Monday, July 24, 2017
MNLF chairman Nur Misuari’s recent meeting with President Duterte has given new life to the President’s initiative for federalism. With the action oriented Duterte of Mindanao it is hopeful that the different groups will return to the table to jointly find solutions to achieve peace in Mindanao.
President Duterte has proposed a federal system to unite the Mindanao with Sulu and Palawan included (Minsupala) Whether this new initiative will succeed requires patience and the willingness to compromise. It will be difficult but as the saying goes where there is a will there is a way. There will be no winners in a war that has killed thousands unless we adopt this attitude.
The MNLF leadership is especially poised to achieve this unity. It has always recognized the 1996 GRP-OIC-MNLF Jakarta Peace Agreement and the 1976 Tripoli Peace Agreement as the benchmark of just and lasting peace that most of the Luzon-based political leaders had repeatedly betrayed. We now have a leader from Mindanao who has a consciousness of Mindanao’s history and a personal link to the problem. Is the MNLF proposal for the “Bangsamoro Nation” pledged by President Duterte to address the “injustices” done by the Manila-based colonizers? The MNLF proposal for a one MINSUPALA Federal State will include in its enclave the MILF-proposed BBL, comprising of the present ARMM areas and other Muslim municipalities and villages.
Nur’s MNLF will no longer submit its proposed ARMM amendatory law. Instead it will push for federalism instead.
There is a need for many of us Christians from Luzon and the Visayas to know the background of the Sultan’s brave attempt to get back Sabah. It may seem futile but it has forced us to know and understand what Mindanao and its conflicts are all about.
That is in itself a considerable victory because the ignorance of a greater part of Filipinos about Sabah is a major block and for this we salute the men who lost their lives that we may be made aware. Thank you for the gift of awareness. That is also true for the rest of the world who would not have known what the Sabah issue was all about.
The best source of information on the Philippine Sabah claim comes from Sen. Jovito Salonga’s reply to Senator Lorenzo Sumulong when the two debated the issue in Congress in 1962. I have already quoted Salonga in a column but I repeat it today with the issue of peace perking up under Duterte.
Here is how I understand it: Salonga was hopping mad when Sumulong contradicted the government’s stand on the Sabah claim, hence he painstakingly crafted a point by point reply that has come down to us for our guidance at this time.
“Thousands of years ago, what is now known as the Philippines and what is known today as Borneo used to constitute a single historical, cultural, economic unit. This is confirmed by scientific studies of land bridges. Indeed Borneo is only 18 miles away from us today. North Borneo, formerly known as Sabah, was originally ruled by the Sultan of Brunei. In 1704, in gratitude for help extended to him by the Sultan of Sulu in suppressing a revolt, the Sultan of Brunei ceded North Borneo to the Sulu Sultan. This is where the claim comes from.
But he was acknowledged by various European countries, among them Britain, Spain and the Netherlands as the sovereign ruler of North Borneo and entered into various treaty arrangements with him.
But in 1878, the Sultan leased Borneo to an Austrian, Baron de Overbeck for Malayan $5,000 (roughly equivalent to a meager $1,600), He later sold the lease contract to Alfred Dent, an English merchant, who established a provisional association and later a Company, known as the British North Borneo Company, which assumed all the rights and obligations under the 1878 contract. This company was awarded a Royal Charter in 1881 but the British Government confirmed in reply to critics of its appropriation that “sovereignty remains with the Sultan of Sulu” and that the Company was merely an administering authority.
In 1946, the British North Borneo Company transferred all its rights and obligations to the British Crown.
In 1962 the House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution urging the President of the Philippines to recover North Borneo consistent with international law and procedure. Acting on this unanimous resolution and having acquired all the rights and interests of the Sultanate of Sulu, the Republic of the Philippines, through the President, filed the claim to North Borneo.
It accused the British Crown of disregarding the contract of 1878 and their solemn commitments when it turned over Sabah to Malaysia. Nothing could be clearer if we are to follow the rule of law. But that is not what happened and through the years of Philippine government neglect in pursuing the claim and the arrogance of Western nations, it became “dormant.”
But it is not about the claim alone. We are told that the MNLF and the Sultan’s group feel left out of the Malaysian sponsored MILF-GRP peace agreement that would give MILF the upper hand in governing Moroland in Mindanao. Some say Malaysia did not want the MNLF and Sultanate included precisely because of the claim. So Sultan Kiram had to move boldly so the claim would not be swept under the rug.
The complexity of the problem comes from our inability to forge national unity. Had we a stronger state, GRP should have been able to manage a peace formula that would include the MNLF, MILF, the Sultanates, the Lumads and the Christians.
There would have been no need of Malaysia, the US or Britain to sponsor a peace agreement on what was essentially an internal conflict. But with the Sultan activating the Sabah claim, the Malaysian sponsored peace agreement has hit the shoals.
Here also important background for any negotiations for peace. Datu Jamal Ashley Yahya Abbas, a Muslim scholar wrote “GRP-MILF as quests for identity”.it is a mistake to look at the problem in Mindanao as if it were about the Muslims alone. His perspective for a solution includes non-Muslims, more so of Christians, colonized then and now. We had a common cause against colonialism.
A group of Moro politicians once sought the advice of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad on Bangsa Moro. He replied why Bangsa Moro only?
What about Bangsa Malay? That would be the wide swath of Malayland – Malaysia, Philippines and Indonesia (With the threat of ISIS using the narrow borders of the three countries as their routes this idea has become feasible.)
We now have a strong man with Duterte. But is this a challenge that Duterte would be willing to take up?
Sunday, July 23, 2017
THE WAR AGAINST TERRORISM THAT WENT WRONG
The sole objective of the January 25, 2015 Police Commando Operation in Mamasapano, Maguindanao, was to capture Malaysian terrorist Zulkifli Abdhir alias "Marwan" dead or alive.
It was a significant success in the war against terrorism.
Unfortunately, although not unexpectedly, it resulted in the deaths of 44 brave members of the PNP Special Action Force who were massacred by MILF rebel elements that were jolted by the clandestine campaign to arrest one of FBI's most wanted international Terrorists.
But the SCANDAL of the so-called MAMASAPANO MASSACRE that threatened to desecrate the memory and dishonour the heroic efforts of those who willingly paid the supreme sacrifice in dutifully carrying out their orders under OPLAN EXODUS, was the UNACCEPTABLE CONDUCT PRESIDENT AQUINO FOR REFUSING TO PROMPTLY AUTHORIZE THE RESCUE OF THE TROOPERS WHO WERE TRAPPED IN AN OPEN TERRAIN BY A NUMERICALLY SUPERIOR ADVERSARIES and HIS FAILURE TO ACCEPT FULL RESPONSIBILITY OF THE RISKY AND DANGEROUS OPERATIONS.
Ironically, P-Noy's behavior was prompted by an overriding desire not to jeopardize the GRP- Bangsamoro peace negotiations - THE BBL WHICH WAS BLATANTLY FULL OF ILLEGAL PROVISIONS.. His authorization for a police or military intrusion into a rebel-held territory without coordination with the MILF, violated a key protocol in the on going peace process. Yet to do so would have inevitably compromised the delicate top secret operation.
This to my mind was the reason why the former president deliberately tailored his orders to General Purissima and Col. Napenas to be vague and imprecise to give him the flexibility of a plausible denial of involvement should the operation be prematurely exposed by glitches. He wanted a clean exit to save face.
Simply put, at the height of a grave crisis P-Noy desperately tried to escape accountability by putting the blame on others. He displayed a fundamental flaw vital to the Presidency - LACK OF MORAL COURAGE!!!
INDEED, PRES. RODRIGO ROA DUTERTE is GOD SENT!!!
~ Patricia Laurel
Why do some people, particularly members of the Philippine Liberal Party, call President Rodrigo Duterte a dictator? I have been trying to find people who can substantiate that accusation, but none of his critics could provide anything to back their claim. Liberal Party Senators like Leila De Lima, Risa Hontiveros and Antonio Trillanes keep warning the public about what they think is a looming dictatorship. They keep harping about the “doom and gloom” scenario if Duterte is not stopped, but they simply come across as delusional since their statements are far from reality.
Somebody ought to tell Duterte’s critics what the term “dictator” means. A dictator is someone who has total power over a country. As far as I know, all branches of government in the Philippines are still functioning. Members of Congress can still vote on issues so, therefore, the country is not under a dictatorship. Congress recently exercised their mandate, convened and tackled the issue of Duterte’s request to extend Martial Law in Mindanao. Congress approved the extension of Martial Law until the 31st of December 2017 with an overwhelming 261 yes and just 18 no votes.
The extension of Martial Law is definitely a slap on the face of anti-Martial Law advocates including members of the Liberal Party and their supporters. Their shrill cries are generally ignored by the public anyway, which means the representatives in Congress are in touch with public sentiments. Anti-Martial Law advocates are way out of tune. They only talk about abuses committed in the past, not today. In fact, I’m beginning to think that anti-Martial Law advocates secretly wish the military would commit atrocities and abuse their power against civilians just to prove their point and have something against Duterte.
Anti-Martial Law advocates have become annoying. The public cannot relate to what they are saying because the public understands that the threat of ISIS-affiliated terrorists taking control of the rest of the country is more dangerous than one or two rogue members of the Philippine military abusing their positions. In other words, anti-Martial Law advocates have lost their ability to rationalise. Their arrogance is preventing them from seeing that the country is under threat. They still think that Duterte is simply exaggerating.
Liberal-minded critics still think that peace talks would be more effective in dealing with terrorist groups like Maute. Yeah, right! The Maute Group was founded by Abdullah Maute, son of Moro Islamic Liberation Front official Cayamora Maute. This just proves that despite the millions of pesos former President BS Aquino spent on brokering “peace talks” with the leaders of Moro Islamic Liberation Front, peace in Mindanao remains elusive because breakaway groups continue to pop-up and wreak havoc in the community. These terrorists are not fighting for their religious ideology; they are fighting for power. They don’t want peace because they want to take over the region and quite possibly the entire country.
Seriously, if Duterte didn’t declare Martial Law in Mindanao, his critics would have nothing new to say against him. They can only throw old problems left by BS Aquino government like the traffic at EDSA and public transportation woes. Duterte’s swearing is not even an issue anymore because his supporters don’t have a problem with it and there is nothing his critics can do to change the way he talks.
Duterte’s critics are questioning his popularity ratings and imply that survey firms did not paint a very accurate result. They cannot believe Duterte still enjoys a very high popularity rating – even higher than the previous survey result at 84%. They didn’t have a problem accepting the result when BS Aquino’s popularity rating was high though. They just can’t accept that Duterte still commands respect after a year in office.
Unfortunately for Duterte’s critics, they have nothing to pin him down with since he has not violated any law. His war on drugs is consistent with his mandate as the leader to deal with the drug menace in Philippine society, which the previous government failed to address. The courts have yet to prove that the deaths related to drug operation were the result of “extra-judicial killings”. His war on drugs even seems to be going viral. Indonesian President Joko Widodo has instructed members of his country’s law enforcement agency to shoot drug traffickers, including foreigners. We can only hope that his decision to emulate Duterte would distract US lawmakers who are against Duterte’s policy from focusing on him too much.
Indeed, a year of Duterte has resulted in a more engaged public due to the President’s determination to expose issues that were swept under the rug by the BS Aquino government. Duterte certainly doesn’t pretend everything is peachy in the Philippines. He is the first to admit that the problems in the Philippines are not going to be easy to solve. That is a good start. The first part of solving a problem is exposing it. The solution should present itself after that.
By: DJ Yap - Reporter / @deejayapINQPhilippine Daily Inquirer / 03:57 PM July 20, 2017
Leadership is often a struggle between doing the right thing and being popular, Vice President Leni Robredo said on Wednesday.
“It is always a choice between being liked and being respected. Sometimes, when you choose to be respected than be liked, you will have to undergo struggles first,” she told a forum with students of St. Paul College in Pasig City.
“When you make difficult decisions, you may be unpopular, but later on, you will be respected because people know that you chose the more difficult but right path,” said Robredo, whose public satisfaction and trust ratings improved in the latest surveys after taking a dive earlier this year.
She lamented how people who would make the right but unpopular choice would be “swarmed” on social media.
“Now, so many people opt to be quiet, because when they fight back, they are swarmed. I think you know what I mean. Most of you are in social media, and when you say some things that others take very personally, people swarm at you,” said Robredo.
“I have been at the receiving end of so much of that,” she said.
The titular head of the Liberal Party said the world had changed so much in recent years.
“What has become of us? If before, we could not tolerate certain things, but now there is so much that we tolerate already,” she said, apparently referring to the rise of populism and the political divisiveness on the internet.
“And you know, that is, I think, where we should decide. If these things happen, what do we do? Would we opt to take the safer route, or do we fight for what we think is right?” Robredo said.
“If you ask me, even if— again, even if it is unpopular — we always fight for what we think is right,” she said.
In March, Robredo’s popularity fell after she came under fire from administration allies for speaking out against the administration’s drug war, particularly when she sent a video message to a United Nations side event raising alarm over the killing of thousands of drug suspects.
Robredo’s remarks prompted the filing of two impeachment complaints against her by lawyers supportive of the Duterte administration, though no lawmaker has endorsed them so far.
Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez said he was still building a possible impeachment case against the vice president.
Robredo’s public satisfaction rating recovered in June, rising by 10 percentage points from her previous net rating of plus 26 to plus 36, according to Social Weather Stations.
Her trust rating rose four points from 56 percent in March to 60 percent in June, according to Pulse Asia. JPV/rga
Saturday, July 22, 2017
The only relevant point that needs to be highlighted as far as the circus surrounding Transport Network Vehicle Services (TNVS) like Uber and Grab is this: The only Filipinos who could really afford these services on routine bases are people who, themselves, could afford to own and drive private cars.
A trip in an Uber service costs at least five times that of a conventionally-hailed taxi service. Furthermore, almost full-time access to the Internet using a mid- to high-end mobile device is required to consistently avail of the service point-to-point. In short, the whole “debate” surrounding the fate of Uber and Grab is essentially an elitist debate akin to the chatter surrounding the “outrage” over cell sites put up in exclusive residential enclaves and Starbucks lattes not being served at the “right” temperature.
TNVS services are fundamentally no different to jeepneys, tricycles, and pedicabs. They just cost more and make use of more expensive means to hail and stop drivers. Neither conventional PUVs nor TNVS can really be considered true public services as both inconvenience sectors of society who are not either’s patrons. PUVs, for their part, turn Philippine roads into monstrous hellholes for private motorists and pedestrians (and are hazards even to their own patrons). TNVS services, on the other hand, further add to the proliferation of private vehicles that provide non-mass-transit “public” transport. Both PUVs and TNVSs contribute virtually the same problem to Philippine public transport in general in that both are competitive private enterprises rather than true public mass transit systems that are coherent at a macro level and truly egalitarian in the level of service made available to the public.
Like jeepneys and tricycles, the TNVS industry in the Philippines will eventually suffer a fate called the “Lechon Manok Syndrome”. As thousands of unimaginative Filipino entrepreneurs jump into what they perceive to be the “easy money” bandwagon of operating TNVS services, the Law of Supply and Demand will eventually rear its ugly head as the easily-foreseen oversupply of TNVS vehicles crushes prices. A downward spiral in prices will likely turn TNVS drivers into the same monster drivers that jeepney and tricycle drivers are today — virtually clambering over one another for increasingly limited passengers.
Like the short-term “win” that jeepneys represented in the 1940s, TNVS are a short-term stopgap “convenience” for the latte-sipping classes. And like the jeepney, the TNVS industry does not provide a promising future for Filipino public transport infrastructure.
Seen under this light, the statement recently issued by Uber on the matter of a suspension of TNVS applications to operate comes across as quite hollow…
We ask the LTFRB to maintain the spirit of Department Order No. 2015-011 that was meant to promote innovation, reliability, and consumer choice in mobility so that we can all help solve the problem of traffic congestion together […]
As usual Filipinos are focusing on all the wrong arguments. If all the loud voices emanating from these social media “influencers” were, instead, directed towards expressing concerted outrage over the banal impunity with which drivers of all road-based public vehicles — whether conventional PUVs or “modern” TNVS services — flout basic road rules, they would be addressing the true root problem of why Metro Manila has become the embarrassing human cesspool that it is today.
These things need to be thought through carefully. Filipinos and their politicians should not be easily seduced by the gleaming cosmetic “trendiness” of TNVS services. They are, in essence, automated versions of flawed operating models. If the same thinking were applied to automating washing clothes or dishes, we’d have designs for million-dollar humanoid robots hunched over washing basins gathering dust on drawing boards rather than the efficient 300-dollar mass-produced machines in our homes today.
Filipinos really do seem to be missing a chip in their brains. The extent to which they are conditioned to think only what they aretold to think is astounding. It is such that when they actually do attempt to challenge authority, they do so from a weak position of argumentation.
Indeed, the EDSA “people power” revolution, it seems, is what set the precedent for three decades spent getting comfy with arguing from a weak position. The EDSA “revolution” was a triumph of popular sentiment that conditioned Filipinos to rely on what is popular to determine what is “right”. This, plus the fact that the Catholic Church played a lead role in anointing the “victors” of this “revolution” (and got a Catholic “shrine” built on prime real estate for their trouble) pretty much imprisoned the Philippine National “Debate” in a perpetual state of argumentum ad verecundiam, also known as Appeal to Authority.
Somebody I look up to said so, therefore it is true.
The close cousin of this fallacy is argumentum ad populum. People who fall for this fallacy claim that something is true just because it is the popular position “many” people take. This is the sort of thinking that lends vast power to celebrities and is the active ingredient in their ability to command millions of dollars in product endorsement fees. In fact, it is on this pillar that the entire advertising industry is built, and even democracy itself.
Indeed, the irony that flies above the pointed heads of the multitude of Fake News Crybabies that now infest social media chatter is that it is this very predisposition to believe things on the back of these two fallacious thinking processes that is behind the spread of “fake news” itself. An example is how many Filipinos continue to refer to a list of “fake news” sites issued by the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP). They even challenge people to “disprove” the list even if there is no basis for such an exercise considering that these “bishops” don’t see themselves or anything they say as subject to moderndebate.
Debate is only possible when two parties agree to uphold similar rules of logic. People who merely believe are, by their very nature, not open to intelligent discourse for the simple reason that belief is a subjective state of mind which cannot be reduced to component parts that can be evaluated critically using a coherent and systematic process of arriving at sound conclusions.
Thus, it is hardly surprising that nothing ever gets resolved in the Philippines — because the intellectual tools required to support an intelligent public “debate” are completely missing in Philippine society at a collective level. For one thing, Filipinos may be able to speak English as a second language but they are nowhere near fully grasping the intellectual depth of the language. It does not help that their native languages and dialects are far inferior as far as being able to support truly intelligent discussion.
Perhaps this is what is behind the baffling observation that despite all the technology accessible to Filipinos today, no discernible uplift in the quality of the “debate” can be observed. Indeed, if we are to believe the shrill laments of the Fake News Crybabies, the quality of the debate had even regressed. It seems that technology had merely amplified flawed Filipino thinking rather than “cure” it.
An even more disturbing possibility is that there is no cure to the chronic intellectual bankruptcy of the Philippines. If track records are a good measure, this is actually a plausible scenario. Look no further than the whole debate around the future of public transport. Filipinos cannot seem to think the issues through beyond the inconsequential questions around the future of jeepneys, Uber, and Grab in the country. All the energy so far expended in “debating” these amount to no more than a monumental quibble that totally misses the more important point of a proper mass transit infrastructure that is designed to serve all Filipinos without prejudice.
Another example is the slogan “Never Again” which has come to be associated with cliques of “activists” who remain fixated on sustaining a climate of fear for anything to do with “Martial Law”. They are quick to imagine what the Philippines should never again be. But asked what they envision the Philippines can be, and you will likely get no more than the sound of heads being scratched. It is an epic failure of imagination at a national scale.
Ultimately, it seems to come down to how Filipinos are raised and educated. Indeed, one of the creepier things that recently came to light was how Filipino school books have been peppered with the partisan propaganda of parties that happen to be in power at the time of print. Because Filipinos are taught what to think and not how to think, they go through life with minds tragically framed by a small square outside of which they are conditioned to fear to tread.
Duterte will be coming to the podium to address a joint session of Philippine Congress riding on the crest of high approval ratings after one year of service. As such, he possesses the immense political capital that is required to push through an agenda that, as has been evident, is unpopular not with the ordinary Filipino but with an entrenched cadre of oligarchs with vast vested interests in maintaining the status quo. Indeed, if one will examine a cross-section of the community of anti-Duterte activists and shills, one will find not mere pedestrian observers but personalities associated with the interests of big corporations and traditional political clans.
Big Corporate mainstream media, for one, had, since the 2016 campaign, served as a sounding board for propaganda and “journalism” biased towards the Aquino-Cojuangco clan and their interests in those elections. The biggest brand names in that industy, ABS-CBN and the Inquirer group owe that clan big time after being granted a virtual monopoly over mass communication capability and “thought leadership” across the nation at the height of Aquino-Cojuangco rule. Together with relative newcomer Rappler.com which bubbled up out of nowhere to lead the media charge in demonising the late former Chief Justice Renato Corona in 2012, the media establishment had been instrumental in the propagation of the unique brand of “victim politics” (a.k.a. “Yellowtard” discourse) of the Aquinos and Cojuangcos.
In the entertainment industy, elder entertainers such as Jim Paredes and Leah Navarro, together with Kris “Queen of Philippine Media” Aquino, served as pillars of former President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III’s “showbiz government”. They used their popularity to blanket the national “debate” with meaningless appeal-to-emotion slogans to hook in the ignoramous rather than add intelligence to the discourse. The irony that continues to fly above the heads of these “influencers” and the Filipino showbiz addicts who follow them that, today, scream bloody “fake news” whenever no-substance messages cross their timelines, is that they were instrumental in propping up for three decades the far darker blanket of fake ideology that is the now-discredited “Yellow brand” worshipped by the Yellowtards.
Finally, there is the Roman Catholic Church, the self-appointed official anointer of the “victors” of the 1986 “people power revolution”. The Catholic Church won symbolic spoils in that “revolution” as evident in the big statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary that tops the “EDSA Shrine” built at the intersection of EDSA and Ortigas Avenue, the epicentre of this “revolution” of yore. The presumptuousness with which the Church continues to wear that quaint revolutionary crown is still evident today. Just recently, the Catholic Church exploited its own lucrative private channel for disseminating dubious “news” — the Sunday masses where its minions read out “pastoral letters” to their gawking congregation — to issue a list of “fake news” Internet sites. This is reminiscent of the days when the Church routinely banned “heretical” reading material and launched “holy wars” to silence infidels. Thus it is not surprising that even in 21st Century Philippines, medieval thinking dominates — because one of its society’s key institutions of thought leadership remains the same medieval organisation in essence and mode of operation.
Stepping back from all this to take stock from a higher vantage point, we can see what the Duterte government is up against — a formidable tree of institutions, capital, and mindsets whose trunk is deeply-rooted in Imperial Manila and whose branches spread across the entire Philippine archipelago to blanket it under a shadow of ignorance and religious zealotry. Indeed, the fact that Duterte remains a popular leader despite being the anti-thesis of the “liberal” ideals of the Philippine oligarchy and despite a bumbling Malacanang communication team is a remarkable feat of political navigation.
The challenge then is for Duterte to sustain the momentum he had gathered up over the first 12 months of his presidency.
Duterte’s execution of his most controversial campaign promises — his War on Drugs and his wrenching change-of-course in the Philippines’ foreign policy — is in full swing. In the pipeline are his ambitious infrastructure development programmes and the mobilisation of the troops for his next battle front, his much-vaunted “war on corruption”. All of these make sense — to Filipinos who are not blinkered by Imperial Manila politics, that is. For, the fact remains, Mindanao and the southern Visayas have long been recipients of the short ends of sticks extended as token gestures by Manila’s boy’s club of traditional politicians since time immemorial. This is likely the reason why the directions Duterte’s administration had taken “baffle” traditional “thought leaders” — because they are all Imperial Manila’s children and minions.
Thus, it is important that Duterte ensure that his second SONA address the key threats to this momentum as spelt out above. So far his administration has demonstrated that it has the backing of both “co-equal” branches of government in the way the Supreme Court and Congress both collectively upheld his declaration of Martial Law in Mindanao. As such, the non-controversial or even no-brainer aspects of his challenges — infrastructure, anti-drugs and crime, and anti-corruption — that require multi-partisan support show much promise for gaining traction.
However, much needs to be done to secure the still-fragile credibility of his government and win over its critics. One area that sticks out like a sore thumb and has the potential of unravelling support for his government is his predisposition to granting juicy government posts and junkets to “die hard” supporters. The recruitment of key bloggers with vast followings into Malacanang, in particular, contributes to the growing power vacuum within the small community of independent social media influencers aligned to his administration. Influencers seen to be directly under the payroll of a government or business interest begin to lose semblance of independence, much the same way as Rappler and its amazon leadership had lost profile as independent “news” sources after being seen to be in bed with various corporate interests in the past.
At the moment, much of the communication and persuasion machinery of the Duterte administration rests on the strength of its “independent” social media communities. Indeed, these “independents” remain far more credible than the actual communications arm of Malacanang itself which, under the leadership of Presidential Communications Secretary Martin Andanar, has suffered one damaging gaffe after another over the last 12 months. But with the erosion of this independent community thanks to its key members accepting lucrative government posts, the risk of the social media war being lost by Duterte is becoming more real by the day.
Another exacerbation of the increasingly disturbing degeneration to padrino politics in the Duterte government also came to light in the reinstatement of Police Superintendent Marvin Marcos along with his entire team in the Criminal Investigation and Detection Group (CIDG) of the Philippine National Police (PNP). This despite Marcos and his team being implicated in the November 2016 killing of Albuera Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. Although supposedly cleared of the “administrative” aspect of the case, Marcos still faces homicide charges filed with the Department of Justice (DOJ).
To continue to be seen to be the dark horse galloping out from the horizon to rescue Filipinos from the fatal grip of the status quo (an image which won him the 2016 elections), Duterte needs to position his administration in a way that it is seen as one bucking the all-too-familiar trend of succumbing to typical Philippine-style politics — specifically the style of Imperial Manila politics.
Duterte needs to step back and turn his government into a true meritocracy. The Executive Branch, after all, remains a highly-political outfit. As such Duterte needs to continue working at securing his so far strong mandate with a supporter base dominated by people hanging on to the promise of change, specifically the destruction of the status quo. Hopefully what he says in his second — and very crucial — SONA will reassure Filipinos that way.