• Answer to Gatbonton’s ‘How are we to find the benevolent authoritarian?’


    I must begin this article with a quotation from the essay above “Weak-man rule in our premature democracy” by J. T. Gatbonton:

    “So what are we to do?

    “For East Asia, the key attraction of authoritarian rule has been its ability to impose political stability, carry out long-term reforms and focus government, business and civil society on national goals.

    “This is why an increasing number of Filipinos—including those who should really know better—hanker for strongman rule in some degree.

    “But, unfortunately, strong men tend to select themselves. So how are we to find—and install—this benevolent authoritarian who would kick-start our country toward social justice and prosperity?

    “In my view, we have no alternative to trying to make our premature democracy work.”

    I totally agree with J. T. Gatbonton that we Filipinos “have no alternative to trying to make our ‘premature democracy’ work.” (He rightly attributes this phrase to the “Makati guru Washington Sycip.”).

    To do that, we still need a strong-willed leader, one whose “political will” comes not from his or her own ego but from a deeply rooted faith in God, who commands him to do what is right for his people without committing any transgression in the course of rigorously making the rule of law reign. He will, with the zeal and commitment of Christ Himself, reform our government and society so that our people can enjoy social justice and prosperity.

    I have advocated this idea in bits and pieces in at least a hundred columns, newspaper editorials and talks.

    But the most crystal-clear presentation of this advocacy—as a solution to our problem of bad governance, pandemic corruption, social injustice, massive poverty and general disregard of the common good—was published in the Sunday Inquirer “Gut Feel” column of the advertising wizard Minyong Ordonez.

    A week ago, on August 17, Minyong’s column had the title “Sa 2016 ipagdasal mo, pangulong santo [In 2016, Pray for the holy president].” That column is an amplification of an earlier one that came out on July 6, “Sinner or saint?” Just Google these titles and you will find both columns.

    With Minyong’s permission, and I hope the Inquirer doesn’t sue me, I will quote some paragraphs from these columns.

    “My column last July 6 entitle ‘Sinner or saint’ was controversial because of its gutsy idea.

    “The main point of my column is a quixotic dream: to elect a transformational leader who will transform our political culture from bad to lawful. Consequently, it should also transform our constituency from mediocre to knowledgeable.

    “We suggested that the concept to be communicated to the public was an unexpected one: ‘Sa 2016 ipagdasal mo, pangulong santo.’ “

    Minyong’s July 6 Inquirer column “Sinner or saint” presents a dialogue between him and a friend (whom I also happen know) about the Philippine situation and how our country must have a truly transformational leader.

    Suddenly Mark (not the real name of our mutual friend) blurted out “How about electing a saint for president in 2016?”

    Minyong was stunned. “Whaaat?!” And our mutual friend replies, “You heard me! A saint! Santo!”

    Mark explains: “Nakabaon sa tae ng kalabaw ang ating bansa kasi our leaders are pagans. [Our country is buried in carabao dung because our leaders are pagans.] They cheat, they lie, they philander, and they plunder like pagans do.”

    Mark adds: “The 10 commandments of God should be the platform of the new president in 2016!” And “It’s the only platform that can eliminate pagan politicians.”

    Minyong manages to protests: “Theocracy yan. [That’s theocracy].”

    Mark replies: “Nope! We are a Christian country. Our leader should be a saint! Dapat santo siya! Tulad ni Gandhi, yung transformational leader sa India. Holy man siya.”

    Minyong objects that “there seem to be no saint-politicians in the Philippines, but we do have devils aplenty.” Mark replies “We do have saints, but they avoid having a high profile. They’re quiet…humble. They don’t send out press releases.”

    “You know any of these saints?” Minyong asks Mark.

    “Yep. Jess Estanislao…Bernie Villegas.”

    “Opus Dei guys! Foes who don’t like Opus Dei will swarm us. They will shout accusations of “Damaso! Medieval! Bigots! Hypocrites! Dogmatists! Irrelevant!”

    But Mark replies, “So what?” Which leads Minyong to think about the statistical reality.

    Of the 100 million Filipinos, say 70 million are Catholics. Take away the 20 million Catholics “who don’t go to church, [are]adulterers who favor abortion law, palikeros [womanizers]who make women use the pill, rightists who want same-sex marriage to be permitted, agnostics na galit sa mga pari at Obispo [agnostics who despise priests and bishops], at mga cafeteria Catholics [and ‘cafeteria’ Cathollics who chose to obey Church rules and doctrines they like].”

    That leaves some 50 million Catholics who sincerely “fear the Lord.” (To fear the Lord is not to be intimidated by Him but to be concerned about offending Him by lack of love and by sinfulness.)

    Counting out children and the politically apathetic Catholics, there will be some 30 million who will vote on election day 2016.

    Minyong and Mack agree that if 16 million vote for the Godly Catholic candidate, he or she will win.

    The advertising professional advices that the “campaign for the saint candidate must be fresh, sharp and not be made up of worn-out slogans that nobody believes — like anti-poverty and anti-corruption. These are slimy rotten promises that the people no longer want to hear.

    The campaign must be off-tangent, meditative. It must have a spiritual feel. Profound! Such as, “Pangulong Santo, ipagdasal mo! [Pray for a holy president!”] Would people pray for someone and not vote for him?

    Minyong and Mack then consider the “extensive and permeating social base of the Catholic Church. The organizational power base if activated is fantastic! Tens of thousands of priests and bishops, parish organizations like The Legion of Mary, Couples for Christ, Catholic Women’s League, Holy Rosary Crusaders, devotees of the Virgen of Antipolo, of Peñafrancia, Manaoag, Santisimo Rosario, the Mother of Perpetual Help and many more. And the “macho” devotees of the Black Nazarene of Quiapo and the people of the Catholic charitable institutions, Catholic colleges and universities throughout the Philippines–grabe!

    Then the Church will be playing politics?

    “So what?”

    This is a battle between Christianity and Paganism.


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    1. veronica castro on

      Congrats, Manila Times, Phil Star, for a balanced reporting. Given upko na yata ang PaiDi, abs-cbn, Social weath.er Sh….t. False Asia, matagal na nag jump ship. halatang halata. na nakakahiya naman kung ganoon ang media. Hindi naman kayo for sale, hindi ba. Kahit na lahat na yata for sale. Magsubasta sabi ng okay, okay

    2. veronica castro on

      My countrymen, it iis our reponsibility and duty to ensure that our beloved country, the Philippines, do not fall under the clutches of plunderers, scoundrels, smugglers, rop bbers, in cahoot with the underworld. If a committee is formed to make this a reality. I will go for it. But membership is restricted to those with clean credentials, reputable, walang bagagge, no plunder case filed. Come with a constitution for the good of the country, hindi monopolistic to protect the oligarch, no trade barriers these are deterrent to progress and are there to protect the oligarch. They want to control the industries, NO to political dynasties, they want to control, towns, regions, and the whole Phils. Make sure that Congress, Supreme Court, AFP ,the Executive branch exists not as spawns of the magnanakaw, smugglers, plunderes. May kita ba ako diyan. No private armies. AFP is for the People of the Phils. hindi para kay gov, kay etc.etc.

    3. veronica castro on

      I agree with everything you suggested. I will go for it. If an organization is form, I will surely join. But it has start from the clergies and the media who at this point in the history of our beloved country are deeply involved in POLITICAL PATRONAGE. So e the perception of the common tao, the masa, cororup eais ok, to steal votes ok,to lord it over your contituents, ok, to lie ok. I have never heard preaching from the pulpit about virtures of honesty, integrity. Masama ang drags, masama ang magbabae, masama ang magnakaw. Laging lang masama ang magtsimis. They are afraid baka wala ng magdonate. So with the Media they will shout to the high heavens extolling the corrupt, the powerful, smugglers, etc. People are confused.

    4. Make vote-buying illegal and enforceable, and your plan might work. As long as the people are kept destitute by the Illustrados, faith won’t substitute money.

    5. Horacio B. Freires on


      “A Benevolent Political Dictator. . Leader. . err. . Authoritarian for the Republic of the Philippines”

      . . .
      7- all budget of government must be identified from where it came. . taxes of what locality. and a citizens monitoring group should be assigned from where that money came from and monitor it

    6. Horacio B. Freires on

      “A Benevolent Political Dictator. . Leader. . err. . Authoritarian for the Republic of the Philippines”

      1- A developed. . .superior. . human being. . a Filipino. . possessing a strong. . yet sweet will power. . that is guided by wisdom. . true intellect. . competence. . yet tempered by compassion and love to one’s fellow..capable of transcendent perception of that consciousness stuff. . and sees his Higher (Christ) Self in all

      2- With a life dedicated for the Welfare of all. . both enemies and friends alike..that’s outwardly as a consequence of that inner dedication to that scientific blissful conversion of energy . . mental energy into pure consciousness stuff. . the dimension of that spiritual reality within. .

      3- Aware of his/her roles to minimize the gap between the rich & the poor . . if not totally eradicating poverty. . guiding the Filipinos that spiritual wealth is more valuable . . where real happiness lies. . than the ignorant accmulation of material wealth. .shifting the economic system from purely capitalist to somewhere at the middle where the good points of socialism is recognized. . COOPERATIVES control the basic utilities of the nation. . .electricity, water, foods, transportation, health, education, etc.. . towards a rational distribution of the society’s limited (non-infinite) material resources. . .. and encourages instead the accumulation of spiritual wealth (an infinite non-material resource)

      4- Implementing that principle that science and technology (inventions) are vital in the progress of the nation. .

      5- remove taxation and make the government partner in any business endeavours. .

      6-no one will be encouraged to be a political leader without any spiritual force. . .material wealth not a basis of electing a political leader. .

      7- all budget of government must be identified from where it came. . taxes of what locality. and a citizens monitoring group should be assigned from where that money came from and…

    7. Non-Christian persons can be good president and leaders like Ghandi. Let us not be deceived by the church going and communion taking hypocrites, dishonest, greedy for wealth and power, mentally unstable or sick persons.

    8. I like to call to mind that bible account of Jesus getting mad at money changers for desecrating the temple where Jesus whipped people and turned over tables. I believe that God expects us to also get mad and chase away thieves and malefactors desecrating our country for so long now. Religious leaders here have been stymied too long for fear of being branded as bigots or meddling in ungodly concerns as politics but enough already. I am a devout Christian and like my God Jesus I want someone to take the lead for righteous indignation against the ungodly and corrupt. Let’s all get mad. Cardinal Sin did it before now let’s see another take the cudgels and if I were to look at our current Pope Francis I think his new ways should inspire our religious leaders here to now act to save the only Christian nation in his part of the world.

    9. The Filipinos, Catholics or not who sincerely care for the country will really campaign and vote for a good President. But will the media and the COMELEC go with us??? If the answer is YES, then we are in business of electing a truly saintly President similar how we elected PNoy thru the help of the media giants and the COMELEC!!! Dr. Walter Brown should also be considered as a Presidential timber.

    10. Meron bang Santo?diba si pope lang ang tinatawag na santo?,
      Cbcp initiatives na nanawagan na sumama ang mga catholico sa rally,merong bang dumating, hindi ba iyong ibang pari at madre ay sa pangkat ni noynoy! Di ba hati-hati ang paniniwala nila?kung may banal na takot at paniniwala ang mga katoliko sa pope na nagtuturo sa kanila hindi dapat hati-hati at kanya-kanya at isa pa 70 million Catholics ba ika mo ang Catholic,iyong maraming born again ngayon na halos libo-libong pangkatin! Baka 10% percent na lamang ang katoliko sagrado!..masdan at tignan ang nangyayari lalo na sa mga pagtawag ng mga pari para sumuporta sa mga layunin nila,meron bang dumarating..di ba wala..ako po ay nag-oobserba lang..hindi masama mangarap sana meron santo kayong makita..

    11. The problem is, you picture pagans as evil people. Pagans- person holding religious beliefs other than those of the main world religions, synonyms: heathen, infidel, etc
      a non-Christian.This is sooo vague because a Christian is an infidel to a muslim’s eyes, or to any other non Christian religion. Each religion claims to be right, and all of them have both good and bad people. Aquino is a Christian who goes to church and believes in jesus. Yet, he takes money from the people’s mouth for himself and to please his ego. He is a man who would take communion and praise god. What we need is a nonpartisan, no religion person who will not be biased in his decision making and who would not take religion as a basis of his deeds. He must be wise, has a lot of common sense, open minded, not afraid to say I am sorry when wrong, and apologizes for it. we don’t need a religious man who would rule because Christ wanted us to do this or that. that would be moronic. If we have to base our rule in the bible, read closely, the bible is full of killings, deceit, revenge, infidelity, and everything else! and may I remind you, read the bible closely and find for the second set of the 10 commandments that replaced the broken one. The bible says, that is the permanent one.

    12. Cres Malifier on

      I too, like Mr. Nito, have been praying for the God-loving and Filipino-people-loving poklitical leader. We have to find him or her–them in fact.
      The true Christians who try to be holy in their personal lives must unite and restore morality, patriotism and integrity in politics and governance.

    13. If we Catholics don’t respond to this suggestion by Minyong Ordonez and Rene Bas, then we deserve to be marginalized in the law-makng, policy-making and governance of the Philippine Republic.

    14. mr. bas, i think you should check the true meaning of holy and saint in the bible. your reference to mr gandhi as holy is absolutely not correct if i use the bible as a standard. and how can we consider catholics as not pagans when they still worship statues and images?

      Reply: The reference to Gandhi as “holy” is in the original article by Minyong Ordonez in the Inquirer and was said by Mack. Mr. Bas knows the true meaning of holy in the Bible and as taught in Christian theology: only God can really be holy but Jesus wants human beings to be holy too — “Be ye perfect as God our Father is perfect.” Thanks for reading The Times, sir.

      • I agree, catholics practice paganism by worshipping wooden idols, kissing the feet of statues. didn’t jesus say when he was mad that the house of worship was made a market place that you can talk to god in the corner of your home? why go to church, for people to see that one is religious? that is hypocrisy to me.

      • We can only be made holy (set apart) when we receive Christ as our Lord and Savior. It’s the righteousness imputed to us thru Christ. NOT THRU GOOD WORKS as catholics and others believe. What we Filipinos really need is repent of our sins and stop practicing paganism so that God will not curse but bless us with upright leaders. Upright leaders who fear the Lord.

        Btw, saints are those who received Christ their Lord and Savior, in short, born-again. Not those canonized by the pope.

    15. Hindi ko maintindihan maraming pilipinong mga walang utang na loob. maraming na iisip na katantaduhan nakaka perwisyo sa pag angat nang bansa. Hindi nila nakikita ang
      mga nangyayari sa gobierno na sa matagal na panahon si Presidente P-Noy lang
      ang presidenteng hindi kawatan, maliban sa nanay niya. Tingnan ninyo sa National
      Geographic latest edition 40 million na americano ang nasa poverty line. At ang America
      ang pinakamayaman na nation sa boong daidig
      Hoy mga pinoy tigilan na ninyo ang mga katarantadohan ninyo. Gusto lang ninyong bumalik sa dating gawi “kawatan’ nang pera nang taong bayan.

    16. It just amazes me that finally some people with influence like you finally put it on print the thought that I have been praying for a leader who is God loving, God fearing, disciplined, scrupulous, and fearless to do what needs to be done to rebuild a country with overwhelming dishonesty which breeds corruption/ bribery, and other criminalities which directly or indirectly impact on the increasing frustration, hopelessness and poverty on our people. To me the country is facing a battle between GOOD and EVIL. I hope and pray that you will find that person, you are looking for, that the country needs to become the next President of our spiritually ailing country.