A nervous breakdown of Philippine democracy


What is happening in national politics today is not just a muscular spasm or twitch. It is a nervous breakdown of Philippine democracy and our political culture.

In the wink of just two days – Monday, November 30 (National Heroes Day) and Tuesday,December 1— and with one turn of the wheel of fortune, the race for the presidency has undergone a bewildering shakeup, and we Filipinos are now waking to a completely changed and potentially unstable situation.

It’s as if all the corruption, abuse, deception, dishonesty, thievery, hypocrisy and all the humbug finally converged this week to create the equivalent of an earthquake that would shake up Philippine democracy to its foundations, challenging it to live up to its ideals or cease to exist altogether.

When the wheel turns
One day, we looked all ready for next year’s ritualistic show of our democracy at work, and for the installation of a new president. With one turn of the wheel, we are now left in wonder whether we have seen the last of the shocks in the runup to the 2016 elections.

One day, Sen. Grace Poe-Llamanzares was pacing the field of presidential candidates as the odds-on favorite in the surveys. With one turn of the wheel, she has been disqualified from the race, for lack of eligibility and her bogus credentials as a foundling. Amidst the hullabaloo, she looks like a deer caught in the headlights.

One day, Mayor Rody Duterte looked like the conquering hero, who would bring sanity and choice to the presidential balloting. With a turn of the wheel, and with one speech announcing his candidacy, he imploded in front the TV cameras, detonating himself in a torrent of profanities and obscenities. And now, his strategists and supporters are struggling to put him back together again

One day, Mar Roxas looked like an administration favorite whom no one wanted to listen to. With one turn of the wheel, he has suddenly become one of the candidates who will likely survive up to the day of the balloting in May,

One day, Vice-president Jojo Binay looked like a mere shadow of the early-favorite for the presidency, whose prospects had been forcibly pulled down by an aggressive demonization campaign to paint him as a corrupt political dynast. With one turn of the wheel, he is returning to front-rank status, with chances to win it all if he can survive further shocks to his candidacy.

One day, Sen. Miriam Defensor-Santiago looked like a feisty, if late entrant, in the presidential race who could barely make it to the Comelec to file her certificate of candidacy. With one turn of the wheel, and with one last spurt of energy and resolve, the big C permitting, she could become again the mouth that roars, spewing fire and sound bites, rising as the dark horse in the presidential race.

It’s not just individual political fortunes that are in a state of flux. The collective political life and prospects of the nation are also in transition now.

The situation is pregnant with possibilities and implications for the future of Philippine democracy, for breakdown as well as transformation.

Snapshots of the candidates
To guide the reader in assessing the evolving political situation, I will take a snapshot of each candidate, and where they each stand today.

Grace Poe-Llamanzares
Sadly, it’s all over for Grace. Her incredible bid for the presidency has flamed out, before she can even be included in the ballot. All her legal remedies and arguments will be of no avail.

The Comelec will rule with finality that her certificate of candidacy is void. If the matter is raised to the Supreme Court, the court will rule that she is not a natural-born citizen, and therefore not qualified to run for president.

The Senate Electoral Tribunal (SET) may doggedly sustain its original and mistaken ruling. When brought to the SC, the high court will overturn the SET ruling. MS. Poe will then be forced to vacate her Senate seat.

Grace Poe’s political career in this country is finished. Her story will become a cautionary tale of the catastrophe of overweening ambition.

Rodrigo Duterte
Mayor Duterte’s run for the presidency is also finished. He committed political suicide on national television. There will be no resuscitating his candidacy, unlike his on-again-off-again statements.

From being the potential savior, he is now the anti-hero.

His attack on Pope Francis will not be forgotten by his countrymen, let alone forgiven.

His defense that he was abused as a young boy by a Jesuit priest, is crude and desperate.

There was a time when Duterte represented a fresh voice of honesty and vigor in the presidential race.

Now, he is simply a foul-mouthed and power-hungry politician.

Manuel Roxas II
Manuel Roxas will be the biggest beneficiary when both Grace Poe and Duterte exit from the race.

The reduction of the field to just him and VP Binay will automatically raise his support base and poll standing, because of the mathematical probabilities.

This is big for Roxas because he has basically been a cipher in the campaign so far; he does not register as a candidate.

It will also enhance the advantage conferred by administration support and public funds.

Jejomar Binay
Vice President Binay will also benefit from the reduction of the field to just him and Roxas.

The staging of Binay-vs-Roxas part II favors Binay some because people will recall that he won part 1.

But this is a new contest now.

Being the leader of the opposition does nothing to erase the biggest issues against Binay: 1) the allegations of corruption against him; and 2) his dynastic politics in Makati.

Miriam Defensor-Santiago
It ‘s awkward to include Senator Santiago in this analysis, because she doesn’t seem to be running at all.

This candidacy, although registered and announced, badly needs “proof of life.”

Outrage and civic activism are needed now
This time of breakdown for our democracy should not only open minds to the field of candidates. It should also focus national attention on the obstacles to free, fair and credible elections; such as:

1. The role of Smartmatic again in the correct recording of votes in the precincts, the correct transmission of precinct totals to the canvassing centers, and the tabulation of the votes, having already screwed us in 2010 and 2013. An attempt to cheat by the administration could destabilize the nation.

2. The false choices being presented to the electorate because of the lack of serious candidates with serious programs and policy ideas; and

3. President Aquino’s evident determination to stop at nothing to ensure victory for his party in the balloting.

Only public outrage and citizen activism can stop wholesale administration cheating in the 2016.

The kryptonite is a broad coalition of business, religious, military, labor and citizen groups that will make clear to Aquino that they will not allow the rape of our democracy.

Muscle speaks louder than words.



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    I’m not trying to defend/speak for or against Duterte or anybody. I just want to share my observation or insights which you may agree or disagree po.

    “There is no such thing as bad publicity” – Phineas T. Barnum

    “The only thing worse than being talked about is not being talked about” – Oscar Wilde

    The idea that no publicity can do harm is a very useful gimmick to get free media exposure. TV advertising in the Philippines costs P250,000, more or less, for every 30-second spot on primetime. That means that if you see 5 ads while watching at night, the advertiser is spending P250,000×5. 

    Maybe DUTERTE took a gamble for free publicity?

    Maybe DUTERTE really does not want to win or be President and some people is merely forcing him to run?

    Maybe DUTERTE is really honest and not afraid to show his real personality?

    Maybe it’s one of DUTERTE’s strategy? To reach people, we need to use their language.

    NO such thing as CUSS Free Philippines/World, even our beloved Pope Francis also mistakenly uttered the word ‘f***’ in Italian before quickly correcting himself.


    “Well, I don’t speak profanity, I only allow it in the music I listen to, and it doesn’t affect me.”

    Philippine Politics (Showbiz Government) is actually full of Showbiz personalities, popular celebrities and name recall is key to being elected. So most of our Politician po use various gimmick (good or bad) just to gain publicity and free media exposure:

    By somewhat projecting notoriety, seeking a bad boy image, and keeping a scandalous reputation.

    2. GRACE POE
    Disqualification case against POE for lacking 10yr residency, not being natural born Filipino, U.S Citizenship issue, Sympathy for FPJ and foundling.

    3. MIRIAM
    As Stage-4 cancer survivor.

    4. MAR – EPAL pictures here and there.

    When Is Bad Publicity Good?

    Negative publicity can increase sales(vote) when a product (candidate) is relatively unknown simply because it stimulates product (candidate) awareness.

    “Either they’re trying to figure out how to get the public to think their product (candidate) is a good one, or they’re just trying to get people to know about their product (candidate). In some markets (Election), where there are lots of competing products (candidate), they’re more preoccupied with the latter. In that case, any publicity, positive or negative, turns out to be valuable.”

    (ex. Duterte, Mar, Mo Twister, Tio Ralph,)

    Philippines is predominantly a Catholic country, so in a sense vulgarity or uttering a taboo word is a BIG NO. But I would still choose to be, or be associated to, hang with, befriend, listen/talk to, believe, follow, and vote for:

    1. The world foremost expert on profanity & swearing, rather than someone who is full of rhetoric and pretend (facade only) to be good, a saintly, and godly or Filipino term “Santong Kabayo, Banal na Aso”.

    2. Feared/Respected but not close or well like by peers/people rather than be abuse one’s kindness, used by everyone or always influence one’s decisions.

    3. Win Golden Foul Mouth award rather than forever mute or suppressed my real emotions (anger/despair/protest/frustrations). It’s our expression of contempt for any abusive authority or even the most benign.

    Profanity, swearing and cussing, if used by common tao (powerless) is normal and acceptable. But when powerful figures like politicians (e.g. Presidential candidates) use obscenity in public, people begin to think that power itself has become angry desperate.

  2. we need to vote for Duterte if we want a chance for a good government. otherwise the government will again end up to the dogs. its up to the voters. if the voters voted the wrong president then the country and people will continue to suffer for more years and decades to come. its all up to the voters how they want and direction of the country. remember if voters voted the wrong candidate. just blame yourselves and the CBCP who just want to wait for miracles. nothing more or less.

  3. Ang dapat isipin ng ating mamayan, kung sino kandidato ang hindi hawak ng mga dilawang business man, iyan ang siyang dapat iboto ng mamayan. Even Poe is qualified to run as president of the philippines, the same story will be happen, aside from her inexperience from public services , she is ALSO the PUppet of YELLOW CULT BUSINESS MAN WHO CONTROL THE ECONOMY OF OUR COUNTRY, AS WELL AS MR. ROXAS.
    feed your beautiful mind people…
    The only hope for the Philippines is MDS and BBM who will save our country into disaster..

  4. Danny Cascolan on

    XAng tingin ko dapat humingi na lang ng apology si duterte what he was meaning was a satirical joke. To give benefit of the doubt na ganun nga when what he was meaning to refer to is about government insanity excessiveness abuse in handling vip at the expense of millions of civilians. Duterte and allies should not resort to red herring fallacy argumentations away from the unbecoming incident for damage control kasi di tatanggapin as logical ng marami at nagiging mas malaking flaw hole un sa credibility ni duterte.

    At un mga tards, e cgeh gawa pa,ng alamat kita kita na nga ang kapalpakan.

    Cgeh gawa pa ng fiction at alamat ng kababawan!

    Teka di ba nagwithdraw,na,ng candidacy si dino? At tapos na filing,ng coc? Anu ito katulad ni poe? Palakasan hanggan,makalusot illegitimately?

    my pov,

    Lol nung malamang di na makatakbo un isa hidden asset ng mga neoliberalista na si grace poe na likhang alamat ng artista nila noynoy at foreign, go na signal para sa bata ng dilaw din na reserve na si duterte.

    Objective pa rin ng dilaw via duterte ang destabilization ng centralized control of government by pushing the federal system for bbl. At sa ganitong paraan ay magkakarun ng conflict of laws,and authority, redundant agencies,lalong protected smuggling by corrupt officials and finally a failed state.

    Lahat ng estilo moro moro ginawa na ng hayup na dilaw na neoliberalista. Ciempre kailangan palabasin nila,na magkakatunggali sila, as long as anyone of the yellow candidate wins by hook or crook to deception and pcos, win pa rin ang mga operasyon at neoliberalization onjectives ng sindikato dilaw at mga neoliberalista.

    Triple na nga mga baraha nila anjan roxas, at pde negotiable can be sila to offer kila binay, bongbong, miriam kung bibigay.

    E bata din ng dilaw si duterte as tool for sell off mindanao.Wait its just the tip of an iceberg of what duterte is. wait till someone pulls the milf lid.

    Fabricated daw yan article na yan. At parang di ganyan magsalita si Pope using satire for the words ‘amazed’ and ‘politician’ context. Iba un un signature ng thought composition. I don’t think the Pope would even keep a second for what the likes of duterte says.

    Red herring fallacious arguments to defend something unbecoming ay sakit ng noytards, ngaun dutertetards, sa kaabnormalan ninyo nabulok nabenta ang bansang pilipinas. Gawa,na naman kayo ng alamat na palpak, aba e may sira talaga mga isipan.

    Everyone knows Duterte. Pero it would be an additional fact minus na kung nagpapaikot ng tao. Un may exploitive styles never na good for the nation. di ba. tignan ninyo what happened to us allowing them to make paikot and then tuwang-tuwa pa marami sa style na bulok?
    I would have preferred sincerity and honesty than politics that makes fools out of the nation and people. One day you may find out the nation has crumbled to a greater depth of abyss because of imbecile minds that finds deception acceptable.

    Why let impulsion drive higher office? That’s imbecility.

    Comelec Nut Law that gotta go, why have an official ‘for imbecile law’ at all?
    Allowing a candidate possibility of filing two candidacy positions can be filed at the same instance on coc ??
    That is a corrupt design what serves.

    Law making should have good rules of thumb to follow.
    General Laws especially in Public institutions should not be crafted in anyway to have extra insertions to accomodate as a pure favor for use by a select private or personal intent.

    –A direct simple single objectivity speaks of integrity for both Comelec and candidate.

    See that there is no necessity for a circus to accomodate private or personal intent in official matters for high office.

    allowance for replacement of a healthy candidate by another who did not really formally file candidacy?

    what sort of lawyers are there in the comelec?

  5. Jeni …. Dream on, the majority of our Kababayan have already graduated from that mob rule called people power. Your Grace has fallen from grace.

  6. It’s not the end for Duterte. Filipinos are forgiving. It is his accomplishments and what he can do for the country that matter. His actions are better measurement of who he is. And he is honest.

  7. I Gino you are wrong about Euterpe .. We have been in bullshit too long and people wasn’t an honest to god was leader with no frills. While most politicians talk sweet and rosy they have no sense of duty or obligation using their position or office for personal gain / enrichment. Euterpe has shown his drive and openness produce results that bring prosperity and development thru jobs businesses safety and progress. We might not like his methods but he produces results and that my friend is what we need in these difficult and desperate times

  8. Leodegardo Pruna on

    P-Noy has no choice but to stick it out with Mar with disgraced GRACE slowly being cast out of the list by her own doing- misrepresenting herself from the beginning and in continuing the fight further disgracing herself until probably force to try to reacquire American citizenship reason for her entire family not wanting to renounce their Amercian citizenship for an easy way out of shame. P-Noy’s support for disgraced GRACE and with no one to turn to for protection after his term has to work on an alternative- the hocus-PCOS machine and do wonders and majic with the machine. God bless the Philippines.

  9. Thank God for a Comelec that is willing to uphold the Constitution and our election laws in regard to Grace Poe, non-natural born Filipino or maybe up to now American citizen. Sadly, Comelec commissioners are allowing themselves to be shackled by Smartmatic and the evil and Philippine-democxracy-destroyer PCOS machines.

  10. now who’s violating the constitution? they’re taking out the word ‘such’ in …10 years residency preceding ‘such’ election. Grace Poe is a natural born Pilipino citizen. a foundling born in Philippine soil. she stayed more than 10 years in the Philippines preceding such election before studying in USA. her accusers should be the one to be jailed by manipulating the constitution.

    • Leodegardo Pruna on

      But, she renounce her Filipino citizenship, if ever, to acquire American citizenship? Thus, she lost everything until, for a big ambition, applied and reacquired Filipino citizenship through misrepresentation. God bless the Philippines.

    • Kung pupuwede ho, basahin nyo yong mga inilatag na argumento sa SET at COMELEC. sa SET yong 3 justices ng Supreme Court sinabing hindi sya natural born citizen, yong bumotong 5 na pabor kay Grace ay kapwa nya senador, “scratch my back and i”ll scratch yours” ang pinairal.mismong kapatid ni Pia na si Peter hindi sangayon sa boto.

    • Let us try to determine who’s scratching the back of who. are they the SET senators or are they justices and nancy binary scratching the back of those “at their backs?”

      with the “newly publicly revealed” pieces of evidence on her residency, i guess, this issue can also be put to put to rest now. “newly” because this evidence was submitted to the comelec as counter documents against Atty Alamparo’s filed case. how can the comelec’s 2nd division decide through the COC alone and turn a blind eye on the other pieces of evidence like that US embassy form? this is a CASE IN FACT. let us not be misled.

      Leonardo Pruna, the “new” evidence has answered / contrasted your view that Poe only applied to regain her Filipino citizenship for her big ambition. i guess, in 2011, she hasn’t even considered running for Senate then, how much more for the Presidency?

      and for the columnist of this article, how can you be sure that the SC, who once decided that residency period starts from ones intent of permanently living in the country, contradicts itself? I’m talking about gov jaloslos’ case.

      please be a fair practitioner of your profession as member of the 4th state. do not contribute in mind conditioning schemes. your article showed bias. that is clear.

      but i still have faith in you that you do not practice “envelopmental journalism.”

      God bless you, your conscience and your family, which you feed well partly from what you earn from this profession.

  11. one day, Grace Poe will be the new president of the Philippines through people’s revolt called the people power.

    • I don’t think so! She was not cheated. She’s the one who cheat. She might be jailed!!!

    • I agree with Manhattan. But then most of our laws are not obeyed until something happen catastrophic. Look at the case of Sen. Llamanzares Poe to her to perpetuate the name of her adoptive father violated the basic requirement of a senatorial candidate. How could you say you want to be president?

    • Rodan Guerrero on

      You can GO TO EDSA AND MARCH ALONE! Maybe you want to install another “TANGA” president again, who is not just a LIAR but UNQUALIFIED and INCOMPETENT.