Monday, August 29, 2016


photo from

OUSTED THAI Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra vaunted his Thai Rak Thai party, during its rise from 1998 to 2001, as a populist party that culled its support from farmers, small villages, and small businesses in contrast to its big rival, the Democrat Party, which prided itself with classical liberal rhetoric that would readily find friends in big business and among ordinary worshipers of trickle-down economics. I'd leave it to you to research on how populist Shinawatra remained or whether later political parties that pronounced loyalty to his principles had the same populist motives.
    Let's fast-forward to today and move to the Philippines, where during the Philippine presidential campaign of 2015-16, candidate Rodrigo Duterte declared not a few times—to the delight of those disillusioned with the preceding Noynoy Aquino administration’s combo meals of neoliberal focus—, "I am a socialist."
    Both men, the one populist and the other one a self-described socialist, launched their own respective wars against drugs, particularly against methamphetamine. I don’t know if populism has got anything to do with Shinawatra’s war on drugs, given that his strong campaign was at the instigation of the King, or if Duterte’s socialism has any bearing on his anti-meth passion. But, sure, one can easily look for links—the Thai majority was probably likely waiting for just such a war to happen from the top, and probably Duterte for his part is worried that the lower classes’ welfare is going to be eroded fast by the effects of the meth supplied by rich importers and distributors of the drug. We’ll get back to this later, after the next paragraph.

INDEED, as Marvin Bionat of’s US bureau reports, the current Philippine war on drugs launched by Duterte is not the first of such magnitude in Asia, and points to the similar Thai war on drugs launched by Shinawatra in the early 2000s. Interestingly, Shinawatra’s war resulted in the killing of more than a thousand innocent Thai citizens picked through blacklists drawn by eager participants in his campaign, this as per findings by a post-Thaksin Shinawatra government enquiry that was reported in 2008 by the international media. Shinawatra was overthrown by a coup in 2006 during the second year of his second four-year term. The populist party that he founded, Thai Rak Thai, was soon banned by the junta.
    Here are my questions concerning Shinawatra’s war on drugs and how it might signal something to Duterte’s present one: Is it possible that what happened to Shinawatra’s campaign (thousands killed, almost half of the specific number of which were soon found by that abovementioned subsequent enquiry to be innocent) is precisely what happens when one does a fascistic (far from socialist) bottom-up type of war against such a criminal menace as the illegal drug trade? And could it be that it is only through a coup that a country can stop that war? And if such inevitability of a coup is already what some may presently be mulling as a possible way out of the current momentum of killings, what non-mercenary faction would even attempt to deliver such a now-possibly-not-so-sinister-plan? Could a coup be a recipe possible to, say, anti-Marcos military factions within the Armed Forces of the Philippines averse to the President's (far from socialist) unabashed embrace of the Marcoses, assuming such factions exist at all? Or by anti-NPA military groups averse to Duterte’s openness to the Communists, who possibly number a lot? Well, . . . sigh, . . . we ordinary citizens can only brace ourselves for a possible rough ride, and brace ourselves tightly as we wait on the sidelines.
    But, first, why does this war on drugs have to be called a “war”? Is this by a wording strategy that would semantically excuse that war, qua war, from the usual “peacetime” legal due processes required of democracies? If so, then isn’t it rather unfair that a leader can declare a “war” on drugs anytime, but over which program none can prosecute him later for “war crimes” committed?

I WOULD declare now that Duterte really has no ideology that one could comfortably categorize as either left or right or, even, safely, as center.
    And, likewise, what is complicating critics’ checks on Duterte’s war on drugs is Filipinos’ ideology-less tendency to be mere loyalists and partisans. For instance, what's this proliferating bullshit about defending the politician you voted for (since “you’ll only be heckled for having voted, and possibly campaigned also, for the leader you’re now criticizing”)? My usual answer to this political myopia is this: I don't vote for politicians, my countrymen, I vote for promises upon certain serious causes. True, it’s sad that every time I vote for those promises, inevitably through politicians, I would often end up disappointed. And sometimes it would take me three years to get out of my confirmation bias and bias blind spot to get deeply disillusioned (which disillusionment would then be met by both heckles and hugs from the loyalist partisans of the opposition). I confess that today it has taken me less than two months.
    So here’s my prayer: Lord God, I pray that every Filipino would stop being a politician- and party-worshiper and will remember henceforward his primary loyalty: to his more/most important causes (which ought to be the sole recipient of his loyalism).

WHAT ought to be checked in Duterte’s war on drugs? Well, in the August 25 issue of, Rishi Iyengar published a long story on this war. Comprehensive enough for a good appreciation of what’s going on in it and to introduce questions that must be raised against the same, the article quotes jarring realities such as this one emailed by Richard Javad Heydarian, a professor of political science at Manila’s De La Salle University: “There is also deep shock at the drug war’s financial implications: Duterte has given huge funding boosts to the police and military by slashing the country’s health budget by 25%, and reducing expenditure on critical sectors like agriculture, labor, employment and foreign affairs. On the other hand, the budget for the presidential office has increased tenfold, and now includes a provision of $150 million for 'representation and entertainment'.”
    And it is not as if troubling reports like this can only come from Duterte detractors with an ax to grind or political analysts with career points to push. Duterte himself would provide the media with explicitly discomforting proposals. Last week, for instance, Duterte—irked by “criticism” or reports from UN rapporteurs concerning his war on drugs—showed his exasperation by threatening to withdraw Philippine membership from the UN. That is not likely to happen, of course, but such surreal outbursts have now been deemed typical of Duterte. Surreal, since it goes without saying that should such a position be taken seriously qua a position of exit it would mean that the Philippines would have to deem itself able to afford consequent exits from programs the UNDP and the UN system have been providing many member states (through such agencies as the Asian Development Bank and the Food and Agriculture Association—check here), not to mention decisions by arbitral tribunals within the UN system. Not even the left-of-socialist (communist) states of China and Cuba would want to be out of the UN today.
    Duterte has in fact been his own detractor since his route to the presidency began. Comedian John Oliver’s pre-election skit about him as being the Donald Trump of the East has had 1+ million views on YouTube, and this comparison is not exactly loose—Trump’s propensity to say “Believe me” for his facts-telling (as compiled in this video and as caricatured by Tim Kaine at the US Democratic National Convention) does find an exact parallel in Duterte’s own presentation of alleged facts through recurrent “maniwala kayo sa akin pag sinabi ko” (you all believe me when I tell you) or the Tagalog-Bisaya “sus, ginoo, maniwala ka” (Lord Jesus, believe you me).
    And millions of Filipinos believe in Duterte.

STILL, how believable, really, is the President?
    "I am a socialist," said he not a few times during the Presidential campaign of 2015-16, to the delight of those disillusioned with the preceding administration’s combo meals of neoliberal focus.
    However, when he won the presidency, the new President rolled up his sleeves to quickly show us his brand of socialism. And surprise, surprise, not really a center-left sort of socialism was seen in the unveiling, nor even a center-center social liberalism or social democracy. What gradually came out of the caterpillar cocoon was a butterfly’s lip service to socialism for a . . . Big Tent absorption.
    Sure, Duterte has appointed leftists to anti-poverty, agrarian reform, labor and social welfare posts in his cabinet; placed a stalwart anti-unlawful mining activist from the big business class to the government’s environment and natural resources department; announced pro-people policies against red tape and a labor force-favoring stand against employment contracts; reluctantly appointed a freedom-of-information and participatory democracy and participatory budgeting advocate of a vice president to the housing post (reluctantly, she being from an opposing party); and started as well conciliation talks with the Communist Party of the Philippines. That's about it so far.
    Meanwhile, for the other side of the big tent, he has brazenly held close the Marcos family as if he were a part of it; has slashed—as per Heydarian—more or less 25% of the public health, labor and foreign affairs budgets in favor of military and police budget increases; has started a bloody bottom-up (I repeat, bottom-up) war on drugs (that look a lot like Thailand's Shinawatra's) that has yet to see a drug lord's head roll; and has ejected a form of public transport (the UV Express) from Epifanio de los Santos Avenue in favor of the city bus lines, Uber, Grab, and slippery "colorums" (with nary a groan of sympathy for this policy's impact on working-class commuters walking the distance to a connecting MRT station and nary a finger on private users of the avenue despite the new transport secretary's repetition of that oft-quoted Gustavo Petro socialist quote—"a developed country is not where the poor have cars, it's where the rich use public transportation"); and is even now intent on seeking emergency powers for traffic policy-making in Metropolitan Manila for anti-delayed procurement reasons the Supreme Court Chief Justice says is inspired by a myth.
    I don't now believe Rodrigo Duterte is a socialist. I see him now as a big tent figure intent on achieving all sorts of reforms, socialist and otherwise, in an autocratic way that everyone who has come to his Big Tent will be expected to kowtow to and defend.

RECENTLY, poet, conceptual artist, young socialist and extreme commuter Angelo V. Suarez, known for his “#MRTBulok” Facebook posts against the management of the Metro Manila Metro Rail Transit System by both the Aquino government and the system’s private co-owner as well as the incursion of money-making by the Pangilinan Group and the Ayala family into the system’s ticketing, seems to have been a victim of an alleged set-up. He arrived at the usual MRT station he starts his hypermobility with, and, voila! He witnesses a part of an awry MRT train part with the Suarezian tagline “MRT bulok!”, whereupon he finds himself quickly taken by the station’s security guards for detention at the station’s office, which lasted for two nights, accused of having written the marker’s marks on the bulok (rotten) MRT part. Here’s what Suarez later posted about it (also published here with his permission):
    “I feel bad having been detained for word against me by a fellow worker who relies on public utilities and infrastructure as much as I do, who has been let down by the MRT even worse than I have.
    “The allegation against me was made by a guard under pressure to find 'vandals' who have been writing, posting, and stickering their grievances on the MRT. According to her fellow guards—many of whom agree with me that the MRT is rotten—the pressure on them to find these people has been incredible, having been on the receiving end of reprimand by management. One even whispered to me that, as a guard, he knew even more than the average passenger cld how rotten the MRT truly was.
    “Big compradors like MRT Corp. Chairman Robert Sobrepeña and bureaucrats like General Manager Roman Buenafe who enable them play this sick game of pitting workers against workers for their profit or pleasure. This shldn't have been my word against the guard's words; this shldn't have been a matter of me combating policemen, tho there is much to be said about the police being an institution for the protection of private property despite its impact on public interest. I wasn't the only one deprived of sleep and time; so too were these fellow workers—MRT personnel caught between their job and our protest, policemen whose cramped office my friends and I made even more cramped because of my detainment—instrumentalized by corporate interest to suppress dissent from their logic of accumulation thru dispossession.
    “Bulok ang MRT, pero bulok lamang ito dahil nasasadlak sa bulok na estruktura ng estadong kinakasangkapan ng kapitalismo. Umaasa akong magkakaisa ang uring manggagawa para patumbahin ang tunay nating kaaway.”
    Suarez, after his detention, had a talk with the Gustavo Petro-quoting transport secretary, Arthur Tugade, and I can only wonder what socialist exchanges they had during those minutes of discourse and counter-discourse.
    Days after, Suarez would tell friends of emails sent his way via Facebook. He writes:
    “The things you find in your filtered messages inbox after 2 nights of police detainment for alleged vandalism:
    “1. Dick pics –‘sulat-sulat ka pa diyan, chupain mo na lang 'to!’
    “2. Charges of idiocy – ‘bulok na nga ang tren, susulatan mo pa! tanga!’
    “3. Accusations of being a 'yellowtard' – ‘bakit ngayon ka lang nagsasalita? dilawan ka kasi!’”
    Ms. Caroline Arellano, a friend of Suarez, commented on Suarez’s post: “Basta kinalaban mo ang administration na ito yellowtard ka o addict.” To which Suarez replied: “(Here’s) the funny thing: the general manager who delayed my release and was insistent on getting me detained was an Aquino holdover from (Jun) Abaya's time in the DOTC. Duterte supporters of this sort are weird.”
    Which brings me to my three reasons for dragging Suarez’s episode with mysterious forces into this essay: One, to ask the question as to whether turncoating for job security or protection could also be another psychology behind some of the killings by police of drug-trade and drug-use suspects, essentially for demonstration of competence and self-assigned quota, this apart from the elimination of links by drug-involved police. Two, to ask whether those messages sent to Suarez’s inbox does not show us enough why loyalism and politician-worship is so dangerous not only to others but to the health of our nation's brain cells. And, three, to perhaps show that many if not most Duterte supporters are far from socialist. [S / -I]

Wednesday, August 24, 2016


photo borrowed from

HE ALSO said once: At kayong mga drug lords, magtago na kayo kasi papatayin ko talaga kayo kapag ako naging Presidente. Something to that effect.
Hmm. At tila nagsipagtago nga. Dahil ngayon, ang tila kawawa ay ang maliliit na drug runners lamang na walang ibang makitang trabaho, sila nalang ang pinagpapapatay. Parang Pilipinas lang din, kung saan ang maliliit na napilitang maging kriminal lang ang naipatutumba at ang biggest criminals ay labas-pasok sa bansa at may mga offshore accounts na nga, may mga libingan pang mararangya na aakalain mong minsan sila ay naging bayani.
You could say one ought not to shed tears for even the smallest drug runners or pushers, approaching all this from a position of retribution against the evils these people have also brought upon their barangays. But if I am to take the same approach, I would actually still say 
“enough with the drug pushers dying, I’d want to see the biggest drug lords heads swinging from EdlSA MRT poles, including those of their brokers on the Ilocos shorelines that have served as these drug importers/exporters ports!
    On this approach of retribution as social cleansing, the National Economic and Development Authority chief socio-economic planning secretary, Ernesto Pernia, recently called the President’s war on illegal drugs “a necessary evil” for long-term economic gains. Well and good. Pero huwag naman evil. Dahil wala namang matinong kritiko ng war na ito ang nagsasabing evil ang Duterte anti-illegal drug campaign. Ang sinasabi lang nila ay tanggapin sana ng Presidente at ng Philippine National Police chief na mayroon marahil nangyayaring execution ng ilang apprehended suspects committed by police, o on-location execution ng mga lower echelon dealers and runners and users committed by police, with links to the illegal drug trade (as police under drug lords payroll or as secondary drug dealers of confiscated drugs), executions all done in the spirit of eliminating possible whistleblowers on these police elements. Kung maluwag daw sanang tatanggapin ang reyalidad na ito ng civilian at police leadership, marahil ay maaari na nilang mabawasan ang lumulobong numero ng drug-related deaths, not to mention deaths due to possible wrongful accusation or mistaken identity or as collateral damage.
    But here’s where the problem is. One thing that attracted a lot of Filipinos to the Duterte team (as against the Mar Roxas team) during the 2015-16 election campaign was its image of being so grounded in reality, its being streetsmart, almost defiant of academicism. But how grounded in reality was it really? It’s been so right about the enormity of the problem, thats for sure! But it also comes as a surprise that PNP chief Bato de la Rosa would now come out surprised at this, to him, news of so many policemen involved in illegal drugs. His attitude surprises us because it’s “news” that the general public have already been treating for a long time as common knowledge! Kung ganito ngang nasosorpresa pa si Chief de la Rosa sa bilang ng mga pulis na sangkot sa using at trading of illegal drugs, aba, hindi nakapagtataka na tila di matanggap-tanggap ni Tsip na may summary execution nga talaga ng lower echelon links committed by cops involved in the drug trade (who’ve also likely used the “nanlaban” alibi and an evidence-planting habit)!
    The intent of the shooter to prevent the suspect from spilling the beans, thats the overwhelming suspicion among critics of the ballooning number of anti-drug-campaign-related deaths. The overwhelming suspicion among these critics is that some of these “operations” have actually been done by police elements trying to erase links or tracks that would lead to them in any investigation. In short, preemptive strikes against would-be whistleblowers.
    The PNP has been defensively arguing that its operations follow the laws of the land to the letter. But heres the thing. All the critics need is one to two anecdotal evidence of extrajudicial killing or vigilante killing, or a simple execution by police allegedly linked to the drug trade, for the critics to qualify the argument that says such killings exist. In contrast, the PNP cannot present an anecdotal evidence of a legitimate and clean arrest, and consequent killing in a shootout, of a dirty narco-cop by his fellow cops to qualify an argument that says all its operations are similar to this operations. The single evidence presented by the former already contravenes the evidence presented by the latter.

ALL THIS actually started when the President introduced a loophole in the law to the most law-ignorant of policemen when he publicly pronounced: kapag nanlaban, you have all the right to shoot the suspect in self-defense. That could have paved the way for executions hinged on the self-defense alibi, which would not be hard for perpetrators to contrive, given that it’s been a PNP personnel habit to plant evidence on unwanted elements of society (or unwanted elements of police scalawags kind of society).
    The problem is also on the bottom-up approach of Dutertes war on drugs, the rationale for which can vary. As of the moment this approach is not giving the campaign the 100% social support it ought to get, even from anti-drug activists. Some among the latter actually could be seeing this bottom-up approach as worrisome for the campaign in that it could work against it instead of gather the much-needed 100% support for it. . . .
    Unless the President is not interested in any 100% support, now that he’s President with so much power. In which case all we can do is wish him and all of us good luck, about all the things that may come in the wake of this carpet bombing when the dust settles. [S / -I]

Saturday, August 20, 2016


MANY a man has recently been listed as having to do with illegal drugs, pursued, and eventually shot dead. The reason for a man's death would almost always be resisting arrest and choosing to shoot it out with the arresting police force. Most of such men would be drug pushers, even simple junkies; we have yet to see on our TV sets footage of drug lords shot and killed after resisting arrest. Meanwhile, President Rodrigo Duterte has more than once implied such killings as justified, given how big a social menace illegal drugs are (particularly methamphetamine, which has been linked to heinous crimes).
    Recently, after getting flak that the government's war on drugs seems to be focused on small fry rather than on big fish, President Duterte himself started---on August 6---the "naming and shaming" of politicians and other generals purportedly involved (directly or indirectly) in the illegal-drug trade. There were also judges on the list, likely as participants in such acts as a juridical crime of omission after a drug trade personality's arrest. The government officials, meanwhile, were mostly local officials, likely acting as protectors of their given economic territory. Only days after the reading of the long list, we would soon watch a report about a Leyte mayor's arrest wherein several of his men were killed in a shootout with police; the mayor himself was not hurt.
    Then came August 17. On this day, during his speech with members of the Philippine National Police during the 115th anniversary of the Philippine police service, the President accused new senator Leila de Lima of having links to drug money that funded her campaign. To this big accusation, the senator found it appropriate to hold a press conference with the following emotional statements:

FIRST, allow me to highlight these clauses from her public statement:

  • ". . . I think it is already clear that what is being done to me is what will happen to anyone who does not bow to the wishes of the President."
  • "Pangulo po kayo, Senador lamang po ako. Patas na laban lamang po ang aking hinihingi. Sana ay ibigay niyo rin sa akin ang ibinigay na rin naman ng batas at Konstitusyon, sa kahit kaninong naaakusahan, sa ilalim ng ating sistemang pang-ligal."
  • "I am not the enemy here. Stop portraying me as one."

    Now, based on the gist of this speech and the President's accusatory speech, I would be inclined to be on her side. Why? Dahil tila lumalabas na ang pagpunterya kay de Lima ay dahil lamang sa dalawang bagay: 1) ang nais ng Senadorang ipagpatuloy na imbestigasyon o enquiry tungkol sa mga nangyayari diumanong mga extrajudicial killing ng suspected drug trade elements, at 2) ang sama ng loob ng Presidente sa dating Justice Secretary sa mga pagparatang nito sa dating meyor bilang pinuno diumano sa likod ng tinaguriang Davao Death Squad. Tila hindi pinupuntirya ang Senadora dahil sa late report na diumano'y sangkot ito sa droga, isang report na dapat sana ay kasabay ng mga report o mga parinig na una nang inilabas o di kaya inimply ng Pangulo sa media. Wala tayong narinig na ganitong report tungkol sa isang Senador, hanggang ngayon, kung kailan nalalapit na ang tila matutuloy na ngang imbestigasyon tungkol sa extrajudicial killings na tinutukoy.
    Ibig sabihin, ito ngayon ang tila puno't-dulo ng isyu: tila natatakot o naaasiwa ang gobyernong Duterte sa imbestigasyong ito.
    Kaya ang tanong ko ay ito: ano ba ang kinatatakutan o ikinatatakot ni Ka Digong sa gagawing enquiry ng Senate commission ni Leila de Lima? At kung ito nga ang dahilan kung bakit ilalabas na ng gobyernong ito ang kanyang barahang Alas laban sa Senadora, aba'y sana naman ang gobyernong Duterte na binoto natin ay di mauwi sa pagiging gobyernong mala-Erdoğan ang dating, kung saan ang anumang pagtatanong sa mga aksyon o polisiya ng gobyerno ehekutibo ay ituturing nitong casus belli para sa pagsira sa lahat ng magtatangkang "opositor" nito.
    Sinasabi ko ito dahil ang lumalabas ay ito: kung di pala itutuloy ang enquiry ni de Lima ay di isasama ng gobyernong Duterte ang pangalan ng Senadora sa listahan ng mga pulitikong sangkot sa droga? At ngayong itutuloy na nga ng Senadora ang imbestigasyong ito ay isinama na ito? Anong klaseng ka-Erdoğan-an o ka-Mahathir-an naman 'yan? Oo, totoong seryosong isyu ang methamphetamine drugs na matagal na sanang nasagot ng radikal na sagot, dahil high school pa lang ako ay may nababalitaan na akong mga nasira ang ulo dahil diumano rito. Ngunit saan lahat mauuwi ang tunay na war on drugs na ito ni Ka Digong kung sa bandang huli ay gagamitin lang pala itong casus belli for political oppression of any form of opposition and God knows what else? Ang war on drugs bang ito ay tunay na end in itself, o stage one lamang para sa isang war on opposition elements?
    Ipagpalagay na nating totoo ngang sangkot sa droga itong si de Lima, whether directly or indirectly. Subalit hindi ba ibang issue ang mga tanong niya, at ibang issue naman ang mga paratang ng Pangulo sa kanya? Hindi ba dapat may sagot sa bawat tanong, imbis na pumasok tayo sa hindi matalinong usapan kung saan sasagutin ng isa ang mga tanong ng isa sa pamamagitan ng pag-paratang sa nagtanong (isang argumentum ad hominem)? For now, I see the Duterte government's stance in this exchange as proceeding from an argumentum ad baculum, a blackmailing argumentum ad verecundiam by a supposed knowledge (real or not) through intelligence (that dictators can actually manufacture), an ipse dixit on truths upon a following agog these days about "sound reports".
    At paano kung inosente ang pinaratangang de Lima? O pinaratangang sinuman? I can understand most people's (and President Duterte's seeming) long-pent-up frustration with the presumption of innocence legal concept that criminals have been successfully using to their favor all this time. But must we forget the fact that this presumption of innocence concept was designed primarily for the protection of the accused innocent? And if we are to remove that protection within access by the accused innocent just so we can go after the accused guilty, does not anti-crime at that very moment become a crime-in-the-making in and of itself? Will crime-fighting success be measured by the number of correctly convicted or executed people versus the lesser number (should that be the result) of wrongfully convicted or executed ones? Because if that's the direction where we're going, then I wish us all good luck.  [S / -I]

Wednesday, August 17, 2016


WAS the Aquino government to blame for the Marcos family's comeback, as hinted by former Vice-President Jejomar Binay and as per the legalist defense of President Duterte himself re his funeral honors for Ferdinand Marcos?
    Well, partly, yes. A big part? Yes. Binay's and Duterte's technicalities aside and the people's pulse as the primary measure, when the Aquino government used the Marcos era as the very opposite to its own, and then the intelligentsia itself failed or refused to call the Aquino government's own little Marcosian atrocities and as Marcosian its sporadic dictatorships by legalism, and then also call that government's members' own business with---or alleged tax accommodations for---Marcos and Romualdez-affiliated business interests, e.g. Benguet Corporation, among others. . . . the Marcos comeback road was definitely paved by that government, ripe for loyalists' long-awaited historical reification programs.
    So, was the Aquino government also to blame for the Marcos comeback? Again, definitely yes. But so is the Duterte government's loving embrace of the late dictator's family, as was Binay's own transformation from being a human rights lawyer during the Marcos years to being a symbol of Marcosian kleptocracy in later years. As were all those post-Marcos acts of governance (or absence of governance) that failed to demonstrate Good opposite to the historical metanarrative concerning Marcos' Evil. And so was the intelligentsia's failure to see that the history it was academically writing was not the history that the people were reading. [S / -I]

Tuesday, August 9, 2016


cartoon borrowed from

1.) The Filipino oligarchy's leadership with its filial penchant for forgiving, even if only a bit, and permitting people in exile to return to their regions of wide support in exchange for the surrender of a few centavos of their stolen wealth. Along with this, the dismal performance of the Presidential Commission on Good Government in running after the Marcoses' stolen wealth in offshore accounts, not to mention the reported corruption of some appointed officials of the commission. Along with this, the oligarchies' lack of transparency with regards to the amount and whereabouts of all the recovered ill-gotten wealth from the Marcoses' haul.
2.) The Filipino oligarchy's leadership with its treatment of Philippine politics as a game wherein its leaders can nurture an anti-Marcos image, complete with TV documentaries about the Marcos era and annual anniversaries reflecting on the Marcos oppressive era of horrors, while entering into business jointures and secret political alliances with elements of the Marcos family; in the case of Mar Roxas, for instance, constantly speaking against his father's oppression under the Marcos regime even as he attends Araneta family reunion parties going through the usual beso-besos with Marcos elements of the Araneta family tree, ultimately buying stocks of Benguet Mining and other mining interests care of Philip Romualdez (son of Benjamin and whose wife is the daughter of a stalwart Noynoy Aquino campaigner and supporter) and Bongbong Marcos (whose wife is another Araneta); in the case of Noynoy Aquino funding or fanning anti-Marcos rhetoric on PTV4 and ABS-CBN care of the Lopezes even as he patches up differences with the Danding Cojuangcos and the Floirendos and other former Marcos allies to build both business and political alliances for his Liberal Party machine, one of which products would be getting back a larger influence on Hacienda Luisita stocks that would result in Kris Aquino's sitting on the board of the corporation, to mention a few such arrangements beyond our masses' knowledge.
3.) The Filipino oligarchy's leadership and its failure to govern beyond the (legalist) ways of the crony-serving Marcos era, which led to people's disillusionment with these post-Marcos governments that led in turn to a popular belief that perhaps Marcos was just a victim of black propaganda and that perhaps all that the Marcos-supporting white and grey propaganda releases have been saying all this time were probably more right than not.
4.) The Filipino oligarchy's leadership with its secret arrangements with the Marcoses in exchange for the Marcoses' entry into the free propaganda media, which entry would lead the Marcos machine to convince millions of disillusioned Filipinos of old and new generations to consider the possibility that maybe Marcos was not that bad, culminating in an almost-win for the vice-presidential candidacy of Bongbong Marcos.
5.) The Filipino oligarchy's leadership and its failure (a failure by design, some would insist) to strengthen a continuing knowledge of all the recent Philippine history of abuses and inculcating all this into the memories of both old and new students and teachers.
6.) Finally, the irony of a newly-elected President who unabashedly proclaims that he is a socialist (possibly partly true and partly false) while confessing to a close friendship with the Marcos family, and---after the elections---confessing to having been primarily funded by a Floirendo (a former Marcos ally in Mindanao) during his presidential campaign. (Incidentally, it was thanks to this Floirendo that a Duterte-Marcos 2016 tandem became the most common tandem on the presidential election posters on the walls and fences of Davao).
7.) And. oh, we almost forgot: the Filipino people's being too divided on their impression about the Marcoses, thanks to all of the above, that would now render it impossible for them to launch a revolution against all of Marcos' friends in government (if there is even such an animal as a true enemy of the Marcoses in the highest roster of government since the presidency of Ferdinand's cousin, Fidel Ramos). [S / -I]

Thursday, August 4, 2016

An Open Letter to a Socialist President

DEAR President Rodrigo Duterte:

Sir, for describing yourself as a Socialist I already salute you. Not many in our country have a proper appreciation of the word/concept “socialist”; most equate it with being a “revolutionary communist,” even as armed revolutionary communists regard mere socialists as lame while the socialists regard the armed revolutionary communists as party fascists. I salute you for the boldness in your unabashed self-tagging using that word, Mr. President, the same way that I continue to salute Ninoy Aquino for calling himself a Christian Socialist during that time when “confessing” to being a socialist was equal to confessing one had leprosy.
Pero ito lang, Mr. President. For almost a week now the UV Express-using commuting working class has been made to suffer by a memo made by your LTFRB chair appointee, Martin Delgra, care of a legalist rationale. The memo banned UV Express vans from using the length of Epifanio de los Santos Avenue immediately after its release. The objective of the memo? To relax the heavy traffic along EdlSA—as if the UV Express vans ply the entire length of EdlSA and number in the thousands. Mr. President, who are profiting from this memo? There are the bus lines, of course, who now have to carry the UVE passengers from the provinces dropped off by their UVEs at an EdlSA or near-EdlSA corner 200 meters away from their connecting MRT stations. (Some would take the bus for such a relatively short distance to avoid perspiring on their office clothes in a 200 meter walk). And right now, colorum vans (even cars) have cropped up along the highway in question to exploit the shortage of a faster alternative to the slow buses and the cramped MRT (the faster alternative, the UV Express with licenses, are now missing). These colorums don’t have to pick up passengers at UVE terminals, and their passengers don’t have to walk 200 meters to get to them.
In short, Mr. President, the objective of the memo is not at all accomplished by its targeting the UV Express as a culprit, especially since the number one and number two culprits for the heavy traffic along EdlSA are the staggering number of private vehicles and buses plying the route, as well as the taxis and gentrified Ubers and Grabs.
Mr. President, the legalist rationale used by Atty. Delgra has not only resulted in working class commuters’ equating their current suffering (at the heavier traffic now traversed by the UVEs and at their having to walk 200 meters to their connecting MRT train stations) to what they’ve suffered in the long MRT queues from the start of DOTC Sec. Jun Abaya’s secretaryship in the Noynoy Aquino government. And they now equate Atty. Delgra’s use of the law with the Aquino government’s use of the law in relation to laglag-bala victims (which, you'll remember, victimized the victims twice and supported the extortionists).
Therefore, Mr. President, Atty. Delgra’s seeming insensitivity to the working class commuters’ suffering, a suffering produced immediately after his memo’s diktat, does not seem to reflect your Socialist sensibility. In fact, it seems to negate it, defy it, and defame it.
I have no connection with any UV Express operator, Mr. President. I merely have relatives and friends who belong to the UV Express-using working class who have suffered enough, Mr. President. And—like you—I too have claims to a Socialist sensibility.
And speaking of Socialist sensibilities, Mr. President, I would not be surprised if—by your Socialism—you were to nationalize the EdlSA bus route, Mr. President, as well as limit the number of private vehicles using the highway during the rush hours, instead of continue to allow Atty. Delgra to sacrifice one mode of public transport (some of which have ceased to invest in trips) in favor of another public transport (the buses, and the new colorum vans and cars along this route) in order to indulge his mysterious understanding of EdlSA traffic.
Mr. President, I believe that if there is one leadership that can stop the long-standing Filipino culture of favoring the private vehicle over the public transport vehicle, the favor for the vehicle over the pedestrian, as well as a ludicrous favor for a public transport over another public transport, it is your Socialist presidency, Mr. President.
The working class commuters of our republic have suffered enough, sir. That is why we rely on your socialist awareness and here hope and pray that Atty. Delgra will imbibe the same amount of empathy for such suffering that you have used to express yourself through this past year, Mr. President.
We thank you in advance,

Respectfully and humbly yours,

Jojo Soria de Veyra

Tuesday, August 2, 2016



BAKIT daw ba ako nagrereklamo sa ilang mga pangyayari sa ilalim ng pamamahala ng gobyerno ni Rodrigo Duterte, gayung ibinoto ko ito at tila ikinampanya pa sa Peysbuk.
    Ang kritisismong ito laban sa kritisismo ko sa ilang hakbang ng gobyernong Duterte ay nagpapatunay lamang na may tatlong prinsipyong umiiral sa ating kultura:
1. Na ganun kalalim ang kumpyansa o tiwala natin sa ating mga manok sa eleksyon, na para bang sila'y walang magiging dungis kung sila ang nanalo at siyang magiging tunay na messiah tungo sa mas magandang umaga;

2. Na ang ating kaligtasan ay nasa isang presidente at hindi nasa mamamayan;
 At, finally,
3. Na ang ating kaligtasan ay nagmumula sa boto natin sa ating mga eleksyon.

    Dahil ang ating kaligtasan ay hindi nasa mga panginoong matatalino, kundi nasa patuloy na tunay na kritisismo nating mga tao, ayon sa ating kolektibong talino, laban sa mali ng alinmang manok na nanalo sa ating mga eleksyon, maging sila'y manok mo man o manok ko. Dahil sa paniniwala nating nasa kanila ang ating kaligtasan at nasa kanila lamang, diyan tayo patuloy na tinutuka ng garapata ng mga hayop na 'to na tinuturing ng ating representatibong demokrasya na siyang tanging may talino para sa milyun-milyon.
     Oo nga't dapat may binoboto tayo tuwing eleksyon. At oo, yaong sa palagay natin ay may mas magandang plano, isasakatuparan niya man ito o babaliktarin. Pero yan ay eleksyon lamang ng mga lider, mga kababayan. Nakakalimutan natin na ang lider ng mga lider ay tayo, at ang pamamahala ng mga lider ay dapat pumapangalawa lamang sa ating mga kagustuhan bilang pinakamataas na lider ng demokrasya, demokrasyang di sana humihinto pagkatapos mahalal ng inihalal. Kung patuloy nating kakalimutan ito, aba'y ano ang pinagkaiba ng kultura ng demokrasya natin sa royalistang kultura ng fans ng naglalaban-labang mga hari ng mga monarkiya?
    Sa tingin ko, kaya tayo di umuunlad o may mabagal na pag-unlad sa ating pulitika ay dahil tayo ang nag-aaway-away sa sabungan ng ating reyalidad na pinapatakbo ng partisanong confirmation bias na itinanim sa mga utak natin ng ating mga pinanigang partido. Tila ayaw na nating harapin ang katotohanan na ang dapat nating sinasabong ay ang ilang mga polisiya ng mga manok nating tila'y wala pa ring humpay ang katutuka sa atin sa araw-araw.
    Sabi pa nga ni Dana D. Nelson: ". . . our habit of putting the president at the center of democracy and asking him to be its superhero works to deskill us for the work of democracy. . . . the presidency itself has actually come to work against democracy."

ANG lalim ng ating kumpyansa o tiwala sa ating mga manok sa eleksyon, na para bang sila'y walang magiging dungis kung sila ang nanalo at siyang magiging tunay na messiah tungo sa mas magandang umaga, ay nagpapatunay lamang na di pa rin tayo makaalis doon sa ating paghahanap ng ideyal na lider sa katauhan ng mga manok natin. Ito ay nagpapakita rin na sa pamamagitan ng patuloy nating pagsandal sa ideyal na lider sa ating nanalong manok, o sa ideyal sanang lider sa ating natalong manok na sa ating paniniwala ay siyang may dalang liwanag ng umaga, ay nananatili tayong nakakulong doon sa mito ng "ideyal na lider" sa katauhan ng mga elemento ng plutokrasiya na may mga sagot sa problema na para bang hindi natin kaya.
    Nakalulungkot na ang ating mga laban ay, bagamat para sa atin din, unang-una ay para sa kanila.
    How I wish that every political critic (professional and not) owned this sub-definition of "politician" or "government official"---as one who is a friend in a cause and an enemy in another. It's sad that politicians and political parties or factions have become many of my friends' political end-causes themselves.  [S / -I]

Monday, August 1, 2016


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IN 2010, Noynoy Aquino's party intimated, that is to say by implication, the rise of a wangwang-less social liberal society. This social liberal society, so the message went, should constitute the President's bosses, not his subjects. However, as the years progressed, people saw more neoliberal and corporate liberal interests in the "liberal" of the Liberal Party than social liberal ones. Sure there were social liberal directions that remained, the CCT (qua CCT), for instance, as well as the expanded TESDA skills program (very social liberal, being in the service of both the working class and the employers' class at the same time). In the long run, though, what remained embedded in people's minds were these: hardly could someone see a social liberal direction in the elitist DAP arrangements with politicians, as against what they might see had it been a participatory DAP arrangement with the people (the former produced such crap as a convention center, while the latter might have produced such useful efforts as a market bazaar space for vendors, more mangrove projects, or solar power for villages). . . .
    But that's the past, and now we're in the present. So now let's talk about the election campaign of 2016, wherein Digong Duterte did not just imply, but explicitly described himself as, being a Socialist. He boasted of his projects in Davao City as manifestations of a Socialist mayor's sensibility in relation to choosing which provisions are priority to his community (sophisticated healthcare, women's centers, heavily-protected LGBT rights, etc.).
    So when Duterte won the Presidency and we saw such appointments as Lisa Maza's for the Anti-Poverty Commission, no one was shocked. Nor that another leftist was given the post of Agrarian Reform secretary to hasten decades-old go-aheads for land redistribution. Nor were the leftists among his supporters shocked to witness the appointment of a scion of a wealthy family who now mans the Department of Natural Resources, because her profile as a pro-people anti-mining activist seems to go beyond mere show for "corporate social responsibility" and is familiar to all as being so (moderate though it may be to the radicals).
    There are other sensible little diktats that display this Dutertean socialist sense, as when the President messaged NAIA people to avoid another case of laglag-bala victimizing ordinary passengers (or be ready for airport personnel cleansing). That diktat was a breath of fresh air from the era of Noynoy Aquino that kept on denying that such a racket existed at Aquino's cousin's turf, that kept providing everyone in the process the legalist argument that there are existing laws governing such cases and that all that needed to be done was merely to follow what the laws said.
    A breath of fresh air. Until yesterday, when this news came out.

NOW under the Duterte government, the Land Transportation Franchising and Regulatory Board (LTFRB), along with the traffic-planning and -enforcing Metropolitan Manila Development Authority (MMDA), announced that all UV Express vans would henceforth be banned from Epifanio de los Santos' avenue because, as legalism goes, the UV Express franchise does not include the vehicles' entry into Epifanio de los Santos' avenue of traffic ill-repute.
    Now, I remember the time when, despite the Aquino government's neoliberal lack of empathy towards the common commuter, we would still be shocked by a Mar Roxas blurting out such classic lines as "heavy traffic is a sign of industrial progress", or something to that effect. Discussions during that time, especially among socialists, touched on the ultimate solution: the nationalization of the EdlSA bus route and the provision of a ceiling for the number of private transportation using the main avenue during the rush hours.
    One would have expected such an ultimate nationalization solution to come from a socialist Duterte. Surprise, surprise. Instead, the UV Express of the lower-middle and upper-lower classes are taken out, so that the cars and Ubers of the middle and upper-middle and upper classes can continue to hog the traffic of EdlSA. Meanwhile, we can only conjecture on why the buses---also the mode for the lower-middle and upper-lower and lower classes---are being permitted to remain on EdlSA (and remember that buses use the entire length of EdlSA). We can only think of two reasons: there's the legalist rationale (the buses' franchise do specify where they are allowed to roll), and then what the rumors say (that the buses are mostly franchises owned by retired generals and reigning politicians friendly to the Duterte government). Totoo kaya 'tong rumor na 'to? Sana naman hindi.
    Pero the basic question for now is this: what comfort does this memorandum provide to the UV Express-using working class? Well, this niche of the working class would now have to ply the heavier rush hour traffic of other avenues, and then be dropped off corners or UVE stations 200 meters or more away from their connecting MRT stations. Thank you, LTFRB, for the Aquinoesque inconvenience.
    Isn't it funny? Aquino would start his administration with a lie using elements of public transport as overall metaphor: that his social liberalism would be displayed through a non-elitist wangwang-less and counterflow-less traffic. Duterte just started his public transport administration with a truth: that his lopsided socialism would be demonstrated through a traffic legalism one can't make heads or tails of---if it is, on the one hand, indeed socialist and pro-working class commuter, or, on the other hand, pro-bus owners and car-owners or what. Have the buses and some colonels' taxi lines become the newly-reborn wangwangs?
    On this uncategorizable memorandum, at least, I suspend my labeling pen till the next shocking (mostly to the socialists) public transport diktat. [S / -I]


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THE President is giving us a dressing-down for flagging his statements that favored a Con Ass over a Con Con for the drafting of a new Constitution. He says that this distrust towards our senators and congressmen in Congress is too much. And he says nobody has a monopoly on good wisdom.
    We understand the President's concern about the huge resources that would be needed for a Con Con. However, the President must indulge us our continuing distrust of these people in Congress along with their wisdom. We might like to note that they mostly derive from the wealthy class of our Republic, as do their wisdom (or wisdom absent from their knowledge).
    As a self-described Socialist, the President might understand where people's distrust is coming from. In fact, he might recall that his campaign leaned on this very distrust towards the wealthy political class. He used this distrust to push for a more trustworthy alternative, and in fact continues to use it as a rationale for many of his freshly-launched new or rehashed policies, the anti-illegal drugs drive being one of them. After all, this is the same wealthy political class that would never give up its access to the pork barrel (of whatever name) and rid us of a pork-barrel-run system of executive-legislative governance. This is the same wealthy political class that would like to continue to use the "epal" tradition of putting their names on every government project or vehicle or structure that they can appropriate as products of their generosity. Therefore, it is this very same wealthy political class that would likely avoid a furtherance of power-sharing areas with the people through stronger direct democracy instruments such as the initiative, the right to call for referenda, the right to recall elections, among others. Thus our fear that this Con Ass could very well decide to get rid of the people's initiative clause in the 1987 Constitution (instead of strengthening it).
    Sure, it's possible that delegates to a Con Con might be just as suspect to our nation's eyes. There would be the gamble. But the President must understand that our fears in relation to most politicians in Congress are not totally without grounds. The President might remember that most, if not all, of his new policies, and the people's support of them, all come from fears. So that if he can trust that our larger fears against the proliferation of illegal drugs in our neighborhoods are what is keeping us from fearing his police state methods against illegal drugs more, then he must trust our expression of fears in other areas.
    Who knows: he who rules by fear just might be able to help this nation further in exploiting and defeating one other fear: the fear of reinvigorated old privileges among wealthy political class elements when they go unchecked by the people who may have just been further excluded from their government via a more fake democracy in a new Constitution. [S / -I]