THE results of the recent elections, especially the total rejection in the Senate of the Yellow-Red candidates, demonstrated in such stark manner the huge chasm, the colossal difference in the worldview of the elite and the masses.
This is most dramatized in the case of President Duterte’s Ronald de la Rosa, his police chief who presided over his anti-drug war until April 2018, which the Yellow-Reds claim was the bloodiest first phase of that campaign. The Yellow-Reds have been crying to high heavens— as a New York-based comedian quoted Rappler’s lies—that the anti-drug war represents the country’s “worst human rights crisis.”
The Filipino masses, however, have roundly rejected that view. The 81 percent of Filipinos in the most recent survey applauding the Duterte government, is basically the same 81 percent supporting his anti-drug war, ignoring the allegations of extrajudicial killings.
The masses’ more concrete, undeniable support is the fact that 18 million Filipinos voted de la Rosa— unknown outside Davao just three years ago—to the Senate, the poster boy of that campaign, beating such household names as Aquino, Roxas, Estrada, and even the action star Lapid.
How do we explain such a stark contrast in the elite’s and masses’ views?
The kindest explanation involves the fact that people really have different “forms of life,” which German philosophers refer to as lebensform. It is how people actually exist – culturally, socially, and economically – that determines what is reality for them, not rational proof.
Strident anti-Duterte journalists like Rappler’s Maria Ressa and Columbia University dean Sheila Coronel as well as Yellow leaders like Bam Aquino and Mar Roxas live in upper-class condominiums and Forbes-Park type gated communities, insulated from the real problems of the masses.
As practically dictated by their “forms of life,” their view of Duterte’s anti-drug war solely involves what appears in their minds, which are the creation of reportage in media.
Dramatic, tearjerker photos of the casualties of police operations (such as that infamous Pieta-like picture of a woman cradling her dead boyfriend’s body) are produced by award-seeking photojournalists using all the tricks of their trade, such as mood-creating lens filters and special lighting equipment.
Biased researchers (such as those in Rappler and Human Rights Watch) with political motives manipulate data to exaggerate the number of casualties, such as the “27,000* killed in Duterte’s war vs drugs.” This is then taken as gospel truth by American media – after all, the liars are their own, so to speak, since Ressa was from CNN, and Coronel, why she’s dean of a US Ivy League journalism school. The lies are then so much taken to be truth, that they are routinely quoted by such diverse people as a Washington Post reporter and an Indian New York-based comedian.
5,000, not 27,000
The official police figure is just 5,000, and even an effort by the anti-Duterte research project called “Drug Archives” reported only a 7,000 figure, based, according to it, on their data base of media reports.
The false figures are then used to fortify the elite’s worldview against Duterte by casting it in emotional terms through the power of words, such as the title of one of Coronel’s articles on Duterte, “A presidency bathed in blood.”
The Yellows create the drama in their egotistical minds that they are heroically fighting a brutal dictatorship, and should therefore be applauded for their heroism. I find it so hypocritical it borders on the hilarious that many of those whose who now shriek “Be not afraid” – such as former Jesuit Edmundo Garcia in a recent column in a Yellow newspaper – are those who fled the country in fear when a real dictatorship emerged in 1972. Of course, they were still fighting evil in the world when they fled, like Garcia working for Amnesty International in the United Kingdom for the entire duration of martial law.
The false figures and misleading photos also fit snuggly into the narrative of “human rights abuses” in the Third World which has been used by US Deep State in the past several decades as its excuse for policing the world, and toppling regimes such as Iraq’s Hussein and Libya’s Ghadafi.
It is not coincidental that of all the myriad problems of the country, the four media outfits funded by the US government and American foundations—Rappler, the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ), the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (CMFR), and Vera Files—have focused their work and resources on the alleged “human rights abuses” of the Duterte government. The US has long replaced “democracy” as its war banner with “human rights.”
What is ironic is that the US’ devil, the communists in this country, have also used “human rights” as their rallying cry in calling for the toppling of the Marcos dictatorship and most of the succeeding administrations.
In contrast to the elite’s mental-emotional construction of its view of Duterte and his war against drugs, the masses “form of life” views it in very practical and very concrete terms, devoid of the abstraction of “human rights,” and without the emotional trappings.
The “form of life” of most of the masses are in small urban and rural communities in which they interact face to face. In many of these, the drug menace had spread, especially in the previous Aquino 3rd administration, with those living in such areas knowing who the drug pushers and users are, how crime has soared because of drug addiction, how a relative was hooked into shabu and neglected his family.
They know that the local police hesitate to go against drug pushers as this risks their lives for a cause their superiors hadn’t really asked them to fight for. Some, especially in urban slums, have instead opted to benefit from the problem by getting regular pay-offs from the pushers. Drug pushers, funded by drug lords, routinely are freed on bail, and hunt down the policeman or the barangay official who fingered them.
Duterte’s war vs illegal drugs, and de la Rosa’s leadership on the ground, had changed all these. Police listened to the president’s clear and forceful command, and went after the drug pushers in their areas. Ironically, drug users were frightened by media reportage of death squads killing addicts and pushers, and so opted to rid themselves of the vice.
The town where I live had seemed—to a middle-class citizen like me—not to be a drug-infested place. However, just three months after Duterte launched his war against drugs, the municipal jail was filled with suspected pushers and addicts. Reports surfaced of the taho vendor being the shabu retailer, that several security guards in some gated subdivisions were addicts, which explained the frequent burglaries there, and that dozens of pushers and addicts had left town.
I don’t think there has been an urban and rural community that has not found itself freed from the drug menace, on the way towards such liberation, or with their police still locked in battle with drug lords. The media reports claiming “extrajudicial killings” or police brutality have not been part of their “form of life.”
*I discuss in detail the “evolution” of the grossly exaggerated figure of “27,000 EJKs”, initiated by Rappler in my book Debunked: Uncovering Hard Truths about EDSA, Martial Law, Marcos, Aquino, with a Special Section on the Duterte Presidency.