THE ART OF CONDITIONING THE FILIPINOS’ MINDS

Rodrigo Duterte’s entry into the national political arena, and his eventual ascension to the presidency, opened the floodgates to numerous powerful assertions that changed, and are still changing, the way most Filipinos view and accept things. His repeated public pronouncements on various issues have managed to condition our minds to abandon some deeply entrenched values and beliefs to accommodate his largely unconventional and radical ideas and views. The questions thus currently burning a hole in our minds are these: “When his term ends, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be? Or would we even want that to happen?”

The following are Duterte’s claims and proclamations that many of his supporters are gobbling up—greedily, naively, insatiably.

 

The country seriously needs change, and it can only be acquired through Duterte.

An assertion that the Duterte camp successfully used to anchor their campaign platform on was the country’s supposed need for a drastic change.

Then presidential candidate Duterte capitalized on the collective frustration, hopelessness, and pent-up anger of many Filipinos over the previous administrations’ alleged ineptitude and lack of compassion for the most marginalized members of our society. He managed to convince the electorate that the country was suffering because it had been governed, for the longest time, by the wealthy oligarchs and traditional politicians whose only interests were to protect their wealth and other personal agenda. He was able to manipulate us into thinking that he was one of the disadvantaged masses, one of the ordinaryong Pilipino, and that he was our last hope – our Messiah – to that ever-elusive change.

As much as I don’t want to come off as the previous administration’s mouthpiece, much less its apologist, but history would tell us that President Aquino is largely credited for stabilizing our economy when most in the region was stumbling or falling apart. (President Duterte himself admitted that there was no need to fix the country’s economy left by PNoy because it was doing well.) PNoy even enjoyed a 57% satisfaction rating days before he vacated Malacañang – the highest among the ratings of all the post-Martial Law presidents.

Even the die-hard LP supporters have to admit though that, like the other presidents before him, PNoy had his shortcomings and lapses in judgment, some with graver consequences than others. But I would like to believe that the man served his country the best way he knew how. He just needed a few more years to allow the people to fully enjoy the proverbial fruits of his labor, thus, his appeal for continuity.

But, no, we couldn’t give him that.

How could we when we were already conditioned to clamor for change? We were made to believe that waiting did not have to be an option when someone else could very well make our lives better in an instant. Yes, we, the most gullible of the lot, fell for all those promises of quick results – hook, line and sinker. It didn’t matter one iota that most of those promises were ludicrous, outrageous, unrealistic, or ill-thought-out, as proven by the developments and changes that have already taken place under Duterte’s administration.  (Read Change Has Truly Come Sa Bayan Ni Juan.)

 

The country is plunging into narco-statehood.

I am sick and tired of hearing President Duterte’s repeated assertions that the Philippines is on the verge of becoming a narco state. He used that claim during the campaign, and won the presidency primarily because of his bold promise to eradicate drugs, along with corruption and criminality, in just 3-6 months after he assumes office. Now, already on his 12th month and with more than 12,000 drug-related casualties, he continues to feed us with the same statement during his public tirades and rants…as if he also needs to constantly convince himself of its veracity.

But, how serious, really, is the drug problem in the country?

Based on the 2015 nationwide survey on the Nature and Extent of Drug Abuse in the Philippine, as commissioned by the Dangerous Drugs Board (DDB), drug use incidence from Jan 1, 2015 – Feb 5, 2016 is at an estimated 1.8 million, or 1.8% of that year’s total population.

I am not, in any way, trying to discount or even downplay this number or its possible social and criminal repercussions, but this figure is hardly tantamount to an epidemic – especially considering the facts that it was significantly lower than the recorded 6.7 million users in the country in 2004 (the year with the highest recorded number of drug users) and the 5.2% global average of drug use in 2014.

So where did the President get his figure of 4 million “drug addicts,” you ask?

According to the same survey, the lifetime drug use prevalence in the country is at around 6.1%. Simply translated, this means that the number of Filipinos who have used illegal drugs at least once in their lives is 4.8 million. President Duterte might have drawn his 4 million figure from this datum. Or it may be, as the President constantly claims, from ex-PDEA Chief Dionisio Santiago’s old estimate of 3 million —which the former raised to 4 million using a highly complex process called logical deduction that only he was privy to. (Note that the PDEA Chief was one of the 17 members of DDB, hence, his sole source of official data and figures should be the DDB itself.)

Either way, the President’s basis for his 4 million figure is clearly erroneous. Intentional or otherwise, President Duterte based the “bloody” all-out war that the government continues to wage against illegal drugs on an incorrect premise.

 

The country will be better off if we ally ourselves with China (and if we keep our distance from our long-time partners like the US and the EU).

The President has also been conditioning us to believe that China is our country’s ally – a benevolent, reliable and generous one. He wants us to conveniently ignore China’s blatant disregard of the UN arbitral tribunal ruling favoring the Philippines on our maritime dispute with China over the West Philippine Sea. Questioning China’s bullying, territorial-grabbing and subjugating efforts would, for him, reduce us to nothing more than a bunch of ingrates. So, the next time China builds another artificial island on the WPS, undertakes an exploration of Benham Rise, threatens our fishermen anew, questions our DND Secretary’s visit to one of the islands in the WPS, or worse, sends drones and surveillance cameras and targets us with their precision weapons and missiles should we decide to drill oil there, we should just try to look the other way and remind ourselves of all of China’s pledges – a ready market for our exported bananas, an influx of Chinese tourists, a dole-out of investments and loans, and an unlimited supply of illegal drugs. (Read this.)

 

The Catholic Church will soon be passé.

The Philippines is home to the largest Catholic population in Asia, holding the record for being the third largest Catholic country in the world. Under the present administration though, the Church has been the subject of constant attacks, tirades, and condemnation from no less than the President himself. When clergymen and church figures criticize Duterte’s bloody war on drugs, the President readily retaliates by lambasting the church and its leaders, claiming that the Church has no moral ascendancy and is a hypocritical institution that will soon be irrelevant and passé. Once, he even urged Catholics to stop listening to the priests and, instead, join the Iglesia ni Duterte – a religion he would establish that, he claimed, would not be as restrictive as the Catholic Church. In his Iglesia, he added, men can have as many as five wives.

 

The media is the epitome of bias and corruption.

When the President’s controversial and, oftentimes, contradicting statements and pronouncements stir discord, draw flak, or are picked up by the international press, the local media usually bear the brunt of Malacañang’s censure and wrath. The Chief Executive and his henchmen allege the journalists of unfair reporting and of deliberately misinterpreting, misunderstanding, misquoting, twisting, or sensationalizing Duterte’s words. Critics claim that this knee-jerk reaction and behavior could be considered an attempt to discredit or undermine the media. In the face of the most recent expletive-laden attacks and allegations of the President against the media, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility proclaimed that that form of harassment and intimidation “has brought the highest office to a historic low.” It could be recalled that Communications Secretary Andanar, a media practitioner himself, once accused the Senate media of receiving $1,000 each for covering the press conference of self-confessed DDS member, retired SPO3 Arthur Lascañas. Mocha Uson, an ardent supporter of Duterte and, now, a presidential appointee, makes a habit of calling the media outfits that are critical of the president, “presstitutes.” She also makes a habitual call to her millions of online supporters to boycott the country’s traditional, mainstream media. Additionally, when Duterte won the online poll for the Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World, his supporters rejoiced. Malacañang said that it was indicative of the fact that Duterte is “so admired” by Filipinos and international leaders because of his national agenda. However, when his approach against drugs was heavily criticized by a former Colombian President, who was tasked by Time Magazine to pen the write-up on Duterte (while Duterte’s archnemesis, Sen. Leila De Lima, received a glowing write-up from a former US Ambassador), Malacañang was quick to point out that the said magazine has not been fair by choosing to focus on the negative, unsubstantiated news about the President, while failing to mention the reason behind De Lima’s incarceration.

 

Spreading fake news is fine, even for government agencies and entities.

Both the Philippine News Agency and Mocha Uson, as the newly appointed Assistant Secretary for Social Media, are under the competent stewardship of Andanar’s PCOO. Uson has been the source of numerous fake news that Duterte supporters gleefully spread. Apparently, her new government position does not deter her from continuing with her old ways as she recently shared a wrong photo of the Philippine Army on Facebook. PCOO, on its part, was responsible for an animated video promoting Martial Law, while PNA has had its fair share of blunders like its report that 95 nations, in their UN Human Rights Council meeting, were convinced that there are no extrajudicial killings in the Philippines.

 

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The opposition is constantly working to destabilize the government.

Under this administration, opposition is not regarded as a necessary partner in legitimizing our democratic right to dissent, or even in hearing out the voices coming from the proverbial other side of the fence. Instead of directly addressing the issues hurled at them, Duterte and his minions of apologists and defenders are known to malign, intimidate, mock, verbally abuse, humiliate, threaten, persecute and, in Sen. De Lima’s case, jail anyone who holds contrary views and adversarial positions. The United Nations, the European Union, leaders of other nations, human rights advocates, the faith-based groups, and the international and local media – they are all nothing but an unruly bunch working closely with the “dilawan” in hounding and attacking the government, with the sole intent of overthrowing it. Early this year, all the remaining opposition senators were stripped of leadership posts and committee chairmanships while, in the House of Representatives, the solons who voted against the death penalty bill were ousted from their key posts. If this tyrannical condition persists, all the political dissenters under this administration will eventually find themselves cowering in the corner, voiceless and powerless, behind bars or, worse, rotting away six feet under.

 

Slut shaming, catcalling, disrespecting or objectifying women is acceptable.

President Duterte’s sexist, chauvinistic and, to an extent, misogynistic reputation remains intact months after he assumed presidency. More than 16 million voters chose to ignore the offensive “jokes” Duterte constantly delivered during his campaign sorties – jokes about his multiple girlfriends (of which one of them he claims is for his “short-time” use only), their housemaid that he used to molest in her sleep, the Australian missionary raped and brutally killed by a gang of inmates that he thought was a waste because the missionary was so beautiful that he should have been first among those who lined up to rape her, and of Duterte actually giving a couple of his female supporters a liplock. During a press conference shortly after his inauguration, he catcalled a female reporter. (Catcalling, for him, is a compliment if we are to believe his apologist in Malacañang.) During the anniversary of Supertyphoon Yolanda and in front of hundreds of the typhoon’s survivors, he admitted to ogling at VP Leni’s knees during their cabinet meetings.  He also used the rumor of a sex tape to slut-shame Senator De Lima on national TV. In his apparent effort to defend House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez against the issue of womanizing, Duterte said that it simply couldn’t be helped; “There are so many women and so short a time in this world.” Just recently, he made another rape joke in front of our troops fighting in Marawi City. His supporters, meanwhile, believe that Duterte’s behavior towards women is a non-issue. After all, they voted for a president, neither for a priest nor a saint.

 

Government resources can be used freely to pay for personal debts of gratitude.

When the President won, he promised to hire only the “best and the brightest.” The Filipino people deserve only the best, he quipped – “walang palakasan o anumang utang na loob.” Naturally, his supporters gloated. Today, we, the taxpayers, are paying the likes of RJ Jacinto, Arnell Ignacio, Kat De Castro, Aiza Seguerra, Liza Dino, Cesar Montano, and Mocha Uson – not because of their admirable academic backgrounds, competencies, personal attributes, or experience in public service, but because these celebrities happened to support Duterte during his campaign. Duterte himself admitted that those appointments are his way of paying his debt of gratitude to his loyal supporters. His foreign trips are also highly criticized due to countless tag-alongs and free riders (Ex-President Ramos called Duterte’s Russia trip a junket.). With no less than the president openly advocating and practicing patronage in government, worse cases of corruption will inevitably be more prevalent under this administration.

 

Killing/Waging war is the panacea for our country’s many ills.

When the most powerful man in the land promises to kill every drug dealer and user, and promotes killing as the most effective and fastest approach to winning his war on drugs, and when his officials believe that drug addicts are not humans and are thus not entitled to the most basic of human rights, we better be prepared for the inevitable deadly outcomes. Laws and due processes are blatantly disregarded. Human rights are abused and trampled on. The death toll continues to rise at an alarming rate. Bills such as the Death Penalty and the Lowering of the Minimum Age of Criminal Liability are feared to be used for the government’s bloody campaign against drugs. Critics of the war on drugs are cursed, threatened, or persecuted. Law enforcers are emboldened to take the law into their own hands. The root causes of the problems are not duly addressed. Even the issue of China’s illegal and baseless claim on the WPS was reduced by Duterte to an unsavory pick between two choices only: the relinquishment of our sovereign rights and jurisdiction over the disputed waters OR an all-out war against China. Filing a diplomatic protest before an UNCLOS arbitral tribunal is not an option for this administration.

 

Duterte can get away with almost anything because he is a popular President.

Filipinos are known to be a forgiving race, but where the present Commander-in-Chief is concerned, many of us could go as far as being unquestioning and complicit. He curses virtually everyone as much as he wants during presscons and public speeches, and we hardly bat an eyelash. He threatens to kill somebody, and we shrug our shoulders. He slut shames a woman, and we laugh uproariously. He gives the WPS to China on a silver platter, because it is, after all, “theirs historically”, and we feign indifference. He puts people’s reputation and lives in jeopardy by publicly disclosing unverified lists and making unsupported claims, and we rejoice unabashedly. He travels with his friends and supporters using our hard-earned taxes, and we endure with calm acceptance. He rubs elbows with big-time plunderers and oligarchs, and we react with fierce protectiveness. All of these make me wonder: How low a level should the President stoop to before we finally wake from this deep apathy?

 

It’s just a matter of time before the entire Philippines is placed under Martial Law.

In the wake of Ferdinand Marcos’ dreadful years of dictatorship, Filipinos have avoided the possibility of another Martial Law like the plague. A mere mention of it could cause some of us to shiver with fear. But due to Duterte’s constant and seemingly casual reference to it – as a response to CJ Sereno’s alleged interference with his job, to the “sheer magnitude of the drug problem in the country,” to lawless violence after the Davao blast, to a need to “preserve his country,” to the crisis in Mindanao –, many of us have gradually grown desensitized to the idea. Now that he has already declared ML over the entire Mindanao, we should brace ourselves to Duterte’s imminent declaration of expanding it to cover the whole country and, possibly, beyond the constitutionally mandated 60-day period. Especially after announcing that he would ignore the Supreme Court and Congress if they try to meddle with his decision.

 

The erosion of our moral values is no cause for alarm or even concern.

Throwing our all-out support behind a particular leader could actually be commendable, but doing so at the expense of some values, beliefs and principles that are deeply embedded in our culture and psyche is alarming. Go to a link to a Rappler or ABS-CBN’s article about Sen. De Lima or VP Robredo and it would be impossible not to notice how Filipinos today could be indifferent or complacent on one hand, and ruthless, harsh and violent on the other. Bigotry is now at its peak. Comments and remarks laced with malice and virulence are flying around. Vindictiveness has become the name of the game. Integrity, benevolence, diplomacy, and basic respect for others have flown out the window when Duterte and his minions occupied the Malacañang Palace almost a year ago.

 

With six years’ worth of mental conditioning under the present administration, can the Filipinos’ minds be unconditioned or reconditioned to how they used to be when his term eventually ends? Would we even want that to happen?

CHANGE HAS TRULY COME (SA BAYAN NI JUAN)!

An assertion that the Duterte camp successfully used to anchor their campaign platform on was the country’s supposed need for a drastic change.

Then presidential candidate Duterte capitalized on the collective frustration, hopelessness, and pent-up anger of many Filipinos over the previous administrations’ alleged ineptitude and lack of compassion for the downtrodden and the most marginalized members of society. He managed to convince the electorate that the country was suffering because it had been governed for the longest time by the wealthy oligarchs and traditional politicians, whose only interest was to protect their wealth and other personal agenda. He was able to manipulate us into thinking that he was one of the disadvantaged masses, one of the ordinaryong Pilipino, and that he was our last hope –our Messiah– to that ever-elusive change.

Change Is Coming. That was their battle cry.

Eight months in office and, alas, the Duterte administration can truthfully claim that change has indeed come sa bayan ni Juan.

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Photo credit: pinoyHS and Change Scamming

Higher excise taxes

As part of Pres. Duterte’s many campaign promises, Filipinos earning less than ₱3 million annually will enjoy a tax break. However, to compensate for the loss in the government revenue that that would entail, the Dep’t. of Finance proposes higher excise taxes on fuel and automotive, VAT on OFW remittances, and an expanded VAT from 12% to 14%. Note that the net effect of the hike in excise taxes in oil would far outweigh the impact of the lowering of personal income taxes, according to Sen. Chiz Escudero.

Higher SSS monthly premiums

To finance another of Pres. Duterte’s campaign promises of a ₱2,000 across-the-board increase in the monthly pension of SSS pensioners (the implementation of which would seriously compromise or could even result to the eventual bankruptcy of the said benefit system – the very reason why the Aquino administration vetoed it, in the first place), SSS was forced to resort to the alternative solution of increasing the monthly premiums of its active members.

Peso depreciation

Our peso continues to weaken and, at its present 50.395 Ph₱ = 1 US$ exchange rate, it is hovering at its lowest level in a decade. The peso shed 5.2%, making it the worst performing currency in Southeast Asia last year. This peso devaluation, that earned for our currency the title “Asia’s Ugly Duckling of the Year,”  has a domino effect.

  • Higher government debt-servicing
  • Higher cost of foreign goods and services
  • Inflation in the prices of domestic products
  • Soaring oil prices

Prices of petroleum products have been steadily rising since Pres. Duterte assumed office. Upon the opening of 2017 alone, LPG had a big-time price hike of ₱4.15 – ₱4.18/kg, while per liter pump prices of diesel increased by ₱0.60, gasoline by ₱0.70, and kerosene by ₱0.55. As an inevitable result, minimum transpo fare, prices of basic commodities and electricity rate followed suit.

Sharp drop and volatility of the Philippine stock market index

The Semiconductors and Electronics Industry in the Philippines (SEIPI) reported that orders amounting to $50 million were lost to one company when President Duterte made angry statements directed at President Obama in connection with the former US president’s criticisms of the Duterte government’s war on illegal drugs.

The country is considered a major money-laundering hub

According to the 2017 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report by the Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs, the Philippines is now “a major hub for money laundering and a gateway for transnational drug trafficking due to the loopholes and limitations in the banking system and the lack of jurisdiction of the Anti-Money Laundering Council over financial transactions.”

Camp Crame is now Camp Crime

Under the present administration, South Korean businessman Jee Ick-joo was abducted and robbed by policemen and, eventually, murdered inside Camp Crame, the PNP headquarters. Jee (along with at least 11 more) is said to be a victim of Tokhang for ranson.

The execution by CIDG operatives of Mayor Rolando Espinosa Sr. and another inmate

According to the result of the NBI’s “exhaustive investigation,” the late Albuera mayor was a victim of a rubout, and not of a shootout as claimed by the raiding team. Police Superintendent Marvin Marcos, the raiding team leader, was relieved by Gen. Bato following reports of the former’s involvement in drug operations. However, Marcos was ordered reinstated by no less than the president a few days before the rubout.

Duterte’s “War on Drugs” is a subject of worldwide condemnation

Under the present administration’s bloody all-out war against drugs, nearly 8,000 people are already killed in just a span of eight months. Oplan Tokhang, the anti-illegal drugs program of the PNP, is said to be unconstitutional and violative of basic human rights – the formulation of the drug watch list (prepared by the local government officials, inclusion therein can be based on hearsay, rumor, rivalry or mere alliance with a drug offender –with little or no verification), the surrender forms (which provide only two choices –to confess as either a drug addict or a drug pusher, or to not sign at all, which could lead to deadly consequences), and the operation itself (cops routinely busting down doors in the middle of the night and then killing unarmed drug suspects in cold blood; cops stealing from the victims’ homes; cops planting evidence; and cops falsifying incident or spot reports). This government campaign has also encouraged, if not sponsored, killings perpetrated by motorcycle-riding masked men. According to Amnesty International, Duterte’s War on Drugs has created an economy of murder in the country and is, in fact, a war on the poor. Due to the internal cleansing that the PNP administered in the wake of the Jee Ick-joo controversy, the campaign was temporarily suspended. It has now made a comeback, though, under the new name, “Oplan Double Barrel, Reloaded” which, according to Gen. Bato Dela Rosa, will be more extensive, aggressive and well-coordinated.

An identified drug lord is set free

According to the NBI, the Cebu-based businessman Peter Lim is the same Peter Lim that Kerwin Espinosa implicated in his senate hearing testimony as one of the top 3 drug lords operating in the country. That Peter Lim is also the same person who went to Malacanang to meet with his kumpadre, Pres. Duterte. After that meeting, he walked out of the palace unscathed and is now believed to have fled the country with his family.

Ferdinand Marcos is now a hero

The world’s second most corrupt leader in history under whose dictatorial rule, the country saw the darkest and most oppressive days, is now buried at the hallowed grounds of the Libingan Ng Mga Bayani. Ferdinand Marcos is the best president this country has ever had, according to Pres. Duterte.

Ex-Pres. Gloria Macapagal Arroyo is an innocent woman

The $329.48-million ZTE broadband network scam. The ₱728-million fertilizer scam. The Jose Pidal bank accounts. The Northrail project. The $14-million IMPSA power plant project. The ₱1.3-billion poll automation project. The Macapagal Boulevard project.

According to IBON Foundation, Gloria Arroyo may actually be “the most corrupt president the country has ever had, based on amounts lost to the Filipino people in just six corruption scandals over her seven years in office.” A few days after Duterte’s inauguration as the President of the country, Arroyo has been released from her hospital detention. She is now a free woman –sans the neck brace–, serving as a Deputy Speaker in the House of Representatives.

SolGen seeks the reversal of the Pork Barrel Queen conviction

Solicitor Gen. Jose Calida recommended the acquittal of Janet Lim Napoles for the crime of serious illegal detention of whistle-blower Benhur Luy — a move that the president fully supports. Napoles’ three lawyers (Stephen David, Lanee Cui-David and Bruce Rivera) happen to be staunch supporters of Pres. Duterte. Malacanang earlier said that it’s possible to turn Napoles into a state witness if she’s found to be the least guilty.

Sen. De Lima is arrested and thrown in jail

Pres. Duterte publicly accused the senator of having extorted money from the big-time drug lords in Bilibid to finance her senatorial bid. When the administration could not find a speck of evidence that might hold water in court, they made do with the conflicting testimonies of convicted drug lords and an old lover scorned (all of whom, like Duterte, have a score to settle with De Lima). This is believed to be an apparent effort to silence his most vocal and tenacious critic and to make an example out of her for the benefit of the other government officials who maintain an adversarial position on various government policies and programs.

The Vice-Pres. is humiliated, at every turn, by her president

Duterte once said that the inappropriate jokes he makes during speeches about VP Leni are necessary to make his audience laugh. He used to tease her about her relationship status, the short skirt she once wore during a cabinet meeting, and her nice knees and legs that he and another cabinet member ogled. However, the proverbial straw that broke the camel’s back was when the president instructed Robredo (via text!) to desist from attending all future cabinet meetings.

The DFA Chief could be jailed for perjury

During a Commission on Appointments hearing, Foreign Affairs Sec. Perfecto Yasay, Jr. declared under oath that he was never an American citizen. A document he himself provided to CA, however, told a completely different story. According to said document, Yasay was granted US citizenship on November 26, 1986 and had it renounced on June 28, 2016, a few days before he took over his current appointive position.

Senators who vocally oppose the administration are stripped of their key posts

With the clear intent to marginalize, alienate and, eventually, silence the officials who dare question or even show resistance to the administration’s programs and policies, Senators Franklin Drilon, Bam Aquino, Kiko Pangilinan and Risa Hontiveros were ousted from their top Senate posts and committee chairmanships. Said senators have been outspoken with their opposing positions regarding major issues such as extrajudicial killings, the burial of the late strongman Ferdinand Marcos at the Libingan ng mga Bayani, the lowering of the age of criminal liability, the re-imposition of the death penalty, and the re-opening of the Senate investigation on the Davao Death Squad. A few months earlier, Sen. De Lima was also ousted from her Justice committee chairmanship.

Slashed budget for calamity funds

Under the 2017 ₱3.35 trillion National Budget that Pres. Duterte signed, only ₱15.7 billion is allocated for the Calamity Fund. This is ₱23-billion lower than the ₱38.9 billion allocation in 2016 under the Aquino administration. In stark contrast, the Office of the President gets a whopping ₱20 billion allocation —a ₱17 billion jump from its 2016 budget.

The death of Project NOAH

The country’s primary disaster risk reduction and management program will be shut down because the government cannot provide additional funding to ensure the extended implementation of its existing programs. Thanks to the University of the Philippines’ decision to adopt Project Noah, a new lease on life will be given to the project that has been a lifesaver for millions of Filipinos. Project NOAH was named in August 2016 as the Top Smart City Initiative for Public Safety in the IDC Smart City Asia Pacific Awards.

The collapse of peace talks between the government and the communist rebels

Another one of Duterte’s promises is the immediate release of all the political prisoners.  The communist rebels had no reason to doubt the president’s sincerity. After all, Duterte was openly identifying himself as a socialist and leftist. He also maintained close links with the NDF and NPA when he was still the mayor of Davao. But after the 19 NDFP peace consultants who participated in the first round of peace talks in Norway were freed, no other political prisoners were set free. The more than 400 remaining prisoners, according to the President, will stay behind bars. They will serve as his “last card” in the peace negotiations with the NDFP, he said —a statement that caused a rift in the two parties’ relationship and eventually led to Duterte’s orders to scrap the negotiations and to arrest the “spoiled-brat Reds” who joined the peace talks.

Lowered age of criminal responsibility from 15 to 9 years old

Instead of strengthening the current Juvenile Justice and Welfare Act (RA 9344), providing more resources for the government agencies and local government units to effectively rehabilitate children in conflict with the law, and imposing stiffer penalties on parents who neglect their children and on those who exploit them to commit crimes, as Ifugao lawmaker Teodoro Baguilat suggested, House Speaker Pantaleon Alvarez and his cohorts in Congress believe that meting out stringent punishment to children as young as 9 years old would result to a dramatic drop in the country’s criminality rate. The said measure, which is aligned with the Duterte administration’s war on drugs, is believed to be anti-poor, a blatant violation of our commitment to the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and has the potential to permanently damage the children concerned.

The reimposition of death penalty

Despite our flawed and corrupt judicial and law-enforcement systems, the Duterte administration deems it best to revive capital punishment to support their anti-drug campaign. To make the bill “palatable” to more lawmakers, however, a number of crimes will be removed from the proposed bill. These crimes include plunder (the amassing by a public official of ill-gotten wealth worth over ₱50 million), treason and rape. Under this bill, a poor 9-year-old child exploited to commit a drug-related crime might find himself on death row, while an elected official who would steal millions –shamelessly, wantonly and insatiably—from the public coffers but would be defended by a top-notch trial lawyer, could walk away as a Congresswoman!

Chinese installations in the West Philippine Sea

Pres. Duterte did not ride a jet ski to plant our flag on the highly-contested Spratly islands just as he promised during the campaign. Instead, he went to China to kiss the ass of Chinese Pres. Xi Jinping by declaring for everyone to hear that, along with Russia and China, there are now three of us against the world. It didn’t matter one iota that China is the source of most of the illegal drugs in the Philippines. And now, apparently, it doesn’t matter either that the world’s biggest bully-nation is almost done with its project of building 7 artificial islands in the West Philippine Sea and putting on them two dozen concrete structures that “appear designed to house long-range surface-to-air missiles.” Last year, China had already built military-length airstrips on Spratly Islands. All these happened despite the Hague tribunal’s ruling on the Philippines- China dispute over the West Philippines Sea. Just recently, China was reported to have been undertaking a “secret undersea exploration” in the Benham Rise area. (Benham Rise is a 13-million-hectare undersea region believed to be fuel-rich and was awarded to the Philippines by the United Nations in 2012.) Duterte revealed that he had a prior agreement with China regarding the said exploration — an “agreement” that his DND Secretary, apparently, was not privy to. Previously, Chinese survey ships were also seen off Scarborough Shoal and Reed Bank surveying the sea bed for possible mineral deposits.

Rampant Human Rights violations

Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, accuses and holds Pres. Duterte and other senior officials responsible for being directly behind the killings of mostly poor, urban people. It also alleged the National Police forces of “working in tandem with masked gunmen — casting doubt on the government’s claims that the majority of killings have been committed by vigilantes or rival drug gangs.”

The abuse of the internet to spread lies and create dissension 

With the dramatic growth in the number of internet users in the country, the candidates in the last national elections saw and capitalized on the great potential of influence that social media could wield among the voters. The cyberspace has become a free-for-all battleground. We have all seen (and have even been victims of) the rise of paid trolls and propagandists, rabid cult followers, perverts, and merciless savages on the internet.

The revision of history

Intent on reclaiming lost glory and power, the Marcos family, their die-hard loyalists and shameless cronies launched a deliberate, premeditated and systematic campaign to revise the country’s history. Through clever deception, half-truths and outright lies, they managed to delude more than 14 million Filipinos (the number of votes he was able to secure during his Vice-Presidential bid) into thinking that Martial Law, as we knew it, never existed. It didn’t hurt their cause that Pres. Duterte openly paves the way for the family’s comeback to Malacanang (Click this to read their arguments and claims and how best to quash them.)

The desensitization of the Filipino people

We used to pride ourselves for being Asia’s most predominantly Christian country, but with the phenomenal rise of the internet and Duterte’s ascension to the presidency, we have shown the world that we, as a nation, have grown apathetic, callous even, in dealing with the various social and political issues plaguing our country today. Also, the use of demeaning labels, such as Dutertards and Yellowtards, has become alarmingly familiar.

The demise of diplomacy and integrity among government officials

When our honorable Congressmen contemplated and almost allowed the showing of a sex video in the Lower House, when the House Speaker threatened –and actually acted on that threat — Congressmen to strip them of their House leadership titles if they oppose the bills the administration is pushing, when the opposition senators were stripped of their key Senate posts and committee chairmanship positions, when PCOO Sec. Martin Andanar called the anti-Marcos protesters “temperamental brats,” and when Duterte’s appointive officials get into the habit of hurling unsubstantiated accusations, misleading allegations and irresponsible statements to cover their boss’ ass, well, we know that the country is in deep trouble.

Mocha is now a legit source of information

With almost 5 million highly-engaged Facebook followers that take her every word as gospel truth, Mocha Uson has strategically marketed herself as the most powerful voice of the Die-hard Duterte Supporters (DDS). Her position of influence has been cemented when the president gave her a government position, when Philippine Star gave her her own column, and when DZRH gave her a tv show. So when she shares fake news or links from dubious sources, or posts alternative facts, or incites online fights, who is to stop her gullible followers from following her lead?

An unconventional leader hailed as the best president in the solar system

Dueterte’s work hours are from 1pm to early morning. He hates reading prepared speeches, preferring to talk freely and extemporaneously and, often, in visceral language. With the media in attendance, he alternately (depending on his mood) wolf-whistles, hurls angry expletives, makes fun of his VP, throws around preposterous promises, spreads gossip, claims criminal acts in the past, cries like a baby, and incites murderous violence among his supporters. He wants to pulverize criminality but he is linked to the Davao Death Squad, if we are to believe the testimonies of Matobato and Lascanas. He claims to abhor corruption but the company he keeps is comprised largely of corrupt officials and shady characters. He also refuses to open his bank accounts amid allegations that he has had ₱2.2 billion in bank deposits. He vows to crush the illegal drug trade in the country but he protects the likes of Peter Lim, Supt. Marvin Marcos and the other scalawags in the police force. He chooses his appointees not based on merit but on patronage. He promised to be a unifying president but he is now promoting divisiveness among us all.

President Duterte will stay in Malacanang until his term ends in another 5 years and 4 months. So, mga kababayan, let’s all fasten our seatbelts. It’s going to be one heck of a bumpy ride!

 

 

Sources:

http://news.mb.com.ph/2017/01/06/proposed-fuel-tax-hike-draws-flak/

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/861441/sss-premium-hike-against-the-law-says-drilon

https://www.philippinesplus.com/2017/02/22/philippine-peso-continues-weaken-us-dollar/

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-03-03/asia-s-ugly-duckling-of-the-year-is-the-peso-thanks-to-duterte

http://www.philstar.com:8080/business/2016/11/30/1648699/peso-depreciation-causes-and-implications

http://www.canadianinquirer.net/2017/03/06/us-tags-ph-as-major-money-laundering-hub/

http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/01/20/17/tokhang-for-ransom-timeline-of-south-korean-businessmans-abduction-killing

http://www.rappler.com/nation/154717-nbi-mayor-espinosa-death-rubout

http://www.amnestyusa.org/research/reports/if-you-are-poor-you-are-killed-extrajudicial-executions-in-the-philippines-war-on-drugs

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/07/16/16/duterte-meets-with-alleged-top-drug-lord-peter-lim

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/554350/news/nation/marcos-the-best-president-ever-in-duterte-s-book

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/83278/news/nation/ibon-corruption-scandals-under-arroyo-cost-filipinos-p7-3b

http://www.rappler.com/newsbreak/investigative/161513-duterte-solicitor-general-acquit-janet-napoles-illegal-detention-benhur-luy

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/826685/5-witnesses-vs-de-lima-seek-pardon

http://www.rappler.com/nation/151751-duterte-teases-robredo-yolanda-anniversary

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/story/591187/news/nation/evasco-s-text-message-asking-vp-robredo-not-to-attend-cabinet-meetings

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/28/17/yasay-may-be-held-liable-for-perjury-lacson

http://www.philstar.com/headlines/2017/02/28/1676468/lp-senators-stripped-top-panel-posts

http://news.abs-cbn.com/focus/12/22/16/disastrous-budget-duterte-admin-slashes-phs-calamity-fund-by-half

http://www.philstar.com/science-and-environment/2017/02/02/1668037/govt-shuts-down-project-noah

http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/868697/duterte-calls-reds-spoiled-brats-orders-arrest-of-freed-leaders

http://cnnphilippines.com/news/2017/02/01/house-speaker-avarez-lowering-minimum-age-of-criminal-responsibility.html

http://www.rappler.com/nation/162716-rape-plunder-treason-removed-death-penalty-bill

http://news.abs-cbn.com/news/02/22/17/china-finishing-west-philippine-sea-buildings-that-could-house-missiles

https://www.hrw.org/news/2017/03/02/killing-squads-inside-philippines-war-drugs

http://www.update.ph/2017/03/dnd-mulls-more-patrols-off-benham-rise/15755