The transition from President–elect to President–in-fact


“The transition period provides a window of opportunity that will not occur again. The President’s popular approval is high; Congress is open to new leadership; and tough choices that will alienate some have not yet been made.

Winners of elections consistently tend to exaggerate their mandates from the voters, and overplay the importance of their victories.”

James P. Pfiffner, The Strategic Presidency: Hitting the Ground Running

THIS book by political-science professor James Pfiffner is perhaps the authoritative book on presidential transitions. He underscores the importance of having a strategic approach to planning the takeover of the government.

Pfiffner warns that the transition can be a time of danger and blunders. “Blunders can have lasting effects on a presidency and can keep it from achieving its full potential.”

Institutions more trusted than govt
President-elect Rodrigo Duterte probably does not know this, because neither he nor his staff seem to do much research or thinking before he issues his big pronouncements and scathing putdowns of people and organizations.

Before he can even transition from president-elect to president-in-fact, Mr. Duterte has already unceremoniously maligned two much-trusted institutions in Philippine society—the Church (or established churches in general) and the media.

For his information, these institutions have a higher trust rating among our people than the government, which he will have the privilege and responsibility of leading over the next six years.

This is not my personal opinion, but the consistent finding of five years of opinion research by the Philippine Trust Index, which has been annually researching and comparing the levels of public trust enjoyed by key institutions in society.

Fighting on 2 fronts at once
As if to show that he can fight on two fronts at the same time, the President-elect fomented these major quarrels these past two weeks.

First, on Sunday, May 22, Mr. Duterte called the Catholic Church “the most hypocritical institution,” as he lambasted the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) for issuing a pastoral letter a few days before the elections in a bid to dissuade the electorate from voting for him.

Second, on Tuesday, May 31, in Davao City, Duterte told members of the media that slain Filipino journalists were killed for being corrupt, and that journalists “are not exempted from assassination.”

In both tirades, Mr. Duterte exhibited a high-degree of righteousness and moralism, suggesting that the criticism was called for.

The Catholic hierarchy did not directly react to the blast; it was more the Catholic faithful and laymen who were outraged. Duterte’s comments on the killings of journalists stirred up a bigger storm. National and international media reported his statements widely, and condemnations from organizations abroad quickly followed. Everyone recalled that 175 journalists have been killed in the Philippines since 1986, ranking it among the most dangerous places for journalists to work in. Because most of the killings are unsolved, the country ranks high in the global impunity index maintained by human rights organizations.

As criticism mounted nationally and internationally, members of Duterte’s staff and prospective Cabinet members tried to walk back his comments on media killings. They baldly claimed that he was misquoted.

Duterte’s camp apparently hopes that his comments on the Church and the media will eventually die down like his calling Pope Francis the son of a whore, his joke about a murdered rape victim, and his threat to cut ties with the US and Australia.

Philipppine Trust Index
Duterte is clearly basking in the glow of his electoral triumph. He is deluded, however, if he thinks he can fight the Church and the media at the same time.

The clearest indicator that Duterte is in for a tougher fight here than what he got from his opponents in the election is the story told by the Philippine Trust Index (PTI).

Since its launch in 2011, the PTI has conscientiously and consistently charted public opinion and attitudes toward six key institutions in society, namely: Church, government, academe, business, media, and non-government organizations (NGOs).

Conducted annually by EON Stockholder Relations, the PTI is regarded as one of the most intensive and respected surveys because of the scope of its research (which is undertaken nationwide and in all major population centers), and its utilization of two groups of randomly picked respondents: (1) the general public, represented by respondents from various socioeconomic, educational and demographic backgrounds; and (2) the informed public, consisting of Filipinos who are college-educated and have access to news media more than thrice a week.

The fourth PTI survey, released in Oct. 2015, was notable for the contrast it provided to the work of the Social Weather Stations (SWS) and Pulse Asia.

While the two survey firms were trumpeting high approval ratings for President Benigno BS Aquino III and his administration, the 2015 PTI reported that government is one of the least trusted institutions in society.

Church enjoyed the highest trust rating in the PTI. The church as an institution (which comprises not just the Catholic Church but other churches as well) attained and maintained the highest position of trust with the public, as it did in the three previous surveys.

Academe (which comprises the country’s institutions of learning) attained and maintained the second-highest trust ranking.

Significantly, media (which comprises all media, and now includes social media) attained and maintained the third-highest trust ranking in the trust index.

In the 2015 Trust Index, the Church received 73 percent trust rating from the general public. It was followed by academe with 51 percent and media with 32 percent.

The government received a trust rating of 12 percent while business and NGOs obtained 9 percent each.
Presidential blunders
President John F. Kennedy’s Bay of Pigs disaster was seeded when he authorized upon entering office the CIA-backed invasion of Cuba by expatriates. He surmounted the error.

President Aquino disfigured his presidency when he launched starting at his inauguration his campaign to unseat former chief justice Renato Corona. He never rose above his vindictiveness.

We shall see whether Duterte’s choice to quarrel with the church and the media are a similar blunder or obsession.

How he manages their fallout will be a test of his judgment and his readiness to lead the nation.


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  1. The Mayor were talking about few of the HEAD of the Catholic Church but did not say it’s the whole church. Another twisted story! Same thing with the media, he clearly mentioned in the video that “there are many of you that are HONEST but some are s…of b..tch”. Don’t make it sounds like he painted the whole media sector with the same brush because he clearly did not! You can not hide the fact that there are media personnel that are involve in corruption so instead of trying to demonized the Mayor why don’t you media people try to dig deeper to find out the cause, why the statement was said in the first place? Aquino mentioned the same thing in one interview but no one made a big deal out of it!

  2. I will bet all my marbles that we are in trouble. This guy hates the world, either the church, the media, United States, Australia , policemen and the rest of the world. From the way he talks, he is the most egoistic person I have ever seen. He might be worst than Hiler and Stalin. Not because 16 million assholes vote for you does not mean all of us likes you. Remember, there are 100 plus millions of us, you got 16 percent only. There is 84 million that does not agree with you.

  3. I can not understand what Digong really wants. Somebody should advise the man that what he is saying won’t help him in anyway. Sayang effort nya and energy. Yung pagsipolsipol nya at mga sordid jokes, pwede pasar pero yung unnecessary comments against the church, media and UN?

  4. Danny Bautista on

    The Catholic Church Bishops and priests must all be ashamed of themselves for allowing crime , dishonesty, lies , moral turpitude, corruption being executed by the Filipino peope.

    They should do penance and pray more and evangelize more to save those lost souls who join other religionsns cults.

    The Bishops and Priests should stop and convince people not to join other cults like Iglesia ni Christo, Mormons, by explaining the truths of the Catholic Church.

    The Bishops and Priests are too much busy being in the world of Philippines politics they forgot their main purpose is to save souls.

    You cannot save souls by teaching people how and who to vote in the Philippine elections.

    The Bishops and Priests of the Catholic Church must teach the Filipinos to Love God above all things and teach all Filipinos to love their neighbors as they love themselves. And, if they do, they will inherent the Kingdom of God!

    The Catholic Bishops and Priests of the Philippines must stop grandstanding in the media while judging some people in the public domain!

    The Catholic Bishops and Priests of the Philippines must be distinct from the political state by concentrating on saving the souls of millions of Filipinos by inculcating to them to be peace-loving, faithful to the Ten Commandments, be charitable to those less fortunate, teaching Filipinos to be more prayerful and loving, helpful, and maintaining characters of integrity, honesty, faith truth.

    Stop being of the world while being in the world. And, stop the proliferation of other religions and cults.

  5. Amnata Pundit on

    Isn’t the media corrupt too, just like the government? That there are extortionists and blackmailers in your ranks is a fact that has been well known even in the media industry itself for many decades now. Media should stop looking at itself as if it were a sacrosanct institution that should not be assailed on any grounds, self-serving surveys be damned. The only way you can cleanse yourselves is to expose your rotten parts to the sun where the maggots can eat them away. Duterte’s foul mouth is actually a breath of fresh air, but why is it that only the masses can see that?

  6. Lets draw down some lines between the institutions and the members of the institutions. Just like the Government, the Church and Media are trusted institutions. Its the corrupt government officials, hypocritical bishops and ( AC/DC) attack-collect, defend-collect reporters representing this institutions that cannot be trusted and deserve the ire of Du30……

  7. Yen , for your information the Church and the Media are trusted no where near what you think. Duterte has the guts to speak out , and the institutions you talk about ,and of course ,are a member of , DO NOT LIKE THE TRUTH. Well , S**T HAPPENS. !!!!

  8. ernie del rosario on

    So is it either Roxas or Poe or Binay or Miriam or, God bless his soul, Seneres who could be the better President ? Pls tell us why.

    • Leni Robredo, an image of Cory Aquino, or perhaps can be easily manipulated by the ex-president to be.

  9. Duterte is making a big blunder before he is even inaugurated, by trying to make enemies of these institutions : The Church, the Media and now the UN. He acts like he is a SELF-RIGHTEOUS SOMEBODY because he just won the elections !! What a big Fool!!

    Sooner or later, he will find out that he needs these institutions if he wants a successful presidential term.

    I hope that he realizes this reality before it is too late.

    • Angelina Ang on

      Old Habits Die Hard

      “Watch your thoughts; they become words.
      Watch your words; they become actions.

      Watch your actions; they become habits.
      Watch your habits; they become character.

      Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. “

  10. People or critics should wait what accomplishments he can do in his first 100 days before opening their mouths.

  11. The catholic church has a high trust rating because no one had the courage to expose its hypocrisy until Rodrigo Duterte. Look at how many speaks now in the social media about the misgivings of the catholic church.

    • That’s right! Not all Catholic members agree with what some of the head of the catholics do. That’s why the Pope is doing his best to come out and clean the Catholic church, to acknowledge the wrong doings of the few and heal the wounded soul of the regular catholics!

  12. Fighting the media or the forces behind them? Call his bluff. Admit there is no Free Press because it’s all been paid for all these years

  13. I can clearly see Duterte’s Achilles heel – his tongue!

    “If there’s one area of me that the devil’s got a hold of, it’s my tongue.”
    ― Stefne Miller, Collision