Thursday, January 31, 2019
Wednesday, January 30, 2019
BY RIGOBERTO D. TIGLAO JANUARY 30, 2019
IT is not an exaggeration to say that President Duterte’s dramatically termed “Battle for Manila Bay,” his grand project to clean up what has been the polluted-landscape symbol of the Philippines, will be a watershed in our nation’s history.
Its impact on our culture and institutions will go beyond simply the physical accomplishment of cleaning up the bay and its waterfront.
That area had been the Philippine version of the mythical Augean stables of ancient Greek legend; the cleaning of centuries of horse shit there seemed an impossible task until the demi-god Hercules did the job — cleverly rechanneling a nearby river to flow through it. (Duterte and Environment Secretary Frank Cimatu’s version of that: Get a wave of over 5,000 people to “flow” through it, and clean it up.)
One dimension of realizing the impact of this Duterte project would be in terms of the famous sociological and criminological “broken-windows” theory. First proposed in 1982 by social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling, the idea became renowned when the New York police head and Mayor Rudi Giuliani used it as their framework to restore peace and order in the metropolis that had become so crime-infested that mugging was a commonplace occurrence.
In simple terms, the theory says that “visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior and civil disorder create an urban environment that encourages further crime and disorder, including serious crimes.” To change that situation, prevent those visible signs from being created.
Climate of lawlessness
The theory’s name is from the illustration that if a broken window in an abandoned building isn’t fixed fast, it would attract vandals to break its other windows. A building with all its windows broken would portray a climate of lawlessness, which would then create a culture of impunity in the area, so that more and more crimes will occur.
The theory says that it is not only fear of police enforcement that prevents people from committing crimes. People look for signals in their environment on how they would behave. If an environment is filled with things that suggest criminal or anti-social behavior — windows shattered by rocks, graffiti, and litter — people would be emboldened to commit not just similar crimes, but even worse.
The cesspool that Manila Bay had become, starting roughly in the 1960s, has been a colossal, feces-filled building with broken windows. What made it so is a microcosm of almost everything that’s gone wrong in our nation.
We have a capitalist class with no sense of responsibility to the community they live in and generate their profits from. It is not just the restaurants along the bay (one of which is reportedly the famous Aristocrat restaurant owned by the family of Sen. Bam Aquino’s wife) that polluted it.
The filth also came from the numerous factories and squatters along the Pasig River that had been discharging their wastes there which eventually end up in the Bay.
Corrupt political class
We have a political class that is not just incompetent but corrupted by our kind of capitalists. Those enterprises polluting the Pasig River and Manila Bay would have been closed overnight with the power of city governments to issue business and even sanitary permits. But they weren’t, for millions of reasons of course.
It is not just graft money that has made our political class look away from the hideous picture of a bay world-famous for its sunset that had become a cesspool. The urban poor squatters along the Pasig River who throw their wastes there that end up in the bay are there because mayors and other politicians protect them, since they have made these communities their electoral bases that deliver the crucial votes on election day.
It is a condemnation of our political system that the capital of the country, the City of Manila, has been governed by mayors who proved to be either incompetent or corrupt that they have allowed its bay to be turned into a cesspool. Manila even has a mayor who is a former President of the Republic, whose popularity and therefore political base has been enormous yet who hasn’t lifted a finger to clean up Manila Bay.
A clean Manila Bay with clear waters, without squatters and petty criminals, will create a culture of peace and order and of responsibility to the community we live in. It will have a chain effect on the things that the nation needs to clean up – the esteros of Chinatown that have become garbage dumps, the whole length of the Pasig River and its estuaries, the squatter areas along the river.
More importantly perhaps, this drive to clean up “things” will evolve into cleaning up our institutions. Indeed, the histories of societies involved a single precedent, which was then replicated.
As corrupt before
The US bureaucracy was as corrupt as any developing nation before. The reform of its Department of Agriculture which had been notorious in its corruption due its power to give subsidies to farmers. was the precedent that led to the anti-graft campaigns in most of its other federal departments.
Hong Kong’s bureaucracy in the 1960s was also a graft-ridden one. It was the cleanup of its police department in the late 1970s by a newly established Independent Commission Against Corruption (funded by income from its world-renowned horse races) that became a precedent for the transformation of its entire bureaucracy into a graft-free and efficient machine.
The following are from my book Debunked*:
“Note the following descriptions by scholars:
— ‘Patronage-oriented political parties and free-spending corruption dominated…’ ‘The political system consisted of a ‘distinctive complex of a weak national administration, divided and fragmentary public authority, and non-programmatic political parties.’
— ‘The nation-state had a weak hold on the imagination and consciousness of a people who were now forced to think of them as one community. Most identified themselves with their province of birth, not with the nation.’
Apt descriptions of the Philippines today these may be, but these referred to different countries. The first described the USA in the 1930s. The second described Italy in the 1920s. Yet these two countries were able to build strong nation-states within a generation.”
For the sake of our children’s children, I hope Duterte does build a strong nation-state. Wouldn’t it be dramatic if the Manila Bay clean-up signals the start of such a strong Republic?
*Available at National and Popular book stores, and amazon.com
Facebook: Rigoberto Tiglao
Archives at: www.rigobertotiglao.com
Tuesday, January 29, 2019
January 29, 2019 - by benign0
The successful clean-up of Manila Bay has certainly created a lot of buzz online and, very likely, a publicity bonanza over traditional media channels. There is the question, of course, of on-going maintenance — the spotty record of which is something Filipinos are renowned for. Nonetheless, an abundance of photos, memes, and testimonials are making the rounds on the Net and the results will likely be felt in the remaining months leading to this year’s congressional elections.
Normally, the Opposition led by the Liberal Party (a.k.a. the Yellowtards) will have lots of negativity to serve as fodder for their sneers at what they will regard as a mere stunt to “distract” from, guess what, the “tyranny” of the administration of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. This time, however, the Opposition seems to have yet again been stunned into a deafening silence — a silence that sounds like the one beheld following the opening of Boracay Island after a similar “clean-up”. Who, after all, would dare criticise an initiative that had created the sort of buzz delivered by this and the previous Boracay project? That’d be political suicide — specially in the midst of a campaign on a critical election year.
Say what one will, but both the Boracay and Manila Bay clean-up projects made Duterte look good. Oh yeah, and those beaches too (yes, Manila Bay has a beach)! There is, of course, lots to quibble over — that these may all be publicity stunts to distract the population from the usual stuff Opposition “influencers” shriek about, that this does nothing to “address” the “plight” of the “poor”, that Big Bad Corporations continue to maintain contract workers. Blah blah blah. But, see, politicians are only as good as the seats in government that they win. You may, for example, be the “good” former Solicitor General who grew up in ihc-ihc kadiri-to-death Tondo. But if you are unable to win an election your “goodness” is worth jack squat.
Filipinos signed up to this system — the popularity contest that is Pinoy-style democracy executed pursuant to the 1987 Yellowtard Constitution. Filipino leaders and representatives are not Academy Award winners chosen by an esteemed team of scholars. Nor are they Golden Globe Awardees chosen by a body of those media types. Filipino execs and reps are People’s Choice Awardees — selected for their chops at attracting the popular sentiment and the raw numbers at the polls.
It is all a win-win. Boracay and Manila Bay are visible national artifacts that one — regardless of political affiliation — cannot help but marvel at now that their respective beauties shine through. These and other ways the incumbent administration has captured the hearts of the broader Filipino public exhibit virtuouso winning strategies at play. On the other side of this spectrum of competence — the losing side — is one that makes use of exclusive rhetoric as only the Yellowtards can deliver. The Yellowtards have doomed the Opposition thanks to their obsolete “good” versus “evil” polarisation of their audience, the blatantly intelligence-insulting inconsistency and hypocrisy in their messaging, their foolish latching onto a relic of medieval aristocracy that the Roman Catholic Church had become, and the uppity way that they mouth notions like “human rights” and “equality” that are hopelessly abstract to the average Filipino voter.
It turns out, the astounding loss of an entire nation on the back of Yellowtard rhetoric in 2016 was just Phase 1 of what is looking like a three-phase phase out — no, eradication — of the Yellowtard narrative. Phase 2 will be the crushing of all remaining semblance of Yellowtard presence in the Senate. Phase 3, if the political trajectory is maintained, will be the long-overdue junking of the 1987 Yellowtard Constitution and the dawn of a new epoch in Philippine politics.
All this could be gleaned from the genius behind the Boracay and Manila Bay clean-up initiatives as well as the sniper-like consistency with which the Duterte government has so far remained on-point with its campaign promises. Indeed, these were no secret weapons nor strategies that require rocket scientists to implement. The lessons were all for the taking. The only thing that prevented the Yellowtards from picking up and running with these abundant lessons is their fatal arrogance, their regimented inbred thinking, and their shallow bench of sophomoric bloggers, attack “journalists”, and wet-behind-the-ears “thought leaders”.
January 27, 2019 - by benign0
“Fake news” is nothing new. Attempts to mislead people on a large scale have been around as long as human civilisation itself. A branch of this axis of disinformation — advertising — has become a legitimate billion dollar industry. Indeed, smoking, for example, was made cool on the back of this industry for decades before the scientific truth about smoking caught up.
When the truth about the fatal health effects of smoking emerged, the tobacco industry paid dearly. But, guess what: the advertising industry got away scott free without even a slap on the wrist.
There is a reason the 21st Century notion of “fake news” became the trendy “activist” outrage fad that it is today — because social media’s spurned lover, corporate mainstream media, put it up as the modern day “Satan” against which today’s righteousness flock are obliged to rail against.
What has happened is that Big Corporate Media’s travesties have since been buried under a mountain of “fake news” hysteria. The fact is, the falsehoods propagated by so-called “journalists” have caused far more damage to society than “fake news” ever will. Whereas the arbitrary lot who are presumed to fall within the blanket “fake news” accusations of these “activists” of “press freedom” compete for dominance as free agents in the free market of ideas, the chi chi oligarchs who own today’s Big Corporate Media organisations are in a desperate frenzy pulling authority, citing rank and credentials, and deferring to their “institutional” place in society to prop up the remaining semblance of relevance they enjoy within their little cliques.
We can see today how every other item on the social media feeds of politically-attuned Netizens involve some form of gripe over the “proliferation” of “fake news” coming from a who’s-who of “thought leaders”. What is missing, however, is a wherewithal to compete. Rather than step up to the battlefield with bigger and better guns, Mainstream Media have opted for the Victim Card and be the pathetic crybabies that they are today.
Indeed, it is evident today that the beleaguered traditional news media industry are banding together into victim support groups. Look no further beyond the way TIME Magazine have gathered together a band of these victim cardholders to lionise on their quaint “Persons of the Year” pedestal. All of them “journalists”. All of them are either employed or partnered with or otherwise colluding in some way with industry captains.
Only healthy and competitive discourse on social media (the way, ironically, many early social media “experts” trumpeted it as) or any other platform where anyone can get up upon and speak her mind, will prevail as the most efficient and non-biased means to tease out the truth. It’s messy, yes. Noisy, yes. But the alternative is a landscape dominated by self-described “fact checkers” who owe allegiance not to the spirit of free inquiry but to oligarchs who know nothing beyond furthering their personal and clan agendas to the extent of branding these as the straight and “righteous” paths.
It’s time real people take back the discourse and speak their minds — speak their minds as competitors in a free market and not as the pitiful crybabies traditional “activists” have become.
BY ANTONIO CONTRERAS JANUARY 29, 2019
THE vigor by which Robert Mueller goes after people who may have tainted the US 2016 presidential election, notwithstanding the fact that these are people very close to US President Donald Trump, can easily mesmerize any political observer. The boldness acquires impressive levels when it appears that the process doesn’t spare even Trump himself. To date, some like Michael Cohen have even been convicted and sentenced to serve jail terms. And the fact that the issues surrounding the controversy are not even on matters directly involved in the conduct of the elections, but instead are anomalies related to the Trump campaign and the role that Russia allegedly played in it, should further impress us.
And you contrast that with what has happened in our country in relation to the conduct of our own 2016 elections, and you won’t have any choice but to gnash your teeth and weep. We have a congress that initially wanted to acquit former Commission on Elections (Comelec) chairman Andy Bautista from being impeached on counts of unexplained wealth, some of which bore evidence of somewhat being election-related. It has been revealed that there are documents suggesting that Bautista had links to Smartmatic, the chosen service provider for the automated election, and which may have even involved some monetary consideration. This was revealed while an election protest filed by former senator Bongbong Marcos against Vice President Leni Robredo is being heard, where allegations have been made about massive fraud ranging from the conventional methods of pre-shading ballots and tampering with election paraphernalia to the more sophisticated possible tampering with scripts and algorithms.
Eventually, Andy Bautista was impeached by the House of Representatives in a dramatic reversal of the recommendations of its justice committee, even as some Smartmatic personnel were also indicted, leading to a live ongoing case against them stemming from the tampering of scripts done by Venezuelan national Marlon Garcia on election night.
But then Bautista and Garcia are nowhere to be found, having apparently left the country even if their possible knowledge and/or involvement in fraud remains unresolved. Congress and the courts appear to be clueless and helpless, unable to take hold of these two men to provide relevant information that can shed light on the allegations of fraud that marred the 2016 elections.
Worse, the Comelec has retained Smartmatic as the service provider for the 2019 midterms, without any objections from any sitting member of Congress, or even from the President himself.
And the joint congressional oversight committee (JCOC) composed of senators and representatives tasked to review the conduct of the automated elections, and to ensure that the law is followed and that elections are clean, honest and credible, despite being presented with compelling evidence and testimonies not only from losing politicians but from election watchdogs and experts, appears toothless.
Worse, it was even obvious on several occasions that there was an attempt, though unsuccessful, to stifle the testimony of anti-election fraud crusader Glenn Chong. There was also an attempt to hold executive sessions on matters that are supposed to be transparent, the conduct of which was fortunately outed by an eager commissioner who tweeted and posted a picture while the meeting was being held. It behooves us to ask how anything remotely related to the conduct of elections, the cornerstone of our democratic processes, could be held away from the public view. How can an oversight committee allow this to happen?
But apparently, it is no longer surprising. The Comelec has changed the minimum threshold for shading ballot ovals not only once but twice without informing the public and the parties concerned. And this was even countenanced by no less than the Supreme Court, sitting as the Presidential Electoral Tribunal (PET) on the protest of Marcos against Robredo.
Had the killing of Chong’s personal assistant Richard Santillan happened in the US, the FBI would have been mobilized by now to look into a possible link to election fraud. But not in our country. And yet we call ourselves a democracy.
A democracy is what is happening in the US, where at least institutions work. There, the political opposition, the Democrats, perform their jobs as a necessary check and balance to the powers of the Republicans in the White House and in Congress. The legal process does not rely only on ballot recounts to overturn election results, but goes after people who may have tainted the electoral process. The system works there, where special counsels are not intimidated to investigate the conduct even of people close to the White House.
It would be nice if the vigor the political opposition shows in calling out President Duterte every step of the way can be matched by their own vigor in castigating him for allowing Andy Bautista to simply fly away, or to call out Comelec for sitting on the job, or denounce their own colleagues in the JCOC for not doing enough, or to demand that Smartmatic be fired.
But how can the Liberal Party, and their allies in the political opposition, even dare raise these issues when the possible beneficiary of the biggest election fraud in our country’s political history is one of them. How can they even object to Smartmatic when it is a child of their own time in government, and from where many of them probably benefited?
If there is one person from which we should demand action to take the lead in cleaning up our elections, it would be the President himself.
President Duterte rode on the image of change, and he promised to sweep our political landscape of corruption. Electoral fraud is definitely the worst corruption of all, since it undermines the very foundation of our democracy. It is understandable if we do not hear anything from the political opposition on the issue of electoral fraud. But one has to keep asking and wondering why the President has not come out swinging, with his usual air of bravado, cursing and all, against election cheats, with the same level of colorful language that he uses against the bishops and the Catholic Church. It behooves us to ask why, given the opportunity, he did not appoint reformists in the Comelec.
The President has focused his ire on criminality and drugs with so much precision and vigor on the argument that they eat away the moral fiber of the Republic. But it must be argued that election fraud is a worse crime against the Republic, for it does not devour its victims selectively, but inflicts itself on all of us. The President turned juvenile delinquency into a crisis even if data shows otherwise. Much rancor has been created and our political capital has been eroded by focusing only on the 2 percent of the totality of offenses attributed to children. This, even as his stance towards election-related controversies remains tepid at best.
We see people who keep on condemning election anomalies while they accuse Robredo of electoral fraud, but won’t call out the President to pressure him to be a leader in cleaning up the mess. That is how much they worship him. We have a President with phenomenal trust and approval ratings, who can take on anyone, even God Himself. If only he can spare some of his cursing, and aim it towards the election cheats and fraudsters.
by Natasha De Sousa January 8, 2019