TagElections 2016

Voter education

Voter education” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on June 4, 2016.

Whether the presidential race was a referendum on the performance of the PNoy Administration remains a disputed point among political analysts. What seems clearer is that the vice-presidential contest was a referendum on the historical record of Ferdinand Marcos.

Bongbong Marcos made it so by: insisting that his father be accorded a hero’s burial at Libingan ng mga Bayani; dismissing the claims of human rights victims of Martial Law; and denying the complicity of the Marcos family and himself in concealing the plundered funds the PCGG (Presidential Commission on Good Governance) sought to recover.

The strategy nearly worked. It took much time and effort for the Robredo Team and the Silent Majority to debunk the Bongbong Marcos glorification of Ferdinand’s World War II record and the assertion that the 14-year (1972-85) autocratic rule imposed by Ferdinand Marcos represented the country’s Golden Age.

The Marcos campaign benefitted from three factors: the ignorance of the millennial generation about 20th century Philippine history; the frustration among the A, B, C economic sectors with the failure of government to relieve the problems of daily life in the cities; and the nostalgia of those among the older generation not directly involved in the struggle against the Marcos Regime for the more tranquil time that the early years of “smiling martial law” appeared to promise. Continue reading

Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

Betting the future: What if?

Betting the future: What if?” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on May 7, 2016. (Pilipino version: “Pagsugal sa Kinabukasan: Ano kaya?“)

By this time, you may already have decided on your presidential candidate. Business schools recommend asking one final question to confirm or counter a decision: What if I am wrong?

Indeed, what if recent revelations about your candidate are true? What are the risks of electing this candidate?

Following his charges of unreported income and misdeclared statements of assets, liabilities and net worth, Sen. Antonio Trillanes has filed a plunder case against Mayor Rodrigo Duterte for ghost employees, thus advancing the narrative that Duterte may be both a human rights violator and corrupt. Unusually, Sen. Alan Cayetano, who has pursued Vice President Jejomar Binay for corruption, is silent, finding himself now paired with the patriarch of “the Binays of Davao.

The last presidential debate, held in Dagupan, added little information on Duterte’s plans for realizing his extravagant promises. Adversaries spared him further grilling on his “Dapat ang mayor ang mauna” comment on the rape of an Australian missionary, which did say something about his views on the perks of public office.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

Documenting Duterte

Documenting Duterte” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 16, 2016 (Pilipino version: “Sukatan ng tapang ng apog“)

People remain ambivalent about Mayor Rodrigo Duterte. He wants to jail Vice President Jejomar Binay for plunder; Binay wants to jail him for his “death squad.” Sen. Grace Poe wants to make him crime czar. (Mar Roxas supporters say, Elect him and nail two for the price of one.)

With Duterte’s current lead in the election surveys, however, people should begin considering what a Duterte presidency might mean. Not so easy to do; he has performed as a one-note musician, trumpeting his law-and-order credentials in Davao City.

His political opponents have questioned his record, citing police data (2010-15) documenting Davao as third highest in the number of robbery cases, second in rape cases, and first in murder cases. Then there is the “death squad” issue—that, whatever the achievements, the Duterte approach to controlling crime had come at the high cost of other crimes, involving extrajudicial executions that allow no appeal.

Duterte has repeatedly pledged to end criminality in the country within three to six months, or give up the presidency. Perhaps it’s just empty talk, although his official running mate, Sen. Alan Cayetano, is now echoing the six-month schedule. To be fair, Duterte had warned the public to be careful about what it asked for in “forcing” him to run: Blood will have to flow for him to keep his promise. Continue reading

Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

Deadlocked over the dead

Deadlocked over the dead” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on April 2, 2016 (Pilipino version: “Sukatan ng tapang ng apog“)

At their second debate, presidential candidates had to declare their stand on a policy issue– silently, by a simultaneous show of hands. On permitting the burial of Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng Mga Bayani, Vice President Jojo Binay and Mayor Digong Duterte raised their hands in approval. Mar Roxas and Grace Poe did not.

The outcome was not surprising. Roxas probably shared and would respect PNoy’s opposition to a Libingan internment for Marcos. After the backlash against the suggestion that she was open to the idea, Poe backtracked and issued a clarification. Duterte had been open to taking Bongbong Marcos as his running mate.

Binay’s position requires some explanation. In 2011, PNoy asked Binay to make a recommendation on the issue. Binay said he surveyed the views of various sectors, including the political parties. None of the 130 Comelec-accredited parties responded. Binay did not reveal the results of the text and email survey, but offered a compromise: burial with full military honors, but not at the Libingan.

Not surprisingly, the compromise met with resistance. The historical record argued against burial with full military honors. In 1986, based on previously classified documents, the New York Times had already exposed Marcos’ claims of wartime heroism as “fraudulent,” “preposterous,” and “a malicious criminal act” Marcos declined invitations to respond to the story. Continue reading

Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

A Gall Meter

A Gall Meter” was first published in the Philippine Daily Inquirer on March 5, 2016 (Pilipino version: “Sukatan ng tapang ng apog“)

Davao Mayor Rodrigo Duterte sharply rebuffed the idea that presidential candidates should disclose their medical condition: “I won’t reveal my medical records. Ano ako, tanga (Am I stupid)?

Whatever malady Duterte may be suffering from, it is unlikely to be hoof-in-mouth disease. His comments, however provocative, do not appear to come from slip of tongue or mind; they seem intentionally spoken for effect.

Duterte’s response implied that voters were tanga to expect him to reveal any infirmity. But he has discovered that such comments do not invite censure; they attract amusement, media coverage, and free advertising. His approach is not likely to change. Behavior that is rewarded tends to be repeated.

Duterte is not alone in scattering sound bites that insult the electorate. With weeks of campaigning to endure, we can expect more outrageous comments directly from candidates or exposed by their critics. I propose a Gall Meter to rate which candidates produce the most galling statements that provoke among the public the sharpest spike in blood pressure or acid reflux pain.

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Edilberto de Jesus
Edilberto de Jesus is a former Secretary of Education. He is also professor emeritus at the Asian Institute of Management.

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