Inday Sara Duterte, Political Idolatry, and the Delayed Evolution of Philippine Politics

I find myself compelled to write this rather long blogpost because people reading my previous writings may have gotten the mistaken impression that I am pro-Marcos.

In fairness, my glowing commentary in previous articles regarding President Bongbong Marcos and his cousin, House Speaker Martin Romualdez, may have contributed to this. However, these favorable opinions have to be seen in the context of the articles themselves, where I proposed that Marcos and Romualdez more closely resembled republican leaders (in the sense of cleaving to the rule of law; and where Vice President Inday Sara Duterte represented totalitarianism (in the sense of cleaving to a rule of one or many persons).

Beyond this, Marcos and Romualdez suffer the same flaws found in Inday Sara or any other politician in any other part of the world.

Subscribe to our Substack community GRP Insider to receive by email our in-depth free weekly newsletter. Opt into a paid subscription and you'll get premium insider briefs and insights from us.
Subscribe to our Substack newsletter, GRP Insider!
Learn more

However, their power and rule is emanates from the country’s system of laws whereby Inday Sara’s power purportedly comes from the personal allegiance of millions of blind followers or, at the very least, comes from people who have the allegiance of millions of people.

Marcos and Romualdez, although definitely being the most able to manipulate the country’s legal systems to produce their desired outcome, can only operate within the bounds of that system. Inday Sarah, because of her power over loyal followers, can and has operated beyond the bounds of this system — which is the very reason why the International Criminal Court is subjecting her to an investigation of crimes against humanity.

If I were to admit favoring one politician over the other, I would have to concede that I favor the Marcos and Romualdez because there is at least some system of laws that can mitigate their excesses whereas there would be no way to control Inday Sara if she manages to arm her followers or gain armed followers.

Which is probably Marcos’ wisdom behind not giving her the Department of National Defense and instead giving it to Gilberto Teodoro.

I suppose the Marcoses — perhaps through Sandro or another member of the clan — can gain followers that are comparable in size and allegiance as that of Sara’s but probably not any time soon.

However, all that has to happen to Sara is for her legal hold over the presidency to be challenged and that time may be soon, depending on whether the ICC can actually come over to the Philippines to assert its authority. In which case, it could be possible for Inday Sara to operate as Vice President from a satellite office in Mindanao and that would make it even more difficult for the ICC to serve her an arrest warrant.

Can you imagine the horrors that would come out of such a predicament? I can and it sends chills to my bones.

All that said, is the reason why I write to warn people against Sara and the political idolatry that she represents.

But what is political idolatry? This is a discussion that many students of politics may find worthy of examining.

Idol worship, also known as idolatry, refers to the veneration or worship of physical objects or representations believed to embody or symbolize divine powers or entities. These objects, often referred to as idols, can take various forms, including statues, paintings, amulets, or even natural elements like trees or stones. The act of idol worship involves offering prayers, making offerings, and seeking blessings or guidance from the deity believed to be present within the idol.

Idol worship predates recorded history and has been an integral part of human spirituality in diverse cultures. Ancient civilizations such as the Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, and Mayans all engaged in some form of idol worship. These societies believed that the idols represented their gods or goddesses and served as a means of communication with the divine realm. For instance, the Egyptians revered statues of their deities as vessels through which the gods could interact with humanity.

Idol worship holds significant religious and cultural value in various faiths around the world. Hinduism, for instance, embraces the practice of idol worship as an integral part of its spiritual tradition. Hindus believe that the idols, known as murtis, are not mere representations but rather embodiments of divine energy. Through the act of worshiping these murtis, devotees establish a personal connection with the deities and seek their blessings and guidance.

Similarly, in Buddhism, the use of statues or images of the Buddha serves as a focal point for meditation and contemplation. Buddhists do not consider the statues as divine beings but rather as reminders of the Buddha’s teachings and the path to enlightenment.

Idol worship has often faced criticism, particularly from monotheistic religions such as Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. These faiths emphasize the worship of an unseen, formless deity and consider idol worship as a form of idolatry, which is strictly prohibited. Critics argue that the veneration of idols can lead to the worship of false gods or distract individuals from the true essence of spirituality.

However, it is essential to acknowledge that idol worship is not necessarily a literal act of worshiping the physical object itself. Instead, it can serve as a medium through which believers express their devotion and connect with the divine. The idol serves as a focal point, a tangible representation of the intangible divine presence.

Idol worship is a complex and multifaceted practice that has endured throughout human history. It holds deep religious and cultural significance in various traditions, allowing believers to establish a tangible connection with the divine. While it has faced criticism and misunderstanding, it is crucial to approach the topic with an open mind and respect for the diverse beliefs and practices of different cultures and religions.

The Philippines, a nation known for its rich cultural heritage, is a melting pot of diverse customs, beliefs, and traditions. Among the many aspects that shape the Filipino identity, idolatry stands out as a fascinating phenomenon deeply ingrained in the country’s culture.

To understand the roots of idolatry in the Philippines, we must trace back to the pre-colonial period, when indigenous tribes inhabited the archipelago. These tribes believed in an animistic worldview, attributing spirits and divine powers to various objects and natural elements. These objects, such as stones, trees, and animals, were revered as sacred and worshipped as idols.

With the arrival of Spanish colonizers in the 16th century, the religious landscape of the Philippines underwent a significant transformation. The Spanish introduced Christianity, particularly Catholicism, which gradually blended with the existing animistic beliefs. This fusion gave rise to a unique form of idolatry, where the veneration of saints and religious icons became an integral part of Filipino religious practices.

Idolatry, in the context of Philippine culture, extends beyond religious rituals. It permeates various aspects of Filipino society, shaping social norms, values, and even political landscapes. The devotion to religious icons and saints is deeply embedded in the daily lives of Filipinos, with numerous festivals and processions held throughout the country to honor these idols.

These festivals, such as the Sinulog Festival in Cebu or the Pahiyas Festival in Lucban, Quezon, not only celebrate religious figures but also serve as platforms for community unity and cultural preservation. They showcase the Filipinos’ unwavering faith and their collective identity, reinforcing the importance of idolatry as a cultural practice.

As time progressed, idolatry in Philippine culture underwent significant changes, adapting to the evolving needs and beliefs of the Filipino people. The veneration of religious icons expanded beyond the confines of churches and religious ceremonies, finding its way into homes and personal spaces.

Filipino households often have a designated altar or a small shrine where religious icons are displayed and honored. These altars serve as focal points for prayer, meditation, and a sense of spiritual connection. They represent a deep-seated belief in the power of these idols to intercede on behalf of the faithful, providing comfort and guidance in times of need.

However, it is important to note that idolatry in the Philippines is not limited to religious figures alone. Modern-day idols, such as celebrities, politicians, or even sports icons, have also emerged as objects of adoration. This phenomenon reflects the changing dynamics of Philippine society, where idolatry extends beyond the realm of spirituality and intertwines with other aspects of daily life.

Idolatry in Philippine culture is a multifaceted phenomenon that intertwines religious beliefs, cultural practices, and societal norms. Its historical origins, rooted in indigenous animistic traditions, have evolved over time, adapting to the influences of Spanish colonization and modern-day dynamics. The veneration of religious icons and saints remains a prominent feature of Filipino society, serving as a testament to the deep faith and cultural pride of the Filipino people.

While idolatry in the Philippines may be viewed differently by individuals, it is essential to recognize and respect its significance in shaping the country’s cultural landscape. As we continue to explore and celebrate the diversity of cultures around the world, understanding and appreciating the role of idolatry in Philippine culture can foster greater intercultural dialogue and appreciation.

In today’s political landscape, it is not uncommon to witness the elevation of political leaders to near-deity status. This phenomenon, known as political idolatry, poses a significant threat to the democratic principles upon which our society is built.

Political idolatry refers to the excessive veneration, adoration, or worship of political figures, often bordering on blind loyalty and devotion. It occurs when individuals place their trust, hopes, and aspirations solely in the hands of a particular leader, disregarding critical thinking and independent analysis.

The Dangers of Political Idolatry:

1. Erosion of Democracy: Political idolatry undermines the principles of democratic governance by discouraging healthy skepticism, dissent, and constructive criticism. It can lead to the consolidation of power, enabling leaders to make decisions unchallenged, without being held accountable for their actions.

An example of this is how VP Inday Sara has reportedly appointed retired military officials in key controlling positions of the bureaucracy of the Department of Education and issued a memo targeting all unionized public school teachers. Both acts tend to show evidence of iron-fisted control over the organization where orders are issued rather than inspiring productive collaboration and where the assertion of the right to organize is put under close scrutiny, possibly for the purpose of which acts can be held liable for violations of the Anti Terrorism Law.

2. Polarization and Division: Idolizing political figures often leads to the creation of an “us versus them” mentality, fostering polarization and deepening societal divisions. This can hinder meaningful dialogue and compromise necessary for the functioning of a healthy democracy.

This is something that we saw emerge during the term of former President Duterte where even friends and family were divided over their opinions about his rule.

3. Suppression of Individual Thought: Political idolatry discourages critical thinking and independent analysis, as blind allegiance to a leader’s ideas becomes the norm. This suppression of individual thought can hinder the development of innovative solutions and stifle progress.

Remember, if you will, the tax case filed against the Prietos who owned the Philippine Daily Inquirer, the closure of ABS-CBN, and the litigious attitude of government officials who filed libel charges against journalists that question their integrity.

4. Diminished Public Discourse: When political idolatry takes hold, public discourse often devolves into personal attacks, character assassinations, and the spread of misinformation. This toxic environment hampers constructive debates and prevents the exploration of alternative perspectives.

Who hasn’t experienced being trolled or cancelled by so-called Duterte Diehard Simps? There have been many social media influencers, celebrities, and officials who have been attacked by so-called DDS for criticizing Duterte — the father and the daughter.

Political idolatry poses a significant threat to the democratic fabric of our society. By understanding its implications and recognizing the dangers it entails, we can strive to foster a political culture that values critical thinking, healthy skepticism, and respectful discourse. It is imperative to remain vigilant and engage in open-minded discussions that challenge our own beliefs and those of our political leaders. Only then can we safeguard the principles upon which our democracy is built and ensure a better future for all.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.