Manila Times columnist and DLSU professor Antonio Contreras’s intellectually-dishonest apology for being a former Duterte supporter

The Chief Political Analyst’s mea culpa is on exhibit on the Manila Times today in Antonio Contreras’s column “Painful cleansing of a political sin”. Contreras writes of the catharsis he experienced watching Mae Paner’s film Tao Po which dramatised the “plight” of the casualties of President Duterte’s “war on drugs”. The film “brutally engaged” him, Contreras writes reflecting on how he once “nitpicked that since we do not have judicial killings as we have outlawed the death penalty, every killing is an extrajudicial killing, in a blatant attempt to delegitimize the seriousness of the allegations against Duterte.”

Academics like Tonton Contreras are such wonders to behold. Despite their educational background, they suffer the most from crises; existential, moral and whatever else is out there. This seems to be caused by fickle-mindedness. He can’t seem to decide up to now, what his principles in life are. Women are naturally fickle-minded. Men are generally not. But not all men are from Mars. Some are from Venus as well…

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I am now a person so hated by the diehard Duterte supporters (DDS), even as my friends and colleagues who abandoned me when I was still dining and posing in photographs with the DDS have never fully taken me back. This is just fine, because now I know who my real friends are, and I am now in a much better place – in the political middle, an equal opportunity critic, not blinded by Duterte or Marcos worship, but will not also take hook, line and sinker a Maria Leonor “Leni” Robredo.

My short stint in academe has exposed me to a level of fakery I never thought existed among members of this social group. In my time, teachers were respected. They were looked up to because we believed that they were the most knowledgeable since they were teaching us. Woe to those who didn’t make the cut for they were ridiculed. Discipline was the order of the day. This is how we grew up to be the men of today. Granted not all men are created equal but the core characteristics should be there. As one matures, one encounters the harsh realities of life. Exposure is the key. A privileged existence is not available to every Filipino. I learned this at a very early age but it still didn’t prepare me for the poverty I saw in the provinces when I had the opportunity to travel outside of Metro Manila. It is easy to embrace the leftist-militant ideology if you are idealistic at this age. I was. But I didn’t think the answers lay in communism or socialism. I was already a keen student of history then. There is no such thing as a utopia. There will always be cracks in society and those who fall into it, often do by choice. What use is the gift of discernment if we don’t use it?

Contreras is a man who is well-aware of the choices he has made in his life. When he shot to popularity, my first impression of him was good but not good enough even if he was teaching at my college alma mater. Definitely the standards of those who came before him were higher. It didn’t come as a surprise when he became a columnist for the Manila Times. A political analyst should have experience in the conduct of politics and campaigns. It is a science because it involves the study of the political behavior of people. What makes them vote for candidates, what issues are they concerned about, what is going on in their heads when it comes to politics. Eventually the goal is to find out what drives a group of people to vote for a candidate to make him win an election. It is for this reason that political science is a social science.

Contreras wrote glowingly of Jejomar Binay. We all know Jojobama’s background. The obscure Mabini member who wasn’t front and center among the likes of Joker Arroyo, Rene Saguisag, Bobbit Sanchez and Jun Factoran. Binay rose to prominence as the Officer-in-Charge (OOIC) of Makati City. He was the only OIC who did not remove the employees identified with his predecessor. But he also had the advantage of his predecessor, the late Mayor Nemesio “Mesiong” Yabut dying in office at the height of the plot to oust then President Ferdinand Marcos. It would’ve been a different story if Tata Mesiong hadn’t passed and Binay was appointed to replace him. Contreras was part of a group of columnists who did a demolition job on then candidate Duterte. Not for anything but the whole group of prominent Die-hard Duterte Supporter (DDS) bloggers were on the other side of the political fence during the 2016 election. There are at most five of them who were for Duterte from the beginning. The rest, like Contreras, switched sides after Duterte won.

Contreras can claim good faith all he wants but he is not entitled to the benefit of any doubt because he always had malicious intent from the beginning. He is no different from Gideon Lasco who also had to do a mea culpa the other day on a tweet saying that he “should have opposed Duterte unequivocally in 2016, as I have consistently done so over the past 5 years.” Whatever. Leftist-liberals or liberals per se supporting a candidate who was more a leftist-militant than liberal, who was born at a time when misogyny was the rule rather than the exception in a society where matriarchs were dominant — go figure that one out. That’s another social science altogether which is anthropology and sociology, which Randy David specializes in.

“Political analysts” are a a dime a dozen nowadays but not all have the natural talent for it. Politics in the Philippines are closely tied in to business and the two go hand-in-hand. This is where Contreras fails because he has never run a political campaign at even the local level. Surveys don’t make much sense until the seasoned political analyst translates the data into the big picture. The truth is Contreras makes an excuse for his critical collaboration with Duterte, something which the President is unaware of as Contreras was mostly dealing with the underlings in the persons of Martin Andanar and Lorraine Badoy. We have balimbings (two-faced characters) for public intellectuals in the same manner we have politicos who are such as well. Contreras just wants to go back into the arms of his bohemian chi-chi leftist-liberal friends such as Inday Espina Varona, Mae Paner and others who fancy themselves part of the social intellectual elite of this country. What Contreras will not admit to is he wants his 15 minutes of fame which he believes he was unfairly denied by the administration and the DDS. This is usually the fate of mercenaries and Contreras was the one who made his bed. He should be used to lying on it by now.

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