What a big difference six months had wrought

The past events have shown just how unstable a country the Philippines is. With most unstable systems, even a slight relaxing of vital control functions results in a rapid unraveling or degeneration of its structure. In the last several months, the relatively robust administrative regime of Malacañang under former President Gloria Arroyo had become the stuff of legend — made into a stark contrast to the way things are being run today under the the Second Aquino Administration. Everything from the frequency with which key Malacañang forums and councils are convened to the way vital lines of communication and chains of command are invoked to both anticipate, deter, and respond to crises form the bases of a sad comparison between Arroyo’s government and the present one under President Benigno “Noynoy” Aquino III.

Commenting on the recent bombing of an EDSA bus near Makati that resulted in the deaths of five people, Inquirer.net columnist Rigoberto Tiglao summed it up really well in the title of his piece “No body in charge

Malacañang insiders say there is now confusion over which body should be convened following the bus bombing the other day which killed five innocent commuters: the Anti-Terrorism Council headed by the executive secretary or the national security cluster headed by [Interior Secretary Jesse] Robredo. The staff of the National Intelligence Coordinating Authority who make up the secretariat of the council joke that they have been unemployed since June.

The effect of a transition from the tightly-run governance machinery of Arroyo to the “amateurish ‘student council’ government” (Sen. Joker Arroyo’s words) of Aquino can be likened to what happens to a living organism whose vital bodily control mechanisms suddenly go haywire.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

A complex life form like an animal is an unstable and fragile structure. Disruption of just a handful of key physiological functions like blood circulation, brain activity, and respiration will immediately result in visible degradation in its vitality and resilience. The organism becomes lethargic, easily fatigued, and suffers loss of appetite. Its fur or hair becomes wilted, unattractive and progressively matted. Its skin colour loses its healthy blush and smooth luster and turns bluish-gray, mottled, and shriveled.

The animal quickly becomes vulnerable to attacks from pathogens and increased activity of maleveolent elements within it.


The example of a dying animal has striking parallels to what is happening in the Philippines today.

Many of us awoke one fine Wednesday morning to suddenly find, the country eating itself alive from within. We face no immediate external threats, and our prosperous neighbours in the region are thumbing their noses at the spectre of financial collapse supposedly rippling from the 2008 “Global Financial Crisis”. There simply is no excuse for failure. Yet within the span of a mere six months, Filipinos’ collective self respect had been severely deflated as their government stumbled from one internationally-televised gaffe to another, and newly-emboldened crooks and bandits openly defied the nation’s security forces and gave its intelligence services the slip.

Philippine society’s institutionalised criminal infrastructure which had for so long maintained an uneasy coexistence with “civil society” is wiping off its lipstick. Snatched mobile phones and carjacking are just the tip of the iceberg — the harvesting activities of what is a vast underground trade in contraband and stolen goods that spans the Philippine archipelago. Indeed, “underground” is a misleading word here, as most of these goods are retailed in broad daylight. Patrons of these goods are, in fact, likely to be the same people we hobnob with in “polite” society in the sterilised “cafes” of Makati everyday.

We live our comfy lives in the midst of mansions built by criminal activity and share the road with cars souped up with chop-chopped parts bought in Quezon City. Did we really think this pit bull we’ve hidden away in our basement would not one day set itself upon us?

And the terrorism threat we’ve always pretended did not exist is coming up with an equal hunger for vengeance. If the October 2010 bombing of a bus in “faraway” North Cotabato failed to move Imperial Manila and stir up some chatter amongst its Starbucks-sipping “intelligentsia”, this recent one which snuffed out half the number of lives destroyed in Mindanao that time certainly made headlines. Perhaps, Noynoy’s childish defense of his original reaction to the unfavourable travel advisories slapped by a handful of governments against the Philippines could be excused. After all, he merely reflects his own constituents’ capacity to party on in Rome even as barbarians nip at the fringes of their enclaved lives.

Compare the Philippines of today with the Philippines of, say, just one or two years ago. We have a country today hobbling around in a stooped posture, hood pulled over a face that is rapidly losing colour, its markedly dimmed eyes constantly shifting gaze to avoid eye contact lest it be trapped in small talk loaded with hard questions about what exactly had happened over the last six months. The Philippines is not the sort of country that will simply keep ticking along left to its own devices. To be President of such a country does not give one time to unwind in a Porsche.

38 Replies to “What a big difference six months had wrought”

  1. I guess that’s what’s meant by Yellow Zombies now, isn’t it. Like the rules of RPG games, this is a culture that has almost deliberately developed an allergic reaction and temperament to any attempt to cure it.

    Come to think of it, I don’t just think it’s best to let this dying animal die, but to incinerate it so that it doesn’t get reanimated. The only question is what to replace it with.

    1. I’m still waiting for them to open the PlayStation Network here. Piracy didn’t stop them from opening it up in Indonesia, and I’m sure the jejegamer crowd will go gaga over prepaid original Sony credits.

    2. Now that would be interesting. A nation that privatises its army and security force in the form of teams of bounty hunters and mercenaries, where police stations become places to pick up jobs and hints. Of course, there’d be nothing stopping the bounty hunters from going rogue or corrupt officials putting prices on people they deem in their way.

      1. Exactly what Indonesia had done, contract security services with professional private agencies.  This is possible given that our own law enforcement agencies are crawling with snakes ready to be bought for a price.  I wonder if this was Indonesia’s response to their corrupt law enforcement bureaucracy.  These private contractors should be completely independent and not known to those in power in our law enforcement.  They should be directly answerable to the president, granting of course, that the president is strong and can handle this kind of operation.  We should learn from Indonesia and how privatization of their law enforcement has helped curbed corruption.

  2. Good read sir. I’d better read something like this, instead of listening to the everyday news(which, I think, is usually biased).

    It’s just been six months since the start of the second Aquino administration, and our country is already having a plethora of criminal issues.Remember people, it’s just the first 6 months. What more if this goes on for 6 years?

    Go on, dear government officials, shun the problems away and pretend that nothing happened, and then get mad at the countries who issue travel advisories against the Philippines. Our own people are already getting scared of this rising trend of crimes in our country,  what more if it’s the foreigners? Of course they’d rather go somewhere else, anywhere else but here!

    Then the government will say that nobody is perfect. Yes, nobody is perfect, but still aim for perfection. What do you want for out country, stagnation? Countries like Japan became so progressive because of their culture – their mindset is always aim for perfection!

    Good luck to the Philippines for the next months or so. I hope that by now, the people who were influenced by the Yellow horde will start to realize what the country and the people really need.

  3. Now PNoy is making the lame excuse that the November 2010 Travel Advisory was raw and in fact erroneous as it cited that malls were the target of the bomb threat and not buses. Jesus Christ! Is he insulting our intelligence? What did the government ever do to verify those reports. What ticks me is the reports from TV that increased security at the airport, mrt, etc. etc. Kind of too late for that.

  4. I feel sorry for the families of the fatalities. The justice that they are looking for is almost impossible to attain here in our country. Rather than just crying for justice and whining at the government’s incompetence, the families of the victims should coerce the government into implementing stricter rules and security policies. As PNOY said, the public is his boss. So let the public FORCE the government to really do something about the problem. And the solution shouldn’t be like band-aid, rather it should be a diligent and long-term solution that the people should aim for.

  5. Whoa, whoa, what’s this? The collapse of the Philippines as we know it is imminent? And it is exacerbated by a weak government? And all it needs as a tipping point is a natural or man-made disaster?

  6. well written article.
    in an age of globalisation where the only constant is change itself countries have to be proactive, stable, competitive, innovative, and just like a successful company stand or fall by the vision, passion, values and ethics of its leader and executives.

    i see little of the above qualities and only notice how rapidly the country is falling behind its neighbours who are not only attracting investment and tourists but also gaining international respect.

    i have taken companys through culture change programmes and of course it is harder in a country but p-noy had a big advantage with such high goodwill behind him.

    this was the time to make an impact before his enemies get his measure and make life more difficult.

    no wang-wang and sacking a lowly weather forecaster is not the mark of a visionary.

    by choosing inexperienced and incompetent friends for key posts, with the exception of de lima he has boxed himself into a corner and committed a cardinal mistake that no leader would do.

    by sidelining freedom of information act, incteasing pork barrel! delaying hacienda luisita judgement and busying himself with trivia he raises questions about his very integrity which was his big selling point. the porsche has been a pr disaster and i notice he is refusing to show purchase and lto records – his right – but it will fuel the point that his head is being turned. power corrupts.

    tax evasion is happening on a massive scale but mainly by senators, congressmen and the businessmen who funded him.

    the case against pacquio is quietly going away.

    the diagnosis is not difficult and well stated in the article. the prognosis with p-noy in charge is not good because those in power and influence want to maintain the status quo.

    they see nothing beneficial for them. it is more akin to a chinese philosophy than a filipino one and maybe there lies part of the problem.

    this is feudalism masquerading as democracy and the poverty and despair is kept well away from makati or tarlac for that matter.

    it is life in a 5 star bubble and only a short flight to hong kong for shopping and partying.

    they are not true filipinos. and if people saw how many flight abroad including europe and us each senator and congressman takes i think they would be horrified.

    clearly they dont think the philippines is good enough for them.

    why on earth does every congressman get 1 million pesos non- taxable each year just for travel.

    they dont tell the voters about that or all the other perks including medical care in the states.

    what is wrong here. we want to try to get medical tourists but if they knew all the politicians go abroad they wont have much confidence in medicalcare here.

    but voters will never know the truth.
    there is a saying in the west
    ‘never trust a filipino, they have a smile on their face and a gun behind their back’

    anyone who has been part of government senate congress in the past 10 years all have a degree of blame for where the country is now.

    they have all proved to be self interested.

    we need new blood, young vibrant and committed. not yesterdays men. what do they do anyway for their 50 million pesos a year which is the average each one gets.

    i would like to be optimistic but the past 6 months dont give me much hope and i will take no satisfaction in saying i told you so in a years time.

    1. the only thing i am not so inclined to agree with you here is de lima…i don’t think she’s that great.  she’s all talk but…

      good one though.

  7. And you know what?  The PNP came out proudly reporting with complete statistics that crime has gone down by so-so percent!  Complete with details pa ha, like homicide down by so-so %, carnapping down by so-so %.  Then Malacanang echoes the PNP report, to justify that all is well.
    Don’t they listen to the radio?  Don’t they hear the reports in their neighborhood of muggings, akyat-bahay, rape, etc.
    How can you trust an institution that turns a blind on things happening around it, or plays around with figures to suit their interest?

    1. fact of the matter is, that crime still exists and just as bad.  for all you know, the lower stats may be because pacquiao was having a match one after the other.  or maybe the pulse asia people are compiling the figures.  hehehe

    2. It sounds good that crime went down. Thing is, the same report said that ARMM in Mindanao has the least crime. That immediately told me not to trust this report.

  8. we were promised the brightest and the best, and get puno!

    we were promised openness and transparency, and get spin!

    we were promised communication and now hear nothing of substance and a complete lack of plans and objectives.

    we were promised an end to corruption but it continues unabated.

    we were promised freedom of information. no chance.

    1. How long we have to learn: that Political Promises are MADE to be broken.,..if on elections….you use your BRAIN…to engage with these candidates of their political platforms; we would have better results…
      Remember that the Oligarch’s Media suspended the Presidential Debates during the election…because Noynoy Aquino cannot debate. Instead they featured the films of Cory Aquino and Ninoy Aquino, Jr… Along with the Wowoowee culture promotion of the Whore/Harlot:Kris Aquino…

  9. how many more like garcia and reyes helping themselves to untold wealth. garcia 300 million and reyes 100 million.
    no wonder the schools have no equipment and nurses underpaid.
    these people have no shame.
    they are taking hRd earned money from honest tax payets and depriving the needy of essential services
    jail is too good for them and if you can take that amount of money out of the system without anyone knowing then the auditors and system designers should also be sacked.
    it is estimated government corruption and tax evasion loses 30 percent of the total government budget.
    this has gone on for over 10 years and explains why we are so far behind our neighbours and live hand to mouth.


    In the Philippines:

    1. Discard your optimism. Forget that “all is well”.
    2. Read any work of Voltaire; that will confirm your decision in #1.
    3. At this point, even if you haven’t changed anything in the exterior, your mind has been purified of TV-station propaganda and government platitudinizing.
    4. (optional, but sometimes necessary, just judge for yourself) Do something about it, then.


  11. The current president is a sorry excuse for a leader. Does anyone here really see any strong leadership qualities in this person? It’s a pity that the families of those who lost their lives can express indignation to the highest degree, and yet may not necessarily get popular support simply because 15 million Filipinos choose to believe that their anointed one is such a good leader and cannot be faulted for the deteriorating peace & order situation in this country. I challenge this president to go out incognito, by himself sans his bodyguards and see if he can truly walk alone safely in the streets of Metro Manila without fear of being robbed by common thieves, terrorized by insurgents roaming the metro or run-over by undisciplined PUV drivers. Wake up, PNOY, open your eyes and listen with your ears. You are responsible for the safety and security of the citizens of this country!

  12. I pity the 15m suckers who voted for him. Their regrets will be tenfold. With only 66 more months of fiascoes and gaffes to go, what can we expect next? As they say, ignorance is bliss unless reality comes crashing through your door. Wake up my fellow Filipinos.

      1. Especially when Filipinos are fickle that this’ll reinforce their Messiah of the Month mentality.

        Next up… Erap.

        Talk about screwed.

      2. Yeah, youre either screwed, or do a Pnoy: Be in denial, flash your signature smile, and compare your situation with another much worse situation that took place thousands of miles away. Then add a closing remark.


        Pnoy on Ayala Bus Bombing:

        “Well we just have to wait for the final investigation report, its still too early to say anything (insert smile here). You really cant stop these people, look at RUSSIA, 30 people died in an airport bombing, despite of the tight security. At the end of the day, nobodys perfect.”…

        This is what we can call, PNOY Response Template: You have a Vague introduction, Diversion, and Closing Remark choc-full of wisdom.

        “At the end of the day, nobodys perfect”…..AYUZ

  13. We have a government run by Crooks; run by Actors turned Politicians; Politicians acting like Actors. Look at the Useless Senate Inquiry. It is all “Palabas.’ I have never seen any Big Fish Crook land in Jail. One was arrested, like Erap Estrada; just a house arrest. Then, finally pardoned to run for President again. We have the Crook, Enrile, investigating the Armed Forces, for the Culture of Corruption. He started the Culture of Corruption; himself, with Marcos and Ramos.
    So…what’s new?…Dudes and Dudettes…

    1. OMG…my Avatar went awry again…I blame Yellow Horde Nazi Chief Propagandist Ricky Carandang for this…I think, I am now infected with the Blame Game Virus also…

  14. you cant drain the swamp when you are fighting alligators.

    without a clear strategy, structure, systems and devolution of responsibility the result is always reactive not proactive.

    p-noy and the cabinet are showing their complete lack of experience.

    i doubt they could run a sari-sari store.

    this is the price the country will pay for electing a 50 year old who has not achieved anything and has experience of nothing. a work shy eccentric with no emotions and no passion.
    and people wonder why he is single.
    even failed in his private life.

  15. This will even be more disturbing when you learn about the prez’s recent pronouncement about his blueprint for the country:

    “I always recall that my mother assumed this same task with no blueprint as it were… So I will follow that formula to a large degree…”

    In other words, he will have no plan!

    A national leader who decrees to willfully have no blueprint… no plan at all in running the country… is just one of the most disturbing things I have ever heard lately.

    1. Run the country by Trial-and-Error. If you have more of Errors; you can rely on your SWS Pulse Asia Survey, to adjust it: telling the people; You are Doing Really Good. If it has no effect. Ask your Politician-Actors allies to conduct “Palabas” Senate Investigations. If the Distraction still does not work. Summon your Yellow Horde Nazi Brigades; to bring out the scantily-clad Wowoowee Dancing Girls; to really hook and mesmerize the stupid Filipinos…
      Anyway, there are still two reserves to work for keeping out the attentions of the stupid Filipinos. Your secret weapons: the Whore/Harlot; Kris Aquino. And the Chief Yellow Horde Nazi Propagandist: Ricky Carandang…

    2. Talk about inflexibility. Sure, anything can happen even with the best-laid plans. BUT THAT DOES NOT COUNT AS AN EXCUSE NOT TO HAVE NO BLUEPRINT WHATSOEVER.


  16. For many there will be an eternity of divergence between simply making money and creating wealth in an economic context. The selfishness and greed basis for creating wealth has led to the worship simply of the tools for creating wealth; Making money.

    Hence in the Philippines money making business models abound. The informal sector is a huge portion of the Philippine economy. Estimated to be about 50% of the total annual GDP.

    This is a massive failure of government. Most people do not have a clue that PROPERTY RIGHTS is the foundation for participatory representative government that sets up the rule of law.. It takes a while for participation to become broad based. Without that necessary ingredient government becomes meaningless. People will only give up a portion of their property rights to a state wherein they are invested in and have a voice. Trust is earned..

    Economic equity purchases political equity. Political institutions were turned on their heads by the shift in paradigms that men who saw that men could intervene and recreate nature to make life easier. That selfish motive properly directed by an enlightened state requires a massive change in mindsets.

    Pinoys still do not know the meaning of economic equity. Ideology of monism guides them.
    Money making at all costs.

    The government of GMA was very adept at crafting a narrative of competence without any substance. Hers was a government of PR messaging done expertly. She after all is a control freak and micro manager when it comes to her self image.

    How Noynoy is more a detached and seemingly disengaged president who would love to see the six years whiz by so he could revert back to his own world. The man has never managed his own life. His family organized his own life and individually he has not done much.

    That personal trait will off course mark his style of presidential management. So his messaging system is convoluted and thus tends to show him to a bumbler more than a manager. I have it on good authority that when he met with foreign business man abroad he had to be accompanied by Mar Roxas who did most of the talking for him. He memorizes and talks along very scripted lines. He was elected simply based on symbols of his dead parents.. He is probably our first media created chief executive.

    GMA was different. She refused to have discourses with the public while controlling her performances only with groups where she could display her econo-speak and bizs-peak. She was petrified on a two way discourse.

    Just watch how Obama has slowly re-crafted his narrative in preparation for the 2012 presidential elections.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.