Accepting accountability requires intellect, not emotion

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By JoeAm

Most people who are pro-democracy, pro-human rights, and pro-Philippine civility and competence rightfully reacted with a shudder or a scream or a wail about the results of the 2019 election, especially the senators who were voted in. People of no known law-writing competence – known killers and plunderers – now sit in the high chamber.

I’d argue that we need to get past it. The easiest trap to fall into is the one where fingers are being pointed every which way, where blames and excuses are used to apply salve to our wounded feelings.

How much better to simply figure out how to win next time.

. . . and in between be more outspoken in favor of democracy, human rights, civility, and competence.

“But Joe, we suspect election cheating! You want us to forget about it?”

Not at all. Investigate it thoroughly. Get the facts. Then act. Don’t wail on the basis of suspicions or anecdotes. Don’t guess. Don’t malign the innocent. Get the facts.

In corporate planning, every cycle starts with an assessment of the environment and an assessment of recent performance. That can be done for elections, as well. Let me short-form an example:

The environment

The pressure against democracy, human rights, civility, and competence has increased. There is a virtual stone wall being built around the standing government to defend against advocates of these worthy causes. But there are still gaps in the defenses. Independent 2022 candidates like Senator Poe must carve out a clear position for themselves. The Senate is more independent (self-interested) than loyal to President Duterte. There are a lot of people of conscience in the courts, media, legal professions, and general public. They represent a truth, a strength, if properly inspired.

Assessment of recent performance

The opposition candidates failed to get elected. They were out-funded, out-cheated (Bong Go’s shenanigans), and out marketed. Government voices and money were used to advocate for specific candidates, a gross violation of the ethical rule that government serves all the people, not just the favorites among them.

Here are four of the electioneering weaknesses I observed among the opposition during my self-imposed removal from the election process (it is rightfully an engagement only for citizens):

  1. The opposition struggled to define a policy statement that would unify liberals and the hard left. There were contentious matters of who would run and who would not, and who would lead and who would not. The campaign started late and without focus, unity, or sizzle.
  2. Key players refused to be loud. Former President Aquino remained the monk. Vice President Robredo remained dignified and calm whilst being battered by the government’s propaganda arm. Business leaders shirked any limelight. Government set out to recruit entertainers for their ability to speak to the masses; the opposition did not.
  3. Funding was weak. I don’t know if large-scale donations were sought or not. There was no mass “crowd-funding” effort that I’m aware of. The slow start morphed into the election period, and no one seemed ready. Broke from the getgo.
  4. The eight key opposition candidates worked diligently attending local events. But they were together too much. They were not deployed as troops, Samira Gutoc to Muslim Mindanao to push all eight candidates there, Gary Alejano to military areas, and other candidates to areas of strength or high voter concentrations. They traveled in a pack. Mar Roxas spent crucial election time in the US with his family. Their feet did not greet enough people.

I don’t recite these matters as excuses or blames. I recite them as a step toward accountability, education, and improvement next time.

Perhaps you also have observations to add. You can freely do so in the discussion section of the blog that follows this article.

In the meantime

The next election is three years away. The time in between is crucial as well. Federalism. Death penalty. Drug war. Corruption. Propaganda. China and sovereignty. The economy. These issues all require a voice of reason and advocacy favoring democracy, human rights, civility, and competence.

I noodled with a blog about pro-democracy advocates setting up a non-partisan “Peoples’ Government” to shadow and comment on issues being pushed through the captured government . . . rather a government outside of government to keep the peoples’ interests up front . . . but thought it seemed presumptuous coming from a foreigner. I imagined it not to be an opposition, as it would speak FOR government efforts deemed beneficial. But it would seek to prevent the railroading of bad ideas through a captured legislature (federalism, for instance).

And, of course, efforts for 2022 can begin now. The platform that would unify liberals and hard left. Leadership. Funding. Entertainers. Business people. At some point, candidate endorsements, based on what individual aspirants do between now and then to establish their promise.

There is a lot of thinking to be done. And organizing.

Intellect vs emotion

My recommendation . . .

Don’t kick the dog.

If leaving the Philippines is a choice, do it without labeling those who stay, adding to their burdens. If it is to stay, don’t boast about your patriotism and put others down. They are not you. If it is to join the effort to promote a democratic state attuned to modern values of human rights, civility, and competence . . . start work now.

Lose the angst. Learn the lessons. Work earnestly.


27 Responses to “Accepting accountability requires intellect, not emotion”
  1. karlgarcia says:

    I ask Wil about crowdfunding which I forwarded to some friends, but they still asked me if I am sure the money will go to the right people, I could not give any assurances except that they will have a receipt.

  2. karlgarcia says:

    About non partisan groups.
    My dad and some of his classmates tried to invite other classmates to ANI (National Interest group), some objected to its being apolitical and non partisan. Oh,well.
    When in doubt, pout.

  3. karlgarcia says:

    About traveling in pack, they thought showing a united front will work, but the real estate(The PHL) is not that small. They could not cover all bases.

  4. Sup says:

    You like to win? Ask Smartmagic”

    Many claimed that Bong Go would automatically appear on their ballots. A friend of mine, who voted in a Makati precinct, said pollers inserted a blank ballot in a VRVM and it automatically printed Go’s name.

    Read more:

  5. MW says:

    MALCOLM (on the slaughter of MacDuff’s household): Dispute it like a man.

    MACDUFF: I shall do so,
    But I must also feel it as a man.
    I cannot but remember such things were
    That were most precious to me. Did heaven look on,
    And would not take their part?

    There is a time for getting back to the drawing board again, that is true. But at the moment, it is also important that Team China see and feel the outrage. Just my 2cents’.

    • It is important that Team China feel the outrage. That is consistent with the suggested objective of being louder.

      • You inspired a tweet on the subject. I wrote:

        “I see Sen Villar & others are claiming they will be independent. I’m inclined to think she is a member of Team China and benefits in Boracay and elsewhere from real estate projects catering to Chinese immigrants. Team China is hardly independent. Go is suspect, too. Others?”

  6. I see former candidate Chel Diokno is doing what I suggest by forming a volunteer organization. His tweet:

    This is not the end, this is only the beginning. Maraming salamat sa lahat ng pumunta at nanood ng ating Volunteer’s Assembly kagabi. The work begins today. Volunteer now at

    • karlgarcia says:

      From what I understand from his campaign web page, the volunteerism started last campaign period and he is encouraging more volunteers.
      For now he will shift back to his previous advocacies, and he will still think about runnig in the future.

  7. NHerrera says:

    A voice of reason, practicality and resilience — a seminal idea — from “the day after.” Thanks, Joe.

    Thanks, too, for the words on those who choose to leave or choose to stay.

    • Sure. I wholly understand if people choose a better setting for raising their families, and I also appreciate those who have the tenacity to try to do it here. I’ve been on that fence a while and can see the green on both sides. It is up to each person to make such decisions without anyone doing guilt trips on them.

      I am quite inspired by Chel Diokno’s determination to keep working for democracy. He is forming a volunteer organization and I suspect he’ll get a lot of interest. He has the family pedigree, the professional background, the character, and the ability to express himself well. MLQ3 believes he may move naturally into leadership given the baggage or limitations of others.

  8. Micha says:

    The Liberal Party, as currently constituted, should purge its embrace of the neo-liberal ideology if it hopes to politically recover from the latest repudiation at the polls.

    The dearth of a credible, let alone charismatic, personality in its ranks makes it imperative to rely on a strong ideological responsiveness suited to the needs of its targeted constituency to be able to counter the fascist populism of the psychopathic maniac from Mindanao.

    • The Liberal Party barely exists. As mentioned elsewhere, keep an eye on Chel Diokno. Other opposition members are refreshing and well-received, too. They just did not match the budgets, cheating, and propaganda of the ‘State’s’ favorites.

      • Micha says:

        Neoliberalism is a foreign ideology imposed on the country by international bankers and capitalists taking their ideological cue from the Washington Consensus..

        Chel’s father, Jose Diokno, is a staunch nationalist who would not have acceded to the imposition of an economic order that exploited and prevented the country to develop its full economic potential.

        If Chel is made of the same political DNA as his father, maybe he could also steer a more nationalist bent on political economy.

  9. Joe,

    Your 1-4 tells me that no one really wanted it , ie. opposition-shmoposition, or Ocho Shmotso.

    They, DU30 et al. want it. They get it. So , they got it. Also, your 1-4 tells me that the opposition (if there is still one) don’t really like being where the rubber meets the road, w/ the smelly masses, which makes it seem like their nose always point up to the clouds.

    It was theirs to win— they lost.

    Now , for 2022 , who they gonna roll out, Bam Aquino??? Between Imee & Sara, who is the lesser of the two evils??? Leni’s too demure.

    Leni vs. Imee — may go to Leni.

    Imee vs. Sara — Sara for sure!

    Sara vs. Leni — Sara again.

    Bam vs. Sara — ’77 vs. ’78 , both young.

    IMHO, if he loses the baby fat, which says rich & entitled, there’s a chance; if he loses senate seat, start walking up and down the Philippines, not as some tsinelas stunt but to gain real respect— go from one Negosyo Center to the next, just eat rice & fish, rice & veggies. Really become Filipino.

    By 2022, he’ll be ready. Tell him not to take any vacations, especially to the U.S., Joe— stay put and become Filipino , get skinny.

    • Here’s a map of all Negosyo Centers,

      Why isn’t there one in Negros island???

      Bam could totally spend the next 2.5 years just walking from one Negosyo Center to the next.

      1. Get a youtube channel going, docu-series featuring his day-to-day travel and entrepreneurs.

      2. Get a professional documentary film-maker, to be featured before 2022, goal of film being internationally acclaimed.

      3. Get a Western book deal, a bio plus his walk up and down Philippines, introduce Bam to the rest of the world.

      4. Get all Negosyo Center entrepreneurs to incorporate Bam Aquino in their ads, business for them; expand Negosyo Centers.

      5. Get him to expand more Negosyo Centers, but this time with tool libraries and workshops.

      karl, once talked about Philippine teachers teaching the Chinese English, screw that!!! for teachers aspiring to teach English, make a business out of it and make sure Chinese pay to learn English— no free-bies for the Chinese should be the new mantra here. 😉

    • I don’t know if there is a ‘they’ in ‘they’. The ‘want it’ is a distinction in intensity. The individual campaigners worked diligently but their seemed to be no umbrella organization to give clout or raise money. I don’t know about 2022 players. It is too speculative to do anything but mention names. Diokno, Robredo, Roxas, Trillanes, Aquino. There are reasons to strike the last four from the list. Diokno emerges. Mr. Clean. MLQ3 cites Diokno as default. But a lot depends on who ‘wants it’ in the sense of which you speak. If any do.

      • Diokno (as well as Hilbay and Gutoc) was also endorsed by Makabayan and was at the Makabayan miting de avance rally before the elections. MLQ3 says that Diokno is one of the few people who can hold together the Left and the EDSA 1 crowd, both respect him.

        FLAG (Free Legal Assistance Group) is Diokno’s baby, originally that of his father, and they did a lot to help human rights victims from Martial Law times until today. If a generally skeptical person like Ninotchka Rosca refers to Chel Diokno as “the King”, it is significant.

  10. I wish Chel Diokno and Bam Aquino read this blog and comments.

  11. The 8D volunteerism could be the start of a citizen’s movement like in 1983-1986 or even a more sustained formation of a real political party with card-carrying, dues-paying members. Let us see.

    What happens now in the aftermath of the polls – and the doubts surrounding them – is crucial.

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