Decoding Duterte: D30: Digong the Firebrand

D30 is good copy; animated and burlesque way of speaking is entertaining but do those who observe and those who rely on those who observe fully understand the message the DU30 is sending and its reception of the people? Misunderstanding, miscalculating and being consciously and unconsciously biased to DU30 can lead to a flawed report and analysis. Given there is no post, article and news that is perfectly non-biased, even this one, the more the need to read and watch the actual speech and test all viewpoints against each other and the data.

What made DU30?

DU30 no doubt is a populist leader who won a national election and his victory comes decades after the fall of Marcos and the rise of a political elite who espouse democracy and human rights. So what has happened after 1986? While playing lip service to democracy and human rights what has happened?

(i) Crime has increased: just look at the number of crime segment at the news, although this may have been a factor in the public perception of the state of crime.

(ii) Save for some improvements government service has been on a decline.

(iii) There has also been an increase in the cases or stories of corruption in government in all three branches.

(iv)There has also been an increase in the perception of the lack of empathy and more on spin from all past governments.

These and perhaps other things have made it possible for DU30 to win the national election. Majority of Filipinos after witnessing the performance of past government have shifted their preference to tough and decisive government. And among the presidential candidates DU30’s seemed to have fit the bill.

So far what has DU30 done?

Now that DU30 has become president what has he done to name a few things from memory”

(i) DU30 has signed an FOI executive order paving the way to open government documents to the citizens, something past government vacillated on.
(ii) DU30’s cabinet is a mix of personalities from different sectors of society.
(iii) DU30’s DENR has started to police the mining sector.
(iv) DU30’s Government has started peace talks and negotiations with the MILF, MNLF and the NDF
(v) DU30 has also began to improve the working conditions and salary of government workers.
(vi) DU30 has also began the War against Drugs leading to over half a million surrenders – both users, pushers and people behind the drug cartels – including police generals and members of the political elite.
(vii) DU30 has also intensified the campaign against the ASG.
(viii) And DU30 has started to clean government from appointees of the past administration.
(ix) DU30 greenlighted Ferdinand Marcos burial at Lbingan ng mga Bayani.

All of these has been promised by DU30 during the election. These have generated its share of praise, accusation and criticisms.The aftermath and effect of the Double Barrel Campaign in particular the killings has led to speculations and criticisms of the campaign. Predictably this has had advocates of human rights up in arms. Mix to this the penchant of DU30 to deliver speeches and react in a colourful manner and off-the-cuff ignites the controversy further.

What is DU30’s messaging style?

The Populist President messages like a bombastic radio commentator. whose rambling, rich, colourful, expletive laced and undiplomatic delivery grabs the attention of its listeners, whether to shock, fear and even entertain depending on the listener. Like pugilist he gives no quarter to the target of his criticisms whoever they are. A broadside or riposte is equally delivered with the precision of a rapier and the power of a nuclear bomb. One notices that even the most bombastic remarks are quickly followed by clarification that leaves no doubt about the intent of the message. DU30 is not a blundering communicator actually it is quite canny and effective. Cherry picking his statements for headlines, articles and post without reading the whole speech can lead to a misunderstanding. which may have been intentionally placed. In other words each go his statement is closely followed by a caveat that adds meaning to the message. So his statement about getting out of the UN was quickly followed by an if statement – We would leave if they agree to pay us back all our contributions through the years.

And about DU30’s critics

Looking at DU30’s critics it is far from a homogenous group. First you have those who are the constant critics who keeps an eye on government, any government, and point out what is wrong. Second, you have advocates of human rights worried over what has been happening. Third concerned citizens wary and guarded of DU30. And lastly partisans and paid agents of other political interests and groups. So its a mix of valid and biased criticism and actually the same grouping could be said of those defending DU30.

Decoding DU30

Given these things it is important to look critically at all posts ,news and analysis and more importantly to go to DU30s speeches and statements so as to avoid biased and cherry-picking of statements. And even then critically read through it and base it on the nuance and speech style of DU30. Evaluate DU30 based on others is not a wise practice.

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Ferdinand Edralin Marcos: Act 3,Scene 2

Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears:
I come to bury Caesar, not to praise him
The evil that men lives after them;
The good is oft interred with their bones;
So let it be with Caesar. The noblr Brutus
Hath told you that Caesar was ambitious :
If it were so, it was a grevious fault
And grievously hath Caesar answer’d it.
Here, under the leave of Brutus and the rest —
For Brutus is an honourable man :
So are they all honourable men —
Come I to speak in Caesar’s funeral

Mark Anthony , Julius Caesar by William Shakespeare

So spoke Mark Anthony and what turned out to be one of more famous lines written by the Bard. The speech stirred that at the end the Brutus, Cassius and company: All honourable men fled Rome and would one by one fall to the forces of the Caesarians – Octavian. Lepidus and Mark Anthony. I am reminded of this with the recent and nth debate surrounding the burial of Ferdinand E. Marcos or FM at the Libingan ng Mga Bayani. But lets not tackle the pros and cons of the burial. The past few weeks have seen a flood of emotion on this matter and to be honest the time and opportunity to successfully erase the Marcoses was lost when they were allowed to comeback and regain political power and made political alliances with a number personalities from across the present political spectrum. Instead let us look at the Art and Consequences of Necropolitics practiced through the years.

What to do with the remains of powerful men have often been an interesting penultimate chapter in their lives and rarely one which these powerful men have control over. Julius Caesar was burned on a pyre. Shi Huang Di the first emperor of China was covered in jade and buried within a pyramid : Something similarly doe by the Mayan King Pacal who was covered in a toxic coat of Red Cinnabar a non metallic mineral of mercury and sulphur., also buried within a pyramid ,the Temple of Inscriptions. Herod the Great built a magnificent tomb for himself near his palace. The size, grandeur and action accompanying the burial of these leaders were all to ensure the stability of the state and continued rule of their successors.

In our recent times the successors of Lenin,Stalin, Mao Zedong Ho Chi Minh, the Kims, and Hugo Chavez have nearly perfected the preservation of political leaders: political icons. All of them preserved chemically inside air tight glass containers and from time to time cleaned and fixed.. Now we do not know if preservation was their intent for their final repose when they were alive. Only a few like Queen Victoria was the one who planned her funeral from the floral arrangement to her carved sarcophagi or like General Santa Anna who had a state funeral for his amputated leg when he became President of Mexico. were thorough.

The practice though of necropolitics at its apex could be seen in the case of Argentina’s First Lady Eva Peron whose life was also immortalised in Evita. She was the wife and political partner of General Juan Peron. Both ruled over Argentina and in the process built Peronism and the Cult of Evita. She died of cancer during Peron’s reign . Death did not end Evita’s political career; Peron called Dr. Pedro Ara and gave him the task of preserving Evita’s remain. Using glycerin, wax and other elements, Ara preserved Evita’s body complete – organs and all. Macabrely giving a life-like appearance to the corpse. It was supposed to have been placed inside the base of a gigantic monument statue of Evita herself. Only the base was completed because Juan Peron’s government fell to a military coup, exiling General Peron to Spain and disappearance of Evita – an attempt of the putschists to erase Peronism from Argentina. But they failed. Their government eventually fell to another coup and later their leader was killed by an extremist peronist group. During this time Evita was hidden and moved repeatedly. In certain instances its keepers were spooked to find flowers lain beside their charge. Eventually, Evita travelled from Argentina to Italy and to Spain where General Juan Peron and his wife Isabel Peron were living their life as exiles. The story though was not over, Evita played an important role in the return of the Perons to Argentina and to power; As soon as government was returned to civilian rule the Argentinians voted General Peron as President and his wife Isabel Peron as Vice-President. The body of Evita played an important role in the election as a political relic but Evita was still in exile. Ultimately, it was Isabel, who became president after the General died and it was Isabel who brought Evita home lying side by side with the closed casket of the General. Evita was finally laid to rest after another coup ousted Isabel Peron, Evita was buried inside a vault, inside a bunker, inside a mausoleum and sealed.

this is not the first nor the last time that death has been used for a political interest or causes. You do not even have to have a body, a death would suffice.

Marcos also took the scenic route similar to Evita. For years it has been parked in Ilocos Norte waiting for the time it would be lain to rest at the Libingan ng mga Bayani.

Evita Lament by Andrew Lloyd Webber and Time Rice

But will it truly be laid to rest? The Pharaohs and the Mayan Kings have become cultural artefacts. Herod the Great’s tomb was destroyed by the Jews. The Dowager Empress and her tomb were defiled. Oliver Cromwell’s body was hanged and quartered after the Restoration. Even Sanra Anna’s leg was dragged around Mexico after his fall. Even Evita s body showed signs of beating when they recovered it.

What would befall Marcos if and when he is buried outside Ilocos? During the French Revolution the head of Cardinal Richelieu was severed from his body. Hitler when he learned of what the Italian Communist Guerrillas did to Mussolini’s body – hang with his mistress like a piece of meat left at the mercy of angry crowd decided what would be done with his body. He instructed his staff to burn and threw grenades at it so it would not fall into hands of Stalin and the Russians. However, This did not stop Stalin from getting what remained of Hitler and his belongings. Maybe what Hitler did with his body was best. Although, Stalin’s successors when they denounced him and tried to dismantle his cult, removed his body that lay beside Lenin and buried it elsewhere.

If and when it happens it would be interesting to see how Filipino Society would react. Would someone do something deleterious.Remember though in Rizal’s Noli Me Tangere one of the worst sins of Padre Damaso was causing the expulsion of Ibarra’s father into the river. What would happen?

In the end the remains of leader becomes merely a tool to be used by both supporters and enemies nothing romantic and special about it.

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Suicide Squad is a Suicide Squad Story :)

You enter a comic book store and you pick up a comic book. No, It is not the one on the display rack behind the glass cabinets. It is also not the one with multiple cover editions or any of those gimmicky ones. But it is the one where you go to browsing old and sometimes discounted comic books. This was where I discovered and got a copy of the Suicide Squad.

In the DC comic book universe, they were the expendable team the government sent it to their job. Managed by Amanda Waller these shifting team of villains in prisoners did the government’s bidding in exchange for lowering their jail time or other favours. This was the darker albeit witty side of the DC universe. As expected the attrition rate: mortality rate of the members of the squad was one of those constant things guaranteeing a regular parade of comic book villains to be seen. The characters that were more or less fixtures – or those who did not die – were as far as I remember Flagg, Waller, Deadshot and Captain Boomerang.

It was not a comic book for everyone.

So one can understand my surprise when they decided to make a film adaptation. Well, not really there have been a deluge of comic-book hero stories as of late. So something dark and gritty may work.

The months passed and the long awaited commercial screening was soon to be. The interest generated by the marketing and teasing was over the top and ultimately successful. A day before the regular screening there were a number of negative reviews. Which made one wonder was the whole thing over-hype. Did marketing triumph over substance?

So with a bucket of nachos and a banana-lychee smoothie I went to the cinema and watched the film.

The story of Suicide Squad the film is what you would normally see in Suicide Squad the comic book. It had humour; It had wit; It had ethos; It had catharsis; And it had Jared Leto as the Joker. It was entertaining if you like those kind of stories – like me. Plus it had a good soundtrack. And a sprinkling of the Bat. 🙂

P.S. The film had wit and substance 😉

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