the name of the permit applicant: “You are all here as witnesses to my signing these permits. I will approve yours but tell me first, did you bribe anyone in my office, did somebody ask you for money in the preparation of this permit? Yes or No? And the story teller said he was not the first and all of them got their permits. Bahagi ng Sistema eh, mababago ba yan?

    I do and must admit like most story tellers, we carelessly use words to embellish and make more palatable the urban legends that came our way, THE WAY WE WERE.

    In the good old days, urban legends abound in the city of Manila. And most young people believe it like a creed: it is part of the system, nothing can be done about it and I BEIEVE IT TOO until many decades later when I learned and teach why “systemic thinking” is different from “systems thinking”.

    That systems theory APPLIED as systems analysis could be the seeds long dormant only to germinate as probably the first abstract robot of artificial intelligence so ubiquitous in modern hospitals and metropolis Git-go establishments. When kanto boys pretend to know geometry to claim that circles have two sides: the inside and the outside, they didn’t know playfully: “systemic thinking” is being inside the system and “systems thinking” is being outside the system, in cold blood, abstractly tinkering, analyzing how it works.

    • sonny says:

      To the astute system analyst inside and outside system thinking must be coaxed into the system analysis and design. Automated heuristics, anyone? 🙂

  18. karlgarcia says:

    Systemic corruption from clerks to the top, even janitors are in the take, I even generalized before that in China and Korea, corruptions stays at the top, I was just guessing of course doing my onli in the Philippines thing.
    I wished we adopt harakiri or sepoku, but our adopted Christian values won’t make that happen.

    Even instilling values of Courage, Integrity, and Loyalty in the PMA has not removed the rampant scandals in the AFP.

    Even my dad was involved in a scandal ,the so called Dumancas Navy scandal.
    My dad was asked to be a witness, but because of pakikisama which is very deep maybe closer than brothers,he decided against becoming a witness, almost thirty years, it is not yet resolved.

    I guess values education which starts from the home is one major way to change our culture.
    Those well to do leave the values education to yayas and drivers.(Some if not most are bad influence)
    But those left to grandparents receive proper guidance.(Some if not most)

    The masses children fend for themselves most of the time.
    Some are “rescued” by DSWD some become tambays.

    To close before I go nowhere, Values education is the key.I forgot what Francis said that values must be known automatically or something like that.

    • I just finished drafting an article for this coming Thursday, and it relates to this matter of values. I think to learn to adopt values, which are rather an intellectual discipline, one must first have a personalized, emotionalized sense of being called integrity, and its outward expression, dignity. Somehow, people here don’t really connect with others, either in terms of their outreach and compassion, or their reading of how others affect them. The inward part. That has to be the starting point, I think. And then the principles and values become natural and easy to find.

    • NHerrera says:


      Speaking of values, I want to comment here what Joe said above about top-line executives in business as also a place to look for Presidential candidates. In doing this, I am hitting “two birds with one stone” — the matter of top line businessmen and the matter of values you write about.

      I listened to the CNN interview of Michael Bloomberg by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria last night. It covered several topics but what strikes me because of the current blog topic is the following:

      – Bloomber is a successful business man, CEO of Bloomber LP, 8th most wealthy in the US;
      – he was a mayor of NY; and
      – has values which I sense from the interview.

      Thus, as already noted, what makes a bad President is not a mayor, it is indeed a bad mayor making a bad President, with the caveat that I am using as my example a US case. Related to this, I will say Guiliani also a former NY City mayor is not of the caliber of Bloomberg — how that old man is ruining what good memories people have of him. I dare say, Guiliani may not do as well, and I am being kind, as Bloomberg.

      Here is the link to the podcast — the interview starts at 5:20 minutes from opening of the link:

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