Rather than battle Duterte with his brain, Roxas battles him with idiocy

Most thinking Filipinos will agree that the rhetoric surrounding the lead-up to the 2016 presidential elections is by far the dumbest it’s ever been. Never in my life did I ever expect to behold the spectacle of presidential candidates challenging one another to slapping matches, fistfights, and gun duels. Suffice to say, this crop of presidential candidates is anything but presidential in conduct.

Indeed, candidates Rodrigo Duterte and Mar Roxas are in the midst of plumbing unprecedented lows in the annals of campaign ‘debate’. In the last election, it was a case of one idiot running against far more qualified rivals. This time it is an even sadder situation where all candidates are idiots. Not only are they wasting our time getting caught up in the self-absorbed triviality of their inter-personal character assassination battles, they are also scraping the already thin final layer of dignity left in the Philippines’ democratic process off its raw back.


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The irony here is in how much of a credentialist society the Philippines is actually home to. In the Philippines, credentials matter a lot. Filipinos like to adorn their names with all sorts of prefixes and suffixes to broadcast the amount of money they’ve invested for the right to use these titles. The trouble is, that beholdenness to credentials does not seem to extend to where it matters most — presidents and members of Congress.

[pullquote size=”16″ align=”right”]”It mattered enough to Filipinos that Roxas was, indeed, a Wharton alumnus but not enough for them to expect Roxas to conduct himself like one.”[/pullquote]Because the offices in the executive and legislative branches of the Philippine government are filled by popular vote, the only real qualification required by a candidate is, well, popularity. Combine this “majority rule” notion with a population where the majority is ignorant and you get the disaster that is the Philippine-style Democracy we see today.

Funnily enough, one of the spats between Duterte and Roxas was over Roxas’s educational credentials. It is funny because, this is an election where candidates’ IQs do not matter. Yet the veracity of Roxas’s declared education credentials became a top-trending “issue”. Figure that out. But then as if it mattered so much whether or not Roxas was a “graduate” of the US’s prestigious University of Pennsylvania Wharton School of Economics, Filipinos watched with glee as Roxas exchanged verbal barbs with Duterte as if reading from the script of a low-brow Tagalog teleserye.

It mattered enough to Filipinos that Roxas was, indeed, a Wharton alumnus but not enough for them to expect Roxas to conduct himself like one.

One thing’s for sure, Roxas is not working smart. Duterte’s “achievements” supposedly around turning Davao City into a Singaporesque oasis of peace and stability in the south, does not change the fact that he has a human rights violation record just waiting to be poked at. For all his ivy league creds, Roxas does not seem to be able to routinely mount a strong and witty intellectual comeback to Duterte’s raw balasubas soundbytes. Rather than exhibit statesmanship Roxas has allowed himself to be dragged into a field where Duterte enjoys homecourt advantage.

Interestingly, this is a game his boss current President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III excelled at. During the 2009-2010 campaign for the presidency, BS Aquino was up against candidates who were far more intelligent, educated, experienced and qualified to run the country than he was. But Aquino successfully overcame this by shifting the “debate” away from pertinent national issues and into his comfort zone where he was at his supreme element — the bobo world of pedigree emo politics.

Today, Duterte is applying the same strategy to crush Roxas’s bid for the Philippines’ highest office — an office Roxas’s fans regard as one owed to him by the Aquino-Cojuangco feudal clan. Duterte has successsfully mobilised a solid following around his balasubas rhetoric made credible by an equally (albeit debatable) solid track record in Davao City. And Roxas, being Roxas, fell for the bait. Rather than use his Wharton pedigree to cut Duterte’s Lyceum of the Philippines creds down to size, he’s allowed himself to be dragged into an arena surrounded by baying spectators to whom the name Wharton means nothing.

10 Replies to “Rather than battle Duterte with his brain, Roxas battles him with idiocy”

  1. No surprise there.

    Dimwits are in fashion now.

    Just look at the Republican debate yesterday in the States.

    Most of them belong in an insane asylum, yet the voters love them and the entertainment value they provide.

    ….and our pudding headed candidates here are copying them.

  2. There is a saying, “Don’t argue with idiots. They’ll drag you down to their level and beat you with experience.”

    Poor Mar didn’t listen.

    1. Isn’t Mar Roxas the son of Senator Gerry Roxas and Judy Araneta-Roxas, and the grandson of President Manuel Roxas and J. Amado Araneta? Isn’t he the product of Wharton School of Economics at the University of Pennsylvania? One would have expected a patrician demeanor and strict civil discourse from him; or, at the very least, a more detached and enlightened approach to this meaningless and unproductive confrontation. This ongoing bickering and acrimonious exchange of insults and challenges is supposed to be beneath the dignity of a well-bred gentleman-politician. The fact that he chose to sink to the level of Rodrigo Duterte, makes him equally unqualified for the office of President of the Republic of the Philippines. These two characters must have a very low regard for the office they aspire to.
      I would just as soon call for the citizenry to insist on allowing Ms. Grace Poe-Llamanzares to run.. by acclaim. The way she coolly, methodically and lawfully handles the impediments thrown at her.. to disqualify her from being a Presidential candidate.. simply proves her worthiness.
      “.. Way to go Ms.Poe”.

  3. Boy oh boy is Duterte smart despite his what-school? Nevermind, as long he outsmarted a Wharton “graduate.” Comic really. I hope Duterte wins because we’ve got to abolish oligarchy.

  4. Mar Roxas claim of email from certain Director in the Wharton College is not enough. The Dean of the School, where he allegedly graduated; and the President of the Wharton College, must come up with the authentic credentials/documents of Mar Roxas, with his Diploma and Transcript of Record.

    It is now Politics of character assassination. Throw as much garbage on your political opponents. Dig his/her stink. Disqualify her or him, if you can; so that he/she is prevented from running.

    This his how low these people have gone. It is Sewer Politics. The real issues and platforms, are now set aside. After, the rumble…it is the same old shit…

  5. Well, after the dust has settled, in the final analysis, the same spectators will cast their ballots come 2016 May. After all has been said and done, a President will surely be a stand-out and be crowned. Politics whatever you may call it is still politics – the dirtiest word in the dictionary . . . why don’t people just decide on election day and vote what their conscience dictate and not shove whoever they are rooting for down our throats??? “Peace on earth goodwill to men”

  6. “If ai’nt Show Biz, it ai’nt Politics”…they usually say. Politics is Show Business. We are the Big Suckers…

  7. You can name it all you want but this is campaign period and votes really matter so too media mileage. Duterte does not have funds for airtime campaign while Roxas was splashing his millions or say billions if you like.

    Digong cursing the pope got him a week media without paying a cent.
    The Roxas spat got him about 3-5 days. Now, he’s talking about Math issues.

    Duterte got what he want – let the media chase him without paying a single cent in airtime ads.

  8. If you are a troublemaker… it’s our job to politically destroy you… Everybody knows that in my bag I have a hatchet, and a very sharp one. You take me on, I take my hatchet, we meet in the cul-de-sac.

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