Philippine Politics

If You Know Anyone Who Benefited During Martial Law

If you voted for Bongbong Marcos because Martial Law was like living a good life that you’ve missed since then, do remember that it was a specific sector of Philippine society. Yes, good things were done, but I urge you to remember that that is just half the picture and that you vote for your country and not your own pleasure or sector. 

But I guess it doesn’t matter if you’re alright with living the good life at the price of numerous deaths of innocents and the poor starving to death and having no choice but to commit crimes as well as billions of the money you and everyone else gave for the betterment of the Philippines being stolen and used to spoil the ruling family.

Some people are like that, but for the rest of us who care about our country and the lives of those less blessed than us this issue is significant. Even if it was overblown in textbooks and documentaries, the evidence proves these things. It speaks on so many levels when you dampen the stories but still end up having one of the worst times in Philippine history on your hands.

Current Events, Philippine Politics

Duterte Debate: Why Aren’t Enough People in the Middle?

The country is split it seems, when it comes to Duterte and his demeanor and extrajudicial killings. Supporters love his authenticity and practicality. Criminals are evil and they deserve to be erased from our country no matter how many innocent lives are destroyed. Sometimes one has to experience great pain to reap the benefits of life, they say.

Those who oppose condemn the unjust killings of the accused. Human rights is the hot topic. Every person, no matter how evil, has rights that no one can take away. And his antics on TV? Those are words that don’t belong to a president’s mouth, and it might just be too risky to lash out at everyone that displeases you, especially when they can affect relationships with entire countries and organizations.

But why don’t more people inhabit the middle of the debate? Those who condemn him seem oblivious to his relatively productive performance since taking office. The corrupt are being exposed, rebels are now more than ever more hopeful of achieving peace with our military, and bills are being passed in a volume not seen since the twilight of Noynoy Aquino’s term. Missteps have come to be an expectation with Duterte, but at the very least he makes sure he is doing something in every opportunity.

His supporters, meanwhile, seem to have pledged an allegiance to him, fiercely defending him and leapfrogging universal and biblical truths while at it. They treat him as if he is family, or like he’s done tremendous things to their lives when in fact he’s just starting. The church doesn’t teach anyone to kill out of hatred, justice or vengeance. Even in the bible, God says not to kill, and even Jesus himself saved bigger sinners than what the police are killing now. You say the Bible is thousands of years old? Can you imagine significant literature like Noli me Tangere, Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings ever being out of fashion in the next century? The Bible is timeless, and you will understand more if you read it and realize most of it applies to multiple important situations in life.

Why do you have to disregard logic and truths when defending him? Nothing will ever take away his legacy as one of the best Filipino politicians, nothing will take away the progress he’s already done. Do you mean dropping a bomb on a hospital just because there are terrorists hiding there is right? Because that’s what’s happening when innocents, including teenagers raised by drug addicts, marijuana users devoid of any chances of hurting anybody and the mentally ill are also killed when they panic or just want to spare their children from losing a parent. If you voted for him, you have to be willing to be one of those innocents. Because it only takes one small miscalculation for you to be one of them. Sometimes you have to feel pain, right?

Just confess that it is wrong, and that the president and all those involved must face their punishments after this term. It only takes one innocent mistakenly killed to make you a criminal. And when it reaches the hundreds? I think that’s worth a lifetime in prison. Snowden did the wrong thing in my opinion when he broke his oath and escaped to Russia. When someone breaks an oath to the government and escapes punishment, imagine the ramifications when others, even recruited by enemies, follow. The reward should’ve been everyone knowing the truth, and in this case, the cleansing of the nation.

But even then, the sloppiness of Duterte’s process shows. Starting from or putting equal focus on the bottom of the pyramid results in a massive increase in deaths. It’s easy to think there’ll be few deaths if the focus was on top. That way you slowly kill the head of the snake and all the people that have potential to change the Philippines are saved. Why this is better? It only takes one miracle in the thousands saved, just one, to make a big impact in our society. Just one. And the others? Lock them away. You never know when you need or can produce talented teachers, hackers, entrepreneurs, athletes, programmers, preachers, even motivational speakers. Stop closing your mind because life isn’t as simple as saving the nation by killing everyone labeled as a criminal. There is this thing called potential and there is no way to predict it right now. So lock them away, wait for it to show if you need to, but I can easily imagine most of them already have skills or dreams to achieve.

…And please stop complaining how you want to kill those who commit major crimes. Remember all those who defended the killings because they want fair punishment? Remember all the decades you’ve lived and all the wrongly accused. There is no clear benefit that one has over the other method. Don’t you want to spare him and let him rot and suffer in prison? And I mean the huge majority who won’t be spoiled like in NBP. It’s better because of what I mentioned about potential. We are a country stuck in a dire position. We need all the help we can get and not even more hatred and revenge. Stop and think of the ramifications for all those around you and the millions living in poverty.

Current Events, Philippine Politics

We Were Wrong

After all the stolen money, the lavish gifts received and extrajudicial killings, we now have a winner in the May 2016 elections, and surprise surprise, it’s none of the two justifiable candidates. Well, before you let loose on your keyboards, keep your nails deep into the crevices of your desk for now as you hear me out.

I’ll keep the filler out of the way by telling you the two candidates I would’ve limited the choices to: Mar Roxas and Grace Poe (Antonio Trillanes, Leni Robredo and, while I’m still not sure, Chiz Escudero for Vice President). And as for why I also chose those for VP, they’re all practically in the same boat.

You don’t vote for criminals, you just don’t (in most cases). You might have a better excuse if when the ends meet, lives would be saved. But there is no guarantee, even in Duterte’s case. An unmatched and overwhelmingly positive outcome is always preferred, but only when it is a guarantee. When you kill even criminals that don’t threaten others’ lives, you end up killing more than you save. Every person is a son, a daughter, even a friend, no matter what they do. When you kill someone that has potential for a future, you kill that future too. When you steal billions of pesos from public funds intended for feeding programs, job employment opportunities and scholarship grants, you end up killing more people and futures than you save.

It would be a good decision if we knew what would happen in the future, but during the election period, we were wrong. You can’t set aside a candidate just because he annoys you or puts the candidate you like in a bad light. That’s being blinded by campaign tactics and idols. You vote for those that will actually benefit more than hurt. You vote not the name or campaign ad of a candidate but his or her potential in helping the nation. If you don’t think about your vote wisely, you put your vote on a spinning wheel and hope that whatever the result is will benefit you.

And you can’t most of all vote for just an ideal. It’s a half-baked platform when the entire plan is just be tough and unforgiving or relate to the masses. There has to be a concrete plan, a road to success so voters will have a feel for what the next six years will be. When people choose a candidate based on ideals alone it’s the same as I said previously about the spinning wheel.

And that’s why we should’ve chosen Roxas or Poe (and Leni, Trillanes, or maybe Chiz but I’m currently lacking stock knowledge on him). You can’t claim the Aquino administration had zero progress or that the country’s condition actually worsened. Those are most probably just propaganda from rival camps, not based on actual facts. It doesn’t take rocket science to research the facts. Most naysayers cite Mamasapano, Yolanda and the like, but those are mostly on the management side. Overall, there has been at least decent improvement to the country during Aquino’s term. Can you actually imagine Roxas doing a lot worse than him? Poe is more of a wildcard, but that quality is what saves her from the pitfalls of Miriam (Bribery), Bongbong (Corruption) and others. Try to compare Bongbong to Poe in their three years in the Senate and you’ll see. And how about Trillanes who does give up when threatened enough but is a safe bet compared to the ones I mentioned?

As we wind down, let me go back to the talk of guarantees for a bit. Of course there are no 100% ones, but when you see your decision’s probability going towards the majority, the future starts forming inside your mind. We’ll never know what the future holds, but we can estimate, and for something as significant as a national election, there is no room for playing around.

There was no perfect candidate to vote for (Mar and Poe even had some of the problems I discussed), but after weighing the pros and cons of each and a bit of processing the risks I found those two (and two or three Vice Presidential) candidates the most appealing, the safest candidates to vote for while envisioning a future of decent leadership and less lives and futures lost.

I guess there is no point in posting this right as the counting of votes is almost done, but at least I can wake up a few of those asleep in the collective Filipino consciousness. May God bless our new president and those who have and will win in the coming days.

Philippine Politics

The Lowdown on the Philippine Presidential Candidates

Presidential Candidates 2015
The 2016 Philippine presidential polls are as near as ever, and aside from the upcoming TV debate in February, all we’ll get are the usual interviews, ads and news articles that either paint rosy pictures of each candidate, or withhold the bigger picture. I’ve made an article dissecting each one of the four so far, based on the articles I’ve read (I read news almost everyday online). I’ll start with President Noynoy Aquino’s anointed successor:

The Highest-Rated Administration?

We are in the middle of some sort of comeback for the Aquino Administration. Once the laughing stock on social media for perceived inaction, the son of two late icons of Philippine democracy has built up a clean, non-corrupt image with results that solidify it.

The economy is in an upswing, and corrupt officials for the most part now have a reason to be afraid for what they’ve done. The thing is, everyone forgives one wrongdoing when things are at an upward trajectory. While Binay’s camp comes across as downright hilarious most of the time (same as Donald Trump, but that might be too much), they do have a point in accusing the administration of politically-motivated persecutions. Their timing for several politicians are downright questionable, with established lawyers backing up that claim.

The promise of alleviating poverty hasn’t taken shape over five years after Aquino’s first day in office, and he hasn’t exactly followed his “bosses” the entire time. Still, compared to some previous administrations, this is the best we’ve ever achieved, and pretty much that’s the bottomline.

Mar Roxas was anointed by the president as the continuation of the Tuwid na Daan philosophy, and I can’t think of a more apt choice. Mar has experience miles above what Noynoy had before he took office. And finally we can breathe a round of fresh air, a beam of hope where the Tuwid na Daan mentality will continue sans broken promises, obsessive finger pointing/name clearing, piss-poor attempts at “pang-masa” communication and handpicked persecutions.

This all comes down if you’re open to supporting Binay or Duterte. Mar is honestly the safest choice out of all four if you value the moral side of things. He has a lifetime of experience like the other three. He’s younger than Miriam and doesn’t have cancer. He hasn’t stolen a single dime from the government and I’ve heard that that also equates to a 100% chance that he’s never ordered the killing of a single person. The lone aspect he can’t equal is Binay’s potential hand in developing the nation and the surefire crashing down of crime rates should Duterte win. If you still believe in good politicians also being capable, then definitely you need to vote for Mar.

The Quick Fix

Everyone knows the story by now. A leader that led the city of Makati to new heights of prosperity, albeit corrupt to the core. What would you choose, morality or productivity? The interesting thing about this election is there are two polar opposites in the lineup, and both offer tantalizing benefits over the other.

I don’t feel entirely dumbfounded to see his high numbers in the surveys. The guy’s got a “pang-masa” feel surrounding him, and he’s got skills to boot. This, despite his attempts at gaining public sympathy clearly coming off as fake, and the way he acts as if the public is too dumb to process what is happening so he does it for them.

This decision entirely depends if you’re the type of person who’d support Rodrigo Duterte despite his knack for ordering the killing of criminals. If you can fathom supporting and living under a leader with questionable morals, then go for Binay.

Know What You’re Getting Into

It’s easy to get lost into all the hype about crime rates crashing down and Rodrigo Duterte doing the Davao treatment on the entire Philippines. It would make for a much safer country, no? But here lies the problem. Duterte has a history of ordering the killings of numerous criminals back in Davao, and he’s stated that he’ll do the same if he ever wins. Do you hold killing in the same regard as stealing? If so, then what makes him any better than Binay? It’s all up to you to decide if morals take priority over productivity this coming election.

The Dark Horse

Now don’t forget about the youth’s favorite. Miriam Santiago has the biggest social media following next to the president, and that might be her biggest weapon. Despite her ailing health, she lucked out by taking the headlines whenever she could back when she was still a bubbling senior. Now the netizens can take a slice of the burden of promoting her for the presidency. The Philippines is one of the most internet-obsessed nations in the world, and that makes Miriam a definite dark horse.

But does her track record back up that underrated fan base? She has been the most productive senator so far recently, so that’s something. And she has a penchant for ridiculing corrupt and incompetent people who dare enter the senate hall. Must be hard to eat death threats for breakfast, as her Twitter account states. Surely this means she’s clear of any wrongdoing, right? But what about those properties she accepted from corrupt politicians she doesn’t condemn? Yup, that makes her corrupt too.

I’m worried if Miriam can weather the stress that comes with the presidency, but with her experience and bravado, I’m sure she’ll find a way. Vote for Santiago if you’d risk having an ailing president if it means things will be done, just not at the same level as in the senate.

Philippine Politics

The Cold Reality of Philippine Politics

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You’ve seen news outlets all around the globe rave about the Philippine economy. Then you see poverty rates that haven’t budged in any significant way. The thing is you can’t erase a noticeable slice of poverty even in a small nation in less than a year. It’s a grassroots movement that involves a wide variety of government sectors. Here in the Philippines the cold reality is that much of the population is still poor, and that equates to a less-than-ideal number of educated people.

Take that fact into your perspective of Philippine politics. Watch the news for a few days and you’ll see they’ve turned one of the most pivotal parts of a country’s progress and development and turned it into a circus, with a colorful cast of politicians turning in entertaining performances. It’s all about their own interests now, such as saving whatever sliver of a good image they have or reelection. It’s about gaining the public’s sympathy by manipulating the facts and making it seem like you’re the victim and not the Filipino people.

How big a slice of the population is educated? How many can translate what they see on the news into intelligent opinions? Do that many people even watch the news? The answer isn’t really that difficult. Nancy Binay won a seat in the senate with flying colors sans any kind of experience in politics. And that’s with all the negative comments on social media. Our vice president whom many trusted would go on to fulfill his duties truthfully and with vigor was actually corrupt right from the beginning.

And that’s the reality. It might be a while before people like Risa Hontiveros get the majority of votes or celebrity hopefuls are filled with second thoughts on whether they should run. It’s most apparent when you see Jejomar Binay’s high trust rating even with all the negative press on TV and the internet. There’s just a high percentage of uneducated citizens in our country and it’s something that’s out of our hands for now even if we fill Facebook and Twitter with scathing remarks on these corrupt and inexperienced politicians.