Seeing the yellow agenda as a reform movement

Martin Luther posts his 95 theses on the church door. [Photo source: id916.com]

By JoeAm

Thanks to reader Francis for the insights that provoked this blog.

The Philippines needs its own reformation.

A reformation is not a revolt or a destabilization. It is a change. An enlightenment acted upon.

Martin Luther inadvertently provoked an entire restructuring of European society when he proclaimed that the Pope was not infallible, thus breaking forever the bondage of Church authority in favor of more diverse and orderly individual and national authorities. That is a gross over-simplification, but it makes the important point: reforms matter.

The Philippines is also in bondage, held back by enduring feudal attachments to dynasties, power, and corruption. These attachments thrive on mistaken ideas. One of them is that an autocrat who kills will put things in order.

He won’t.

One of the greatest challenges faced by the proponents of civility, democracy, and the Constitution (“yellows”) in the Philippines is how to communicate with the masses. People broadly have a very shallow understanding of events and react to them emotionally, not intellectually. The masses tend to see yellows as being just the same as other scheming politicians, maybe even worse because they come across as elitist, always preaching and looking down at others. So voters choose to go with media stars or power brokers because these kinds of leaders allow them to attach their own bruised egos to idols and winners. After all, their daily lives are a struggle, loss piled atop of loss. At least they can have a hero . . . or vicariously enjoy the ensuing chaos.

Francis made reference to the opposition as “reformers” and that clanged my enlightenment bell like no single word has done before.

Reformers.

What do reformers do?

Reformers want to change the fundamentals of how things are done, generally from the ground up. It is natural to think, “Yeah, Joe, but we are already a democracy because the Constitution reformed things. Yellows are just arguing to abide by it, not change it.”

Yes, but that thinking is what leads us astray, this idea that a piece of paper with a Constitution written on it actually changed anything. Unfortunately, leaders did not instill the most important quality to the Constitution’s success, individual citizens BELIEVING in its promise and taking ownership and accountability for its integrity.

Citizens of the Philippines largely are not participants in democracy. They participate in the same old power and personality framework that has driven things since their tribe came down from the hills and started building villages. And dynasties.

The Philippines may call itself a republic and its paperwork may declare it democratic, but the real thinking and energy spent by both leaders and citizens far and wide goes into power and favor, not competence, service, or joining hands with one another to form a more perfect union, the nation Philippines. The Constitution speaks against dynasties, but four Binays are running for office in 2019. The gap between intent and acts is huge.

So the nation is not a republic and not a democracy. It is a realm.

Many yellows these days try to beat the masses with a stick of harsh words and think that this will get better voting. Yellows want the masses to ‘obey’ the Constitution as Duterte wants citizens to ‘obey’ him and his one-man rule.

It is not a workable approach.

Well, rather than presume we are a democracy because the paper says so, what if we presume the nation is actually NOT a democracy? It is a feudal realm where dynasties rule.

If you believe democracy would serve EVERYONE better, then you might decide to figure out how to get fewer corrupt and incompetent legislators, presidents, and judges put into office and more people who understand what the Constitution MEANS. You might ask, “How can we reform things? How can we introduce democracy to people who do not understand and feel its inspirations?”

You might consider the idea of being reformers rather than huffy, demanding elitists.

Suddenly, the masses become, not someone to beat with a stick into obeying the Constitution, but someone to inspire and direct toward self-fulfillment. Much as Malaysia is doing these days with its progressive reconstruction of laws and governance. The masses become, not “those irksome voters over there”, but our partners. A group we can appreciate and even ASK for help.

Questions are softer than demands or preaching. They open communication rather than shut it down.

The questions asked must be simple and relevant.

  • We want to reform how government works so that you get a better deal. Would you help us get corruption and powerful families out of the way so progress can occur?
  • Would you give us 10 years of good governance so we can do the work needed to get rid of poverty and create more jobs? We can’t do it in six months, and we can’t do it without your help. We first need to get competent people into office.
  • Will you help us end the scourge of drugs as we work to make more jobs available? We want to go after the drug lords and smugglers, cut the supply, and make the price of drugs unattractive. Drugs are ruining too many lives before they even begin. We need your help to do this, to teach our youth the dangers of addiction and point them to better ways to find fulfillment.

Perhaps there are different questions, or better questions to ask. You can help put some meat on these bones in the discussion section of the blog.

It does seem to me there ought to be two main goals:

  1. Gain citizen engagement and buy-in.
  2. Underscore the need for competence among people elected.

By getting only those two central ideas across, the power and favor agenda collapses.

Reform is on the way.

 

Comments
160 Responses to “Seeing the yellow agenda as a reform movement”
  1. andrewlim8 says:

    Some themes and memes to get this article’s objectives get going:

    1. Strength with character. (think Trillanes, Alejano, Hilbay. Bam Aquino)

    Ang tama, nilalaban.

    Matapang dahil may prinsipyo.

    Ang tama, tama. Ang mali, mali.

    2. Principles, not persons!

    Prinsipyo, hindi tao!

    Goyo: Kung ang ipinaglalaban mo lang ay tao (DU30), para ka lang isang aso.

    3. Lamang ang maalam kaysa sa mangmang. (think JC Punongbayan, Heydarian vs Uson, Bato, Gadon)

    • 4. Depth of character, not perfection

    • andrewlim8 says:

      “Balansehin ang gobyerno
      Para hindi umabuso”

      Iboto sa senado: names of opposition

      Kontra-abuso
      Ilagay sa senado: names of opposition

      • andrewlim8 says:

        A mashup of Rizal’s quote and West Phil Sea sovereignty issues:

        ” Ang hindi magmahal sa sariling bansa
        Masahol pa sa malansang isda na ninanakaw ng Tsina.” 🙂

        • andrewlim8 says:

          A.H.A.!!!

          Alejano. Hilbay. Aquino.

          Matapang. Mahusay. Bata, pero di tuta.

          (in contrast to Bong Go and Bato who are just barking dogs of the regime and know nothing about economics and governance)

          Like Duterte, Bato has admitted to zero knowledge on economics, so he is another disaster waiting to happen.

          ” Puro patayan
          Ang nalalaman.
          Pagdating sa ekonomiya
          Wala silang idea.” (duterte, bong go and bato)

    • popoy says:

      A blogger’s mind like those of thinkers, writers, historians –even trolls– can make MOUNTAINS (the Alps or the Himalayas) out of MOLEHILLS (Chocolate Hills). For example, the mere word REFORMATION can be blown into a big hot air balloon.

      If history is composed of pre-designed capsules of events pre-destined (by God Almighty) to happen over time to countries big or small, then have a look at these European epochs:

      Enlightenment – thereabout dates in several countries
      Reformation – European setting from 1517 to 1648
      French Revolution – from May 5, 1789 to 1799
      Storming of the Bastille – JULY 14, 1789
      Guillotine of the Aristocracy or Reign of Terror – from 1792 – 1794
      Renaissance – 1400 to 1550 and beyond.

      Hoping TSoH historians can help explain history’s cause-effect-cause-effect infinitum continuum as analytical outcomes in Philippines’ own history as it had happened in Europe. Like which came first Reformation or Revolution? Enligthenment or Revolution or in an Asian setting it could be epochs of Revolution followed by Reformation followed by Renaissance.

      To achieve modern Renaissance (like France) how bloodiest should a modern Revolution be? EDSA I notwithstanding, there is NO SUCH THING as bloodless revolution.

      WHAT IS THE POINT? For the Philippine case, History’s answer could be: history as pre-destined capsules of people and events, what will happen WILL HAPPEN regardless of what is said and done by the empowered (authorities and the Free Press) and the powerless (the teeming masses). Stop, Look, Listen at the history of some countries.

      • karlgarcia says:

        Que Serra,Serra, That is what the Latina mother told her son.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        What is the point if predestination is true? I do not see it.

        Evolution is refinement, there is cause and effect, but there are random variables.
        *****

      • These things do not necessarily happen everywhere, in the same sequence I think:

        1) Reconquista = Reconquest, Spaniards and Portuguese regain all of Iberia

        2) Conquista = the warrior energy of the Reconquista conquers Latin America / Philippines

        3) Renaissance = Reawakening, Rediscovery of the Classics in Italy
        * a time of renewed learning and art, but also of brutal warlords with cannons and rifles

        4) Reformation = a movement against the authority of Rome in Germanic/Nordic nations
        * a time of own learning, freeing oneself from the feeling that the Latins were smarter
        ** but also a time of religious warfare and persecution on both sides, 30 years war

        5) Enlightenment = a time of learning by men in high heels wearing white wigs and fencing
        * Voltaire, Frederick the Great, Kant, Descartes and more, mostly speaking French
        ** strict logic, but also a bit of neglect/disdain for the intuitive side, “less rational” nations

        6) Industrialisation = science and practical tinkering lead to the steam engine, railways..

        7) Karl Marx and Engels criticize early industrialisation. Communism, Social Democracy

        8) The colonized nations shake off colonialism from the 18th century onward, this includes the European colonies of the Ottoman empire. India is independent on 15 August 1947.
        * the Enlightenment is criticized by post-modernists, the West by anti-colonial theorists

        9) Fascism falls in Portugal and then in Spain. Both catch up with the Enlightenment.
        Communism falls, but there is civil war in Yugoslavia and Rwanda, then Middle East.
        * neoliberalism and the Internet promise wealth and opportunities for all, delivers for some
        ** Middle East, Russia and America put religion on a pedestal again, “pre-Enlightenment”.
        *** Eastern Europe wavers between Western enlightenment and Russian-style tradition

        Probably Hegel with his dialectics of thesis->antithesis->synthesis of opposing ideas is closest to what really happens in the world. Ideas and principles advance, regress, regroup. Sometimes periods of progress are followed by Dark Ages, then the light comes back.

        • While Europe was in the Middle Ages, the Arab world flourished upon the Greek knowledge they maintained and improved upon – this included places like Cordoba in Spain. While Spain and Italy started to lag behind, other parts of Europe moved forward. It is all one big back and forth, including China whose silk, gunpowder and porcelain technologies were all once copied by the West and is now copying Western technology. Possibly, the excessive emphasis on rational thought by the Enlightenment will be replaced by Loresian Thawt? Filipino philosophy that mixes Descartes and Hugot? Sometimes history can truly surprise.

          • Loresian Thawt, our very own philosopher! Now THAT is cool!

          • popoy says:

            Thank you, Thanks a lot. There you go Historian and think straight TSoH neurons, you have Enlightened the mere mention of the word Reformation – from chocolate hills to Mount Mayon.

          • popoy says:

            First time for me to read this word/name Loresian Thawt and went searching what/who the wakaran (the hell) is that?

            Then I stumbled on the link below, I may have missed this TSoH item, but browsing through, I found it too heavy now for my old mind to carry. While in high school, this TSoH longest Wakagen piece, I would have read three times. A Blast from an immediate past:

            https://joeam.com/2016/01/14/the-age-of-a-new-enlightenment/

            • karlgarcia says:

              That surely was a gem from josephivo, but Loresian is for Edgar Lores.

            • It is pretty heavy, but I always say the longer stuff is still searching for the right way.

              Possibly something like the Renaissance->Reformation->Enlightenment are needed. Probably the country is even going through parts of that including the bloody ones.

              https://joeam.com/2018/10/08/angels-satanic-heroes-players-punishers-and-dark-angels/#comment-261232 – from sonny

              Using Irineo’s timeline of world history and in the context of global “geo-socio-politics,” our Filipino affairs are not totally new. Empires and societies have come and gone; the Philippines is a baby compared to many other societies. These have something to show and tell us, our uniqueness notwithstanding. All we have to do is listen and learn. Yet, even the youngest in the family has something to offer: youth, intelligence, and a promise of strength and dynamism in body and mind. We Filipinos should not forget this..

              The Philippines is.. in the middle of ignorance, inexperience and an absence of national memory as if we are still communicating using our alphabets on barks of trees or hiding them in drawers to be pilfered later and sold just to get by or create Constitutions to be used like the Japanese peso notes of WW2.

              Renaissance (recalling the cultural feats of old, to create new cultural feats)

              Reformation (return to the basics, throw out hypocrisy, spread knowledge)

              Enlightenment (“have the courage to use one’s mind” – Immanuel Kant)

              ———————-

              https://www.etymonline.com/word/crisis is not necessarily bad, as it can mean in Greek..

              krisis “turning point in a disease, that change which indicates recovery or death” (used as such by Hippocrates and Galen), literally “judgment, result of a trial, selection,”..

              ———————–

              Possibly it also takes a crisis to reveal our true values, in the sense of what we tolerate and what we DO NOT tolerate – the theory is only about distilling conclusions from experience: https://www.facebook.com/notes/romano-cortes-jorge/unaceptable/10155529673926750/

  2. Sup says:

    We want to reform how government works so that you get a better deal. Would you help us get corruption and powerful families out of the way so progress can occur?
    Please watch the repeat of Headstart today with Abby Binay..the dynasty/family is in scambles but still cling on to absolute power..Good luck Makati..jun jun and Abby did not talk in 3 years….13 of the 16 councillors are with Jun Jun now ( back to kick backs)……..chaos…

  3. karlgarcia says:

    The reformist slate has yet to be announced.
    One sure name not to be there is Davide who decided to run for re-election as governor of Cebu.
    Mar Roxas filed as an independent, should we cry Korina, Korina?

  4. edgar lores says:

    *******
    1. So reform then, rather than rebellion or revolution.

    2. I look at the historical record and conclude this is not new. Rizal, along with Graciano Lopez Jaena and Marcelo H. Del Pilar, were reformists and not revolutionists. The aim was not independence but assimilation.

    3. We know what happened. The bondage to colonization had reached its breaking point, and the revolutionists overtook the reformists.

    3.1. Independence was not won by the revolutionists but granted by the second colonizer.

    4. Three decades after independence, the country was again under bondage — not to colonization but to a dictatorship.

    4.1. EDSA I was not a revolution. It was a rebellion against the Establishment by the Establishment. The hope was that it would be a reform movement. Ostensibly, the aim was a return to true democracy.

    4.2. Although the “democratic” form was re-established, true democracy has not been won. The oligarchy continues to rule.

    5. Four decades after EDSA, the country is again – or, rather, still – in bondage and under the rule of another sick dictatorship.

    5.1. The bondage is again reaching its breaking point. The Resistance, such as it is, are at pains not to be called rebels or revolutionists or even Yellows. They are not reformists yet. The aim is to stand up and be counted. The agenda is to run for office, win sufficient power to act as a countervailing force against the regime.

    6. We will know in 7 months’ time whether the Resistance movement – majorly represented by Tindig Pilipinas, Samahang Magdalo, and the Liberal Party – will have gained citizen engagement and buy-in.

    6.1. The resistance movement must transform into a reform movement. Reform – reformation — is the peaceful way and perhaps the best way to change. It requires long vision, a steady hand, persistence… and patience.

    6.2. We should be hearing of that vision, if any, soon. If the vision is simply anti-Duterte, then the hope will be another pipe-dream.
    *****

    • The Katipunan was revolutionary and reformist – it even had a library. That it was founded in 1892 and only struck out in 1896 because it was revealed – by the wife of a member confessing to a Spanish priest – meant Bonifacio had understood Rizal’s incomplete attempt at a message to fight only if ready in both mind and hearts. But finally the movement was captured by trapos and failed.

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        I was thinking the consciousness of the modern Filipino is different from that of Rizal’s time.

        There is the sense of a united country, and being part of a greater whole because of the advances in technology and communication.

        But things like the disheartening survey results and the ABC classes having the same political views as the D and E classes detract from hope in reform.

        That a witless executioner like the ex-police chief can make a run for the Senate speaks of a misalignment with normative reality.
        *****

        • There is the sense of a united country, but it is different among two groups of people:

          1) those I call Filipinos (with F) who usually were involved in some way in the institutions of the country for one or several generations, identify with institutions and history of the nation

          2) those I call Pilipinos (with P) who identify with artistas, Manny Pacquiao and the usual mass culture stuff of national identity, but often are indifferent to hostile when it comes to UP, Ateneo, PMA, government, state, Rizal, Bonifacio, Mabini, Luna etc. – “pakialam ko diyan?”.

          It is not surprising that a large part of 2) are OFWs and DDS.

          Most of 1) will know Rappler and other Filipino papers, most of 2) will know Mocha.

          • edgar lores says:

            *******
            It’s hard to detect the fault lines of the cultural divide as you describe it.

            o It’s not a geographical (regional/provincial) divide.
            o It’s not a language or dialect divide.
            o It’s not a rural/urban divide.
            o It’s not a cisgender divide.
            o It’s not a religious divide, although this would be a factor. Between those who practice their religion as against those who do not.
            o It’s not an educational divide, although this comes close to it. The F’s are educated while the P’s are not. But many educated ones support Pacquiao and Duterte. And even in the Supreme Court, there is the split between the Progressives (the Independents) and the Retrogressives (the Groupies).
            o It’s an individual attitudinal divide that runs across any identifying factor. The divide can be between members of a clan or a family. Many Ilocanos did not vote for Bongbong. And, as you have cited, the divide runs between siblings, between Gang (Capati) and sister Lorraine (Badoy).
            *****

            • edgar lores says:

              *******
              The divide can be exhibited in one individual.

              Consider Harry Roque: now he’s F, now he’s P.

              The identifying factor, in this case, is self-interest.
              *****

            • Interesting parsing. I think the divide is along maturity at an emotional level that considers compassion for others, or community building on healthy principles. I don’t want to seem elitist with the observation that the more mature or advanced of the nation are more compassionate and interested (if not competent) in building a harmonious community, whereas less mature or advanced of the nation stick with emotions and ego. I suppose that would make a good sociological study by some doctoral aspirant, if it has not already been done. Or psychology study.

              • The maturity level is defined by the individual’s level of engagement with having to sacrifice for a group benefit, and level of study and interaction with democratic countries.

              • Joe, touché. I think the poorer ones among the DDS, the ones whose loss of empathy is due to their being overwhelmed either by life in the Philippines or being OFWs abroad, have more of a chance of being “returned to the fold”.

                They at least have a native idea of community, they are when not under stress the friendly islanders we know, the only thing lacking is the next step to a higher form of community. Actually they are looking for it, but were blinded by the false barangay DDS provided.

              • “false barangay”, enlightening description. It still is operating full force, from what I understand. I think that relates to the emotional nature of the situation that requires rationalizations rather than reasoning.

    • karlgarcia says:

      It was assimilation because as RHiro used to tell someone: “You do not know what you know” they have not yet articulated nation hood or nationalism. only Bonnifscio articulated it but the rest of non tagalogs hated it. He attached Katagalugan to nationalism.

      Better start with something, but we are a regionalist lot.
      I was amazed by the exploits of Del Pilar with women across Luzon, that is a no no as per tradition, you can not court outside your province, I guess if you are a General you could.

      RE in reform has nothing to do with repeating like reelection or reexamination, it has to do with changing the form.
      If that is the case : No to changing the form of government, no to chacha.(Non sequitur)

      • edgar lores says:

        *******
        1. Marcelo (writer, uncle) was not Gregorio (general, nephew).

        2. Reform can be great or small. A change in the form of government would be a great reform. A change in the Cabinet — say, making the Solicitor General a member — would be a small reform.

        2.1. I think we are thinking of better than middling changes here. Reforms not in form but more in substance. I await to see what reform proposals the Opposition has.
        *****

  5. Spot on, Joe. Some of it has already started:

    1) LP has an initiative to go to the barangays and dialog with the people. Seems Kiko Pangilinan is spearheading it, it is recent.

    2) Hilbay seems to understand the need to explain the Constitution to the people as he always does it. His simple origins are a key.

    3) Alejano often gives yet simpler explanations based on current issues – usually in Filipino, rooted in a most native understanding.

    Stuff just needs to be bundled and focused more, as the others try to unravel the law.

    • karlgarcia says:

      Sad reality: Even talent contest contestants must have some hugot sad story for underdog plus points.
      It did not work for Villar even if it is true.
      Monching Mitra also used that galing ako sa hirap line.

        • karlgarcia says:

          Sabi nga ni Juana minsan: “Bayad Muna”

          Now Roque is backtracking, calling Duterte’s kiss of an OFW, inappropriate.
          During his stint as spokesperson, was there a gun pointed at his head?
          What else will he retract?

          • The second link is about the LP Makinig initiative and is more important.

            The one about Roque/Bayan Muna came in accidentally.

            • Francis says:

              @Irineo,

              The Project Makinig stuff looks promising.

              It is just that—what is the assurance that such reforms will continue, once the pendulum has turned?

              From this book on social democrats in the PH—I remember that there was one chapter dedicated to one promising party in the Anti-ML struggle which tried to become grassroots.

              It’s name was PDP.

              Eventually the trapos turned it into a zombie. This is why I harp a lot about theory. There needs to be a set of clear principles, an intellectual tradition (Apostle’s Creed, no?) that people can cling to—and that people can find useful in their actions.

              Yes, the Left has its faults. Many, many faults. There are many people in the Left who don’t walk the talk. But as I have pointed out in a comment in one of the previous articles: the PKP has come and gone, the CPP has come—and while not gone, is no longer as hegemonic as it once was, and now there are budding shoots of more peaceful, reformist variants of the Left.

              Yet the Left remains.

              There will always be wide-eyed activists who will quixotically try to go against the immense inequalities of PH society. Some will be hypocrites. Some will be genuine.

              After this weekend—I have realized that it is possible that the more politicized parts of the military may have a similar (albeit much younger and much cruder) intellectual tradition.

              You pointed out that there are many bright individuals out there with great ideas, in a previous comment a while ago. The problem is not a lack of talent—the talent was always there.

              The problem is that ten thousand single-celled bacteria in
              a petri dish don’t make up one multi-cellular organism.

              The reformists are engaged in a hundred (some overlapping, some exclusive) conversations and narratives—whereas the authoritarian populists are engaged in one giant coversation where they divine the meaning of P.I.

              I joke, but I am serious.

          • The second link is more important, it is about LP’s Makinig initiative. Roque is valuable though, do not forget that Primitivo Mijares who wrote the book against “The Conjugal Dictatorship” was originally a Marcos propagandist. The first passage from Raissa’s book about Martial Law is about “The Boy who fell from the Sky” – the son of Mijares who was tortured and then dropped from a helicopter in Baguio, to make the father surrender..

    • That is good for democracy, civility, and the Constitution, it seems to me.

  6. Menchu Abel says:

    There should be a version in Tagalog for these insights. The less learned or the “masa” will better understand if they can read it in the language they speak.

  7. karlgarcia says:

    This is another Franciscan inspired blog simply because he called opposition it’s as reformists.
    Kudos for your ideas even though it lacks brevity.
    I also want to do that but I always wear briefs not boxers.
    Corny again, even when I beat around the bush, I am still brief.
    Maybe I should try Twitter.

  8. Steve says:

    I don’t see any realistic probability of meaningful reform coming from the “yellow” side. The leadership belongs to the same elite clique as all the other factions, linked together by all manner of family and financial bonds. They have shown time and time again that when push comes to shove they are not willing to surrender the prerogatives that sustain their own status and that of their families and peers, and those prerogatives are fundamentally incompatible with reform.

    • I was thinking of arguing with you but, as I thought about it, concluded I don’t have a sound basis to do so. I can only say that, “Hey, some of the senators and shakers read this blog, maybe they’ll get irked by your evaluation and set out to prove you wrong.” And the question: do you see Sonny Trillanes, Gary Alejano, and Riza Hontiveros as belonging to the same elite clique? How about Florin Hilbay? How about a youngster like Richard Heydarian, who seems to be making his own way forward and upward, unattached to anyone or thing but his brainpower?

  9. Francis says:

    Emphasis—via bolded text—mine.

    “The Philippines needs its own reformation.”

    “A reformation is not a revolt or a destabilization. It is a change. An enlightenment acted upon.”

    What sort of change?

    “Martin Luther inadvertently provoked an entire restructuring of European society when he proclaimed that the Pope was not infallible, thus breaking forever the bondage of Church authority in favor of more diverse and orderly individual and national authorities. That is a gross over-simplification, but it makes the important point: reforms matter.

    What sort of reforms do matter? What sets those reforms that “do matter” apart from reforms that don’t matter?

    “What do reformers do?”

    “Reformers want to change the fundamentals of how things are done, generally from the ground up. It is natural to think, ‘Yeah, Joe, but we are already a democracy because the Constitution reformed things. Yellows are just arguing to abide by it, not change it.'”

    “Yes, but that thinking is what leads us astray, this idea that a piece of paper with a Constitution written on it actually changed anything. Unfortunately, leaders did not instill the most important quality to the Constitution’s success, individual citizens BELIEVING in its promise and taking ownership and accountability for its integrity.”

    The article makes a powerful point. EDSA ensured that we had a well-established a formal system of liberal democracy on paper, but how much of that “liberal democratic spirit” has actually been internalized in Filipino culture, Filipino society? A dictatorship was removed—but how much of a democracy managed to replace it?

    If the answer to the latter questions is a “not much” — then that raises questions regarding the current rhetoric of the many advocates for democracy; that is—whether it is simply enough to act reactively, to defend the status quo?

    This past weekend—I have been reading a book on the situation of the military after EDSA; the book is entitled, “Boys in the Barracks.” I managed to buy it for cheap when National Bookstore held a big sale a few months ago—and I must say: it is certainly a very enlightening read.

    I will admit that after reading it, I seriously revised my assumptions regarding Filipino politics. I had thought before that there was only one “political side” with enough intellectual sophistication to have a unity between theory and practice and be “intellectually proactive,” that is—both sufficiently critique Filipino society and sufficiently propose a strong twin of both clear abstract principles and concrete policy suggestions following from said principles, both “twins” ultimately following from the critique brought up. The only side which I thought had this “capacity” for “intellectual sophistication” was the Left.

    I was wrong. There were two. The more “political” military factions had a suprising degree of intellectual sophistication as well: they did not only have a relatively developed (for the standards of Filipino politics) critique of society—they also eventually managed to come up with a “twin” of abstract principle and concrete policy with it. Hence, thrre

    What really peeved me—what really irritated me, what absolutely “ground” my gears, so to speak—was a realization. A very, very irritating realization.

    Pardon my language, but I cussed at the realization.

    I cursed to myself, “Why did (almost) all the theorists in Filipino politics who were capable of uniting concrete practice and abstract ideals have to fucking go to the damned people with guns, the revolutionaries—and why did us pacifist reformists ended up with…(almost) always…thinkers who were overly abstract, overly legalistic, overly specialized, overly cautious?

    I say “almost always,” because Akbayan is probably the strongest (and…only) example of reformists actually managing to unite political theory and political practice (via a unity of political critique and political principle-plus-policy) in a robust fashion.

    But Akbayan is a sad exception. Most “reformists” are very…kalat. There is no bold cohesive vision—just muddling through, bits of “local reforms” and “reforms in certain specialized sectors” haphazardly cobbled up together—is it any wonder that people would prefer Duterte’s fake illusion of “populist strength” rather than this cobbled-up, vague Frankenstein of post-EDSA “reform” that only a mother can love?

    The reason there is no “cohesive vision” is two-fold. The first reason is something I have constantly whined about, ad naseum—and I am sorry for bringing it up again, like a broken record: the failure of reformists to understand the unity between theory and practice, particularly via a unity between political critique and principle-plus-policy.

    My hunch is that reformists here tend to be overly theoretical or overly focused on practice. They do not unite the two. Either reformists are so obsessed with bringing about “small change” (only focusing on practice) in some town somewhere and are content with that, despite the persistence of larger structural problems—or reformists are so obsessed with “principle” or the “abstract” that either overly legalistic in their idea of social change—thinking that by passing “laws” alone, or by merely “following the constitution,” the whole nation will improve.

    I wonder. Why is it the revolutionaries can (to my eternal frustration) understand the need to unite theory and practice so well—whereas reformists look so timid?

    The first obvious reason is that revolutionaries (whether on the Left, or on the Right) have no choice but to have a systemic critique of society, and a systemic proposal for change. They have to. They are in favor of replacing the whole system after all, as revolutionaries.

    The reformists—on the other hand—have the burden or duty to work within the system. This makes the idea of “systemic change” complicated, from the vantage-point of the reformist? How can the reformist bring about “systemic change” when he or she is dedicated to working within the system?

    This is a tremendous problem when the system itself is seriously flawed at a fundamental level, i.e. when there remains many feudalistic practices, when there is enormous inequality between rich and poor to the point where genuine democracy in impracticable, when the “democratic spirit” itself is not sufficiently ingrained in many Filipinos. Given a system with fundamental flaws requiring fundamental solutions—how can reformists offer a path forward that is competitive with that being offered by revolutionaries and those posing as revolutionaries, i.e. the pro-admin crazies who want things like RevGov?

    The sad problem is that reformists do not know how to answer this question—or answer this question wrongly. That is—a certain misconception arises among many reformists. Any revolutionary action—being violent—is obviously bad, so the inverse is that any reformist action is automatically good. I frankly think this breeds laziness and complacency among reformists.

    This sort of misconception breeds the logic that just because any revolutionary action is bad—that any act of reform, even if ill-organized or shoddy in implementation, is OKAY because at least, that is “peaceful.” This logic is so horrendous because it corrodes the very legitimacy of democracy in the eyes of the people—leading to the very cynicism that leads to authoritarianism, to fascism, and all sorts of ugly extremism.

    “I passed some reform—that’s better than nothing, and certainly better than going up the hills!” is simply NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

    Francis—are you trying to say we should aim for perfection?

    No. In fact, I despise those who wish perfectionism in politics. I find it very childish and immature to always wish and aim for perfection in politics—there will always be compromises.

    But—just because there will always be compromises, doesn’t mean we should always be okay with ALL kinds of compromises.

    We must—if we are supporters for reform—learn to distinguish good compromises from bad compromises. We must learn to distinguish between systematic incremental change and haphazard incremental change. We must learn to distinguish between Reform and Reformism—with a “big R,” a model/models that can seriously compete with whatever the revolutionaries can seductively offer—and reform and reformism with a “small r,” or change that is barely felt by the people and that insults people to the point where they resort to populism and other metaphorical political drugs.

    I used the term, “systematic incremental change.” But you might ask: Francis—given your emphasis on “systems” and “society,” wouldn’t you dislike the idea of incremental change? Wouldn’t you prefer radical overhaul?

    Yes—I would prefer radical change within democratic norms. If a reformist party were to pop up one day, win a majority in Congress and Senate, and pass an anti-dynasty bill—yeah, I’d totally dig that. That would really make my day.

    But such radical democratic change only happens once in a blue moon; only in rare, lucky circumstances can the stars align to produce such tremendous opportunities. Reformists should always have their eyes open for such opportunities but…

    But reformists don’t have guns. Only laws, ballots and peaceful organization. We have to—for most of the time—settle for incremental change. But that should not mean we should settle for ANY compromise, ANY reform.

    We should aim for systemic incremental change, rather than haphazard incremental change. That is, we should view our “little steps” of reform—NOT as isolated pieces of policy or legislation—but as slow, but sure steps towards one solid journey forward. We should always view incremental change with one eye towards reinforcing previous incremental changes and another eye towards making it easier to make further incremental changes—and perhaps, maybe make it a bit easier to “make the stars align,” and increase the chances for radical democratic change.

    In short, Reform should be strategic.

    This is where the unity between theory and practice comes in—it is this unity between theory and practice (via a unity between critique and principle-plus-policy) that ensures that the movement (in this case, the moment for Reform) is strategic.

    Erode the sandcastle of the trapos bit by bit—and wait until the high tide comes to wipe it all away. That is what Reformism can offer. That is what Reformism can do.

    This is what I mean by Reformism—a genuine alternative to revolution, a peaceful alternative that promises peaceful systemic change within the system, until Theseus’ ship is itself replaced entire.

    I say this bluntly,

    If the reformists fail to get this right, I swear to you all—this nation will run out of its luck and be either seized by the communists or by some junta.

    • Francis says:

      Addendum:

      TL;DR:

      The reformists should have a VISION. And they should TALK ABOUT said VISION with fellow reformists A LOT. And them they should WRITE ALL THAT STUFF ABOUT VISION DOWN.

      TL;DR: “Too long, don’t read” = lingo for really short summaries on the internet

      • karlgarcia says:

        TL:DR

        Do not do that to your own posts, it is like telling people to like your FB page with out them knowing more about it.

        Wear briefs, I mean be brief. Irineo did it, he even tweets now.

    • Francis says:

      Addendum:

      In general:
      Theory Practice

      and

      In particular:
      Critique of Society [Abstract Principle/Theory Concrete Policy/Practice]

      Example:

      “Third Way” Democrats:

      The less fortunate in America need help within the free market framework [Theoretical Assumptions: Inequality must be resolved for genuine opportunity + We cannot avoid working with free market Policy Actions: Pass Obamacare—while partners with insurance companies to make healthcare reach more Americans, Expand Student Loans, Increase Budget a bit]

      Republicans:

      Americans are unjustly suffering from interference of Big Government [Theoretical Assumptions: Inequality is a given and cannot be avoided + People must take responsibility for themselves Policy Actions: Repeal Obamacare, Introduce Budget Cuts, Privatize Education]

      “Progressive” Democrats:

      Reject critique of “Third Way” Democrats, the less fortunate in America need help that goes beyond the free market framework [Theoretical Assumptions: Inequality is an injustice + the free market has serious fundamental flaws Policy Actions: Replace Obamacare with Medicare-For-All, Cut defense to make large increases to social services possible, institute Free College]

      Observe:

      1) Link between abstract ideas and concrete policy.

      2) Link between one’s perceptions of society and its main flaws (critique) and one’s principles and favored policies.

      3) That the different policies themselves (i.e. Obamacare + Expand Student Loans for “Third Way” Democrats or Medicare-For-All + Free College for “Progressive Democrats, or Privatize Education + Repeal Obamacare for Republicans) are interlinked and nestled within one particular vision or another.

      Note:

      Framework above is not academic, just my own intepretation of my own half-baked, ameteurish interpretations of some interesting ideas I’ve encountered. You may take with a grain of salt.

      • Francis says:

        just imagine arrow bars in the gaps

        arrow bars that go both ways

      • Let’s put it this way – you need theory, and practice/experiments to confirm your theories.

        And if theories are policies, there should be skin in the game. For example, the most well known proponent of neoliberalism, Prof. Hayek, was a tenured professor all his life.

        So it is the height of hypocrisy to preach to people that maximum risk and little security – the main principle of neoliberalism for an economics layman like me – is GOOD for you. Or for economists like Diokno to tell poor people that 6.4% inflation is not a big deal at all. There was a similar case of a Professor of Econ or something similar here in Germany who said one could lower social security benefits to 1/3 of what people get now as his computations said people could live with that. From someone who never knew that kind of life situation.

    • Francis says:

      @Joeam,

      Sorry for the mess which I made while trying to do arrow bars. Please delete this superfluous comment of mine.

    • Francis, we are on similar tracks here:

      1) I see Magdalo as walking their talk, even having walking their talk as a major principle.

      ————————-

      2) Hehe see FEW Filipinos who really walk their talk. Some examples, positive and negative:

      2a) Joma Sison hiding out in the Netherlands, sending people to their deaths

      2b) Crispin Beltran (former KMU chairman) actually joined striking works. He died, ironically, while fixing the roof of his own house.

      2c) a neighbor of ours at UP, a leftist professor and writer, who still had a senyorito attitude when it came to letting the maids do everything

      2d) Army generals who have lower-ranking officers carry them over the water

      2e) “OFW representatitives” in Congress who are actually labor recruiters (Bertiz).

      ———————

      3) Theory in the Philippines is often just like the Latin in the mass, not meant to be followed much less understood. Practice is reality. Exactly what Martin Luther went up against then.

      3a) Used to be only the 1st reading, 2nd reading and Gospel were in vernacular, the rest was in Latin. http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/quo-warranto-et-ab-initio-in-saeculo-saeculorum/

      3b) In the Philippine Congress, Bills become Gospel upon 3rd reading.

      3c) Martin Luther translated the Bible into German so people would understand and most especially think about it themselves, not only follow the preacher in front. I could start writing an entire essay just about what came before and after that, but basically it was about making thinking accessible to a wider group of people, just decades after the Gutenberg press made reading more accessible. Eventually on major foundation of popular democracy, later on, even if Protestant Holland, England and Scandinavia got their first and not Germany.

      ——————

      For many Filipinos, skin in the game is lacking. One major incident that caused me to leave the Left was our organizer/recruiter who kept coming to meet us and took us to demos left the grounds of the factory where we were showing solidarity with the union “ihi muna ako”.

      The phalanxes of the Metrocom were already closing in and he passed by them, while we got surrounded and ended up in Pasay City Jail, except for a few who hid in a storage room, with flashlights trying to find them all night. So I am sensitive to that kind of betrayal. Also, for example, the telex to all Embassies in February 1986 proclaiming a new government came from Wack-Wack Golf Club, where the “yellow” leadership was while the foot soldiers/people were at EDSA. VP Leni who really has been to myriad barrios, by contrast, has my respect.

      ——————

      Finally: it takes longer to write shorter. Much of the ideas I have in relatively short form on Twitter took years and many blog articles to form. What is even better for ideas are reality checks – Communist experiment in Eastern, versus Social Democracy in Western Europe..

      • One of Luther’s major criticisms was of high church officials who “preached water and drank wine” – now a common phrase in the German language. One can find examples of that kind of behavior throughout the Filipino leadership, across the board and in nearly all factions. Instinctively, even normal Filipinos understand that, like the HK OFW leader who told off Cong. Bertiz that he was not an OFW representative but a recruiter. Or the anger at an expensive New York dinner by Arroyo just after a major storm in 2009. Examples galore..

    • Nice extension of the blog article’s point into some of the weaknesses of conventional thinking. especially the incapacity to link concept and action in an umbrella movement that covers and pushes forward with specific roster of progressive acts. Rather, the norm is just a change of the players and more of the same. Interesting point as well about the military. I think the military could be action-oriented and “some junta” could be either a holding action (temporary, for stabilization), or forever bad, or forever good, depending on which clique of the generals held sway, those who are just another iteration of the same o same o corrupt thinking, or those who actually believe that the Constitution and the oath they took ought to anchor government deeds. I don’t advocate for a junta, but recognize the there is a core of the military that is probably able to unify concept and action. They do a better job of it than the civilian side.

  10. chantefleurie22 says:

    To its credit, the LP is trying to educate through the grassroots. Long way to go but the effort has been started. Also like the initiative of CJ Sereno although haven’t heard much from it since it was announced…

    It’s not just up to the opposition groups to engage. We must do so as well, particularly with those who are not so well-informed..However, have to admit that it is difficult to engage with ‘educated’ people – those with degrees and qualifications- whose minds are made up and are not willing to be challenged. This can be related to the anti-intellectual culture in the Philippines, which is another topic altogether…

    • http://filipinogerman.blogsport.eu/set-in-stone/ is what many a Filipino thought or sentiment seems to be. A certain stubbornness in sticking to one’s opinions is even seen as a virtue. In certain circles even arguing against all common sense. Whether one is PAO Persida Acosta insisting that as a lawyer, she knows that Dengvaxia kills, or whether one is Solicitor General Calida maintaining that not being able to find Trillanes’ amnesty application means it never existed..

      ..In a passive-aggressive culture (link), criticism can be two-faced as innuendo is used for “attack”. Like the part of an iceberg above the water is smaller than what is below, the facts being discussed are sometimes not what is really meant. Criticism of policies CAN indeed mean “destabilization”. Why? Because whether Filipinos cooperate with someone or not can depend a lot on petty moods. Whether the person is liked or not. Dislike for whatever reason can lead to howling condemnation like the one experienced by President Benigno Aquino III for far less mistakes than Duterte made.

      Confrontation with certain types of Filipinos are of course to be avoided, as there are not only the passive-aggressive but also the vindictive types. President Duterte towards De Lima, Sereno and Trillanes. Hinting he would destroy “a female official” just after he started (link) – but for what? Simply for pointing out the obvious about him, for investigating extrajudicial killings? That is a culture were face is far more important than the truth, very obviously. Were being wrong is not the issue, even if everybody knows it somehow – being told one is wrong is what destroys ones esteem..

      (in a way it is related to the “pre-Reformation” mentality of the Philippines, even if you can’t totally compare different histories, before the Reformation you did not criticize certain people like the Pope. Reformation let you criticize the Pope, Enlightenment even the King!

      The belief of many Filipinos that Truth is defined by Power is illustrated in the recent reaction of Malacanan that the Philippines being in UNHRC “proves” that it is doing good in Human Rights. Authority defines truth is an assumption that is still in the head of many a Filipino)

      • An example for the Medieval state of affairs in today’s Philippines, pardon my bad Latin:

        Applicatio Trillanem non inventum, ergo non existes ab initio.

        Trillanes damnatio est subs. Inquisitorem Majorem Franco Calidae

        • Fortunately the Philippines is no longer in SPQR times – or is that wishful thinking?

          Damnatio ad bestiam for example meant “throw to the lions”.

        • sonny says:

          🙂 see what you did, PiE; I’m getting sucked in:

          (loose translation)

          Applicatione Trillanense non invento, ergo idem non est ab initio.
          (Since the application of Trillanes was not found, then there was none at the start.)

          Caius Trillanes tradendus est secundum legem.
          (Mr Trillanes must be handed over to the law)

          • popoy says:

            Can’t any of Trillanes’s lawyers ask PROPERLY, LEGALLY the two Makati judges HOW and what were the bases (documents or verbal orders) ab initio of their dropping the rebellion cases against Trlllanes and all the others. Were proceedings done on what dates?

            A priori (squared in italics) like the word Emeritus should thenceforth follow the surname of Trillanes. These questions if stupid and sub judice must be deleted pronto.

            • karlgarcia says:

              I won’t take this as a rhetorical question.
              Maybe those questions were asked but the judge told them let me be the judge of that.
              So it won’t be subjudice, let all the lawyers from both sides read but not answer this comment.
              There you go popoy, it will hopefully not be subjudice.

  11. popoy says:

    When NEWS (not fake, hopefully) later PROVES what’s already been posted here in TSoH . .
    This is re-posted as prescient of two news items in today’s (Oct 15/2018) Phil Star newspaper, supported (pls read) by readers’ commentaries after the news item:

    October 10, 2018 at 9:18 pm

    I failed to buy and read the books of Mario Puzo’s THE GODFATHER but I saw the composting (into humus) of Marlon Brando and germination and flowering (into a bent tree) of Al Pacino as hoods of celluloid. I surmised from the movies that a Godfather is a user. Once one had been used and DISCARDED, one is FINISHED even if one establishes his own territory. Worse if one becomes a stone in the Godfather’s shoes, one must be removed. Samuel Butler wrote THE WAY OF ALL FLESH. Mario Puzo’s fiction based on real life events I think should be titled: THE WAY OF ALL LIES.
    What’s the point? In real life those who allowed themselves to be used, despite their wide smiles in photos should know they are FINISHED.

    The link on Finished public service
    https://www.philstar.com/headlines/2018/10/15/1860283/roque-drops-senate-bid-house-comeback

  12. Andres 2018. says:

    Once, the yellows or specifically the LP get the leadership of this nation, Cory Aquino that was after 1986 EDSA Revo and recently his son Noynoy Aquino. They have their time of the moment, did they able to initiate reform?

    My comment is short, actually a question. Am i still on moderation?

    • Yes, you remain on moderation because you have not demonstrated that you are engaged in sincere conversation, versus pushing an agenda.

      Cory Aquino was the reform, in terms of returning the nation to democracy and ending the Marcos totalitarian reign. Her son reformed the incompetence and corruption of the Estrada and Arroyo years to stabilize the economy and develop a service mentality in the agencies. Both anticipated that their good intentions would be understood and appreciated by Filipinos, broadly, but neither anticipated nor corrected the anger/envy problem of a population that trusted no government, was gullible to mis-information and emotion, and wanted immediate results. Without Question, the second Aquino government was accomplished and successful on the performance side, but not in quelling impatience or the nastiness of political rivals who did not want democracy, but power.

      • Andres 2018. says:

        This is your page, i understand it. I thought i was gone forever because of that comment on karlgarcia. But anyways, thank you for letting my comment in.

        By your answer, it seems that the LP did initiate reforms but it was not successful so to stay because the people still did not trusted the government, leave the LP candidates such as De Venecia, Lim or Roxas and rather opted for another to the likes of Estrada, Arroyo and Duterte.

        Am i correct to say that the reforms initiated by the LP under the Aquinos was not successful?

        Then, this bring to my second question, if the reforms initiated before by the LP was indeed successful, why is that the people opted for another?

        On the other hand, my another second question, if the reforms initiated before by the LP was not successful, how can the next leadership of the LP initiate a successful reform?

        Thats a bit lot of asking from me, but would be glad if you answer that. I believe your answers will make seeing the yellow agenda as reform movement more clearly.

        • It depends on how you measure success. If it was to run a substantially corruption free government, moving toward agency competence, with a stable, financially prudent government respected around the world, yes it was highly successful. And the facts show the Aquino government was well trusted, comparatively. I know you have the SWS statistics in that regard. The Administration was late to make progress on poverty and was attacked relentlessly by political opponents during the course of the administration. Then, the Poe vote split the plurality of “decency” candidates, the Duterte camp deployed its social media dirty tricks, and the Roxas campaign was not able to overcome the emotionalized opposition and plurality penalty. Duterte won.

          The reform that has to take place is one of enlightenment among the voting base that competence counts (not popularity), and the nation really does rely upon voters, for better or for worse. How that message is delivered is the grand mystery and whoever solves it best, wins. The political bitterness and dirty tricks seem to be a part of Philippine politics. So do the attitudes of Filipinos, broadly, that all politicians are the same.

          We’ll see, won’t we?

          • popoy says:

            Mr. TSoH are you the likes of historical Martin Luther (the original) ? Is to argue with you will be trying (admitting) to be Robespierre asking for blood of the parasites because nobody just so many nobodies failed to stop the surviving vampires?

            Since you don’t, can’t even suggest there should be a repeat of the Bastille and reddening of Paris streets until the head of Robespierre himself came rolling down those streets? Karl will get an A+ for any answer to this; unless the Historian disagrees.

            • Ah, Popoy, you most certainly have a sly way with words. I would much like to suggest a repainting of the avenues, but you are correct, that is not allowed for non-painters outside the union. As for Robespierre’s head rolling down the streets, I envision that would be much like the head in the opening of “Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte” that bounced as it came down the stairs, but I would likely cheer instead of scream as my date did at the movie.

            • karlgarcia says:

              Based on my reading Robiespierre engineered the execution of Louis XIV, betrayed, his political ally,and killed his enemies, and he never reached the age of 40,how was this man great?
              Maybe I should ask the same about Alexander.

              • popoy says:

                I thought in the exchange of clashing ideas between JoeAm and those with ideas in conflict with his, Joe Am remains a rational thinker (my bias and prejudice of course) and anyone more blatant could twist the opposing ideas into extremes by attributing to his antagonist unusual events. It is a complexification of simple smart alecky statement like: Oh yeah, they did nothing good; they failed to change the country for the better? What would you want them to do, be like Robespierre and have the blood suckers and yourself killed?

                You bet that’s extreme and uncalled for, unless you do it, like a make up artist with words. I never even hinted that Robespierre is a good person. Where did Alexander of Macedon came from barreling in?

              • Well, thanks, popoy. Sometimes my emotions rise up, but it always ends badly, with regret. Better to at least strive to maintain some kind of mental equilibrium. That said, I do like your line “What would you want them to do, be like Robespierre and have the blood suckers and yourself killed?” for the finely nuanced inclusion of the word ‘yourself’, which caused me to laugh into my morning coffee mug. I may use it.

              • sonny says:

                33 was the number to beat for greatness?

              • karlgarcia says:

                I was thinking of fame and infamy and dying young when I thought of the word great; Alexander,Jesus and definitively aside from his mother a segment in France would call Robiesipierre great because he had made a great campaign for males and not for females which is the campaign for male suffrage;this I would call great, the abolition of slavery in French colonies,and here is his greatest campaign:abolition of the death penalty- if he ran today he would get voted because he is the embodiment and the epitome of a chameleon and once in office he would again turn his colors to survive, until people have seen all his colors then he is dead politically, literally or ironically(anti-death penalty advocate).

              • sonny says:

                Neph, “great” is one of those quality-neutral terms that is closer to quantity or extension, as cause or effect: Charlemagne (Carolus Magnus), Peter the Great, Magna Carta, Great Wall of China, the great divide, the Great Schism, Grand Prix. Historians and humorists are prone to use the term. There are instances I know that the term is not applied to, properly so: Hitler the great, or Stalin the great, Mao the great, Robespierre the great. Like black-bodies in Physics no light is generated.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thanks Unc!

          • Andres 2018 says:

            Yes we will see, as how things going now i believe that there would be a 2019 and a 2022 election in accordance with the current constitution.

            We can measure success according to the accomplishment of the objectives. Your answer suggest that the objectives of the Aquino reform was a corruption-free government, agency competence, financially prudent government, internationally respected government, and i believe a lot more other objectives substantially similar with the sited ones. Yet, the people was still fooled by dirty tricks employed by others, that we can safely conclude that the people was not contented of the government. Was it because the objectives of the reforms of the Aquino, though successful in accomplishing such, were not good enough to appease the people? And if that is so, a lot of questions will pop on this. Like what would be best objectives of the reforms…. and many more…

            (With regards to the Poe-Roxas vote split, i have argued this previously with someone on here, and i believe the conclusion was that even without the split, Duterte still won.)

            • I’m not sure why you keep insisting on diminishing what the Aquino administration did, or keep wandering around the bush with questions that you know the answers to. You can safely conclude that people were not content with their lives and had no idea what the Aquino administration did. You can safely conclude that the Mamasapano incident raised an outrage like no other before it, yet the murders by and under the Duterte camp of innocents and children numbering somewhere around 23,000 somehow keeps them satisfied. And from that you can conclude, safely or otherwise, that there are some deep-rooted psychological issues behind what is going on and it has little to do with the Aquino government, other than that they did not deploy an army of psychiatrists across the land to counsel people to understand their own accountability for the lives they lead.

              • Sup says:

                Aquino did start with nothing in the state coffers left…They did cancel most previous contracts because massive corruption was included under Gloria so yes it took some time to take of but now the Duterte DDS (including Mark Villar DPWH are claiming ALL projects started under Aquino as theirs)…I think it was amazing what the Aquino administration was be able to do is such a ”short” time after ”getting rid of the previous shit”…. my 5 cents to Andres

              • Agree. Anyone who denies the achievements of the Aquino Administration is ignorant or a gameplayer. Good lord, 60,000 new classrooms, not 23,000 killings.

              • karlgarcia says:

                The current admin particularly Diokno questioned the slow spending of the Aquino admin, only to fail himself by fail I mean he engineered our national debt to reach almost 8 trillion Php and he did not make it any faster.
                The Arroyo admin had this stimulus program monetary easing to curb inflation, but how many times was the budget reenacted, and the the deficits were a turnoff for investors

              • Yes. Budget 3.8 trillion. Debt up from 6.5 trillion to 8 trillion this year. GDP growth down to 6%, inflation up to 6%. The poor are going backward and the entitled are getting richer. Everyone washing their hands of the economy, blaming others, claiming ignorance.

              • karlgarcia says:

                The debt is just a tad over 7 trillion now, but with the big budget notwithstanding the slashing of health, education and all that matters most, it will easily balloon to 8 trillion and even more.
                And what a surprise,the suspension of the oil tax as part of train was suspended.
                Now all the reelectionist are saying they won’t pass the trabaho bill. And Poe even mentioned Double cross.

                Now with regards to EJK, BATO said that all police who committed EJK has no balls.
                Now, he tells us.

              • Thanks. It is amazing how a campaign causes people to totally change character. Chameleons for sure.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I just read your comment about tide turning if and when Poe declares she is “opposition”..
                I guess she is consistent in one thing, she kept on badgering the DOTR even when it was still DOTC.

              • She said in her filing of COC yesterday that she is running because the nation needs an “opposition”. She did not say what she opposes. I doubt that she is joining the real opposition. But it is a signal of a change in wind direction.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Thaks,.
                If she thinks she can do it loneshewolf she will think again, I guess she will sit down with the real opposition.

        • Francis says:

          The success of reform (or anything related to politics, for that matter) is not a black-and-white, binary thing. It’s not a “yes-or-no” matter.

          To distill any political issue into binaries—i.e. is it successful, is it not successful—will miss out a lot of crucial nuance.

          • Andres 2018 says:

            I agree with this. Its not a black-and-white, or a yes-no. Reform is a bit complicated, that promising it requires a complicated platform.

            • karlgarcia says:

              It is not even because of the shades of Grey in between, where’s ROYGBV?

              Complicated must still start from simple.
              It take years to achieve reform- all you can do is promise you will start something , the rest is just colors.

          • popoy says:

            Simon says este David Easton says: Politics is the authoritative allocation of values in the society. If putting behind bars and confiscating all the loots amassed by criminals is part of the authoritative allocation of values after the defeat of Martial Law then Cory and son Noynoy’s failure really have something to answer to history because governance as dynamic politics calls for, most importantly the incarceration of killers and even mammoth thieves in the society. Until this is done the brain of TSoH bloggers must continue to work doubly hard in double time.

            • There are never true equivalents in history, but Romania also had its dictator, around three centuries under a colonial power (Turkey). The last scene of the Romanian dictator was also on a balcony.

              Due process was not exactly followed when putting Nicolae and his wife before a tribunal. Everything they owned was simply confiscated, and their son Nico had to go to court for decades to get back a few paintings. He lives quietly in the capital, a bit over 60 years old. Filipinos were soft and forgiving to the Marcos clan but are harsh on simple street junkies. Question is, do only politicians allocate values, or the entire polity? BTW in the fight against the Ottomans, Vlad Tepes impaled those who collaborated. He of the Ordo Draco (Dragon) which was a military order to protect Christianity. In that context, one wonders how the closest the Philippines has to Vlad Draculea allocates the value of due process to Chinese, but not to ordinary Filipinos on the street.. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=291268888148153&set=a.119951925279851&type=3&theater

            • popoy says:

              as perhaps Karl will approve . . .

              OUTSIDE or external to politics as regards human welfare and concerns, the uselessness or inutility of national courts justifies the creation and existence of even toothless (but with dentures) international criminal court. Many Countries with Courts of Justice that can not be bought and which administer true justice should PROPERLY be outside the jurisdiction of any International Criminal Court.

              • karlgarcia says:

                I will give you an A++.

              • karlgarcia says:

                Since you are the guro not me, do want the ICC abolished,? hey are not only investigating cases in war-torn countries like those in Africa. I see UK in the list of countries with cases. Do you still think the ICC is useless?
                I don’t want to use the word I used for my question to Andres about Duterte and the UN,etc.

              • popoy says:

                Read again the comment Karl. It’s not fine prints. Between every line says it is a NO. Now I say unequivocally NO. If UK is a member of ICC and has cases, that’s otra cosa to my statement.

              • karlgarcia says:

                That was the problem, I reread your comment, at first passing, it was AOK, make that A++OK, but when I reviewed your comment I got confused again.

            • sonny says:

              “… governance as dynamic politics calls for, most importantly the incarceration of killers and even mammoth thieves in the society.”

              This certainly adds spine to the Constitution and should hilite for everybody, the deterrent and compliant quality of positive law.

              • Reality looks more like this..

                oink.

              • There should be game like Monopoly called “Trapolitix”.

                With a jail of course, cards like “Get out of Jail”, funds from pork barrel, cards specifying how much it costs to bribe judges, Tokhang Killers you can buy and sell, Troll armies you have to pay, IRAs you can milk for your own funds – or use as collateral to lend from loansharks, who can kill you if you don’t pay; the possibility to form alliance with other players, appoint them to certain critical positions, impeach other officials, wild cards to invent new rules..

              • You know, you could make a bazillion dollars with that idea. It would go viral in the bookstores.

          • Usually reform and changes goes in gradual steps. It is simply wrong to compare it with where other countries already are. When I think about the clean water Munich has today – even the clean river running through a city of two million, I think of how it got there:

            1) in the early to mid 19th century, there was a cholera epidemic around every decade. Even one Bavarian queen and a major military aide of the Greek king (also a Bavarian prince) died in these epidemics. The memorial below is a curiosity in Munich’s southern cemetery. What is not a curiosity is the family graves of rich families in that cemetery which often have around 1/3 of the children dying before six years old – such was life in those days.

            https://www.facebook.com/pg/filipinogermanlearning/photos/?tab=album&album_id=2267105243361139

            2) enter https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Max_Joseph_von_Pettenkofer, proponent of public hygiene – and scientific rival of Robert Koch.. (useful to look at this in the light of today’s Dengvaxia controversy) The two scientists conflicted most notably over the subject of cholera. In one specific case, Pettenkofer obtained bouillon laced with a large dose of Vibrio cholerae bacteria from Robert Koch, the proponent of the theory that the bacteria was the sole cause of the disease. He consumed the bouillon in a self-test in the presence of several witnesses on 7 October 1892. He also took bicarbonate of soda to neutralise his stomach acid to counter a suggestion by Koch that the acid could kill the bacteria. Pettenkofer suffered mild symptoms for nearly a week but claimed these were not associated with cholera. The modern view is that he did indeed have cholera, but was lucky to just have a mild case and he possibly had some immunity from a previous episode. – anyhow, Pettenkofer getting fresh water supply from the far away mountain river Mangfall (Munich’s source of water until now) and improving drainage was instrumental in reducing (not removing entirely) cholera.

            Now even that was progress compared to the deadly 18th century, before parks like the English garden (created by Count Rumford aka Benjamin Thompson, an exile from Massachussets, a loyalist to the English crown) brought fresh air into a congested town which was even sicker then. Now imagine if everybody had had Filipino-style expectations then, people would have said everything was done but nothing happened, nothing, nothing.

            • And if a mad ruler does bankrupt the state, it is not enough just to leave a few buildings on a reclamation site, if I am to be a hundred-percenter, this should be the standard!

              (King Ludwig really bankrupted the Bavarian State, which was already part of the Reich by then. His loyalists claim to this day that “the Prussians” did it, “it wasn’t suicide” when he decided to take a swim in cold Lake Starnberg. But he did leave that castle, among many)

            • popoy says:

              As historian you may know of a southern country in southeast Asia where an autocrat had his traitor to stop him dead on his tracks. That in another country a dictator had his two traitors ignited the flame of his downfall? The people of the former country became abu ben adheim while the people of the latter country continue to cluelessly, even dreamily snooze In noodle land.

              • karlgarcia says:

                May your tribe increase popoy, but our country did increase their tribes leading to over-population and tribalism and rice shortage.

  13. Excellent post. Thanks Joe and Francis

  14. popoy says:

    Will the results of the coming elections JUMPSTART the much campaigned for, much touted REFORMATION needed by the polity? Or will it (after a long gestation period) lead to a bloody EDSA?

    Okay, All is right; this will be crazy punditry, mis-analysis of the impact of TSoH bloggers on its readers and followers, this is an UNPAID, unsurveyed, unexpected, unscientific, subjective, etc. forecast of unnamed winners and LOSERS in the coming election: at best for the country’s sake THERE WILL BE NO WINNERs among candidates for the senatorial slate and congressional bets of the present administration;

    AT WORST for the country there will be TWO or THREE winners for both the Senate slate and Congressional seats from candidates who have served with loyal diligence the current administration. This will come to pass IF THERE IS NO CHEATING or VOTE BUYING before, during and after the election.

    The results of the coming election for national and local level positions will determine whether the country will (at worst) go forward or backward or go (at best) either leftward or right wards for sake of the country’s REFORMATION in pursuit of Asian kind RENAISSANCE.
    The question why go upward (North) or downward (South)? Forward for more sophisticated greed satisfaction and dynastic governance; Backward for much of THE SAME incompetent and corrupt political economy sickening the country.

    The question why go right (eastward, sankamap) and left (westward, sandown)? A strong democracy is a constant flux of contending liberalism and conservatism seeking a delicate though unsteady balance of progress of the elite and a (fruitfull) struggle of the common people. Successful upheavals against tyranny of autocracies are usually initiated by either the left or the right and pursued to victory by their combined forces.

    • Your post with links about the candidates running exceeded the three-link so went to moderation. I declined to publish it because I’d rather the blog be a discussion forum than a collection house for news. People can google that or join twitter and follow news outlets.

      THIS comment, on the other hand, makes good points, especially the recognition that democracy is not static, it is in constant, unsteady balance. People seem to think it is supposed to be clean and neat, but it is not, it is messy and argumentative as it wobbles around the centerline. The stronger the institutional integrity and ethics, the better it holds course. The US is losing its firmament, and the Philippines is in quicksand.

      • popoy says:

        Yeah I know about the links rule but I thought as I do all the time I do click only on links of importance, sorry I sort of made this particular piece a cafeteria of curious choice. my bad.

        • popoy says:

          And by the way the results forecast is really a challenge to the unknown and will be available for checking and for being palpak after the election. The imagined causal variables are canine loyalties and sub standard PERFORMANCE, negative public image; the palusot variables are CHEATING and VOTE BUYING which nullify the punditry.

        • Sorry if I came across like a stern schoolmarm in fancy bloomers waving a ruler in the air. I appreciate your understanding.

  15. Francis says:

    OTT: This is a twitter thread worth looking into.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/davidrkadler/status/1051784058185928705

    “How, then, do democracies die? Is it when ‘radicals’ mobilize from the far-right and the far-right to swamp the unsuspecting center?

    The clear answer is no: it is when political entrepreneurs promise growth & stability to exactly this constituency of moderates. 8/”

    “In Brazil — as across developed democracies — the centrist “paradox” finds its resolution.

    Authoritarians don’t need strong ideologies. They need only prey on apathy, insecurity, and pride to rally a coalition of willing centrists. 9/9”

    • Well, that to me means “radicalize the center with visions of self-enrichment”. I don’t see the difference. And I’m not sure it is apathy that is what they prey on, or that insecurity is a weakness. These are natural drives. People want a better life, and are susceptible to promises or personalities that echo their own desires.

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