Criticising Duterte for skipping Independence Day rites is futile: Ph is not truly independent!

Current Philippine Vice President Leni Robredo’s public relations team or, shall we say, propaganda machine is working overtime. They found an opportunity to try and put her image in a good light after President Rodrigo Duterte decided to skip the 119th commemoration of Philippine Independence Day. Photos of her in salute pose during the recent ceremony have been circulating the Net with her supporters gushing and so impressed by her appearance. Even if Robredo is just standing and taking part in a ceremonial duty, her supporters are simply the kind of people who get taken by appearances no matter how shallow.

Robredo’s supporters seem to have taken the cue from the President’s staunch critic Senator Antonio Trillanes who lambasted Duterte for not attending the rites and who even went as far as saying that Duterte lacks discipline. That’s rich coming from a convicted mutineer.  The senator’s own lack of discipline was evident when he mounted a coup d’état against former President Gloria Arroyo in 2003. He certainly knows how to break the rules.

Duterte’s critics – most of whom are actually Robredo’s supporters — are scraping the bottom of the barrel.  Now they are saying Duterte couldn’t even be bothered to wake up early to commemorate the country’s Independence Day. As if Duterte not attending the ceremony is going to cause the Philippine economy to collapse or foment something more catastrophic.

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President Duterte consoles families of fallen troops in the battle for Marawi City.

It was in the news that he was consoling the relatives of the fallen soldiers whose bodies arrived from Marawi City the night before the Independence Day commemoration. Photos of the President being emotional and hugging the relatives were shown on various news outlets. Immediately afterwards, it was also reported that he proceeded to the Philippine Marines headquarters at Fort Bonifacio to visit the wake of two of the slain Marines whose remains were flown earlier. Duterte obviously had a very rough and emotional night consoling grieving families. It is not surprising that he decided to skip the early morning ceremony the next day.

Duterte’s critics are hoping that highlighting the President’s absence would work towards knocking down his popularity. Unfortunately, Duterte’s supporters know and understand why he was away. They are actually glad that he rested instead of attending the Independence Day rites. In other words, criticising Duterte for skipping the yearly event was a futile attempt to bring him down.

Lately, Duterte’s critics have taken up this habit of highlighting the times he is absent from important events. They have become very desperate, nitpicking just about anything he does. This is part of the reason why they do not have credibility. They have taken a leaf from what happened to former President BS Aquino in 2015 when he was severely-criticised after he decided to skip the welcome honours for the bodies of the fallen Special Action Force (SAF) officers of the Philippine National Police at Villamor Airbase and chose instead to attend a Mitsubishi plant inauguration held on the same day. Because BS Aquino’s popularity suffered after that event, Duterte’s critics are trying hard to copy that phenomenon and now anticipate that it could work to bring Duterte down too.

Despite knowing where Duterte was the night before, his critics still speculate on why he was absent from the Independence Day rites. It’s as if his critics have lost all sense of reality and prefer to believe their own fabricated stories. One critic speculated that he’s just too lazy and couldn’t be bothered getting up early. Another one said Duterte is just not patriotic enough. They are mistaking attending ceremonial duties to actual work. Besides, Filipinos can’t even agree on what date the Philippines actually became independent. Some say it should be commemorated on the 4th July because it was on that date in 1946 when the Americans actually granted the country its independence. In other words, this new date – the 12th of June – is an artificial construct. Some Filipinos just decided that it should be the country’s Independence Day since it was the date we supposedly won our independence from the Spaniards in 1898. But this date doesn’t acknowledge the fact that the country was colonised by the Americans afterwards. Meaning, Filipinos were not truly “independent” until the 4th of July 1946.

Supporters of Leni Robredo are gushing over this photo showing her posing in salute.

As a matter of fact, the Philippines is not yet independent in the true sense of the word. Filipinos still rely on other countries to help when the country is in trouble especially when the country is hit by devastating typhoons. A lot of Filipinos also expect that the Americans will come to their rescue if ever a foreign invasion happens. There are even Filipinos who were disappointed that the United States did not help scare China away from occupying the disputed islands in the Scarborough Shoal in the South China Sea. Recently, the news that members of the US military have been helping the Philippine military with “technical” aspects in the battle against the Maute terrorist group in Marawi City does not even surprise most Filipinos. It’s generally accepted that the US is always around to help out. This arrangement is something most “independent” nations don’t have. In the Philippines, it’s normal.

Indeed, the concept of “independence” or being independent is something most Filipinos do not seem to understand. The Philippines is far from being independent. The fact that thousands of Filipinos are forced to go overseas for work and livelihood is already proof of this. The fact that we have to rely on the generosity of other countries for aid to sustain the country’s needs means the annual Independence Day commemorations ranks right up there with having Robredo as Vice President – all for show, but lacking in substance. Perhaps Duterte was right in skipping it all along.

13 Replies to “Criticising Duterte for skipping Independence Day rites is futile: Ph is not truly independent!”

  1. Saluting the Philippine flag, during June 12th celebration , is nothing. We were sold by Spain to the Americans, at the end of the 18th century, in the Treaty of Paris. We did not become independent, because the Americans came to claim what they bought from Spain.

    Leni “The Bobo” Robredo, maybe posing for good photo opportunities…however, she will be of no help in the ISIS/Marawi problem. Her cheating in the 2016 Vice Presidential election, is still unresolved…

  2. Ilda: so what do you think needs to happen to achieve true Independence? I’m genuinely interested.

    Robert: LOL. I figured he’s going to get his wish one way or another.

    I absolutely hate that sentiment. It’s the victim/sacrifice mentality. Oh, look at me, I’m prepared to sacrifice my LIFE for my country. Aren’t I saintly?

    Well, that’s nice. But how about instead of sacrificing it, you get off your ass and do something useful with your life? A live Filipino, surely, is of more value than a dead one. Theoretically at least (some people I encounter here, the world would surely be a better place without them).

    Benign0 reminded me of something I read a long time ago: poverty is the outcome of enormous effort directed towards small results; wealth is the outcome of a little effort directed towards large results. I can think of nothing that sums up the Filipino’s predicament more accurately. “Sacrifice” is not necessary. A bit of thought, a bit of planning, and a bit of carefully-directed action are all that’s needed.

    1. The venerable @marius say:

      Ilda: so what do you think needs to happen to achieve true Independence? I’m genuinely interested.

      To which we present: Look no further beyond my earlier article To be an independent country, the Philippines needs to build an independent economy!

      Refer to this particular excerpt:

      […] it has become quite evident that what is driving Philippine poverty is not external in nature. What drives Philippine poverty are internal forces. That is;

      Philippine poverty originates from within.

      Trying to solve a problem created by foreign technology and influence using more foreign technology and more foreign influence is like trying to pay off debt by borrowing more money. It’s a fool’s way of life.

      Albert Einstein once said:

      You cannot solve a problem using the same thinking that created it.

      Foreign capital (of which “technology” as we define it is one form) will not cure the poverty of societies that remain inherently unable to embrace, absorb, and embed, foreign capital to productive (as opposed to consumerist) ends. Living within one’s means involves aspiring to a living standard commensurate with one’s inherent ability to produce economically valuable stuff to sustain that living. The Philippines, like many Third World countries aspire to live to a standard way beyond that inherent ability. And that is why the Third World remains poor despite the First World’s “best efforts”.

      Ilda also writes some strong recommendations drawing some lessons from the Singapore story in her seminal piece 3 things holding the Philippines back from becoming another Singapore! 😀

      Check out this particularly brilliant excerpt:

      It seems as though Filipinos are allergic to people who have knowledge and expertise in solving the country’s problems so they would rather go for someone who they can relate with even when nothing is being done to solve the country’s woes. No wonder the country’s public transport system is almost in ruin.

      It’s only in the Philippines where intellectuals are ostracised. When you explain something that is deemed too complicated for the average person, they will simply dismiss you with “eh di wow!” or similar exasperated expressions in a condescending manner. It is the reason why some intellectuals would rather go with the flow than risk being shamed for using their heads.

      As long as intellectuals and experts are not in charge of the Philippines, the country will not reach the same status as Singapore.

    2. Marius,
      I never heard a person say he is willing and prepared to die for a president (or king/queen). Even a president is a passerbty (except for maybe in a few countries like North Korea, Thailand).

      Based on my personal experiences in the Phuilippines and with Filipinos – and till this day – I get/am shocked, stunned and flabbergasted how Filipinos think and subsequently behave.
      Even with pregnant pinay. “Its a sacrifice” and they are suffering [sic]. I always think: didnt your parents tell you anything about what it is to be preggy? Apparently not. More and more I dread that communicating is not really a forte in the Philippines.

      Yes, I remember that section too written by Benign0. Well, the word result can also be negative. So maybe Benign0 should/must add: poverty is the outcome of enormous effort directed towards small NEGATIVE results; wealth is the outcome of a little effort directed towards large POSITIVE results.

      Anyway, I like to put it in my own words: poverty (pro)creates poverty.

    3. Ilda: so what do you think needs to happen to achieve true Independence? I’m genuinely interested.

      Surely you can answer that question yourself. As the saying goes, the solution will present itself once you have identified the problem. I have identified the problems, now the solution is already staring everyone in the face.

  3. Robert: Saying you’ll die for your president is a sure sign of brainwashing (unless, I suppose, you’re a member of the Presidential guard and your job is to take an assassin’s bullet if necessary). The frightening part is that some people actually mean it – eg., Japanese people during WW2. People might rationally die to protect (say) their families or their Civilization, but the President? Doesn’t make any sense.

    And I quite agree with your summary: the cause of poverty is poverty.

    Benign0: thanks for the detailed reply. I actually remember that article of Ilda’s – it’s well-written – but lately she seems to have discarded intellectual rigor for a Britney Spears-like “I think we should all just support the president” stance.

    What I meant, though, was this: how do we get from HERE to THERE? I think we all know what the problems are. What positive, concrete actions do you think people could take to solve those problems? Not the President, not the government, but people. Ordinary people, the ones who sit around all day outside the sari-sari store drinking red horse and complaining that there’s no work? The journey starts with a single step, as they say. What’s the first one?

    1. @marius, thanks. The risk we run whenever we take a certain position on any issue is that we tend to be construed as siding with whoever happens to be behind the same position on said issue — which is why it is important we consider the broader body of work that GRP has delivered over the past 17 years.

      Having said that, to be fair, you may be on to something when you say that there has been some of that “let’s all just support the president” thing although I think I speak for my colleagues in saying that we are aware that there’s been a bit of that lately. But at the risk of being seen to be making excuses, I think it is worth noting (as I have demonstrated in my earlier comment) that we are not lacking in any effort to articulate ideas around the underlying root causes that frame the superficial movements that suit the sort of “commentary” we see on social media.

      In short, we may every now and then go down the easy path of fuelling fad outrages every now and then. But it is more because we are in a unique position in being able to luxuriate atop a vast body of work unmatched anywhere else in the Pinoy blogosphere or by any social media “influencer” of current note of the moment. 😉

    2. Benign0: thanks for the detailed reply. I actually remember that article of Ilda’s – it’s well-written – but lately she seems to have discarded intellectual rigor for a Britney Spears-like “I think we should all just support the president” stance.

      It’s just your perception, marius. You are wrong of course. What you think is “support” for the president is my way of highlighting yellow arrogance, hypocrisy and irrational thinking that kept the country backwards for decades. And if highlighting those will keep them out of power, it’s a good start to moving forward.

  4. This very trivial attack against the Mayor only shows the trivial minds of this lousy oppositions. It’s a sorry state of affair that the country does not have reliable and credible oppositions to further improve our governance. Anyway, it’s getting better every day, and now there’s every reason for those who have been taking arms against the government to take this rare opportunity of joining the mainstream society to achieve true development and justice for the majority. It is also heartening to feel that this present government is slowly bringing the power to the majority masses of Filipinos, compared with the last one where the power and influence rest with the landed few.

  5. Classic! For someone to openly declare they’d die for someone filling a temporary position – what complete and utter nonsense. Brilliant, made my day. But sadly and surely makes sane folks realize what a backward thinking nation we really are. We gotta move on, forget the old ways that pull us back – forget the stuff that makes this blog so frighteningly entertaining to read. All this talk of yellowtards, Marcos & Aquino – that was then & this is now – as martial law should be! But we’re so wrapped up in the way it was (from reading comments throughout this blog) we seem to forget we can move on to something better, and relatively quickly if we just, even slightly, open our minds – our sad history doesn’t have to be our future…

  6. Freethinkers are those who are willing to use their minds without prejudice and without fearing to understand things that clash with their own customs, privileges, or beliefs. This state of mind is not common, but it is essential for right thinking; where it is absent, discussion is apt to become worse than useless.

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