Sustaining change is more important than sustaining Duterte’s popularity

As many Philippine History teachers and Rizalistas will attest to, the 19th Century writings of “national hero” Jose Rizal still resonate strongly today in the 21st Century. If true that in more than a century, the Philippines has hardly changed, then, indeed, the confronting question is raised: How much change could any one president actually implement in the Philippines over six years?

For that matter, do presidents really matter?

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Because cult of personality rules in the Philippines and trumps ascendancy of ideas in a any “debate”, presidents will always be perceived to matter. Indeed, many in the current Opposition now call for loyalty to country and not to personalities. They, particularly those in the “Yellow camp”, of course conveniently forget that the heyday of their domination over Philippine politics was propped up by cults of “heroic” personalities of 1980s yore.

Indeed, the very failure of the Opposition to unite against Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte who continues to enjoy immense popularity and the political capital that goes with it is a result of their blind rallying around “vice president” Leni Robredo. Robredo, as we now know turned out to be a sad non-threat and, ultimately, a non-issue to the incumbent administration. She was easily defanged then sidelined from Duterte’s Malacanang court and, thanks to a series of communication and public relations gaffes, degenerated into a political laughingstock.

The Opposition had, in essence, become a victim of their own blind beholdenness to cult of personality.

The important lesson to learn here is that the irrational loyalty to Aquino “heroes” and the Yellow brand created around them that imprisons many members of today’s Opposition was forged amidst the popular euphoria of the 1980s when their political capital was at its peak. Duterte is currently at a similar peak and, armed with this important hindsight, Duterte’s followers will need to decide whether or not the lessons the Yellow Camp failed to learn are worth heeding.

Duterte’s handlers — specially those at the front-lines of his social media PR machine — need to collectively mature from being a cult of personality to being true thought leaders — the kind that the wannabes in the Opposition camp’s own PR machine (one dominated by a certain “social news network”) failed to become.

The rare opportunity at stake here is that Duterte, more than any of his predecessors, is a president that actually matters. Rather than settle into the persistent status quo that kept the Philippines’ social structure paralysed under the thumb of an entrenched — and, in some cases, criminal — oligarchy and feudal class, Duterte set out to rock the boat. While previous presidents pretended to regard their constituents as “the boss”, the Duterte administration is evidently guided by what is relevant to ordinary Filipinos.

Duterte is guided by ordinary Filipinos.

Because he actually is, it therefore becomes more important that this guidance come increasingly from a more mature constituency. This is where real thought leadership comes into play. It should evolve from one defined by loyalty to a person to one defined by direction framed by the campaign promises of Duterte that won him the presidency.

Duterte himself always emphasises the importance of momentum independent of his person. It is evident in his rather morbid obsession with the possibility of his own death whilst in the service of his country. The inadvertent message there is that Duterte himself sees the direction he is steering the country towards as one that needs to outlast his presidency. As such, the messaging used to rally his supporters needs to evolve towards emphasising this direction and less on building loyalty. Framed this way, the trite style of “trolling” sustained by the Opposition focusing on vilifying Duterte will be rendered obsolete.

More importanly, the violence surrounding the “war on drugs” that put the Philippines on the map for the wrong reasons will be given better context. When focus shifts more on the reality of how crime and crime personalities remained entrenched and untouchable for many decades until now, the message will be sent across that changing such a deep-rooted status quo will be necessarily violent — that the situation attracted the action. At the moment, much of the flawed reasoning underpinning Duterte’s critics’ shrill cries of bloody murder is around vilifying him for pushing this “violence” onto Philippine society when all evidence shows that it was the situation on the ground that pulled that violence in.

Today’s crop of administration-allied influencers need to become more clever that way — better at framing the message and better at changing the obsolete loyalty-based approach that Opposition “thought leaders” are currently fixated to. When the direction change is taking is systematically decoupled from the leader who did the initial steering, that change could be sustained over the long term. That is the challenge — a challenge bigger than merely sustaining Duterte’s popularity.

31 Replies to “Sustaining change is more important than sustaining Duterte’s popularity”

  1. WHAT CHANGE WOULD THAT BE, EXACTLY ? What has changed in the Philippines since Rodrigo Duterte has taken office ? NOTHING I, OR ANYONE ELSE, CAN SEE. Oh Wait…..The ‘DUE PROCESS’ clause in the countries’ Constitution has been torn assunder, that is about it….and over 7,000 allegd ‘Druggies’ have been murdered without a trial.

    ANYTHING ELSE ? NO, the Oligarch’s still front-run the stock-market 24/7. the Electricity rates are STILL the highest in the world, and wages remain so pathetic that people in call centers (that produce profits for USA Corporate giants) make less than what it takes to earn welfare wages in the USA.



      1. Ngek,
        how about modernizing a couple of 100 laws and the modernizing the constitution? Oh what? he doesnt have that power? Ah what a shame. So he is not that powerfull after all.

        1. @Robert Haighton. In our country, we amend our Constitution. How do you modernize the Constitution of your country? Am curious to know.

          Can you cite some laws in this country to be given more priority to be changed than the war on illegal drugs and invasion of terrorists?

    1. Hehe. Looks like democracy isnt really best for the country. Better go communist, see how it goes, and if it doesnt work out, “pray” for it. Wait, religion is discouraged if not banned in fundamentalist marx-based communism . C’mon, let’s do it!!!

        1. Ngek,
          It was supposed to be a joke, but when you think of it, it seems that way.
          Most filipinos are trained to follow orders from above, without question, to the letter – an effective servant. That’s why we are known around the world for our #1 export – manual labor; dh’s and nurses. So we are not new to the concept of working for other people (masters) – or for the sake of other people (ofw family moochers). It’s just at a bigger scale, since it is for the motherland.
          Most filipinos will exploit a system if given an opportunity. This is seen everyday, from politicians who abuse their power down to petty thugs who rig coin tosses. In short, there is no discipline, because freedom, fuck yeah! I can piss anywhere i want because i see no signboard or even if there is, no one’s looking!
          Filipinos need someone to look up to and keep them in check. If they have that someone, they will follow the rules set out on them. Establish a punishment system, those who want to chat the system will think twice.
          It takes a lot of self-discipline from the population to make a democracy work. It kind of works in the US because most people there are aware of their rights, being taught from a young age. First grade PH social studies teaches nothing of that. Instead they teach the differences between race, religion and a highly sanitized version of history.
          It’ll take a lot more than a 6-year term form an enlightened despot to point this country in the right direction. I’ll give it a few more generations, or one, big bloody revolution before we see a major change in the filipino psyche.

    2. @JE BLOW, The fact that DU30 called a previous president Pnoy G-A-G-O is change already for once and many times over. Never has there been a sitting president calling the previous one GAGO !

      I can enumerate dozens and dozens of changes already but with certainty you will not listen nor would discuss proactively or productively what is good for our country.

      Do not call me a DU30tard cuz I can say I am the very few who called DU30 in the last election and calling him still that Pied Piper from Davao City but I am eclectic as always towards any political leader like DU30 fortunate to be given power by the electorate.

  2. Is it true that Duterte said:
    “as president, I will not allow myself to look stupid in front of the world and allow the country to degenerate”

    If he said that indeed then it really becomes time to have new elections. Because here in western europe he already looks stupid

    1. duterte’s main problem lies in he is trying hard to work within the parameters of the current ph society with its contradictory terms, hypocritical behavior and anti-intellectual attitude. And of course the now-obsolete 1987 constitution.
      best is to take out the influence goddamn catholic church, establish a socialist regime to wipe the slate clean, then step down to make way for a parliamentary system. blood is required, yes, because only then will filipinos know the value of hard-fought freedom.

      1. T,
        I fully agree with you. But instead he is fighting a drug war and fighting in Mindanao. Both are hopeless and un-winnable. Wrong priorities

        1. Robert, how exactly can fighting terrorists linked to IS and the drug trade be the wrong priorities? Is that how you and your fellow Western Europeans understand our problem?

  3. “The more things change, the more they stay the same”, a saying goes…change is very hard to achieve. There are those who resist change, and they are formidable opponents, who are in the establishment.

    “JE BLOW”, who is a troll of the Aquino Cojuangco Political axis states: “there are 7,000 people murdered and the Philippine Constitution is violated”…

    When was the Philippine Constitution, not violated. During the Aquino Cojuangco era, with the powerful reigning Aquino Cojuangco family; they murdered, more than 7,000 people, to protect their Hacienda Luisita, which they scammed from the Philippines government. This deplorable family, is ABOVE the Philippine Constitution.

    Aquino administration, together with Mar Roxas, and that nymphomaniac Leila de Lima, put up a Drug Cartel, with the help of the Chinese Triad Mafia. Their Headquarter of their Shabu Drug distribution was the National Bilibid Prison. The Drug Lords were criminals/inmates of the National Bilibid Prison. Some became Lovers, of Leila de Lima,who was then, the Secretary of Justice of Aquino administration…

    This is the reason people are murdered almost everyday….because of this illegal drug Shabu business. Drug Lords compete each other, for Drug distribution territories…Politicians became Drug Lords…courtesy of Aquino , Leila de Lima and Mar Roxas…

    True change will come, when all these vermin and cockroaches of our society will be exterminated and fumigated…

  4. President Duterte provided certain means for Filipinos to finally make that “change”. The problem is with Filipinos not knowing what to do when given such an opportunity. Add the fact that they don’t know how to prioritize to effect the “change” they want.

  5. and why is the yellow dynasty’s yellowtards keep on shouting if there’s no change happening? for sure the druglord is now on top of the beanstalk hiding and we will cut the vine soon. there will be no justice for those who doesn’t deserve it. bring back marcos martial law for peace and prosperity for the pilipino people.

    1. …. and as long luisita hasn’t been distributed to the real owners, tbe yellow dynasty won’t stop fighting. it’s that land they’re fighting for and it’s worth dying for,

    2. @Salangintong Bukid, How would you bring back Marcos style Martial Law? Stage a fake ambush of Faeldon or send terrorists to Luzon or Metro Manila like Marcos did to a fake ambush on Enrile? Allow Renato Reyes and his thug activists to attack Malacanang or let go Trillanes and Alejano doing their thing in connivance with the other Oakwood mutineers who are now at the BoC?

    3. @Klara: what means are you referring to?

      As I’ve said elsewhere, Duterte has made no structural changes that would make “Drug Lord” anything less than a sensible career option. What other options are there for the average Filipino? Education is a disgrace. Children are brought up in an environment where irresponsibility, incompetence and bullying are accepted as normal. As adults, they find that (as Robert mentioned) there are hundreds of stupid laws that prevent them from starting a business and earning an honest living.

      So why not become a criminal? Nobody is going to make you fill in endless pieces of paper. Nobody will expect you to waste time on a worthless degree or other “certifications”. Nobody is going to tax you. The police aren’t going to arrest you. It’s a comfortable life.

      1. @Marius, tools and means are nothing without a keen sense of timing. With all the things wrong in the PH you’ve enumerated, It isn’t simply restructuring the system, it’s reengineering the whole thing.

    4. @salagintong bukid,

      You want our place to be like North Korea or Nazi Germany under Third Reich?

      You want to bring back New Society and 1973 + 1935 Constitution and constitutional authoritarianism and discipline not democracy? After that, we will not be free to sing or speak out of the dissident against government. There would be no more Romeo and Juliet love stories like that.

      1. @klara. Yes. It is. Exactly. It’s re-engineering the whole thing. So why not just get the job done? What Duterte doesn’t seem to realise is that it isn’t going to be HIM and his ego who fixes this mess. It’ll be the next generation. Those “tools” you mention – the ones he hasn’t provided and never will – should be given to them. They will defy their parents and then fix what needs fixing. That’s the way ALL societies get fixed. But it won’t happen here, now.

  6. Klara,
    the war on drugs cost money. And now we are 12 months down the war and is there an end in sight? No. Same applies for the war down south. All that money could have gone and spent in other areas that benefit Filipinos directly. And maybe even better to solve real and more urgent problems. So again wrong priorities and a waste of money.

    How is it possible that your country has a system where voters elect a president AND a vice-president? It doesnt work. The president MUST choose and pick his/her own vice-president like in USA.
    How is it possible that someone can become president with only 39% of all the votes (it simply means that 60,99% did NOT vote for Mr. Duterte. The absolute majority did NOT vote for Duterte)? Even USA have a better system albeit not perfect but much better than PH.

    Look Klara, you dont have to copy my country but dont you want to get rid of that title “poor 3rd world country”?

    1. Robert,
      IS terrorism= Middle East chaos and destruction
      Drug/ Narco States= Mexico

      I guess these places had the wrong priorities. And as much as we’d like to “copy” your civilization, we can’t right now because we have to deal with problems that are externally caused and brought upon us by those who think we are inferior to them.

    2. @Robert Haighton,

      Are you a KBL or far-right supporter against liberals and for conservative and nationalism?

      1. Prop Boy,
        I am none of all the above.

        I am a progressive liberal. I think Benign0 would describe me as hipster. But I dont relate to that word (hipster/hippie) at all. I do not support the Philippine Liberal party financially nor in any other way. I do not think there is one Philippine political party that would get my vote.
        I am pro individual rights and there is no such thing as a/one united country/society (maybe in North Korea but even that I doubt). The latter is simply impossible for as long as a country has the famous 4 categories – elite, upper class, middle class and lower class.

  7. Ngek,
    The Dutch government changes the constitution constantly when new bills have to be signed into new laws but are – at that moment – not in lign with the constitution. Example: The constitution said that only a woman can marry a man but not 2 women. So the constitution is changed to make that possible. That is called progress and change.
    So if something is against the constitution, we repair the constitution

    The entire stupid family code should be flushed down the toilet. For starters. For the other 100 or so laws: you got a minute ….? Is the RH law already implemented? Has something been done about the poor state of education in your country? As long as education is about putting god in the center of everything, your country will remain a poor 3rd world country.
    Solution: the government must dictate the cirriculum of every school (private and public) to guarantee the quality of it.

  8. We got Marcos Loyalists and Duterte supporters the conservative and nationalist ones. Liberal would cause anarchy and illegal drug profileration and too much democracy.

  9. Stepping away from the giddy brainwashing we endure helplessly and endlessly at home, and entering the reality of our situation – global opinion of our nation is not good at all. Reading a balance of recent overseas news makes that abundantly clear to anyone with a grain of intelligence – of course our own news just serves to indoctrinate us further. In the past year our reputation for arrogance and self righteousness has reached staggering heights, so much so many countries just ignore us with complete indifference now (no skin off their big noses). We appear so sure of our self worth when in fact we offer very little indeed – cheap labor maybe…and that’s it. The fact is we survive through foreign money, whether it’s from our OFWs or through tourism. And this is exactly where we’ll start losing out. In our excited bid to embrace all things Chinese, we’ve now lost a huge chunk of our western tourists. The dim-witted hooligan style insults and eagerness for martial law have lost us a huge chunk of our biggest import and spenders. Unfortunately that will never be replicated with the Chinese – their agenda for this area of Asia is very different – they won’t just spend up and go home. What a year, oh dear…

  10. @Heywood. Are you sure what you wrote was deleted here ?

    Can you post it after my comment for me to read it for the first time? Is what you have written so damning to the credibility of BenignO and Ilda that they conspired to delete it? I really wonder.

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