Momentum for change



I denounce threats in social media hurled against professional journalists because of perceived bias against President Rodrigo Duterte. That kind of vitriol has no place in a democratic society, regardless of where political alliances lie. Words do matter, especially so when daggers are folded in between spaces, buoyed by the anonymity allowed by social media.

We need to detoxify the political atmosphere and perhaps one way to do that is to point out changes that this writer finds to be so refreshing. As head of the Blas F. Ople Policy Center, I have been going to inter-agency and national consultation meetings for several years now to hash over perennial problems confronting the overseas employment sector. As the pile of problems to solve keep exceeding the number of solutions delivered, it is inevitable that one’s level of frustration keeps going up.

More than a week ago, I participated in two consultation meetings, one at the Overseas Workers’ Welfare Administration (OWWA) now led by former POEA chief Administrator Hans Leo Cacdac, and a second one at the Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA), now led by Secretary Guiling Mamondiong. Both meetings ended with the participants feeling hopeful and invigorated because everyone was allowed to speak, and possible solutions were listed down for all stakeholders to be a part of.

There is a palpable difference in how these meetings were managed. The way I look at it, the heads of agencies are now allergic to perceptions of hanging on to unfinished business. Unlike in the past, any citizen can now call 8888 to complain, and none of the bureaucrats really know which complaint will make it all the way to the President’s attention. I also sense a sincere desire and commitment to please the public, and I don’t mean this in the traditional PR sense.

For example, the earnest way by which Labor Secretary Silvestre Bello 3rd keeps engaging various stakeholders under the department’s vast jurisdiction is commendable, especially because he also oversees peace negotiations between the government and the National Democratic Front. Yet today, the labor secretary will preside over a labor summit to build a consensus on how best to resolve pressing domestic labor concerns such as ending “endo,” or exploitative labor contractual schemes.

Things are moving, people are talking and institutions are engaged in conversations that are solutions-driven, and it is so refreshing! Amid the vitriol aired over social media, and questions raised because of extrajudicial killings, there is real substance in the air, and this administration is responsible for it.

Former President Fidel V. Ramos slammed the current administration for lack of vision, and its Cabinet for lack of cohesion. Much of the problem lies in the effort to communicate, because we do have a commander-in-chief that delivers triple the number of speeches as his predecessor – and not exactly in a structured, formal and predictable way. To my mind, what we have is a working class government that aims to leap past the norms and settle mightily into the herculean effort of bringing this nation up to speed so we can catch up with the rest of our neighbors.

Carrying out practical solutions to solve perennial problems is never neat or easy. If it were, then most of these problems concerning traffic congestion, expensive and slow Internet service, age discrimination in the workplace, as well as tremendous income disparities would have long been forgotten. What is refreshing is the openness to new ideas, better partnerships and an unorthodox way of doing things by government itself.

President Duterte is a maverick leader who keeps challenging the status quo because he has seen how it has failed us over the years. People trust him because he is so transparent that all his emotions come out like rainbows in a single speech.

He is going to China unshackled by the need to come up with appearances before the western world. He knows too well that every word he utters and every hand he shakes during the China visit would be magnified and analyzed, mainly from the perspective of those who fear our uncoupling from America. But hey, we are a sovereign nation, capable of harnessing diplomatic ties with any other country for strategic goals in line with our national interest. From where and how can we best get more traction in boosting our competitive advantages as a nation? Let’s face it – our significance in the world rises when our economy hits the boom cycle.

Comments aimed at reminding the present administration about the historic friendship between the United States and the Philippines underscores the insecurities of the day. But riddle me this, why can’t we pursue the full blossoming of relations with China while we continue to work with the United States as its democratic ally? I am confident that President Duterte will pull this off without sacrificing an inch of our sovereign territory.

The momentum for change is here. Let’s pray that it doesn’t stop.


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  1. Yes, a threat against anyone is uncalled for and should not be tolerated. But it’s undeniable that our culture is noted for paternalism, opportunism and political partisanship and some journalists are not immune to such practice. Therefore if opinions condemn this type of journalism then it should be permitted as part of the freedom of expression.

  2. Yonkers, New York
    17 October 2016

    I could be wrong, but I take it that TOOTS OPLE agrees with Little Tyrant Rodrigo Duterte’s “Independent” Foreign Policy which, in reality, is ANTI-DEMOCRATIC UNITED STATES, and PRO-COMMUNIST CHINA and RUSSIA.

    She seems to have no problem, either, with Little Tyrant Duterte’s metalomanic genocidal warrantless extrajudicial mass-murder of his own countrymen, a brutal and ruthless bloodthirsty drive which, so far, has already netted a total of around 4,000 hapless victims–but a genocidal drive which has earned for Duterte worldwide condemnation, including by President Barack Obama, Pope Francis, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, the European Union, and the European Parliament.

    His bloodthirsty drive has also just caught the attention of the Prosecutor of the INTERNATIONAL CRIMINAL COURT who warned him that his genocidal drive, if confirmed, makes him vulnerable to investigation by her, and, if found guilty of CRIMES AGAINST HUMANITY, will go to prison. Duterte’s nonchalant reactiion: “I am ready to rot in prison!”

    Is this the man Toots Ople admires?


    • It has been a long time since the Philippines has had a President that sprung into action as early as his inauguration as such. His sincerity to change our drug-infested society has been met by critics in and out of the country with venomous and spiteful remarks reminiscent of the propaganda of the past Yellow administration in trying to stop the march to Malacanang of the people’s new hero. I am not surprised that someone as far away as New York has joined the vilification with words almost as colorful as those of the person he is crucifying. The yellow tentacles reach far and wide.

  3. What is the role of the so-called “professional media”, how to deal with a role that is mostly prostituted? are these “profs” sacred cows”?

    “Tell the truth, provide wisdom, insights and truly useful opinions and ideas.” Is the philippine media capable of doing this for the most part? Look at the judiciary, the comelec, where is the media’s effort to point its attention and pen on these problematic, evil institutions?

    The people is clamoring for serious effort to rebuild the country, why doesn’t the mass media try join in, instead of prostituting its role to the existing evils, internal and external?

    Or maybe the question is, how can a despicable bayaran-na-media -practitioner rise to the level of denying quick goodies in exchange of principled writing?

    Can it even simply improve its ways, if it keeps on denying that this actually is the fact of the matter, here in the philippines?

  4. Do not assume that all “professional” journalists write the way they do as a matter of principled practice. Many of them are mercenaries who are simply paid to create adverse publicity against President Duterte. We were not born yesterday to discount this. Some are driven by money (much if it stolen from DAP and PDAF), others do it out of a sense of crooked political conviction.

  5. The writer does not take into account that Journalists on payroll of politicians and oligarchs are paid to demonize politicians they perceive as enemy and they are hell bent on twisting news stories. I agree that bashing the Journalists is not right but respect begets respect. The proliferation of twisted stories everyday and propaganda against the current President is sickening so we cannot blame the ordinary masses bashing Journalists they perceived as biased. First and foremost, these Journalists are a party of the ruin of this country by demonizing Marcos and then what? The country plunged into lawlessness and the rich became richer and what did the Philippines Press do? No less than Lee Kuan Yew said that Philippines Press are extremely partisan and have failed the Filipino People. The Government should regulate Philippines Press! This is the solution to cleansing the mainstream media. The Union of Journalists in the Philippines, Kapisanan ng mga Broadcasters ng Pilipinas and other media organizations have also failed to cleanse and discipline their ranks. They are also a party to a failed democracy in our country. So can you still blame the People who at some point could not control their emotions and bash Journalists? We are all responsible in what is happening to our country. If the Journalists do their job well, they will get praises; if they deviate from a fair and objective reporting, people will be the judge. After all, their organizations have long forgotten those ethics!

    • Thanks Jo, your explanations are very much enlightening. You are so right in saying that these journalists who’s thwarting reports were beyond the ethics of the profession or have some hidden personal interest, maybe because they were under the payroll of certain politician. Very, very bad!! Though, I am aware that in any profession there is always a need of cleaning in our own backyard, and as professional CPA, i am not exempted. There is a very common question, in America that as a professional in your own right, one has to face and confront to himself/herself. That is, what profession is the most reliable one? Is it an attorney, a teacher, an ekgineer, a businessman, a CPA, a judge, a politician, a cook, and et cetera, et cetera, So which among these expertise and profession on earth. And the answer is, only the CPA.

  6. Jessie Corrales on

    idol Toots. Nice article. My take is had Toots not run as senator she would have been the Sec of Labor. Her problem is she is bound by the 1 year rule for candidates for being appointed. Di bale, next year.

  7. Du30 good grasp of our craft–history–as it bobs and sways in a strong flowing current has turned him into an eccentric by segments who have dim inkling about. Let us allow him enough latitude to take the route he wants to take us through. The usual route taken by his predecessors has gotten us to nowhere. The paradigm shift that he embarks on might get us to aestetic shore.

  8. Thank you Ms. Toots. A worthy and well written article. May God continue to bless our President with wisdom and discernment. We Will support our leaders

  9. Very good article Toots. We are ready to mobilize our energies for change in openness and dynamism. Let us explore the unlimited opportunities offered by the world of nature, both for our national interest and for our personal advancement as well. This is in fact, the new paradigm of change brought forth, wittingly or unwittingly by a rule-changer game of our very own President Rodrigo Roa Duterte.

  10. Agreed, but it should go both ways “I denounce threats in social media hurled against professional journalists because of perceived bias against OR IN FAVOR OF President Rodrigo Duterte”. While this is an opinion section of the paper and as such bias is expected, the news should not. The news should be impartial and simply based on facts.

    • The Great Defiant on

      tapos sabihin nila….in service to the Filipino people
      really? while what they are showing all the time in their prime time tv is DE5 crying as if inaapi cya…

  11. We are all EARTHLINGS…it is just but proper for us to be in GOOD RELATIONSHIP with EVERY NATION ON EARTH , regardless of IDEOLOGIES while maintaining our SOVEREIGNTY .