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Apr 29

The Long View: The lunatic fringe

The Long View
The lunatic fringe
By Manuel L. Quezon III
Philippine Daily Inquirer
First Posted 23:40:00 04/28/2010

IN 1950 MARYLAND SEN. MILLARD TYDINGS (of Tydings-McDuffie Act fame) ran for reelection—only to face a remarkable smear campaign. It included a doctored photograph purportedly showing him conversing with American Communist Party leader Earl Browder (suggesting Tydings had Communist sympathies, immersed as he was, at the time, in a fight with his fellow senator, Joseph McCarthy). An open letter was also circulated among voters, which darkly accused Tydings of having a sister who was “a thespian” and, worse, a brother who was “a practicing homo sapiens,” the technical terms for a sister-actress and brother-human, apparently helping to contribute to the veteran senator’s defeat.

A similar low opinion of voters—and disregard for anything resembling reality—seems to afflict those who are hell-bent on planting seeds of doubt about Sen. Benigno Aquino III’s fitness for the presidency, though with conspicuously less success. Since it has proven extremely difficult to rake up any muck about Aquino, the plan of attack seems to revolve on simply inventing something, using the media to propagate fiction in the hope it accomplishes one of three things:

First, it could fool the gullible or reinforce existing biases against the candidate: this particularly applies to those who have remained loyal to President Macapagal-Arroyo and her cloud cuckoo-land tales of legitimacy and accomplishment. Second, it might bog down the candidate in having to disprove rumors, allowing his rivals to pursue their own campaigns unchallenged and unimpeded. Third, simply by existing, the stories can take on a life of their own, never really proving anything but adding to the insecurities of some, who might then use it as an excuse to withhold support for the candidate, a variation of the first objective.

At the heart of the tall tales is the suspicion that no such thing as an honest, principled politician exists; or, put another way, anyone who considers himself a politician running on a platform of honesty, integrity, and good governance (and who personally represents all these things) has to be delusional or an imbecile—and that goes for his supporters. After all, a central talking point of the administration has been, “they are all the same, anyway,” so better the devil you know since no angels exist. But since it is a proven fact Aquino exists, then the only thing left to do, since he has no crimes—no lying, cheating, or stealing—is to accuse him of being either a half-wit or psychologically unsound.

A gruesome parade of columnists shuffled forward to try to do this. First, they suggested Aquino was autistic—only to have the chronology they put forward fall apart upon closer examination. Next, they insisted that a psychological report so crude as to be obviously a fake had to mean something, even though it was a forgery. Only in the weird world in which Palace loyalists exist could their subsequent logic—that even if fake, Aquino was duty-bound to prove to the country he wasn’t mentally disturbed—make any sense.

When that backfired, they backtracked and said Aquino’s people did the inventing to try to deflect really damaging information to come. Only for their partners-in-interest to take up the tale where it left off, as Guido Delgado did the other day. Only for the second fabricated report to end up debunked, as the first one was, by the Ateneo de Manila’s psychology department. All the while further implicating the Nacionalistas (and their administration fellow-travelers) in their unrelenting scheme to try to plant seeds of doubt concerning Aquino’s mental health.

None of this would have been possible without the uncritical acceptance of these documents as newsworthy by the media at large. Putting forward fake documents is, of course, a newsworthy story. It involves, to begin with, the possibility that confidential medical records can be leaked, which has profound ethical implications for medical practitioners (which is why one related allegation had to involve a doctor safely dead, for the purposes of those who tried to propagate the tale). It also involves the horror media outfits have over being given potentially explosive, but ultimately false, information.

And it is in the public interest to know that both the Palace’s friends and the Nacionalista leadership see fit to fabricate stories, regardless of whether or not it gets otherwise Palace-friendly institutions such as the Ateneo de Manila into a needlessly embarrassing situation. Anything goes, so long as it torpedoes a historic verdict against the administration and its allies in the polls.

But what puzzles me is why the contents of two entirely fabricated documents should, in themselves, end up reported, thereby lending credibility to all the related stories being put forward as part of the larger plan to erode public confidence in Aquino. The first report, flimsy to begin with because signed by a priest who isn’t even a psychiatrist, could have easily been checked by referring the document to the priest and the relevant department. As for the second report, it was also denounced by another priest, an eminent personage in his field, who says he never signed any such thing, and the same department—but not before the document and its contents got extensive airplay as a story in itself.

What this means is that media jumped the gun, merrily accomplishing the aims of those who forged the documents by reporting their contents and only afterwards informing the public that, by the way, they were blatant forgeries. This adds fuel to the glowing embers of manufactured scandal the Palace and Nacionalista drumbeaters have been vainly huffing and puffing to turn into a public relations fire.

It seems these people have taken the industry’s measure and found it wanting in the extreme.

86 comments

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  1. SoP

    Yes but Erap promised legalization as a way to legitimize cobradors. And in a way I respect him for it. But it doesn’t mean I support him because he’s an idiot in all other aspects of governance and policy.

    I want to legalize jueteng as a revenue raising measure. Use that money to pay for more lawyers and accountants to go after corrupt officials.

  2. SoP

    drdavisjr on Sat, 1st May 2010 5:50 pm

    How does a person earning his/her money to gamble hurt others?
    I never said it did. But, as with freedom fighting, there is a price to pay if you lose (get caught).

    True that. I consider the Pinedas as the “people’s outlaws” in this regard, risking jail time so they could provide gambling services to gambling patrons.

    But truth be told, they would never be caught, and shouldn’t be. They’re not that bad as I mentioned. I just hate that they’re running for political office when they don’t have the qualifications. But of course, they’re doing this so that they can control the police, which would protect their illegal trade.

    Making jueteng legal would give peace of mind to the Pinedas and allow others who are more qualified to run for government.

  3. drdavisjr

    “I want to legalize jueteng as a revenue raising measure. Use that money to pay for more lawyers and accountants to go after corrupt officials.”

    Wouldn’t legalizing jueteng put the warlords out of business? Do you think they’d ever allow that?

  4. drdavisjr

    I’m not sure what Noynoy’s perceived psychological issues has to do with jueteng?? 🙂

  5. SoP

    No because they have the networks of cabos and cobradors who have the people’s trust and are “suki”.

    Sure, making it legal would make it appealing to the Ayalas and Sys, who might try to get into the jueteng game. Jueteng earning dwarf or are comparable to what Ayala land or Shoe Mart can earn in a financial year.

    So you’re not entirely wrong that the Pinedas have a vested interest in making it illegal.

  6. drdavisjr

    “Jueteng earning dwarf or are comparable to what Ayala land or Shoe Mart can earn in a financial year.”

    Wow, I had no idea it was that lucrative.

  7. SoP

    Read the PCIJ report, which states that “P2.5 billion (of jueteng money) goes to intelihensiya, the word used for bribe money” annually. Then read this article article, which states that Ayala’s profit is around 8 billion pesos, and you will understand how big jueteng is.

  8. SoP

    And that 2.5 billion pesos is in 1995. Say the Pinedas earn 10% of that, that’s 250 million pesos a year.

    But in my estimation, the Pinedas are probably pulling in half a billion to a billion pesos a year.

    I don’t mind they earn that, but as long as all the bribe money goes to Philippine coffers instead of bribery, then I’m fine with it.

  9. drdavisjr

    Well, one might argue that eventually that money goes back into the system through consumer spending and VAT collections. I’m sure they employ scores of maids, drivers, etc.

  10. SoP

    Or they’re converting those pesos into dollars and buy properties overseas instead. That’s not good for the Philippine economy.

    Here’s the scam: you know the OFWs send dollars to the Philippines right? This is my theory on how the Pinedas are washing and laundering that jueteng money.

    1. First, they set up shops in US, Canada, Australia, and Saudi, etc, to accept OFW earnings.
    2. Say you’re an OFW and you make “padala” to your relatives in the Philippines. You give that money to the Pineda’s “remittance shop” in U.S., Canada, Australia, etc.
    3. They use the jueteng earning in the Philippines to give the peso equivalent of your padala to your relatives.
    4. So that means if an OFW in New York send $10,000 to the Philipines, the Pinedas network in Pinas will give 450,000 to 500,000 pesos, to the OFW relative in Pinas. In return, that $10,000 will be waiting in a foreign bank account for the Pinedas in America, washed and clean and beyond the reach of U.S. law enforcement.

    I’m pretty sure the Pinedas are working on their US, Canadian, or Australian citizenship, or at least their children’s. That way, they have this whole pile of money waiting for them, washed and laundered and ready to be spend legitimately.

  11. SoP

    …ready to be spent legitimately when they’re ready to retire.

  12. SoP

    But then again, maybe it’s good for the Philippine economy, in particular the relative of OFWs. I’ve always wondered why your Filipino shop “sari-sari stores” overseas are paying more for dollar OFW remittances than BPI or any other Philippine bank.

    Jueteng money laundering may have something to do with it.

  13. drdavisjr

    @SoP – Earlier you said, “And I also feel for people like the Pinedas who are made out to be criminals for providing that service.”

    But sounds like to me they are doing fine. Why should we feel bad for them when they are obviously billionaires and well compensated for the risks they take?

  14. SoP

    Yeah I know. You’re right, I’m just an old fart who’s retired, being an OFW most of my life. I don’t really care if Pinedas will be jailed by Noynoy or not (yeah, I belive Noynoy will be the next president). We should not feel bad for them. Fuck the Pinedas if they go to jail.

    Re Noynoy: I’m don’t really care what he does with our fellow Kapampangans, the Pinedas. He can go as hard on them or soft if he wishes. I don’t care. I don’t give a fuck about the Pinedas.

    I’m more concerned if Noynoy can control the military generals, which is why I’m concerned about his mental and emotional strength. Most presidents, from Cory to GMA, had to control the generals with bribes because they’re female and they’re weak. As you know, military men are sexist, which is why Cory and GMA cannot control the military.

    FVR is the exception because he’s ex-military and police himself. Noynoy on the other hand, tsk tsk tsk, I don’t think he has the will power to control the generals and retired generals, because I thing he’s mentally weak. What do you think?

  15. drdavisjr

    Hmmm…good question. I feel that anyone that witnessed his father jailed, exiled, and then subsequently murdered on live TV and came out of it unscathed isn’t as weak mentally as we think. Yes, he has the appearance of a computer nerd which maybe why people insist he is weak, or that he is the only boy amongst 3 girls. Keep in mind that while his legistative performance was less than spectacular, he has served the people and there has been little controversy surrounding him.

    Compared to the other candidates, do we really have a choice NOT to vote for him?

  16. drdavisjr

    I know that is an open-ended question that many would answer yes to. But I see several candidates that to me are absolute NO, hell NO!!

  17. SoP

    I believe the greatest danger to Philippine democracy are military men who are emboldened by that passage in the Philippine which states that “The Armed Forces of the Philippines is the protector of the people and the State. Its goal is to secure the sovereignty of the State and the integrity of the national territory.”

    Every coup d’état instigating military asshole has used this passage in our constitution to justify their “military adventure”. The way GMA has dealt with this is to bribe the generals.

    Will Noynoy go the same route? Or will he be a man an put those military assholed in their place and tell them that civilian authority (the president) is superior to military rule. I don’t know buddy. Seems like Noynoy doesn’t have the mental and emotional strength to put military men in their place, which is at the bottom of the president, ergo, civilian authority.

  18. SoP

    drdavisjr on Sat, 1st May 2010 7:02 pm

    Hmmm…good question. I feel that anyone that witnessed his father jailed, exiled, and then subsequently murdered on live TV and came out of it unscathed isn’t as weak mentally as we think.

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    Good point. This fact alone could mean that Noynoy will say fuck you to the military.

    But I don’t know. It’s one thing to witness and disdain military rule like Noynoy should, given his history and background.

    But character is another. I’m afraid, there’s nothing in Noynoy’s life that says he will put the military in their place. It’s different when you’re the president of the land and the generals are threatening you with another Oakwood. Do you think Noynoy has the mental and emotional strength to arrest potential mutineers?

    Let me tell you this much: I don’t feel that Villar will either. Villar makes money talk. And I feel that he will bribe mutineers, because that’s what he’s used to all his life.

    I JUST WANT A PRESIDENT WHO WILL PUT A BULLET INTO THE HANDS OF MUTINEERS. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

  19. SoP

    ER, INTO THE HEADS OF MUTINEERS.

  20. drdavisjr

    Well, I can tell you that most likely Villar would continue GMA’s status quo, he doesn’t appear to be able to play by the rules as Sen Pres; much less if he’s the Pres.

    Teodoro might be able to flex more strength considering his brief stint at DND. But what concerns me about Gibo is that he appears to have had a hand in this whole mess in Maguindanao.

    Erap? He’ll make the Philippines an international laughing stock.

  21. drdavisjr

    I JUST WANT A PRESIDENT WHO WILL PUT A BULLET INTO THE HANDS OF MUTINEERS. IS THAT TOO MUCH TO ASK?

    Marcos was like that. Gordon would be like that, too. But Gordon is a cry baby when things don’t go his way.

  22. SoP

    None of these candidates are “man” enough you know what I’m mean? I figure you and me can make better presidents that what’s at the roster.

    If I were president, I would put a bullet into the head of any military men trying to take power. Marcos emboldened the military to be adventurous and powerful.

    We should go back to the 1950s, when the military didn’t concern themselves with power grab as they do know in Pinas and like the military in countries like Thailand and Fiji. A strong president is needed for this. Or at least, one who would be willing to grant them reduced jail sentences in return for giving up funders of military misadventures.

    There was a time in the Philippines when the military knew its place. We need a president who can bring us back to those times. And you’re right, none of these presidential candidates are man enough to tell these military men “Fuck you! Military rule is subordinate to civilian rule, via the office of the presidency!”.

  23. drdavisjr

    I could see Gordon shutting down newspapers if they became to critical of him.

  24. drdavisjr

    Maybe Mr Quezon III here should run. His grandfather was one of those good presidents you speak of.

  25. drdavisjr

    “None of these candidates are “man” enough you know what I’m mean? I figure you and me can make better presidents that what’s at the roster.”

    Unfortunately, on May 10, someone will have to be elected. I think Noy will win if not simply due the “lesser evil” attitude.

  26. SoP

    No offense but Manolo is gay. The military would be up his ass, not pun intended, it he ever became president.

    I don’t mean to offend Manolo. I admire him for this blog and the discipline to which he keeps up with political developments. But if he ever became president, the military would be coup de etat’ing every year.

    Did you every wonder why there were coup de etats in presidencies were the rulers were women (GMA and Cory) and none when the presidents were men (FVR and ERAP)? That’s because the military are sexists fucks who hate taking orders from women.

    Imagine if they were to take order from a gay president.

  27. drdavisjr

    I wasn’t aware that Manolo is gay.

    Anyway, interesting observation. And yes, makes sense.

  28. SoP

    drdavisjr on Sat, 1st May 2010 7:32 pm

    Unfortunately, on May 10, someone will have to be elected. I think Noy will win if not simply due the “lesser evil” attitude.

    .
    .
    .
    True. I don’t mind at all if he wins. Fellow Kapampangan. That’s 3 out of 5 presidents for the last 24 years. Good for Pampanga. I believe he will serve the “bailiwick” like GMA and Cory did.

  29. SoP

    Just out of curiosity, which province are you from drdavisjr?

  30. SoP

    drdavisjr on Sat, 1st May 2010 7:24 pm

    I could see Gordon shutting down newspapers if they became to critical of him.

    .
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    Also, what makes you think this?

  31. SoP

    drdavisjr on Sat, 1st May 2010 7:27 pm

    Maybe Mr Quezon III here should run. His grandfather was one of those good presidents you speak of.

    .
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    For your information, Manolo is adopted. So he inherits NONE of Quezon the 1st’s political genes.

    But I still think he’s a good political pundit, despite.

  32. drdavisjr

    Just out of curiosity, which province are you from drdavisjr?

    Actually I am from Oklahoma in the US. My wife is from QC and we live here in QC.

  33. drdavisjr

    Also, what makes you think this?

    When the surveys were not returning results to his liking, he asked the courts to issue a TRO against the companies.

  34. drdavisjr

    “For your information, Manolo is adopted. So he inherits NONE of Quezon the 1st’s political genes.”

    I didn’t know this either. I read this blog almost daily and catch him on ANC’s The Explainer. He makes sense.

  35. drdavisjr

    Hope the fact that I am an American doesn’t offend you. If not for my retirement benefits in a few years, I would probably apply for Filipino citizenship. I love this country and the Filipino. I only want the best for the Philippines. Maybe that is why I have such strong opinions.

  36. SoP

    Not at all. Americans are alright.

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