Get real
Philippine Daily Inquirer, 8 October 2016


Last call to empowerment: Dear Readers, tomorrow, Oct. 9, is Barangay Assembly Day. As I mentioned last week, the assembly was designed (but poorly implemented) to be the institutionalization of People Power in the country. Twice a year, in March and October, barangay members starting from the age of 15 assemble to listen to the barangay chair (punong barangay) report on the state of the barangay, and, in October, on the state of next year’s budget. The community, like a constituent assembly, not only listens but can also comment and make judgments on the performance, plans and other matters affecting their barangay.

For lack of knowledge on the part of the barangay members, and lack of interest of the local and national governments, the Barangay Assembly has morphed into a poorly attended cheering squad where the barangay chair makes a speech and refreshments are served.

Let’s put the power in the barangays where it belongs: with us. Start by attending tomorrow’s Barangay Assembly, and exercise the powers given to you by the Constitution and the Local Government Code. It’s not going to be easy. The local government execs are not used to it. But let’s kick ass and do what we should have done from the beginning.

After these preliminaries, we proceed to analyze the similarities between the two men—the main one being “diarrhea of the mouth” and the other being the tendency to “wing it” rather than first doing their homework.  Alone, each attribute is deadly. When they occur together, that’s when the sh*t hits the fan. No wonder the international community is on tenterhooks on the US elections.

And so, apparently, are the Asian Americans, not just the Fil-Ams. Three days ago, the LA Times reported the results of the National American Survey, which showed that Clinton had 55 percent of the voters firmly on her side, and that when the independents who leaned toward her are included, it went up to 70 percent, or 46 percentage points over Trump. Moreover, Asian American voters seem to be spurning the Republican Party as well, in contrast to their usually pro-Republican thrust (Fil-Ams, anyway).

So, given these Digong-Donald similarities (plus a soft spot for Russia, an eye for women, and dissing women), would a Trump presidency have as unfortunate an effect on the United States as the Duterte presidency seems to be having in the Philippines?

The best answer comes from businessman JonJon Rufino, a former student of mine, who was my seat mate in the plane. NO, he said. When asked the basis for his answer, he said: Because America has strong institutions, which will serve as a countervailing force against any presidential excesses. This is not the case in the Philippines.

That answer resonated with me, as it should with you, Reader. Just take a look at our House of Representatives and our Senate. The House minority floor leader was quick to give the highest marks to the President; the leftist groups are now silent or singing his praises; there is effectively no opposition in the House except for Edcel Lagman and Ted Baguilat. The House even allowed the justice secretary to act like a congressman.

Then there is the Senate, which was quick to remove Leila de Lima as justice committee chair, simply because she is a thorn in Mr. Duterte’s side.

One is reminded of tutas with tongues hanging out in their rush to please their master.