Part of Duterte-style national discipline involves clamping down on media freedom!

So Philippine politics has become more like a teleserye nowadays. The men of the hour are presidential candidates Rodrigo Duterte and Mar Roxas. The earlier is emerging as the top contender for the throne while the latter is struggling to rise from the bottom of the polls. Nonetheless each one has threatened to slap the other over petty issues that have nothing to do with the Philippines’ strategic future interests.


What is going on here? Philippine media has long been criticised for dumbing down Filipino minds for profit. In this instance, rather than elevate the national “debate” the Philippines Big Media outlets have focused their scrutiny on the minutiae of the mudslinging between Duterte and Roxas. Perhaps, indeed, Filipinos deserve both their media and their politicians.

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Ironically, one of the key stars in this politico-serye, Duterte, is running on a platform that promises Filipinos a return to the golden age of Pinoy-style authoritarianism, complete with vigilante patrols, lots of salvaging (a Marcos-era law penal approach), and a broad-based strengthening of Executive powers over legislative and judicial jurisdictions in the spirit of streamlining processes and reducing governance red tape. Control over the media is that other essential ingredient to ensuring the unencumbered implementation of these new measures once Duterte is in power. Perhaps, then, the long-sought-after reforms in the Philippines’ media and entertainment industries that have, for so long, stunted the collective intellectual growth of Philippine society may be at hand. Most prosperous states in southeast Asia, after all, owe their prosperity to strong state control over the media.

Indeed, the idea that the Philippines’ entertainment industry is a massive contributor to accelerating erosion of the collective intellect of Filipinos has long been a widely-accepted fact in Philippine society. As far back as 2006, Isagani Cruz wrote about this in an Inquirer article. I cited the key excerpt in Cruz’s article in my book

Benjamin Franklin said that if the people misuse their suffrages, the remedy is not to withdraw the precious privilege from them but to teach them in its proper use. The entertainment industry, which has the most available access to the [Filipino] people through the movies, television, radio and the tabloids, is instead purposely miseducating them.

The Philippine entertainment industry is not only a vast wasteland, as television has been described in America, but a vicious instrument for the abatement of the nation’s intelligence. The shows it offers for the supposed recreation of the people are generally vulgar and smutty, usually with some little moral lesson inserted to make them look respectable, but offensive nonetheless. On the whole, they are obnoxious and unwholesome and deserve to be trashed.

The indiscriminate audience eagerly laps them up because it has not been taught to be selective and more demanding of better quality shows for their pastime. In fact, the easily satisfied fans have been taught the exact opposite reaction — to accept whatever garbage the industry offers them and, to add insult to their injury, to pay for it too. The leaders of the entertainment industry are supposed to be responsible people but they have evaded their duty to elevate the taste of their mostly unthinking supporters. They have instead cheapened them into a mass of automated individuals whose ultimate joy is to roll up in the aisles at the lewd jokes of potential senators.

Strangely enough, Duterte has been far more adept than the bumbling Roxas at using mass and social media to expand his audience and voter base. Duterte’s performance during an interview with popular Filipino comedian Vice Ganda back in July this year became a top-trending topic on Twitter and further endeared him to the Filipino public. Roxas, on the other hand, seems to subtract from his political equity with every word he utters before the cameras. When it comes to media management, Roxas is cursed with a reverse-Midas-touch while Duterte is pure gold.

Suffice to say, today’s politics are a product of the character of the average Filipino voter. Despite how the Philippines’ intelligentsia lament the new depths being plumbed by the political discourse today, the broader public either don’t mind or are completely unaware of the existence of alternatives to the slapstick-dominated national debate they gleefully participate in. How can they be aware of anything deeper when slapstick content is pretty much all that their media pipe into their screens everyday?

A return to authoritarianism, Mr Duterte says? Millions of his followers evidently subscribe to his juicy proposition. The thing that people will have to understand is that with authoritarianism comes the mandatory clampdown on the quality of media content as well. Part of discipline, if we recall our childhoods, is a restriction on the types of stuff we watch on TV. Perhaps it is high time that Filipinos be treated the way they deserve to be treated by their government — like children. In that respect, Rodrigo Duterte is the man for the job.

34 Replies to “Part of Duterte-style national discipline involves clamping down on media freedom!”

  1. Filipino intelligentsia? They still exist?

    Anyways, the media industry in the Republic of Pabebe is a big joke. All their products are hilarious. How do you expect them to produce quality shows if their standards are shit to begin with?

    About your last statement, benign0, I disagree. These Filipinos shouldn’t be treated as children. They’re mindless zombies, and deserve only one thing: permanent death.

  2. Well the ugly truth is, the 2016 elections is just one after another endless cycle of showbiz or political drama. No matter who sits on the throne nothing will ever change. And the people know it and it scares them to the core. Also, the Philippines is now being considered as a failing state, which in time would eventually failed.

    A failed state is a political body that has disintegrated to a point where basic conditions and responsibilities of a sovereign government are no longer functioning properly causing the society to lose standards of living and weaken nationally introducing the possibility of governmental collapse.

    It is evident that the basic needs for the citizens like adequate hospitals, schools and other institutions is lacking and deteriorating.
    Pure patches for solutions and nobody gives a sheesh.

  3. This proposition is very tempting. No more game shows, no more infidelity shows. No more TV!

    Without TV, Filipinos, I hope will take to reading and/or public and intellectual debates.

    When they’ve developed enough collective intelligence, then we can go back and revisit the pre authoritarian days, perhaps through a proper bloody revolution this time, to test our collective resolve.

  4. I, for one believes the Philippines Big Media is one of the contributors to the quality of a Filipino today. Yes, we need to uplift the quality of media being spread but you lost it when you said Rodrigo Duterte is the man to do the job. Is swearing and threats live on TV and radio part of the quality of information we need to achieve?

    I forgot, this is your piece and readers has no business correcting your propaganda.

    1. ” but you lost it when you said Rodrigo Duterte is the man to do the job…”

      Your definition of “irony” probably came from that moronic Alanis song.

  5. Now this is spot-on benignO! The media is partly to blame for this ongoing political circus in the Philippines. The way they sensationalize irrelevant events just makes me cringe. We no longer know the difference between politics and showbiz anymore. Our giant local TV networks are feeding us the same garbage over and over again.

    I agree with the idea of a media clampdown. And we need a tough leader to do this – Duterte or Miriam Defensor Santiago.

    1. Duterte is the ring master of this political circus! Duterte started okay then but turned a media clown when he became a presidentiable candidate! Naging promotor ng kabalasubasan!

      1. Duterte’s “balasubas” personality is widely known even before he decided to run for Presidency. He is the ‘what-you-see-is-what-you-get’ type. The media is a beast at sensationalizing everything, (to the point of starting a war of words between candidates.. It is what makes Philippine politics downright hilarious.)The media feeds us this type of crap every election period, Filipinos are ‘entertained’ in a way. So yeah, we can expect more of this SampalanSerye in the days and months to come.

        1. Duterte is the Donald Trump of Philippines …. but there is a difference …

          Donald Trump is thousand times intelligent than any U.P., Harvard graduate Filipinos …

  6. The Philippine entertainment industry needs to be shot in it’s daft, worthless face… with a double barrel shotgun.

    Then leave the shit on the walls for the flies.

  7. This looks like a ‘left-handed endorsement’ of Duterte.. a kind of “sigue na nga” acquiescence. We have, yet, to see a robust endorsement of a candidate based, say, on his good qualities and potential. All we’ve seen, so far, are tepid acceptance of aspirants for the sole reason that they are less evil, or less likely to further plunge the country into, yet, a deeper downward spiral.The bad traits and practices of Duterte that were so vividly pointed out in other, (earlier), postings had to be glossed over or totally avoided in order to make him more palatable this case.. Mar Roxas. I have no doubt that an endorsement of Roxas, should someone dare to do one, will take a parallel approach; ie, “less evil, somewhat more palatable”. Are there no Presidential candidates who have a solid ‘plus balance’ in their record? Really?

    I think that, ‘herein, lies the reason for the country’s mediocrity’.

  8. Paranoia:
    if Digong wins, the Liberal Party will again strike with propaganda. they don’t like discipline hence, they will again pay stupid people or create proxy parties to destroy the government just like what they did to FM. they may ask assistance from USA to do it. they have money. the question is what would Duterte’s government do to counter it?

    1. Philippine Government should be outsourced … Filipinos is not in the business of running a government but thieving the government. The Thieves are mostly graduates from University of the Philippines. And Inever hear any investigation or defunding of this school of crooks.

  9. WHY SO QUIET IN THIS WEBSITE? There are only very few lucid logical rational commenters and blog articles ….


  10. This represents the rut Filipinos stuck themselves in. They like two extremes. Either they like the kunsintidor that is incompetent, or the despotic killer of a dictator. They don’t like the sensible middle ground because maybe… the sensible middle ground is boring.

  11. If the Media is clamped down; abuses from the government, can be hidden. Look at Nazi Germany. The Media was controlled by the German Nazi government. The results were Death Camps, everywhere.

    Death Camps were in the middle of every German towns and cities. Corpses were rotting; the stink of these corpses, can be smelled about a 10 Km radius.

    However, people were afraid to complain; because of fear, they may end up in those Death Camps. The Holocausts would not had happened; if there would had been a Free German Media.

    “Those who do not remember the Past, are condemned to repeat it”…from the Philosopher/Historian Santayana.

    1. With Filipinos low intelligence, Filipinos can easily be swayed by incompetent biased prejudiced Philippine Media.

      Like what ChinoF commented above, Filipinos are wanting the extremes.

      Philippine Media needs to be regulated so is religion.

      1. Ban all religions. They are the causes of our:wars, conflicts, prejudices,bigotries, suicide bombers, terrorism, slaveries, rapes, extortions, grand scale thieveries,scams, rackets, etc…all kinds of evil that humans have now..

  12. Last year, this election was against The Binays. To oust The Binays. Now that many candidators are coming out of the jungle, IT IS NOT ABOUT THE BINAYS ANYMORE IT IS ABOUT POWAAAA and PERAAAA !!!!

    Only Benigno Aquino not steal from the Government.

  13. I voted for The Binays because the Philippine Media sold them as da bes ….. so are the rest of the Filipinos …..

    UP-journalism graduates have very low intelligence … biased … corrupt …. ignorant …. lame

  14. “…clamping down on media freedom”

    So you’re assuming that the Philippine media has too much freedom, but that’s not the case. In fact, it is too restricted.

    Technically, the “state” (i.e. the oligarchy) has a very strong control over the media. Nothing is being shown on TV w/o its consent/approval. If a program is too much against the oligarchy & the Church, it won’t last long.

    We shouldn’t restrict media’s freedom further. Instead, we should encourage the freethinking media to level the playing field. Quality programs will follow if that happens.

  15. Controlling the amount of garbage going into the minds of zombies is a step forward. If you want a functional society, control what’s being fed into their brains. -Common sense for Pinoys.

  16. I also hope that he shut down anyone who sings karaoke in residential places (subdivisions, barrio, etc.) They are rude, undisciplined, and does not care for the community. If only I could empty a full clip of AK-47.

  17. Our democracy relies on an informed citizenry. Thoughtful, fair, balanced, comprehensive reporting in print and in photos or video may be the best way to know what’s going on — the way to best inform ourselves. Information is what keeps us free from tyranny.

  18. is it only me that thought that what duterte did to the media during his victory party was immature, an act of a toddler. There will be people who will be critical to him, why being onion skinned. So couldn’t the one who suggest to boycott his presscon tell “it was just a joke” ?

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