GNASH your teeth until they fall out, you Yellows, Pinks and Reds. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. posted an impressive 86 percent trust and 78 performance rating, according to a survey undertaken by OCTA Research in the last week of October.
Marcos should take advantage of this colossal political support to start the reform programs this country direly needs even if these are unpopular or will be resisted by oligarchs.
Those ratings are basically at the high levels of his predecessor President Rodrigo Duterte, whom I would think the masses identified with more than Marcos. This is perhaps indicated by the fact that while both presidents had an 86 percent trust rating, Marcos’ performance rating was 78 percent, a bit lower than Duterte’s 86 percent. Those of the past three Yellow presidents — Cory, Ramos, Aquino 3rd — were all below Duterte and Marcos.
BLOGGERS, even prolific ones whom one Red propagandist calls, rather stupidly, “citizen journalists,” are not journalists. They are a new creature disseminating ideas and information solely in cyber space, a creature of the digital age. Period.
Many of the most widely read bloggers, claiming hundreds of thousands of views have even disappeared.
The prime example of this is the vociferous anti-Duterte blogger, Jover Laurio (PinoyAko), who got to be the Yellows’ rock star that the Philippine Daily Inquirer named her as one of its Most Outstanding Filipinos for 2017. Hardly anybody reads her blog anymore, unless one would want to contract her as travel agent, which she announces in her blog is her main work.
THE big reason why we cannot believe Vice President Kamala Harris’ assurances of her nation’s military support in our territorial disputes in the South China Sea is that the US doctrine on this issue has long been settled and documented: It doesn’t recognize the Philippines’ and three other nations’ territorial nor maritime claims in the Spratlys. It therefore cannot intervene in these disputes if an armed conflict breaks out there.
There is no evidence, no documentation that this US policy has been changed. Harris and other American officials simply make it appear that it has changed. Harris speaks with a forked tongue.
It was President Ferdinand E. Marcos, the current president’s father, who demanded that the Americans give him a clear written statement on this issue, way back in 1976.
AS always, US officials, this time Vice President Kamala Harris, have proven to be masters of prevarication, of ambiguity and of propaganda.
“Harris affirms US pledge to defend PH”; “Harris urges defense of sovereignty in South China Sea”; “US ready to defend PH vs armed attack in SCS.” These were the headlines describing Harris’ alleged assurances that we fall under the US eagle’s wings.
Her most detailed statement, “An armed attack on the Philippines’ armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke US Mutual Defense commitments. And that is an unwavering commitment that we have to the Philippines,” is what she told President Ferdinand Marcos Jr.
CHINA is getting closer to publicly announcing that the Philippines is under its blacklist as a tourist destination due to its displeasure that the new Ferdinand Marcos, Jr. government hasn’t made any move to close its overseas gambling operations in the country, diplomatic sources said.
The only message from the President so far — a weak one— on the issue was through the Office of the Press Secretary officer in charge: “The President is closely monitoring this and as far as the President is concerned the Philippine National Police is in charge of this matter.”
The police are being left to decide such a crucial issue involving a superpower in the region and our second biggest trading partner?
WHEN reporters asked if he thought US Vice President Kamala Harris’ visit to Palawan this week might pique China, President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. said the other day in Bangkok: “No, I don’t see why it should. She is in the Philippines, and she is visiting another part of the Philippines. And of course, it is the closest area to the South China Sea, but it’s very clearly on Philippine territory. So, I don’t think it will cause problems.”
Marcos’ statements were a remarkable display of naiveté, sarcasm or maybe condescension toward media. Reporters should have thrown back to Marcos their own sarcasm: “Will she go to El Nido, Amanpulo or just the world-famous Underground River?”
C’mon now, Harris’ visit to Palawan tomorrow is not just a visit to “another part of the Philippines” by just another US official. It will raise the geopolitical temperature in our region. It will be a geopolitical tremor, and thus was headline news in Western newspapers’ foreign sections.
ABOUT two years ago, I had an epiphany of what social media really was about. In a mall’s hardware section, on a grumpy morning trying to buy a replacement for a busted light bulb, I saw a young salesgirl dancing, with her co-worker taking a video of her with her Chinese-made cellphone.
In Filipino of course, I told her in an admonishing tone: “What the hell are you doing?” She replied, still smiling: “Para sa TikTok lang ho, para dumami followers ko.”
She captured in essence what social media, or at least what its huge shallow part has become: a venue for creating for the user the illusion, the delusion, that the world is acknowledging her existence, no matter how silly she was.
Especially as social media has engulfed the planet to be used by the masses — practically 77 million Filipinos or all of its adult, literate population are registered users — the essence of what many Facebook, Instagram and Twitter denizens are posting are merely verbal versions of that underpaid salesgirl’s TikTok dancing.
THE good news is that the Philippine economy has bounced back from its two-year contraction because of myriad problems created by the worst pandemic in the post-war period. The bad news is that I don’t think the government has mapped out plans on what kind of economy it wants to build. President Ferdinand Marcos Jr. should get some tips from his father.
The slaying of broadcast journalist Percival Mabasa should lead government to undertake a drastic crackdown on corruption at the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) , the agency that runs the world’ds largest penitentiary with 30,000 inmates called the New Bilibid Prison.
While most Filipinos think the Bureau of Customs and the Bureau of Internal revenue have been the most graft-ridden agencies, reputations they deserve, BuCor which is under the Justice Department has largely been out of the public radar as one of the most lucrative sources of graft money.
This is because from the outside, the question is how could officials running the national penitentiaruy make money out of people deprived of their freedom and their money?
WITH the assassination of journalist Percival Mabasa revealing, among other sordid things, that the country’s New Bilibid Prison could be the headquarters of an appalling “Murder Inc.,” Justice Secretary Jesus Crispin Remulla now has much public support behind him to pursue his plans to relocate the prison from its present location in Muntinlupa to at least three sites in the Visayas and Luzon.
The country’s national penitentiary was relocated in 1940 from the Spanish-era prison in what is now downtown Manila to Muntinlupa. That area was very sparsely populated and officially rural, with only 10,000 residents because of its hilly terrain, unsuitable for rice farming. Now Muntinlupa is classified as a highly urbanized city with 600,000 residents, and over a million daytime population.
The growth of metropolitan Manila and the building of the South Luzon expressway during the Marcos era spurred the development of Muntinlupa as a residential area for middle- and even upper-class subdivisions and the consequent sites for workers servicing those villages, commercial areas, and small and medium factories. With the country’s population growing fast after the war, so did the crime, expanding Bilibid’s prison population from the 3,000 it was designed to house to over 30,000.
The fact that it was for decades in one location (“territory” as it were) made Bilibid’s population (i.e., prison officials and inmates) develop its own “culture,” a full-fledged institution even if a criminal one. The prisoners had organized themselves into gangs (“tribes”) that struck myriad arrangements (“treaties”) with the “rulers” (guards and their bosses) to keep themselves as comfortable as they could while enriching their jailers.