The middleground between Dutertard and Yellowtard ‘bloggers’ needs to be filled by REAL pundits

Many see the Philippines today as hopelessly polarised with the “die-hard Duterte supporters” (DDS, a.k.a. the “Dutertartds”) on one side and the old “Yellow” cliques loyal to the cult of personality of the Liberal Party (LP, a.k.a. the “Yellowtards”) on the other. The Yellowtards were, since their colossal loss in the 2016 elections, easily-characterised as an obsolete political faction in its dying throes but, by no means going away quietly as evident in the trite noise it contributes to the national “debate”. The Dutertards, on the other hand, were the up-and-coming “new breed” of influencers who seemingly expertly wielded the modern tools of the trade crafting punchy Intenet memes, sustaining statistically-impressive “engagement” scores on social media, and pushing out edgy “blog” articles over various channels.

For the most part it was, at least as far as our narrowly-curated timelines would reveal, a troll “war” between both camps, each side accusing the other of “weaponising” the Net and burying the “truth” underneath a mantle of mass-produced sound bytes meant more to sow confusion than add clarity to the discourse. But the narrative that had been sustained for a while, that of two unified camps that dominated the Philippines’ bipolar discourse, seems to be evolving. The monolithic character of the DDS has seen some fraying at the edges lately which, following a tell-all video released by Bruce Rivera (erstwhile part of the “solid” DDS inner-circle) that pretty much lay the group’s dirty laundry out for all to gawk at, now seems more like an understatement.

The pedestrian cliques of the Yellowtard side, for their part, have remained consistent to their shallow, primitive, and monomanic style of discourse despite an underworld network of slapstick blogs and shadowy Google AdSense money trails being laid bare under the harsh light of DDS “investigative” blogging. At the upper crusts of the Yellowtard camp, chi chi mainstream “journalists” have maintained their ideological umbilical cord to Western liberalism and even strengthened this bond having all but invited generous commentary on today’s “killings” from their European and American counterparts. Evidently, the strategy involves tapping into stubborn vestiges of Filipinos’ renowned colonial mentality to accord automatic social ascendancy and credibility to these foreign Western voices.

This, interestingly enough, is not much different from pro-administration bloggers and “influencers”. Although “Dutertard” bloggers provide a fresh and innovative perspective to the discourse that contrasts with the Yellowtards’ voodoo primitivism, there remains in the DDS’s approach the same “credibility” built upon cult-of-personality. And just like the “influence” wielded by the Yellowtards during their heyday, the key DDS influencers’ work in punditry and social media is entangled in a conflict-of-interest owing to their being employed or contracted as officials or “consultants” by Malacanang.

As the discourse gets increasingly polarised with both sides digging themselves increasingly deeper into an unproductive trench warfare wherein each side shells and snipes at the other from a distance rather than engage in close-contact combat, the landscape is once again left wide-open for true and independent punditry. The key here is for these true and independendent pundits to elevate themselves above the stalemated trench warfare being waged by the Dutertards and the Yellowtards and way above the intellectually-bankrupt arguments of choice such as “Why should I listent to you, you’re a […]-tard?”

True pundits should focus less on polarising the debate and more on clarifying stuff — clarify the issues, clearly-define the problem, evaluate options, and recommend clear pathways. When there is an increase in focus on clarity, we can expect an increase in focus of inclusiveness in the discourse. At the moment, there is none of this sort that can be seen in the way the Yellowtards and Dutertards conduct themselves. Indeed, the division they are causing is not just between the two camps but, as evident in the Rivera and Cocoy Dayao episodes, also within their respective camps.

The patterns are becoming quite evident. On the Yellowtard side, its honchos have, as presumptive leaders of the Opposition, failed to unify this Opposition around a common ideology or strategic direction. On the Dutertard side, a once-monolithic unity surrounding Duterte’s cult of personality is beginning to unravel and is starting to make the DDS brand look more like a house of cards rather than the formidable edifice it once came across as. Across all that is the general erosion of the blanket trust the public once blindly-accorded mainstream news media and the celebrity “journalists” that fronted the industry.

Seeing all this, it is evident that Filipinos in general haven’t really yet become the independent-minded and skilled thinkers that are essential for a society to thrive in a full embrace of Western liberal democractic ideology. The lip service paid to “equality”, “people power”, and “rule of law” serve well as fodder for the cocktail and latte-sipping classes’ pretentious conversations in their quaint soirées but, unfortunately, these lofty concepts break down in the broader Philippine setting where beholdenness to personalities rather than ideas is more the rule.

To be free and responsible in the use of democratic “freedom” requires intelligence and foresight. The latter is important because the ability to think several steps ahead and visualise the different scenarios that could branch out over that horizon is key to making the right decisions. Also as important is framing the problem properly. Not surprising, therefore, is the reality that faces us; that the Philippines is basically a society that is the result of the wrong solutions being implemented on the back of ill-defined problems.

In such a society, one would be better off cautious about espousing too much “freedom” on the assumption that people to whom this will be afforded will apply enough personal accountability to wield it well. That’s the Philippines in a nutshell, basically. It is a society begging for a dictatorship but fatally-convinced it is entitled to enjoy liberal Western democracy. Note that this is a strong unifying premise that describes the current bipolar condition of the Philippine national “debate” — the Dutertards begging for a dictatorship opposed by the Yellowtards who are convinced of Filipinos’ entitlement to “democracy”. The challenge is to discover what lies between.

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Post Author: benign0

benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.

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7 Comments on "The middleground between Dutertard and Yellowtard ‘bloggers’ needs to be filled by REAL pundits"

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Tenor
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It’s impossible now, the Philippines is just a collection of tribes that was handed a joke of a “Democratic” Government and told to practice “Democracy”, “Human Rights”. and “Equality” that they didn’t earn, create, or have a functioning infrastructure that can support it or even a culture that is compatible with it. Guess what, we might be called Asia’s first and only Christian country, but we’re corrupt to the core with old habits that never die. We might have anti-gun laws, but we still have plenty of violence, murders, rape, and killings that have been a staple even before Duterte’s… Read more »
Niels Mulder
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DRAFT, inviting comments PH Enigma: Chewing the Cud © Niels Mulder 2017 In his Commentary column, Oscar P. Lagman Jr. reflects on the most remarkable non-event of the Philippine calender, National Heroes Day (August 28), when the President perfunctorily reminded his people of the courage, leadership, and wisdom of said Heroes that paved the way for the current generation to enjoy the blessings of freedom, independence, and democracy. Even as such magnification is more than somebody in his right mind can swallow, it is characteristic of much of Filipino public discourse. Whereas I sympathize with Lagman’s historical observations and commentary… Read more »
Hyden007Toro43654.999
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Hyden007Toro43654.999
We have never been a Democracy. The Social Media is a new way to inform our countrymen. Those who are well versed in this medium of information, should use it well to awaken our countrymen. Truth is the casualty in the “trench warfare” between the “Dutertards and the “YellowTards, now the White Tards” …I call them AquinoTards, it is better. All we have to do is to bring out the Truth, as best, as we can; write them in our blogs, as simple and as clear, as possible. Most of us, are not Journalists. But, some of us, can write… Read more »
klara
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One side of the “Duterte-aligned” socmed personalities seems to be literally battling it out for influence with the other pro-Dutertes – which could explain the territorial and dominating behavior of the other. And if it is indeed about influence, then there’s probably a scheme, and the other side of persuasion has to be stifled or weakened. It’s easy to test credibility (or lack of it) in some of them, but it should’ve been done early on.

d_forsaken
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I don’t accept the idea that there are two sides to any issue. I think that the middle ground is to be found within most of us.