Putting sense into our vote

 

Election is just a few days away and there is no better time to make sure that our country will be in good hands going forward than for everyone to go out and vote.

Every election time is very crucial for the country as it helps chart the destiny of the country, but I hope people will consider the May 13 midterm legislative election as something compelling for them to exercise their freedom of suffrage because we want to make sure that the outcome will not allow us to retrogress and risk the relapse of becoming the ignoble “sick man of Asia” again.

The reason why I am saying this is because the world community is acknowledging and recognizing the leadership of President Duterte and there is nothing more important than to choose candidates who support the direction the president is leading the country and not be an obstructionist for the sake of being one.

We have to admit that like everybody else, Duterte is a flawed man, but for one whose satisfaction rating has always been high, and even rated “excellent” in the first quarter of 2019 by the Social Weather Stations (SWS), it could only mean that most Filipinos approve of his non-traditional leadership.

Duterte’s relentless war on illegal drugs and his aversion to corruption in government, as well as his repulsion to criminality in our society, are exercises of political will. Many loathe him for his seeming uncivility, but this is what sets him apart from past presidents who would rather be popular than be motivated to perform a political action that would have negative impact upon the voters, so come what may.

Suffice to say that Duterte governance has always been predicated on his love for the country. It is not about himself but rather about the Filipino people he has been sworn to serve.

Sad to say, however, that many candidates who are running now for senators are banking on their popularity and not on what they have inside their heads and their hearts. They seem to have correctly psych up already how the Filipino electorate votes and this is what makes them confident that they will win. Talking about actors, singers, and the prominently infamous one of the martial law years and those of the PDAF scandal.

Certainly, this is not putting sense into our votes and this is why I am appealing for more well meaning Filipinos to participate in this election if only to offset those looking at election as a popularity contest. If they happen to belong to the Dutertes PDP-Laban and Hugpong ng Pagbabago parties, repudiate them.

Perhaps it is worth remembering Plato’s famous quote about politics, saying: “One of the penalties for refusing to participate in politics is that you end up being governed by your inferiors.”

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Honesty in politics

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio

There is no doubt that Filipinos have unabashedly shown their appreciation and admiration for President Rodrigo Duterte and presidential daughter, Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, for their political will, political toughness and their predilection that a politician who runs for public office must truly be a sincere servant leader.

Both exemplified this out-of-the box leadership style in making and sustaining what Davao City is today – a safe, peaceful, stable and highly livable place, which has become the envy of other cities in the country.

The Filipino people, hungry for a change in governance by traditional politicians, opted to throw in their lot with Duterte hoping that what the latter has done in Davao could be duplicated in the whole Philippine archipelago.

On the promise that that he will be waging war against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality like it has never been done before, the voters overwhelmingly gave Duterte the mandate to lead the country. Alas, in totality, the complexity and enormity of the drug problem plaguing the whole country has been so overwhelming that three years into his presidency the war is far from over.

 It is on this context that presidential daughter, Sara, is spearheading the campaign to have her Hugpong ng Pagbabago (HNP) senatorial bets elected in the coming May 2019 elections if only to ensure that President Duterte will be able to have control of the Senate to help him implement whatever remaining programs and reforms he has for the country in the last remaining three years of his presidency.

What is perturbing, however, about the coming election is that both the administration and opposition party leaders and their respective candidates are more obsessed about honesty more than what they can do to help move the country forward and improve the lives of the Filipinos.

I mean, c’mon, honesty has never been the strongest attribute of any politician and never has it been a requirement to qualify them to run for public office.

Even Socrates, during his time said, “I was really too honest a man to be a politician and live.”

It is said that one of the reasons people hate politics is that truth is rarely a politicians’ objective. Election and power are.

In effect Sara Duterte is right when she said that honesty should not be an election issue. But it does not mean, however, that she has the best senatorial bets. On the contrary she has quite an array of notoriously popular but inept candidates whose only advantage over the opposition bets is their closeness to the powers that be and, who, in reality, does not belong in the Senate.

Duterte vents frustration

 

President Rodrigo Duterte

This may be aptly described also as the Duterte resignation brouhaha.

This has reference of course to the latest announcement by Pres. Rodrigo Duterte during a speech at Malacañang Palace that he was mulling of quitting the presidency, saying, “Guys, I want you to know that I am thinking of stepping down because I’m tired,” he said. “I am not angry [with] anybody. My chase against graft and corruption seems to be endless, and it has contaminated almost all government departments and offices.”

It is not the first time we have heard Duterte hinting about his plans of stepping down despite having four more years in his term.

But I don’t think Duterte is really serious in his threat of giving up the presidency.

For one he has made history and he owns the bragging rights about winning the presidency with over six million votes against his closest rival and to this day has a high support and trust rating from the Filipino people. In fact Duterte called his “historic” victory “the triumph of the people, by the people and for the people.”

But for another and more importantly, Duterte certainly would like history to be kind to him, thus all this brouhaha of having a Marcos or an Escudero to succeed him instead of Robredo and suggesting that a military junta would even be better to run the country when he steps down are all nonsensical and should not be taken seriously.

To say, however, that Duterte’s expressed feelings and emotions are product of his frustrations in not being able to defeat the proliferation of illegal drugs in the country and not being able to stop corruption from spreading in all sectors of government at the time frame he promised during the campaign and beyond is simply being forthright and human.

Duterte’s candor should not be mistaken for complete failure in his governance especially in dealing with corruption, criminality and most of all about the illegal drug scourge.

If Duterte has been able to sustain a high trust rating among Filipinos it simply means that most like what they see in him and what he is doing for the country. It could have been worse if we elected a yellow-bellied politician as a leader.

Thus, Duterte owes it to the people to continue leading.

But what the people can ask of Duterte at this very crucial moment in our history is to ponder once more if he really has the right people who like him, has primarily the interest of the country and the well-being of its people.

Duterte has to seriously think once more if his closeness with China a boon or bane for the country in the long term. I am saying this because almost all of the sources of illegal drugs in the country come from China and to think that China is very much our neighbor now.

Duterte should already refrain from trying to ram down in every Filipino’s throat to support and have another Marcos at the helm. Duterte won the presidency because he showed to be a different animal. Marcos belongs to the group of animals the people repudiated which made Duterte a winner.

Lastly, Duterte should rethink about his exhortation and move for the country to adopt a federal  form of government. This is one political recipe that will only exacerbate the proliferation of drugs, encourage more corruption and abet criminality. The country is not ready for this. The country needs politicians in the mold of Duterte to make federalism a success.

Otherwise, Duterte’s frustrations today will be the Filipino people’s nightmare tomorrow.

 

 

Duterte’s ‘perplexing’ popularity

 

Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman

I am simply amused at how Albay Rep. Edcel Lagman described Pres. Rodrigo Duterte’s popularity – ‘perplexing’.

Why would it be difficult for him to understand Duterte’s popularity?

Perhaps what would be more difficult for him and those like him in the opposition to understand is why over 16 million Filipinos voted for the man from Mindanao to be president?

“It is a puzzle that despite the failure of President Rodrigo Duterte to deliver most of his campaign promises, his irreverence to established institutions, including the Catholic Church, his unpatriotic surrender to China’s expansionism in the West Philippine Sea, his policy equivocation, and his antihuman rights record, he still enjoys a high popularity rating across classes in his second year in office,” Lagman said in a statement.

What an absurdity!

This, after Duterte scored a net satisfaction rating of +56 during the first quarter of 2018, which according to Social Weather Stations survey is considered as “very good”.

Lagman even showed arrogance when he bad-mouth the intellect of the electorate, saying, “they like a leader who is authoritative even in his blunders and blabbering and that they simply want to justify their choice, however errant it may have been. ”

Excuse me?

What Lagman is actually trying to say is that Duterte does not act presidential, does not talk presidential and is, in general, an aberration to the presidency.

Lagman who pretends to be the epitome of decency in words and deeds should recognize and accept by now that the likes of him have failed to move this country forward and majority of Filipinos have lost faith in them and their style of leadership.

That is why Duterte continues to remain popular because the people like what they see in him and admire how much he cares for the country and its citizens no matter his bloody war on drugs, alleged extra-judicial killings, China’s incursion into the West Phil. Sea, and the ‘stupid-God’ comment of the Catholic religion.

Duterte has just completed his two years in office as he continues waging war also against corruption and criminality, as he has promised, and one cannot just deny that the country’s economy is doing better despite his non-presidential traits.

Perhaps what Lagman could do in his solitude is to reflect what could it have been had Poe, Roxas or Binay been the president?

Anybody but Callamard

 

I am talking of course about UN Special Rapporteur (SR) Agnes Callamard and her penchant in announcing to the whole world that President Rodrigo Duterte’s war on drugs is a failure, prejudging it as nothing but willful summary executions and extrajudicial killings that blatantly violate human rights.

I say penchant because this is where Callamard’s expertise lies – investigating and reporting wherever and whoever it is that is behind the extrajudicial, summary and arbitrary executions.

It wouldn’t have been a problem if she did her job objectively in the Philippines. The problem is that she sought and depended largely on people, sectors and entities belonging to the opposition and Duterte bashers who would tell her what she wants to hear.

Almost always what Callamard hears is not the truth, for the truth should be coming from the majority of Filipinos who elected Duterte for president because they wanted change in governance and which Duterte is seen to be delivering in his promise to wage war against drugs, corruption and criminality.

Duterte has been in power for almost two years now and his trust and approval ratings remain high despite negative reviews he is getting from people like Callamard, on his alleged human rights abuses and his bloody war against drugs.

One should be a citizen of this country and an avid follower of the political events that has happened in the past up to the present to fully understand and appreciate the difference it makes by having a leader who exercises power coupled with political will, as oppose to a leader who has power but lacks the political will.

Political will is defined as the ghost in the machine of politics – that motive force that generates political action. This is what differentiates Duterte from the recent past presidents and knowing closely now what made us the ‘sick man of Asia’ for so long, his unorthodox leadership necessitated an out-of-the-box thinking and ideas on how to move this country forward to stability and improve the lives of Filipinos.

The reality is that in so doing the forces of good battles the forces of evil that has been instrumental in hindering the progress of this nation, and lives are lost, sometimes brutally in the process.

It is no surprise, therefore, that while the Philippine government is now amenable to have an investigation conducted into alleged human rights abuses in its bloody war on drugs, it has equally signified strongly its opposition that it be headed by SR Callamard.

Presidential spokesman, Harry Roque, a lawyer, said the Philippines welcomed any investigation provided that the United Nations sends a “credible, objective and unbiased” rapporteur, who is also “an authority in the field that they seek to investigate”.

Callamard does not fit that description, he said.

I have written once about Callamard which you can read at this link: https://quierosaber.wordpress.com/tag/war-on-illegal-drugs/.

But to know more about Callamard, I am sharing with you this link which definitely says more about this controversial SR: http://www.manilatimes.net/un-rapporteur-callamards-big-lie-un-resolution/326057/.

 

Robredo’s bleak picture of the country

Vice President Leni Robredo

I had high hopes when Leni Robredo won the vice presidency in 2016 against her closest rival, the dictator’s namesake, Ferdinand Marcos Jr.

Had even higher expectations when Robredo, despite her being an opposition, was given a Cabinet portfolio in the early part of the Duterte administration.

Was thinking that she would be an exemplary model of a non-traditional politician, following her late husband’s political approach, who could work with an unconventional politician like President Rodrigo Duterte.

Alas, Robredo valued to lead an opposition party, the Liberal Party (LP), and be among a group of traditional politicians – trapos – who had nothing to show and crow about during the preceding Aquino administration except to take care of their own personal and political interests.

What is becoming worse with Robredo is that she is falsely lamenting and maliciously depicting a bleak picture of the country when, during the 72nd anniversary of the LP, she exhorted her dwindling party mates “to remain true to what is right and not lose heart in the face of the “darkness” shrouding the nation.” She was being melodramatic in her black dress.

“Many ask us if there is still hope, where we are headed. Darkness envelops us. But we should not lose hope. Our party history is about fighting,” Robredo said.

I mean what darkness is she talking about and fighting for what?

At least Duterte is keeping true to his promise during the campaign that he will be fighting for the country and its people by going relentless against drugs, corruption and criminality, which were found later to be prevalent during Aquino’s LP administration but nothing forceful was done to curve the plagues.

Thus, I could not agree more with Presidential Spokesman Harry Roque’s statement that Robredo’s remarks were “completely out of touch with the existing realities on the ground.”

“The darkness that Vice President Robredo may be referring to perhaps pertains to the future of those discredited politicians who wish to return to power,” Roque added. It cannot be more nearer to the truth than this.

And it is precisely for this reason that Filipinos, in every poll survey now and then, have always given Duterte high marks in satisfaction, approval and trust ratings because they no longer want the deplorable ways of the traditional politicians that Robredo sadly has embraced, to make a comeback only to forsake the respect and meaningful changes we are gaining now as people and as a country.

 

LP as resurgent party of the people

 

Senator Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan

I am talking of course about the Liberal Party (LP) and the frivolous ambition of its leader, Sen. Francis “Kiko” Pangilinan, of making it a resurgent political party of the people – “bigger in number and stronger in unity”, he declared.

If this is not wishful thinking, I do not know what is.

I am not saying it could not happen again, like reminiscing the heydays of the impotent Aquino administration when the LP was ruling it over.

But look where they are now and what happened to their numbers. Not even the presence of the gracious Vice President Leni Robredo can make a big deal of a difference despite her being the LP chair.

It is not about the practice of changing political colors and affiliating with the party machine that that made Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte president of the Philippines, but this time it is about the trust and confidence the politicians have in the competence and adequacy of Duterte as a leader that they want to be associated with.

Thus, even if Pangilinan is crowing that the LP is now enlisting membership that are not politicians, but rather those belonging to the academe, the private sector and other civic organizations, with Robredo administering the oath of allegiance to the party, I don’t think this will make a dent in Duterte’s popularity and acceptability.

Pangilinan’s sales pitch, saying, that it is “important for Filipinos to fight for and live a life of freedom as well as dignity and respect for all” simply sounds melodramatic, if not senseless, for the truth is that Duterte’s non-traditional style of leadership and his political will, not to mention his iron rule against illegal drugs, corruption and criminality is earning us back the respect and dignity we deserve as a nation.

But what I find most absurd are the questions Pangilinan asked in his speech at the Friedrich Naumann Foundation’s “Freedom Speech”:

“Today, we ask these questions: Are we free? Does freedom have any value in a society tainted with the blood of thousands of victims of extrajudicial killings and impunity? Is freedom meaningful without security in the home and in the streets?

“How do we reconcile freedom amid the feelings of despair, fear and hopelessness among those overwhelmed by the enormity of our nation’s problems: grinding poverty; widespread hunger; massive unemployment; pervasive graft and corruption; horrible traffic especially in urban centers; neglect and waste of people and their potential?”

As a lawyer Pangilinan should have been more discriminating in his questions.

Why, were these problems non-existent during the term of former Pres. Benigno Aquino, of which Pangilinan was one of the LP’s stalwart?

Were the Filipinos really better off during the salad days of Aquino and his cohorts?

What have Aquino, Pangilinan, and their ilk done after six (6) years in power, and I am not even asking about the scandalous reconstruction and rehabilitation projects in Tacloban City after the aftermath of super-typhoon Yolanda and the equally outrageous Mamasapano massacre?

Horrible traffic? Why, what has the Aquino administration, which Pangilinan was part of, done to deserve exoneration, as seemingly implied by Pangilinan, in his speech? Why can’t Pangilinan just ask former Department of Transportation and Communications Secretary Joseph Emilio Abaya about his culpability in Manila’s traffic woes?

Thank goodness for the support Duterte got overwhelmingly from the people or narco-politics would have swallowed us all with politicians, the likes of Pangilinan, continually living the good life, while majority of Filipinos live a miserable life.

My take is that for as long as Duterte has the respect and appreciation of most Filipinos, there could never be a resurgent LP, as Pangilinan envisions.