Monday, July 31, 2017
Saturday, July 29, 2017
Friday, July 28, 2017
Thursday, July 27, 2017
Self-anointed disente Filipinos were aghast with what they described as the balasubas (uncouth) behaviour of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte as he delivered his second State of the Nation Address (SONA) last Monday. The alluring Senator Risa Hontiveros, one of Duterte’s chief critics in the Senate sported her hottest resting bitch face (RBF) which she kept locked on in a show of passive-aggressive contempt for the president over much of the session. The holier-than-thouTwitterati of the Opposition cringed and whinged over “live tweets” throughout, remaining glued to the tube despite their pain. Trending wannabes kept score on a SONA bingo sheet the results of which they later published in memes showing how many cusses and mentions of “drahhggsz” they chalked up over those two hours of cringe.
If there was anything significant that the Duterte Show achieved, it was in demonstrating just how irrelevant the old guard of the disente crowd had become. In essence, Duterte drove a clattering jeepney right into Congress and onto the screens on which Filipinos’ eyeballs were glued for two hours and reminded everyone who the Filipino really is.
Hold that thought for a moment and consider The Jeepney; erstwhile symbol of Filipino “ingenuity” and persistent cultural icon. They may now be regarded as anything but a symbol of “ingenuity” in the normal sense of that word but they remain the same unfortunate Filipino cultural icon. Jeepneys still rule Philippine roads with impunity, spewing corrosive fumes, flouting every road rule, and fouling up traffic flow. By virtue of their sheer price-crushing numbers, they hold the public transport industry hostage and attract politicians’ pandering virtually assuring their continued reign as the Philippines’ King of the Road.
If one needs a sweeping archetype of the average Filipino, look no further than the jeepney.
For as long as Filipinos tolerate the way this astounding social cancer makes a mockery of civil behaviour on the ground, Filipinos will lack any ascendancy to judge bad manners and bad behaviour above ground.
It should be no mystery why the way Duterte wears who he is on his sleeve today is so refreshing to Filipinos. It is beause he introduces consistency in what was once a fake democracy. I would have liked to have said that not one of the many presidents who sat in Malacanang actually mirrored the Filipino electorate as accurately and that Duterte broke that trend. However, in actual fact, former President Joseph “Erap” Estrada beat Duterte to that title in 1998. But the Erap presidency provides important context to the Duterte administration. Like Duterte today, Erap was relentlessly demonised by the same camp of disente Filipinos (at the time just as presumpuously calling themselves “civil society”) and, on the back of that vilification campaign, was successfully removed from office illegally. Fast forward to today and it is now easy to see with the benefit of that hindsight that the ouster of Erap is being used as the same model by the same mob to end the Duterte government prematurely.
It is no coincidence that the two Filipino presidents who best mirrored the average Filipino — Erap and Duterte — were subject to virtually the same demonisation campaigns by the same cliques of chatterati backed by the same industry and institution (i.e. mainstream news media and the Roman Catholic Church respectively). Erap was unfortunate in that whilst his voters were real Filipinos, those who surrounded him once in power and those who had the power to vilify him were not representative of that real sector. What Duterte did today that Erap failed to do then was to bring Manila’s imperial court face-to-face with who he is — a true representative of his voters.
What escapes the pompous “influencers” of the Opposition who sneer at Duterte’s conduct during the SONA is that they are, in reality, sneering at the real Filipino. After all, in a democracy, elected leaders, in principle, reflect the collective character of The Vote.
Put in the form of a more confronting question, the debate around the point (if any) of having a “Commission on Human Rights” (CHR) becomes a bit more clear…
If the Philippines’ Commission on Human Rights were to disappear tomorrow, would there be any significant consequences to the average Filipino?
I posed the question several times over Twitter and did not get any convincing answers — not even from the CHR Twitter account handler him/herself. The only thing of cosmetic substance that routinely emerges from the Philippine brains trust is the rather lame argument that the 1987 Constitution “mandates” its existence. In essence, the fate of the CHR hangs on to the legitimacy of a piece of paper and not on an actual independent value proposition to the Filipino.
Indeed, it is quite possible that the creation of the “need” for a human rights “watchdog” back in 1987 when the Cory Aquino’s Constitution was ratified was an overcompensation riding on the post-“revolution” euphoria of the time — a time when Filipinos fully embraced, hook line and sinker, the notion that the Philippines failed to prosper because of a lack of “human rights” vigilance. It’s sort of like how a jilted girl suddenly becomes a man-hater on the basis of one unfortunate blip in her lovelife.
Functionally, however, the CHR is no more than an expensive lobby group funded by Filipino taxpayers. Its main tasks collectively amount to no more than issuing commentary about anything and everything to do with “human rights” that gets mentioned by the chatterati and, perhaps, the odd schmoozing with its counterparts in other countries courtesy of taxpayer-funded junkets every now and then. It does not enforce anything nor exercise any administrative power over anyone. A Supreme Court ruling in 1991 confirmed that “the Commission did not possess the power of adjudication, and emphasized that its functions were primarily investigatory.”
The idea that “human rights” will no longer be upheld in the Philippines if the CHR disappears is nonsensical. “Human rights” are enshrined in Article III (a.k.a. the “Bill of Rights”) of Cory’s Constitution — which means Filipinos are already (1) protected from future legislation that may violate its tenets and (2) protected by existing laws enacted to uphold these tenets.
Because there already exists a body of laws built around the Bill of Rights, most “human rights violations” are already likely within scope of existing law enforcement agencies to investigate and prosecute. Indeed, when it comes to “investigating” so-called “human rights violations”, the CHR is effectively just a middleman — essentially a waste of time and space. Indeed it is likely because of this crisis of relevance at a functional or administrative level that the CHR has become hopelessly politicised — and has degenerated to nothing more than an outlet for “human rights” sloganeering today.
The CHR mandate is actually quite presumptuous. It exists under the assumption that, left to their own devices, the entire criminal justice system of the Philippines — the police and the courts — will fail to uphold the spirit of the Bill of Rights in the course of its operation. Furthermore, it exists on the basis of a blanket suspicion that executives and legislators of the Philippine government will effect measures to contravene the Bill of Rights. In short, the CHR’s existence presumes criminal intent in the Philippine government that justifies existence of a “human rights watchdog”. On that basis is propped the lofty “cause” of the CHR as “guardians of the guardians”.
In short, the Commission on Human Rights is not only a redundant organisation, it is a non-sensical one. This is the reason it behaves and positions itself erratically on the political landscape — because it lacks a sensible mission and relies on posturing to maintain a semblance of relevance.
One could actually forgive even some senators who are not clear on what the CHR actually is or what it stands for — because not knowing who or what they are is actually of no consequence to anyone, not even the voters.
Indeed, as far as the key focus of its public relations effort goes, the CHR defines itself primarily around what it is not rather than what it is. As it had tweeted ad infinitum “we are not a law enforcement agency”. It goes further to affirm the blanket assumption that underpins its efforts — that the government, overall, is up to no good…
Ang CHR ay hindi pulis. Ayon sa Konstitusyon, mandato nito na bantayan ang gobyerno sa pagkakataon ng pang-aabuso sa mga karapatang pantao.
Translated to English: “The CHR is not the police. According to the Constitution, its mandate is to guard the government anticipating instances where it seeks to abuse human rights.”
To give credit to whoever composed this tweet, it neatly encapsulates the long-winded message of this article — that, like the venerable 1990s sitcom Seinfeld, the CHR is essentially a comedy show about nothing.
The second State of the Nation Address (SONA) of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte was a hit. Short of trawling the technical report that underpins it, that’s really the only key takeaway from the show Duterte put on yesterday, the 24th July 2017. It was a speech validated by applause and social media engagement around the “worldwide-trending” hashtag #SONA2017.
Like a good Game of Thrones episode, the Duterte Show delivered a media feast — content that appeals to every vestige of our reptilian complexes, sex, drugs, and rock-n-roll with a dash of the important issues as footnotes. The same formula that makesThrones a hit is behind what makes Duterte a hit. Indeed, monitoring my social media timelines, I find it quite amusing to see Tweetizens who, on one hand, would be gushing about the latest Thrones episode and, on another, be gnashing their teeth in outrage over Duterte’s antics.
Duterte is a product of the system enacted by the “revolutionary” government of President Cory Aquino in 1987. The 1987 Constitution was hurriedly ratified to legitimise what, until then, was an illegal government. So effective was this technique of siezing power that it was done again in 2001 (and attempted many times after). This Constitution put the “people’s will” on a pedestal so much so that there was conceptual room (with a bit of creative lawyering) to legalise anything given a stamp of approval by a critical mass of people shouting loud enough on any Manila street.
Like any leader of any democracy, Duterte’s power — his ability to push things through Congress and influence the judiciary — comes from his popularity. But unlike the popularity of traditional Yellow leaders, his is a popularity legally channeled through institutions. He was elected fair-and-square (albeit likely with a big enough margin to mitigate the effects of alleged electoral fraud perpetrated by his main rival in the 2016 elections). And he sustained that popularity by simply being himself.
To this day, Duterte’s popularity-enabled power manifests itself and is applied legally — channeled through the halls of Congress where, in a recent example, Martial Law, the erstwhile political bogeyman of yore, was given a renewed spot under a positive light as a way forward to building a strong nation. As far as we have observed, he has never hinted at extra-constitutional means to push his agenda through. This is in stark contrast with the way adherents of the Yellow Camp (a.k.a. the Philippines’ Liberal Party) think. To the Yellowtards, extra-constitutional means to get their way are always an option. They’ll “take to the streets” at the drop of a hat or, more specifically, at the slightest hint that they feel their self-bestowedentitlement to power is threatened.
Former president Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III embodied this temperamental brattiness often mistakenly attributed only to young “millennials”. In the lead up to the 2016 presidential elections, BS Aquino threatened to launch ‘people power’ if Duterte and (then VP candidate) Bongbong Marcos won the election…
But what is more worrisome now is that President Benigno Simeon Aquino III (PNoy) said he will lead a people power uprising if a DU30-BBM win happens. This is not an empty threat. He might not have people since his favorability rating is now zero in NCR and his Laglagan Party will no longer be there. Unfortunately, his core group remains. These bastards think the Philippines is all about them and all for them. They created a bubble economy to prop up their image, but really not to help the country. They will now incite havoc to burst that bubble. They can do that easily. PNoy has demonstrated his capability for treason just to advance themselves as he did in his now-infamous Bangsamoro Basic Law (BBL) project.
The trouble with the Opposition is that they continue to latch on to the belief that what is “moral” is necessarily consistent with what themajority will choose. So the idea that the “people’s will” is sacred has, for 30 years, stood on a flawed understanding of its true nature. In actual fact, the true people’s will is amoral (not to be confused with immoral); that is, it makes no distinction between any society’s standard of “good” or “evil”. What is popular has no causal relationship with morality any more than the most popular celebrity has only a lose correlation with actual talent at best. This is the reason pollsters and election punters rely on data science (the same science behind weather forecasting and fashion marketing) to predict elections.
This was the fatal error of the Liberal Party in 2016 and the reason they continue to languish in inutile chaos today. The current Opposition led by the Yellowtards’ “prayerful” lot continue to believe in an entitlement to win in a “democracy” premised on goodness as defined by religious scripture and dogma. They lack a scientific approach to winning elections and sustaining popularity. They would rather believe in hocus pocus ideas on why they ought to be in power rather than on sound reasons why they lost the Philippines and continue to fail today.
This lesson should not be lost in Duterte’s government either. Rather than rest on their laurels, Team Duterte should step up and be better than they are today. For all the president’s men, the key challenge lies in becoming more organised, coherent, and scientific in a concerted effort to sustain and secure the enormous political capital their boss possesses today. Unlike the Yellowtards who failed to invest in getting to know and understand their enemy, it seems that Team Duterte have a clear picture of who their enemies are and what they are up against. That knowledge needs to be used wisely.