• Aquino’s ‘six-hour dinner:’ That’s how damaged PH democracy has become


    The Philippine Daily Inquirer expectedly glamorized it with its puerile headlines “Guess who’s coming to dinner?” and “Stand-off at Palace dinner.” They were referring to President Aquino’s six-hour dinner last Wednesday with Mar Roxas, senators Grace Poe Llamanzares and Francis Escudero, who purportedly would run in the 2016 elections. For what positions exactly, is anybody’s guess at this point. They had Chinese for dinner, Escudero was quoted as saying. What?

    Stand back, think a bit, and you will really be shocked: “How have we come to this? Has the President become some kind of monarch to decide who the Party bet is over dinner? And one of the biggest newspapers is gaga over it? Has our electoral democracy become so bad it is decided over six-hour dinners?

    But at least the paper has turned its klieg lights toward one of our biggest problems as a nation: Our very damaged system of electing our leaders, especially its highest officer, the President.

    The Americans imposed on us this kind of democracy in which everyone – all registered voters at least, 50 million on May 8 – will choose who they think should be President, and the candidate who gets the most votes wins.

    But the US had also created two crucial institutions in our country to fine-tune such one-man-one-vote system. These institutions are working very well in their case, and we are reading about it now – that’s what all the fuss about billionaire candidate Donald Trump’s slur on Mexicans is – as they have also started their own electoral season.

    In our case, though, for various reasons, these institutions have been wrecked or are severely damaged.

    The first institution is the two-party system – in their case the Republican and Democratic parties, in ours, the Nacionalista and Liberal parties – which, despite its weaknesses, worked well before. Marcos tore down the system, of course, with his one-man rule. Cory Aquino refused to rebuild it with her naive goal of a “multi-party” system.

    The second institution is an independent, professional, and – I grope for an appropriate word – aggressive press.

    Imagine: If we had a US-style two-party system, whom would the parties pick as their presidential candidates? Who would win in a debate?

    Imagine: If we had a US-style two-party system, whom would the parties pick as their presidential candidates? Who would win in a debate?

    These two institutions function for a similar purpose, which is to filter the chaff from the grain, as it were, to be a gauntlet to determine whether one should even consider running for the Presidency.

    These two institutions hold in check the glaring weakness of a democracy in the era of mass media: that the masses are easily ensnared by an incompetent celebrity-candidate, as what happened in 2004 when they thought an aging actor was the hero he portrayed in the movies. Now his daughter is flying in the political firmament on the wings of that deception.

    The US system of primaries, caucuses, and the campaign toward the final party convention to choose its candidate, subject the aspirants to the most rigorous scrutiny. Such dissection of a candidate by the party, or his rivals within the Party in many cases, demolishes a candidate’s celebrity or name-recall advantage.

    The 2008 US contest
    One case was during the 2008 presidential contest, when John Edwards seemed to have a good shot at the Democratic Party nomination, with his American-boy good looks, a contrast to the African-American Barack Obama. However, after his extra-martial affair with a member of his staff and the contradiction between his anti-poverty slogan with his personal wealth and lifestyle (such as his $400 haircuts) were exposed by media, Edwards withdrew from the race and endorsed Obama’s nomination.

    Imagine if we had a two-party system with primaries. Let’s imagine there was a Liberal Party in 2004 under which Fernando Poe, Jr. proposed to run.

    Do you think the dark side of his past – especially after downing cases of beer –wouldn’t have been uncovered, his total incompetence in politics and government completely exposed by his party mates themselves? And if he did not get nominated by the Party, all his Panday movies would have amounted to nothing.

    Even that underachiever in Congress for two decades, Benigno Aquino 3rd, wouldn’t have been nominated by the Liberal Party, so those morbid condolence votes that won him the 2010 elections couldn’t have been put into play. Mar Roxas would have been the Party’s hands-down candidate.

    Now consider Grace Llamanzares. It would be the Liberal Party itself who would investigate her citizenship and residency requirements, and tell her she couldn’t be the Party’s candidate, that the Party couldn’t risk its prestige for betting on a candidate who knowingly would violate the constitution.

    Let’s be honest. What qualities or qualifications does Llamanzares possess that she should be considered having a good shot at the Presidency?

    Opinion polls. That’s really all. Opinion polls that are, in the first place, flawed. Note the big, big “undecided” responses in the more accurate 3- or 4 way polls – which means “I don’t know enough of what you’re asking, you stupid pollster.” Secondly, these reflect at this point shallow impressions by respondents, gleaned from TV and tabloids, really.

    In contrast, I would think Mar Roxas and Jojo Binay – because of their track records in the Party and in politics – would have easily gotten their respective party’s nomination. Escudero would have been told: “Please wait your turn.”

    The media’s crucial role in democracy was demonstrated in the US 2008 elections, when Republican vice presidential candidate, Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, was proven to be so incompetent by the Press that she may have helped in the defeat of her Party’s presidential candidate John McCain’s.

    Palin and Poe
    The Republican Party initially seemed to be successful in its strategy of getting as vice presidential candidate an all-American but feisty woman representing the silent (read: conservative) majority. She actually reminds me of Senator Poe-Llamanzares.

    The American Press, though, did its job and was intrepid in getting her to reveal what she actually knows, which turned out to be very little. For instance, she demonstrated her utter ignorance of the world when she said she would know how to deal with Russia since Russia is her home province Alaska’s “next-door neighbor.” Pressed in a televised interview on what newspapers she reads to be knowledgeable on current events, she couldn’t name one.

    Imagine if our Press were as persistent and professional.

    I am sure that, well because Senator Antonio Trillanes 4th had latched on the issue like Aquino’s Doberman, Binay would be prepared to answer allegations about the Makati City Hall Building and the Batangas Estate. From his decades of being in politics, Roxas would come out well in an interview. Escudero, of course, has proven to be very glib, especially after a shot or two of Scotch or Vodka.

    But would Llamanzares answer in a televised interview – asked not by a reporter fawning over her, and there are many – when and how she renounced her citizenship and whether her husband remains an American citizen? Why she had a press conference to announce her Senate committee’s Mamasapano report, but didn’t actually report it out to the Senate? Can she explain her stand on the Bangsamoro? Does she think IRA allocations are just? How will she fix the country?

    It was really the Press which cut down Llamanzares’ adoptive father in the 2004 elections, and not by any cheating by President Arroyo’s officials. (There isn’t even a case filed to allege this, and a pending one is over the 2008 senatorial elections.) After editors continued to scold them for not getting a single quote from him, they filed negative stories, and pounced on Poe when he bullied broadcast reporter Sandra Aguinaldo like a street toughie.

    It was the height of arrogance for convicted President Joseph Estrada to think that his bosom friend Poe, because of his celebrity status, could win the 2004 elections and be President, even if the former actor wouldn’t participate in a debate. Even the masses felt suspicious why their idol didn’t have the balls to debate his rivals, or even be interviewed at length by the Press.

    I say this with a heavy heart: The Press has been totally reneging on its role as a bastion of democracy. I do hope we regain our brains and balls in this coming election by first, forcing the candidates to really talk, to answer the hard questions, and second, forcing all of them to participate in debates with their rivals.

    If the National Press Club, the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines, the Philippine Press Institute, the Manila Overseas Press Club, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas can’t get the candidates to a debate, they should be disbanded for reneging on their role in a democracy.

    FB: Bobi Tiglao


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    1. Only net 25 is the honest and fair media network to be trusted by filipino people. none of the above candidates is qualified to be the President of the Philippines. Only Bong Bong marcos has the guts and qualified for the President of the Philippines. I agree to have an open debate of all candidacies for why they want to become the President of the Philippines and what is their plan, and objectives. Hindi puro pangako, at dada wala sa gawa kundi ang magnakaw ng pera ng bayan just like what is happening now in this stupid dementia administration.Gising Pilipinas. Magpakatoto kayo mga kababayan hindi porke sikat at popular magaling na… Damn stupid mind.

    2. Leodegardo Pruna on

      An open debate where candidates for the highest position in the municipal, provincial, regional and national level should be encouraged to hear their sides of programs of government. Rep. Estrellita Suansing should be supported on her advocacy of going into this kind of program for the sake of the Filipino people. God bless the Philippines.

    3. isidro c. valencia on

      It is part of “dysfunctional democracy, the defects of vague concept of democracy.”
      Others called it “democrazy’ imposed to us by imperial United States of America.

      INQUIRER is the band leader of PIGNOY “Bugle Corps.” While ABS-CBN (Anti-Binay System-Conra Binay Network) is the Inquirers’ adjutant.

    4. Lintek talaga ang ABNOY na yan.Wala namang nagawang matino talaga sa bayan kundi panunuhol sa mga media at mga survey firms idagdag mo pa ang panunuhol sa mga lawmakers,maghiganti,manisi,magpabaya at magnoynoying.

    5. His endorsement is the kiss of death …. Stay away candidates … No matter how much government resources are spent/stolen for the candidate .. It cannot offset the negative implications of the na. Who would be king

    6. Teddy Sevilla on

      We have excellent investigative journalists. Most of them are with the PCIJ. Most of them are ridiculed and ignored.

      We have a free press. At least many think so. Certainly we do not have the overbearing state controls of a China or even that of a Singapore. But free we are not. We do not need overt repressive shackles to our press. The present system is enough.

      Our media – all the various forms of them – are controlled in varying degress by big, vested economic and political interests. These interests control what we see, what we hear, what we read. They decide what is news and what are not. They decide that Ganda Vice’s latest antics be given greater media prominence than the BBL. Mr. Tiglao deplores the PDI. The same thing for Philippine Star. Sorry, Mr. Tiglao, as a child of a lesser god (these times, at least), Manila Times is also a subtle propaganda outlet of GMA fanatics. What broadsheet, radio station, TV station does not bear the fingerprint of the kingmakers?

      There cannot be a critical press without a critical public. And those who have current control of state institutions of education, police, military, etc. will always make sure that the public will never be critical, will never be truly free. The names behind these interests vary according to political weather conditions. It is the Aquino-Cojuangco’s turn now.The last time it was Arroyo-Tuason. Next year will it be Poe, Binay or Roxas?

      These names and several others more-than-willing to take their place will never want true, systemic, structural change in our society. Now then, does it really matter who wins the 2016 elections?

    7. PDI, PhilStar, ABS-CBN, and even GMA, dubbed as mainstream print, TV ,
      including their radio stations are evidently protecting, applying damage control and sanctifying the most guilty corruptor of them all: Abnoy. Need we say more? Its mode of influencing the populace into thinking Abnoy cannot be the one at fault- but the people behind him are the culprits- is old hat! It’s the Yellows’ style, stupid! The radio hosts are defending him, via their quip, ” in fairness to the President”. The gullible are led into the belief that that dumbo is faultless and unerring! Will those naive ones wake up, please.

    8. Media? Journalists? Who owns and pay for them? OF COURSE THE RICH.
      The main problem, still, is the COMELEC. They are the god of candidates who will select for us the be voted upon.

      Please put into scrutiny the owner of Smartmatic-TIM

    9. It seems there are so many diversionary tactics of PANOT to make the public not to touch the issue of Hocus Pucos Machine, that by election time will be used again to cheat in favor of his annointed..If same will not be junked, we might be in the state of uncertainty before, during and after the election. God helps the Philippines…

    10. Excellent article, Mr Tiglao. The Philippine press, in general, has to be more critical, more probing and incisive when it comes to those who seek the highest office of the land. As it is, the press is sadly lacking in these areas. That is part of how we mature as a voting population. Enough of topics which would likely produce more sound bytes than content but go for the gut issues. In the broadcast media, I would have hoped GMA NEWS TV 11 would turn into this. However they need to have more muscle and audacity rather than falling into a “lifestyle” type of programming. In the print media, we see both Phil Star and Inquirer becoming more and more servile. Our journalists need to probe deeper, ask the hard questions and be more professional, if we are to develop a more educated population who can distinguish the real from the fluff.

    11. P.Akialamiro on

      Roxas, Binay, Poe and Escudero; are these all we Filipinos worth of? Yet, the media are feasting on them building their own preferences despite the fact that NOT one of them is worth running the country. Roxas is a ‘second fiddle’ and an Abnoy man whose opportunity is gone; Binay is accused of being corrupt and has a lot to explain; Poe is “inexperienced” and “ambisyosa”, who thinks faith in the Filipino is all that it takes to govern the country; and, Escudero is simply an “oportunista” and a ‘flip flop’. May God bless the Philippines!

      • Leodegardo Pruna on

        None of the preceding. The Filipino people have no choice except to select a “lesser evil” candidate to run the republic. We have made a horrible mistake in putting one who is not even a “lesser evil” or a “greater evil” because he is neither one of the two nor all of the possible selects but only a product of an emotional distortion humming the country at that time. God bless the Philippines.

    12. Me.Tiglao,your comments are true,but the real issue of PNoy is ,deep inside he knows his protégée Mr.Roxas CANNOT WIN,he is in a quandary to select a candidate to protect himself,that’s how a cookie crumbles.but somehow I sense that PNoy will do some very drastic measure to protect his skin, such as ABANDONING MR.ROXAS,WHAT A POOR GUY.

    13. Real bad thing in the Philippines media is that we have abundant of corrupt and “journalists for hire” that we have a decadent and bankrupt society. The country is doomed with the kind of politicians we have that thrives in such a socio-cultural milieu. May GOD bless the Philippines to liberate us from our present predicament.

    14. PNoy is wants to be the new Ferdinand Marcos while the Liberal Party is aiming to be the new KBL. Instead of moving forward, we are definitely moving backward.

    15. Mantra of Escudero:
      Heart is for show,
      Poe is for dough,
      Bye, bye Aquino

      Narcissist Escudero loves to manipulate emotionally weak and dependent women, especially those with an Electra complex.

      Poe – fake, inexperienced, opportunist, irritating, ineligible, and a trapo in training. ( incapable of speaking without mentioning FJP – her only campaign platform! Calling Ghostbusters.)

      Loved up Poe and Escudero should get a room, and spare the populace from their childish antics and ridiculous public appearances. Her popularity will soon decline as people tire of her repetitive, superficial, schoolteacher approach, and her playing the coquette.

    16. Sayang ang pera ng mga kababayan natin sa walang aksayang panggagahasa sa pera natin dahil sa sarili nilang interest! Mga animal na talaga,kapalmuks, walang awa, mga hunghang, at ganid sa puwesto…di na tinatalaban at tinatablan!

    17. Losi GaroKasta on

      Sir, the simple answer to your question as to why the press has lost its balls and brains to expose the truth in our society is that the oligarchs hold the very balls of the journalists – they control the media since they own it. This is the sad but not shocking reality.

    18. Bull’s eye, Mr. Tiglao. I have always wondered why most “journalists” who cover these personalities do not ask the hard and substantial question but instead focus on the trite that invite “cute” and motherhood statements. It may be that they are all convinced that sensationalism, not honest reportage, is what journalism is all about. One suspects they are either in their pockets or hard put ingratiating themselves, too afraid to be yanked out from their beats and lose the perks and privileges that come with them. Just a thought…

    19. Primer Pagunuran on

      It is not as if nobody but everybody is aware that our mainstream media leaves much to be desired.

      They ask not-at-all crucial questions. Neither do they report accurately the news as they should be told but rather ‘editorialize’ them as though their views are what things are.

      They involve in sophistry is not an understatement, either.

    20. To the Author,
      Another excellent effort from Mr. Tiglao presenting the facts re the demise of investigative journalism. You did, however, leave out an important innovation that has appeared in our already corrupt 2 party system that blights all nations, that adopts this cock-eyed view of democracy. This is indeed a Greek tragedy, how a plan has evolved to corall the disillusioned voters who have loyalties to single issue agenda’s and with the aid of preferential voting systems, get candidates elected on as little as 1% of poll support. As has happened with the Tea Party in the US and many minor parties in the Australian Parliament, resulting in a complete stalemate in the working of government. We have a case of political instability in Australia currently and the politicians are revelling in the unfetted money grabs. and their inability to move because of popularity polls, they are caught like rabbits in the headlights. The fox is in charge of the henhouse.

    21. Jose A. Oliveros on

      “What qualities or qualifications does Llamanzares possess that she should be considered having a good shot at the Presidency? Answers: (a) for qualities, there is a post in facebook by Pork ng Ina which says “ask members of her staff who had resigned”; (b)for qualifications – she is over 40 years old, yes; but lacks natural-born citizenship and 10-year residency in the Philippines.

    22. Happily Married on

      Mr. Tiglao:

      Very informative article. Thank you.

      I must, however, take issue with one point: Sarah Palin was not incompetent. It is a common misconception even in the USA. The liberal American press was “in the tank” for Obama in 2008 and attempted to smear anyone who might oppose his progress to the White House. Ms. Palin endured more lies being told about her than a normal person should be able to withstand.

      Ms. Palin was a mayor of an Alaskan town and later, governor of Alaska. Her continual fight against corruption led to the resignations of 2 high-ranking members of her own party.

      Consider this from Wikipedia:

      “In December 2008, an Alaska state commission recommended increasing the Governor’s annual salary from $125,000 to $150,000. Palin stated that she would not accept the pay raise.[102] In response, the commission dropped the recommendation.[103]”

      Additionally, she sold the governor’s private jet airplane after she was elected, calling it “wasteful.” She let the governor’s official chef go because she wanted to cook the meals for her family.

      Only a few examples of her lack of greed and integrity. There are numerous others but you get the picture.

      As I said, Ms. Palin definitely was most definitely not incompetent. She eliminated a huge amount of waste and fraud from the Alaskan state budget and for that, I personally consider her to have been quite accomplished as a politician.

      • Palin is a joke and you know it. Dems and Republicans keep themselves away from her. Fox news, the neo conservative American channel closed their doors when she’s coming. And Palin makes a good rating of Saturday night live comedy show when they talk and speak like her word for word.

      • The Mrs. Palin and Grace Poe are not the same. It’s not apple to apple comparison. The things you have cited are just one of the thousands of tasks or responsibilities of a President. At time of invasion i.e China attacking PH, what would she do without experience and without the right military expertise around her. Because her VP is also lack military experience.

    23. How true, Journalism and media in the Philippines have been a damaged institution because several allowed themselves to be tools of politicians. Ideal examples are the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABC-CBN network who until now manages to continue idolizing PNoy and his cahoots and say very good things to this failed administration.

    24. Amnata Pundit on

      The whole thing is a charade, including the part about Binay being the “leader of the opposition.” This opposition leader was given a P200Million secret pork barrel fund that would have remained a secret forever if Panfilo Lacson’s sharp eyes had not discovered it. The real opposition leaders like Jinggoy and Enrile are not wondering why they did not get anything similar because being in jail without bail they know they are not part of the charade. Personally, I believe Binay is BS’s anointed one, meaning he is the one Boy Sayad wants the cheating machines of Smartmatic to bless, but the other gods of the yellow regime are pushing for Grace Poe. If this Binay vs Boy Sayad is the political equivalent of professional wrestling, then this courtship ritual centered on Grace Poe is political hard porn. Lest one forgets because of all the excitement, the stars of a wrestling match are in reality just clowns while the star of porn is a slut. This is now what passes for democracy under the yellow regime. Whatever the outcome of this cliffhanger will be, we know it us the people who will be screwed again by these clowns and chimps and whores running this government. How low can these yellows drag the country down? All we know after 30 years under them is that when it comes to the lowest of the lows, these yellows never cease to amaze us.

    25. ferdinand concepcion on

      The Inquirer sad to say has become the chief propagandist of this Aquino “mis-administration”, I wonder, as to “what cost”. Previously it is the most critical newspaper for any govt. misdeed. Has this something to do, with a crony, buying out this broadsheet?

      Inquirer should be boycotted, and not served in Mcdonalds; customers will read only “trash” from obviously biased newspaper. The only enlightened broadsheets now, are this paper Manila Times, Tribune, & Standard.