The following article was sent to the blog by the media staff of Senator Sonny Trillanes. I reprint it here because, although it is a politically partisan message, it touches on many of the issues we have discussed recently regarding the recent election and the direction of the nation. Those who disagree with the Senator are welcome to express their objection civilly in the discussion section of the blog. J.A.
A Message to the Enlightened Filipinos
Senator Antonio F. Trillanes IV
“Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.” These are the words uttered by Jesus Christ as he faced the angry mob who cursed, jeered and then called for his execution via crucifixion, as though he was the worst criminal alive. Fast forward to the present, where the opposition just got subjected to an electoral bloodbath, not a few members from different anti-Duterte groups understandably, unlike the Divine and the All-Merciful, started cursing and blaming the wholesale carnage on the so-called “bobotantes” or the Filipino masses. They’ve had it. The masses are stupid, they say. But are they, really? I don’t think so.
During the People Power revolution in 1986, it was the same masses that flocked to EDSA that eventually led to the ouster of the Marcoses. The same masses again showed up in 2007 and 2010, through their votes this time, as they resoundingly rejected the corrupt Arroyo administration. In short, the Filipino masses that the enlightened class so easily blame have, historically, delivered time and again. Contrary to the elitist misconception, as far as politics is
concerned, they are as smart, sensitive and patriotic as everyone else. But if so, it begs the question, despite what’s going on in our country, why do they still support Duterte and his allies? Well, the simple answer is, they don’t know what you know and they haven’t seen what you’ve seen. In other words, the Filipino masses are not stupid and blind; they are just not as enlightened as you are.
The Information interplay
In today’s social media age, the enlightened class tends to assume two things: (1) that everybody else is on Facebook or social media; and (2) that the information they see on their newsfeeds are basically the same as what everybody else sees. Well, sad to say, both are inaccurate assumptions.
Based on various statistics, active Facebook or other social media platform users in the Philippines range from 35 to 45 million. But a significant number of these are users below 18 years old and, therefore, are non-voters. So, if we have around 60 million registered voters, it is safe to say that at least half of the voting population are not on social media at all. For those who aren’t on social media, TV is still king. From the evening news to advertisements, to the teleserye, “Ang Probinsyano” (which helped a partylist group win two seats in Congress!), it is very evident that TV still has a strong influence on the general public’s political views. If you watched free TV programs during the last two weeks of the campaign then you’d have an idea of who are going to seriously contend for the top 12 in the Senate race.
Now, with regard to having the same information on newsfeeds, as what we recently learned from the Cambridge Analytica controversy, there are algorithms used by social media platforms to determine the preferences of each individual user. What you “like” is what you’ll see. Since most Filipino users are on social media primarily for socialization purposes, then they are likely oblivious to the political information that the enlightened class is seeing and absorbing. Further compounding this problem of information disparity are the fake news and trolls.
Ultimately, the glue that binds all these information and spreads it to the rest of the populace is the so-called word-of-mouth communication. It is where the interplay of facts, news, fake news, advertisements, urban legends, myths and rumors get chewed on and chewed out.
Duterte the Master Propagandist
Unfortunately for us, Duterte and his allies are well aware of these dynamics too. As a policy, they have constantly distorted information and disrupted the information flow to deceive and manipulate the minds of the general public. Duterte himself, as mayor of Davao City for almost three decades, has mastered this propaganda game as an essential element to his hold on power.
After winning as mayor in the 1987 elections, Duterte unleashed the Davao Death Squad on the depressed communities in Davao City. He justified the killings as a means to purge and purify the city, much like what Pol Pot had in mind. This shock and awe tactic helped create a climate of fear that cowed his political friends and foes, confused the civil society, silenced the church and both terrified and impressed his constituents. Duterte then courted, coopted, coerced, harassed and intimidated the local media into submission. For the few recalcitrant radio broadcasters, who reported on the corrupt activities committed by Duterte, he had them killed. With the media abdicating its role as the city watchdog, it eventually became a propaganda tool to project the image he wanted for himself. Duterte then pervaded such urban legends as riding his Harley at night to patrol the streets of Davao to promote his anti-crime image, or that tale where he allegedly asked a foreign tourist to chew on a cigarette butt to stress his supposed toughness in enforcing policy. (Well, more likely, what the people of Davao saw was, since Duterte was an insomniac, probably, he was just bar-hopping late at night with a girlfriend in tow, along with a retinue of heavily armed bodyguards. As to the poor tourist, probably, he just glanced at Duterte’s girlfriend of the day and Duterte, being jealous and insecure, made him chew on the cigarette to prove his machismo but only after making sure his bodyguards are close by. Possible, right?) Thereafter, having absolute control of the whole information apparatus, Duterte was able to turn the people of Davao City, including early critics and doubters, into believers and fanatics. To help explain how this is possible, just picture Kim Jung Un and the people of North Korea.
The Original Lie
As a prospective candidate for President, despite vehement denials early on, Duterte had his PR handlers design and surreptitiously launch in early 2015, a social media-based propaganda campaign to subtly promote him. Do you recall the online article, which reported that Davao City is the 4th safest city in the world? That online article was based solely on an online survey for those who visited the website and not on any extensive academic research by reputable institutions. But it came out at a time when people still believed everything that came out of the internet. So, when Duterte’s PR handlers fed this article to the mainstream media, it was naively swallowed as factual. Just a cursory check would’ve shown that Davao City isn’t even on the list of the top 1000 safest cities in the world. In fact, according to official statistics in December 2015, Davao City recorded the most murders and 2nd most rapes of all the cities in the country, making it actually the most dangerous city to live in. Great spin, right? Sadly, the media was complicit and didn’t even fact check it. Moreover, an army of fanatics from Davao andMindanao were quickly all over social media validating and affirming it with their own testimonials. With this, fake news in the Philippines was born.
To their credit, this original lie was very effective as propaganda that it was deeply embedded in the voter psyche all throughout the campaign in 2016. This myth was never busted. Hence, it became the refuge of the Duterte apologists back then whenever he would commit a blunder. They would simply say, “okay lang na bastos at palamura, basta gagawin nyang safest country ang Pilipinas the way na ginawa nya sa Davao.” No matter how simplistic that sounds now but it worked then.
The Totalitarian Project
As a newly elected President, Duterte applied the Davao City template to the letter. He shocked and awed with his war on drugs speeches and the more than 30,000 EJKs that followed. This, plus the detention of Sen. Leila De lima on purely fabricated charges, created a climate of fear that cowed both his political allies and foes, intimidated the courts, confused the civil society, silenced the church and both terrified and impressed the general public. They could end up in the constantly-updated narcolist, Duterte warned. As in Davao, he then courted, coopted, coerced, harassed and intimidated the national media into submission. The “recalcitrant” few like Rappler, Vera Files and PCIJ, are continuously harassed and would end up in moronic oust-Duterte matrices. The multiple cases filed against Rappler publisher, Maria Ressa, were done in case some other independent journalists missed the point.
Again, as in Davao, with the major media outfits abdicating their role as society’s watchdog, Duterte effectively transformed them into his own propaganda machine. He had them at his fingertips. Whenever he needs to inculcate an idea, float a proposal, deflect an issue, or simply just to entertain and connect with the general public, he simply calls for a press conference then rambles away. None of the mainstream media outfits would dare report anything negative about those speeches or anything negative about Duterte, period. As confided by some reporters and editors, the basic rule in news rooms right now is, absolutely, no negative news for Duterte, Bong Go and the administration in general. Otherwise, the fearful or coopted media owners and editors would block them.
All the while that this is happening in mainstream media, the Duterte social media machine was in full swing too, with paid influencers or trolls utilized as peddlers of propaganda, myths, anecdotes and fake news to expand and solidify their netizen base and trigger word-of- mouth circulation.
With the propaganda apparatus operating as designed, the totalitarian project is about to be taken to the next step. But then the 2019 elections happened and, now, things will change. In fact, it already did.
The 2019 Election silver lining
Believe it or not, despite the undeniably wholesale defeat of the opposition at the polls, there were so many positive takeaways that we, the enlightened Filipinos, can build on moving forward.
First, the Duterte cult image and following have been shattered. In the aftermath of the 2016 elections, the euphoria, optimism and conviction of the Duterte voters were so contagious, that almost all the Roxas, Poe and Binay voters were instantly converted. They hoped that Duterte, the so-called architect behind the “safest city in the world,” would indeed deliver on his promises. He is the One, his diehards claim. Well, that illusion is over now and it wasn’t even fun while it lasted. Regardless what the faux surveys say about his approval rating, the way Filipinos regarded him in June 2016, is much different than the way they regard him now.
While the spin masters and the uninitiated would claim that the election results reflected the dominance of the Duterte brand, most of the winners in the Senate race are already established names in politics, who would’ve won regardless of who is the sitting President they’re allied with. Also, Tolentino was the 13th placer in the 2016 race, so he is not really considered a newcomer. Therefore, only Bong Go and Bato Dela Rosa can be considered Duterte creations and alter egos. Other candidates that he or daughter Sara personally endorsed for the Senate, like Dong Mangudadatu, Jinggoy Estrada, Jiggy Manicad, Freddie Aguilar and Raffy Alunan, lost badly too. Even close ally and incumbent Senator JV Ejercito is in danger of losing his seat.
As to Bong Go, think about it, after pouring billions of pesos before and during the campaign; pressuring the LGUs to deliver their command votes; getting endorsements from major religious groups; and being personally campaigned for by a supposedly extremely popular incumbent president; he was only able to muster at most 44% of the vote.
Hypothetically, if the LGUs were neutral instead of delivering the command vote for the admin candidates, Bam Aquino would’ve easily ended up being in the top 6 and Mar Roxas in the top 12. Or, if you give the lesser known opposition candidates just a hundred million pesos each for their TV ads, they would’ve made it, too. Consider this, Gary Alejano, the Magdalo candidate, who was a relatively unknown name in national politics prior to the campaign, spent approximately three million pesos in TV ads and yet he garnered more than 4.5 million votes.
In sum, there was no Duterte factor in this elections, only the usual money politics in full display, plus the expected political pressure on the LGUs.
Second, the enlightened Filipinos are not afraid anymore. The initial impact of the shock and awe strategy has been shaken off. Individuals, civil society groups and sectors, including most elements of the Catholic Church, have openly and actively campaigned for the opposition not only because they believe it is patriotic but also because they believe it is the moral thing to do. For most, it is now the quintessential battle of Good vs. Evil.
Third, social media is not dominated by Duterte diehards anymore. Gone are the days when a netizen, who would dare criticize Duterte, would be swarmed, bullied and threatened by his blind followers. Of course, the paid trolls and diehard supporters are still roaming the public pages, but the regular netizens who were just carried away by the Duterte bandwagon early on, have either switched sides or have kept silent. As one former Duterte netizen aptly said:
“Nakakahiya at nakakapagod na kasi talaga sya depensahan.”
Fourth, regardless of the final outcome, Sen. Bam Aquino still garnered more than 14 million votes. That is still quite an impressive number considering the circumstances. More importantly, it could be a base that the opposition could build on for the political battles ahead.
The Way Forward
At this point, the enlightened Filipinos would ask, what do we do next?
First, we lick our wounds then stand up as soon as we can, in order to prepare for the next political round. There is no benefit or wisdom to gain from sulking and blaming. The situation is still precarious. Don’t assume for a second that Duterte and his minions are satisfied with the fame, money and power they have. No, they want more and, if possible, they want all. So, we have to remain vigilant. The threat of a nationwide Martial law/RevGov is always there. Then there are the likely moves for Cha-cha/Federalism; the continuing impunity and EJKs; the creeping invasion in the West Philippine Sea; the corruption of the Davao group, etc.
Second, we must unite and consolidate the opposition under Vice President Leni Robredo. She is not only a charismatic, intelligent, strong and very capable leader, but also the polar opposite of the immoral and amoral Duterte.
We must also build on and be inspired by the positives of the last elections as enumerated above. We are not alone anymore. The ranks of the enlightened have grown so much bigger. It is also quite significant that the polls showed that, generally, the middle class has already turned its back on Duterte. It could now become the backbone of the enlightened movement.
Third, we must continue to shatter the Duterte myth by spreading the truth. Social media is not Duterte’s playground anymore. Call out your Facebook friends for posting or sharing fake news. Inform, educate and enlighten your family, friends, co-workers, neighbors and everyone else who would care to listen. For reasons stated above, we should not continue to expect the mainstream media to be society’s watchdog anymore. It is on us now.
Fighting a tyrant is, without a doubt, a formidable task. No one ever said that it would be easy. But, unfortunately, we don’t have a choice. Watching from the sidelines as Duterte destroys our country, is not an option. Besides, right now, we have the motivation, the momentum, the time and, most importantly, we have the truth on our side. There’s one caveat, though. In our fight with the monster, we should not become monsters ourselves. Therefore, we should always take the high road and never be tempted to be like them. In doing so, all the killings and impunity, the oppression and persecution, the corruption and incompetence, the incivility and indecency, the deception and lies will stop with Duterte. This is the only way for us to redeem our national soul in 2022.
Those song lyrics were penned by rocker Bob Seeger in 1981. He was talking about a girl, but it perfectly characterizes my relationship with the Philippines. When I started engaging in on-line conversations a decade ago, I was inspired to know about this friendly, undisciplined, small-town nation. Now I know too much, having been bludgeoned between the eyeballs by the most ridiculous election in the history of free choice. When those people who intoxicated me with their warmth and humor years ago decided they like murderers and plunderers leading their nation, I knew that I know too much.
Take me back to innocence when girls were pure and I was naive, when baseball was a cause and economics was for someone else. Today I’m looking at my girl and her teeth fell out. Worms crawled from her hair and her breath was like kerosene (c Willie Nelson).
I started the blog for education, entertainment, vanity, and writing practice. It took me everywhere, up mountains to build dams, into the sea to examine an American ship stuck on a reef, and right into the Senate chambers to watch the amazing performance of self-involved people pretending great national ardor. Poe on Mamasapano. Cayetano, Pimentel, and Trillanes investigating Binay. Poe again waxing about the research capability of a fake news artist. Gordon working hard to end a drug inquiry and a good senator’s career.
I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.
The Philippines is really messed up. The principles are those of mobsters and self-dealers, not humanists and ardent advocates of fairness and opportunity. It is not just Duterte. It is a Supreme Court that refused to stand for law and justice. It is a House of Scoundrels, not representatives. It is a whole raft of mayors and governors who enjoy stepping on others to get to the gold. Friendliness is genuine when nothing is needed, and a fraud when you are useful in some way. The good are the few, the brave are the fewer, the persecuted are the bravest. They carry our burdens and we watch TV.
I have no idea where this blog is headed. Readership is down, contributors are discouraged, I am often uninspired. I miss Josephivo’s depth of thinking and dislike Chemrock’s harsh and bitter assessment of things.
I wish I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then.
The Philippines corrupts the good. Turns them into wild-eyed zombies like Teddy Locsin and drooling public servants, licking their chops for the lucre, right there, by the millions. For the taking.
Killers. Robbers. Blackmailers. Trolls of no conscience and even less brain.
Probably I will hang around for a while, dropping expectations, enjoying the insights people offer up, if they do. Poking a stick in people’s eye now and then.
Oh, snarky is how I feel most days, observing the goings on of government.
It is a struggle to find wholesome these days, to not issue curses and obscene gestures at the television.
I don’t like being a dark and bitter soul.
But it is surely difficult to find light and cheerful when surrounded by corruption, incompetence, self-dealing, and thuggery. Even my neighbor is a thug.
If I am vacant from the blog for any time, you can be assured that I am off seeking wholesomeness, for me, for my family, and I’d give you some, too, if I found an excess and a way. If you are not here, I will imagine you are off on a similar quest.
Most people who are pro-democracy, pro-human rights, and pro-Philippine civility and competence rightfully reacted with a shudder or a scream or a wail about the results of the 2019 election, especially the senators who were voted in. People of no known law-writing competence – known killers and plunderers – now sit in the high chamber.
I’d argue that we need to get past it. The easiest trap to fall into is the one where fingers are being pointed every which way, where blames and excuses are used to apply salve to our wounded feelings.
How much better to simply figure out how to win next time.
. . . and in between be more outspoken in favor of democracy, human rights, civility, and competence.
“But Joe, we suspect election cheating! You want us to forget about it?”
Not at all. Investigate it thoroughly. Get the facts. Then act. Don’t wail on the basis of suspicions or anecdotes. Don’t guess. Don’t malign the innocent. Get the facts.
In corporate planning, every cycle starts with an assessment of the environment and an assessment of recent performance. That can be done for elections, as well. Let me short-form an example:
The pressure against democracy, human rights, civility, and competence has increased. There is a virtual stone wall being built around the standing government to defend against advocates of these worthy causes. But there are still gaps in the defenses. Independent 2022 candidates like Senator Poe must carve out a clear position for themselves. The Senate is more independent (self-interested) than loyal to President Duterte. There are a lot of people of conscience in the courts, media, legal professions, and general public. They represent a truth, a strength, if properly inspired.
Assessment of recent performance
The opposition candidates failed to get elected. They were out-funded, out-cheated (Bong Go’s shenanigans), and out marketed. Government voices and money were used to advocate for specific candidates, a gross violation of the ethical rule that government serves all the people, not just the favorites among them.
Here are four of the electioneering weaknesses I observed among the opposition during my self-imposed removal from the election process (it is rightfully an engagement only for citizens):
The opposition struggled to define a policy statement that would unify liberals and the hard left. There were contentious matters of who would run and who would not, and who would lead and who would not. The campaign started late and without focus, unity, or sizzle.
Key players refused to be loud. Former President Aquino remained the monk. Vice President Robredo remained dignified and calm whilst being battered by the government’s propaganda arm. Business leaders shirked any limelight. Government set out to recruit entertainers for their ability to speak to the masses; the opposition did not.
Funding was weak. I don’t know if large-scale donations were sought or not. There was no mass “crowd-funding” effort that I’m aware of. The slow start morphed into the election period, and no one seemed ready. Broke from the getgo.
The eight key opposition candidates worked diligently attending local events. But they were together too much. They were not deployed as troops, Samira Gutoc to Muslim Mindanao to push all eight candidates there, Gary Alejano to military areas, and other candidates to areas of strength or high voter concentrations. They traveled in a pack. Mar Roxas spent crucial election time in the US with his family. Their feet did not greet enough people.
I don’t recite these matters as excuses or blames. I recite them as a step toward accountability, education, and improvement next time.
Perhaps you also have observations to add. You can freely do so in the discussion section of the blog that follows this article.
In the meantime
The next election is three years away. The time in between is crucial as well. Federalism. Death penalty. Drug war. Corruption. Propaganda. China and sovereignty. The economy. These issues all require a voice of reason and advocacy favoring democracy, human rights, civility, and competence.
I noodled with a blog about pro-democracy advocates setting up a non-partisan “Peoples’ Government” to shadow and comment on issues being pushed through the captured government . . . rather a government outside of government to keep the peoples’ interests up front . . . but thought it seemed presumptuous coming from a foreigner. I imagined it not to be an opposition, as it would speak FOR government efforts deemed beneficial. But it would seek to prevent the railroading of bad ideas through a captured legislature (federalism, for instance).
And, of course, efforts for 2022 can begin now. The platform that would unify liberals and hard left. Leadership. Funding. Entertainers. Business people. At some point, candidate endorsements, based on what individual aspirants do between now and then to establish their promise.
There is a lot of thinking to be done. And organizing.
Intellect vs emotion
My recommendation . . .
Don’t kick the dog.
If leaving the Philippines is a choice, do it without labeling those who stay, adding to their burdens. If it is to stay, don’t boast about your patriotism and put others down. They are not you. If it is to join the effort to promote a democratic state attuned to modern values of human rights, civility, and competence . . . start work now.
Lose the angst. Learn the lessons. Work earnestly.
Every time I discuss politics with supporters of the current Philippine government (let’s just call them DDS) and I would bring up the issue of the money stolen by Ferdinand Marcos during his reign, people would angrily ask: “where is the evidence?” It is curious that such people would take any word spoken by Duterte and his folks at face value, while arguments against him would need to be substantiated by “believable facts”, whatever that means… Anyway, the wealth stolen by the Marcos family continues to haunt Philippine politics and society. And especially now, in the run-up to the 2019 elections, the money spent by the Marcos machinery is of high relevancy. One just has to look at the Instagram account of Bongbong Marcos’ chief troll to see how well one can live off it. All of this while accusing the “dilawans” of hypocrisy. Sometimes I can hardly stand the irony of that.
After Marcos was ousted, the subsequent Aquino administration looked into the matter as soon as possible and tried to rectify the situation by creating the Presidential Commission on Good Government (PCGG). The PCGG uncovered a lot of activities by the Marcos family, however, its findings and reports were and still are oftentimes disputed by Marcos loyalists and DDS. But there is another source of information that is independent from Philippine politics: Switzerland, the well-know piggy bank of the Marcoses and other dynastic dictatorships around the world. Even if you do not trust the Cory Aquino administration and suspect it of “smearing” the Marcos family, you should be able to accept the Swiss government as a neutral information source. After all, Swiss people would not really care about whether the Philippines is governed by a politician named Marcos or Aquino. That is why I looked into Swiss governmental documents, newspaper articles and blog entries concerned with the matter.
The Swiss handling of Marcos’ assets
Between the mid-1990s and 2013, Switzerland had transferred back 1.7 billion swiss franks (about 1.66 US Dollar at current exchange rate) to countries such as the Philippines (Ferdinand Marcos), Peru (Vladimiro Montesinos) and Nigeria (Sani Abacha). The World Bank estimates that in the same time period, there were about four to five billion USD of refunded assets worldwide.
Switzerland was first confronted with the problem of dictator money after the ouster of Ferdinand Marcos. The handling of the case served as the blueprint for all following legislation concerning “asset recovery” from Swiss banks to predominantly developing countries in the global south. When Marcos was ousted in 1986, the Swiss government, out of a concern about reputation damage, reacted within hours to freeze all known assets of the Marcos regime in Swiss financial intermediaries. After long penal proceedings (in total 60 different rulings from the Swiss Federal Court), 685 million USD of those frozen assets were finally refunded to the Philippines.
These numbers already indicate what big of a deal the Marcos fortune was for Switzerland: more than 40% of all the refunded dictatorship assets came from the Philippines, while Switzerland itself was a big player in this world wide effort to recover plundered dictatorship money. Only the case of Sani and Abba Abacha from Nigeria was of a similar dimension. All this money on the other hand, concerns only the known assets of the Marcos family and it is clear that there are still countless bank accounts, foundations, businesses and real estates out there, which still are controlled and owned by the Marcoses in disguise. One should remember the criminal energy they exhibited when trying to hide their stolen fortune from the Filipino people. Award No. 123 II 595 by the Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland lists all the assets of the following foundations and corporations, which were identified as owned by the Marcoses:
As managed by the Swiss Bank Corporation (predecessor of UBS) in Geneva:
Maler 1 Foundation
Maler 2 Foundation
As managed by the Swiss Bank Corporation in Fribourg:
As managed by the Swiss Credit Institution (predecessor of Credit Suisse) in Zurich:
It is characteristic that the Marcoses did not only “diversify” their assets in different banks, but also in different financial entities and even geographically across different cities in Switzerland. From there, Swiss and Liechtensteinian bankers invested these “foundation” assets across the world: from Australian Deutsche Mark bonds, to shares in Swiss stock market titles such as Ciba-Geigy or Philips, to American titles from Atlantic Richfield or American Natural Gas traded on Wall Street, to commodity titles in Sydney and industrial titles in Tokyo. Not to mention the real estates in New York.
In a brochure by the Swiss Department of Foreign Affairs titled “No Dirty Money”, the hours of the decision to freeze the Marcos assets are described as follows:
On the evening of 24 March 1986, the Swiss government was meeting with the president of Finland, in Bern on a state visit. Just as the hosts and guests were toasting the excellent relations between their two countries, a senior official pulled the Swiss foreign minister discreetly aside. A Swiss bank had just called him, the senior official reported. Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos had deposited more than USD 200 million there. One hour earlier a representative of the couple had ordered the funds transferred abroad immediately. The bank could not refuse — unless the transaction was prohibited on the spot. There was no time to waste. In the midst of the state visit, the foreign minister unobtrusively passed the information on to his six fellow federal councilors in a corner of the room. And the Swiss government took a far-reaching decision: it ordered a freeze on all of Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos’ assets to thwart their withdrawal and lay the foundations for a criminal investigation into the source of the funds. It based its action on the Federal Constitution, which authorizes the government to take the necessary decisions in “safeguarding the interests of the country”. It was a historic decision. Just a few years earlier the Swiss government had refused to freeze the assets of the deposed Shah of Iran.
After this first reaction, the Swiss Federal Council urged the government of Cory Aquino to issue an official mutual judicial assistance procedure. On this matter, the Aquino government hired three prominent Swiss lawyers. One of them, Moritz Leuenberger, would later become member of the Swiss Federal Council, the collective head of state of the Swiss Confederation.
Bongbong’s plausible deniability problem
Plausible deniability is the ability of people (typically senior officials in a formal or informal chain of command) to deny knowledge of or responsibility for any damnable actions committed by others in an organizational hierarchy because of a lack of evidence that can confirm their participation, even if they were personally involved in or at least willfully ignorant of the actions (from Wikipedia). A Google search for “Bongbong Marcos denies” leads to about 650’000 search results while googling for “Bongbong Marcos acknowledges” turns out about 290’000 results. This simple number-comparison is indicative of a larger phenomenon in Filipino politics: the Marcoses are very strong in denying, not so strong in acknowledging.
There is a piece by Marites Vitug (What Bongbong Marcos knew of Swiss deposits) which, based on the accounts of banker Michael de Guzman, describes nicely the Marcoses activities in Switzerland and how it is certain that Bongbong was aware of what he did back then. I won’t regurgitate what she wrote and it is well worth the time to read her article. Credit Suisse’s Ernst Scheller, Bongbong’s main Swiss banking contact and guy who probably informed the Swiss authorities about the Marcoses intention to withdraw their assets in 1986, appears to have deceased last year. Which illustrates the fact that, regardless of the political will from the side of the Philippine government, it becomes increasingly difficult to recover more from Marcos’ plundered money. Which also leads me to the last point:
What one can do
What can the political opposition in the Philippines do? What can members of The Society of Honor do?
The Marcos heirs cannot plausibly deny the knowledge of their father’s plundering of their country. They should be continuously called out on it and put in situations where they have to explain themselves. Do not let yourselves be bedazzled by Bongbong’s fancy hairdo and calm smile; he is the son of a thief of global proportions and thrived on it. The same is true for Bongbong’s mother and sisters.
Be aware of the immense wealth still owned by Marcos family. The assets stolen from the Filipino people are far from completely recovered, and considering the current political situation, there won’t be any real efforts to do that any time soon. To the contrary, efforts to swing the political discourse away from Marcoses’ crimes will continue, as their pockets are almost bottomless.
Keep the conversation about the Marcoses’ plundering going: the incredible amounts of assets stolen from the Filipino people are obviously lacking now. Imagine what one could do if these assets were recovered completely and used in a responsible manner. Even in the current situation: it still may be permitted to dream!
Spokesman Panelo presents matrix 2. [Photo from Inquirer]
Two “collusion” matrices recently prepared by the Duterte government generated a lot of incredulous disbelief and amusement across the educated nation. The idea of a grand scheme to oust Duterte, a conspiracy of journalists, lawyers, Liberal Party principals, and opposition senators, simply did not make sense. The journalists are writers, not political players. The lawyers are busy filing cases. The Liberal Party is irrelevant these days. And opposition senators are busy campaigning, not hatching dastardly plots.
That was the common reaction to the cut and paste accusations of plotting and sedition. Just about every notable critic of the Duterte government was pasted into the diagram with a line drawn to connect that person to another, as if lines and pictures were the sedition itself. Bizarre. In one case, the sedition was found in a tweet tag, Atty Lacierda to Candidate Alejano regarding Duterte archrival Trillanes.
From such triviality, great threats were concocted.
One is inclined to wonder if, to this government, independent thinking is a threat.
It amused me so much I started wondering how such an amateurish production could take place, one that actually seems to have displayed the Duterte government as desperate, deceiving, and comical. The main clown was Spokesperson Panelo who had to present the diagrams as if a second grader speaking to first graders, the journalists.
Here are some interesting background facts. China donated P15 million worth of computer gear to help the Duterte government’s communication group (PCOO), which they call Presidential communication and we cynics see as the propaganda department. The PCOO has sent its children to China to learn the ways of Chinese communications. And President Duterte said the first matrix was put together with the help of foreign sources.
Okay, so what we have here is an odd conjunction of four forces of incompetence:
China’s simplistic, somewhat racist view, that Filipinos are idiots, and gullible ones at that.
The PCOO’s rote following of instructions, absent of any elegance or understanding of how it would be received, pasting together a fancy chart on the new presentation gear.
The President’s “hands off” management approach which allowed the farce to bear fruit.
Panelo’s “what me worry” clown show.
The output was a product that is bringing heaps of ridicule down on the Duterte government, and a recognition that there is a danger in this recklessness . . . that a tweet can be seen as seditious.
I don’t think the matrices have chilled criticism.
They’ve hyped it, raised the level of intensity and objection.
The chemistry is fascinating, is it not? China’s naive racism and detachment from the way the Philippines actually works, minions pounding out charts, a President going where minions take him, and a clown leading the orchestra of journalists, many of whom know the ‘seditious’ people listed in the chart.
They know there is no sedition. There is only reporting . . . and paranoia.
There is also a clear awareness that this is a ridiculous, reckless way to run a government.
Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi visits the Philippines and lords it over his subjects. [Photo source: GMA News]
It’s the dawning of a new day in the Philippines. The sun rises from the west, which may confuse a lot of people, so let me do my best to clarify the new China Rules, which is the way things work when a nation agrees to be subordinate to China.
First of all, democracy dies and the freedoms and rights that go along with it. Second, people are placed somewhere along a hierarchy of authority, one above the other. Equality no longer exists. Christian moral values no longer apply.
Those nations falling within the Chinese sphere of influence must operate differently. There is no alternative. It is required.
The Philippines is a nation that WANTS to be aligned with China. Go figure. It’s as if independence were the shits and freedom and equality were too much trouble. Filipinos, most of whom have no idea what is happening to their nation or future, follow their leadership obediently. One is reminded of sheep going to slaughter.
Those of us who can grasp the new rules will have a head start on things. So let’s get an edge up on other people. After all, that’s the way things work now.
Rule 1: Loyalty is required and criticism is illegal
Free speech exists as long as it follows “official think”, which you can recognize by considering the way Administration trolls work. They are given talking points by the President, his staff, or his propaganda team. The trolls and agents of government pump out manipulations across the land by managing mainstream media and infesting social media. Truth is irrelevant. Reason does not count for anything. Compassion is not in the vocabulary. What matters is your effectiveness at promoting the government’s ideas and agenda. Style counts. Arrogance is in. Logic is out. You can adapt to the new rules by becoming skilled at lying and pushing mindlessly unproductive programs as if they were genius. It might take some practice, but you’ll either get the hang of it or be jailed or killed. No worries.
Rule 2: The President is above the Constitution and we all find our place in the stacking order beneath him
The President is near godly in stature. His word is the law and the Constitution and its subordinate laws are just tools to be used or ignored, depending on the goal. This rule is easy to apply. Offer praise of the President and his initiatives at all times. Explain to the ignorant how genius the President’s random babblings, lewd jokes, and cursings are. Just pretend that he’s like Jesus, speaking in parables. It is not up to him to explain. It is up to us to reconfigure his thoughts into scripture and lessons and inspiration. And loyalty.
Rule 3: The Chinese President is above the Filipino President; so is the Ambassador to the Philippines
Did I mention stacking order? Look, these are China Rules and the Chinese are on top. Frankly, not only is the Ambassador above the President, but any full-blooded mainlander is of higher standing than any banana-peddling Filipino laborer, general, President, ambassador, or even senator. Get used to it. Xi is a god, for sure, and we should feel blessed to earn his scorn. He’s kind of like the Old Testament God and we are Job. But don’t worry, you can read English so you are higher in the pecking order than most Filipinos and if you are a lawyer who can use your skills to promote the alliance and its agenda, no matter what the laws say, you are above most of the rest. Panelo, Calida . . . they are your idols. The Lumads, I am sorry to report, are rather like the giant clams of the Philippines, down at the bottom and expendable.
Rule 4: Breaking the law is encouraged if you can rat out whistleblowers or steal secrets from America
A good way to rise in the stacking order is to step on other people. Rat out a drug user or video maker, draw up a nasty matrix, shoot a bishop, or otherwise help authorities clamp down tightly on trouble-makers. You can even get rewards if you increase the riches of others above you or take out a particularly troublesome critic. If it is a woman, you have a right to rape her first. Also, bear in mind that China places winning over rules. If you can steal trade secrets or pirate protected intellectual wares, you can definitely find favor among the gods. This will take some time to get used to if you have a conscience. Start small by ratting out a neighbor, then move up from there. Take pride in your ability to be cruel.
Now, I’m sure there are other rules, but those are the big ones. They’ll get you started right. I know that it is difficult if you are used to the idea of being a free individual not owned by others, and if you are kind. But that is not the future of the Philippines. In the future, you will be owned. You will be tracked and measured on your contribution to the Philippines and China.
Philippines as “Catholic China”. From “Yanko Tsvetkov’s Atlas of Prejudice”
The United States was founded on the best principles from very bright minds who imagined a nation of citizens who could find personal enrichment and self-satisfaction by charting their own destiny. It worked fairly well for about 250 years, the energy of the nation’s young idealism fueling deep patriotic sacrifice and empowering a giant of productive energy, output, and enrichment.
This path was not easy. It was filled with wars and misadventures, political argument, social upheaval, and ever-changing national direction. Every election, four or eight years apart, brought new reactions, re-directions, and new policies.
Recently, political divisions have deepened. Politics has become a bitter arena, each side believing it represents the true America. Some of this was inspired by foreign agents. But much of it is simply blind, greedy ambition eroding the high-minded values of the founding fathers.
Furthermore, America’s enrichment has generated huge piles of wealth concentrated among a very few people and corporations who have no shyness about using that wealth to gain advantage for themselves, and to hell with the nation’s well-being. America’s failure to lead the world to safety from global warming is an example of the failures brought about by these two recent developments: (1) intense political division, and (2) outright greed among the wealthiest Americans.
A strong, independent Philippines was a front-burner policy objective for the US from the early 1900’s through World War II, and during the communist threat that emerged from that war. But since then, the Philippines seems to have become lost as an American ’cause’ for democracy in Asia. The US was asked to leave its Philippine bases in 1991 and American policy has been pretty much “hands off” since then. Other than generous aid for disasters and self-interested support of the Philippine anti-terrorism effort, it is hard to discern that the US believes the Philippines is any way important to its national interests.
Oh, the US diplomats and admirals and even presidents talk about America’s “ironclad” commitment to Philippine defense expressed in the Mutual Defense Treaty. But the US Navy’s patrolling of the West Philippine and South China Seas is expressed as “freedom of navigation”, not defense of Philippine sovereignty. I don’t know what military defense is supposed to defend if it is not sovereignty. It is said that the US was a party to the loss of Scarborough Shoal to China during the Aquino years.
The US believes that unless guns are fired, there is no need for defense?
That is the beauty of the Chinese cabbage strategy. China pushes forward always one step short of shooting. The US is as inutile as a baby in the corner sucking a pacifier.
So it looks today that as of May 13, 2019, the Philippines will be gifted to China, lock, stock, and Senate. Imagine, both legislative bodies aligned with pro-China interests. Imagine Americans asked to leave Philippine bases once again, and China invited to set up bases, first in Palawan, then Subic, then Clark.
Oh, I argue now and then that the Philippines is responsible for Philippine interests. That’s true. But when did loss of the Philippines to dynastic thugs working with China NOT become an American interest?
It is the strangest sight to see this rumored imperialistic giant sitting on its military ass while losing a benchmark democracy in Asia to the communist imperialistic giant.
Sailing ships through international waters is a defense strategy? It’s like a basketball star thumping his chest whilst not being able to put the ball through the hoop.
As an American, I can’t comprehend the idea that Philippine independence and sovereignty is not in America’s best interest.
As a Philippine resident, I scratch my head as I enroll my son in Mandarin classes so that he can compete for a job in the Philippines.
Is America so screwed up domestically that she has lost her policy assertiveness, and lost sight of the point that defense is not something that is done only when guns are shooting?
Defending sovereignty is a full court, full time job.
The past is dead. Those good old Western-inspired ideals featuring freedom and fairness, truth, compassion and honor have been supplanted by Chinese-inspired ideals featuring control and favor, lies, brutality and utility. This is not speculation. This is the real world in the Philippines, today.
Press freedom? Dead. Freedom of speech? Dead. Fairness under rules of law and ethics? Dead. Democratic institutions representing and protecting the people? Dead. Inclusion and protection of the poor and disadvantaged? Dead. Equality of races and genders? Dead. Freedom of religion? Dead. Civility? Dead.
It is a done deal because people accept these new values. You can’t have freedom with no demand for it. You can’t have truth when people like gossip. You can’t have equality when the only recognized social currency is power.
Alignment with China has pushed the nation quickly away from democracy and the view that the people are in charge to the authoritarian state and the view that the people are subjects to be used, managed, and even disposed of by people at the top of the tower of power.
You can’t be part way along the continuum toward the new values because once you cross the line, you are committed to them as values, as standards, as the way we agree to live.
The Philippine Constitution? Dead.
The Philippines cannot BE exactly like China because Filipinos do not possess that important attribute of believing they deserve to be the center of the world, and the nation lacks the power to impose its will. There can be only one center, and it is China. All other nations are stacked beneath China’s authority. They are there to be developed for China’s well-being.
The belt and road is actually a ball and chain. And in the hierarchy of authority, Filipinos will forever be maids and banana sellers. Except for the powerful and rich who have some importance to China because they can keep the lies churning out in local languages and run the authoritarian policing institutions that arrest, jail, or kill the disruptors. They are basically work shop managers, these important people like Duterte, Pimentel, Sotto, Arroyo, Andaya, Poe, Gordon, Calida, Panelo, Locsin, Loenzana, Bato, Go, Ejercito, and Angara. They manage the programs, the propaganda, and the labor to be deployed to China’s best advantage.
Look around. Merely fit what you see like jigsaw puzzle pieces into the controlling model of authoritarianism described clearly in these excerpts from a Freedom House report done way back in 2013:
The CCP maintains direct control over news media coverage through its Central Propaganda Department (CPD) and corresponding branches at lower administrative levels that determine the boundaries of permissible reporting. A number of additional government agencies are involved in overall regulation of the media sector. Routinely forbidden topics include calls for greater autonomy in Tibet and Xinjiang, relations with Taiwan, the persecution and activism of the Falun Gong spiritual group, the writings of prominent dissidents, and unfavorable coverage of CCP leaders.
Journalists who attempt to investigate or report on controversial issues, question CCP rule, or present a perspective that conflicts with state propaganda directives face harassment, dismissal, and abuse.
Members of religious and ethnic minorities are subject to particularly harsh treatment for their online activities, writings, or efforts to disseminate information that departs from the CCP line.
My friends, this is our new world, too. It’s as clear as a hastily drawn up matrix. And it won’t change. It is drawn by need from the poor masses, promoted by people who gain enrichment by doing China’s bidding, and imposed by China and her immense need to dominate.
The Philippines will this year start to roll out a national identification system (Philsys) targeting about 26 million enrollees by the end of next year. Manila will soon have a widespread video network watching and tracking citizens. It is a part of the Build Build Build infrastructure program. The State’s propaganda program is already powerful and well-funded. China is the architect for these capabilities. Huawei, a Chinese telecom provider, funded in part by Chinese security agencies and operating under a government mandate to spy for China, is deeply involved in Philippine telecom networks. Huawei’s phones and modems are everywhere.
Government’s authoritarian methods are right in plain sight. Jailing of a senator, dismissal of a troublesome Chief Justice, lists drawn up with help from “foreign” sources, harassment of journalists, the absurd “matrix” alleging collusion among journalists where there is none, abandonment of Marawi, development of Boracay for Chinese interests, jobs given to Chinese construction workers rather than Filipino, massive propaganda efforts to seat Bong Go in the Senate, killing of poor drug users with no due process or case work-ups, weaponized justice cases (Trillanes, Ressa), and capitulation by the Philippines to China’s theft of Philippine seas and foods.
Look at it simply.
You are no longer free.
And the walls are closing in.
It would take a national commitment to retain independence in the face of China’s enormous influence and will to dominate. That commitment does not exist in the Philippines. Not from the people. Not from leaders. Not from the business community.
Remember fondly what it was like when you were whole as an individual, empowered by the freedom to make responsible choices.
Now, you are an order-taker, a resource. An asset.
The madman ran through the marketplace shouting “Gott ist tot. Wir haben ihm getötet. (God is dead. We have killed him.)” German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche wrote in Zarathustra in the 1880s on the rise of the Rational Man. The invisible, all-powerful Divinity is just a figment of man’s imagination. God is killed in the Age of Enlightenment. The rational mind is fully capable of logically figuring things out. The universe is governed by the Laws of Physics or Nature and there is no Divine Providence.
In a previous blog I promised to respond to Lance on creationism and Darwinism and then realized it’s hard to put ink to paper and do justice to a compelling topic in a blog comment. It dawned on me the topic has relevance to The Society of Honor (TSOH) concerns of the day of declining moral values heading into an election. Diminution in Godliness feeds the rise of amorality and I thought a discussion on this may help restore a little faith in some. So I asked of Joe to accommodate this publication.
Atheists commonly deride the existence of Creator by pointing out the ridiculous idea that out of billions of galaxies, the tiny planet Earth is so significant to God that He waited for billions of years till the environment is able to sustain life, then showed up and created every living creature, only to disappear for the next 7,000 years. It is irrational to believe there is a Creator.
Those who are inclined towards theism (belief in a God) can take comfort in the fact that many great thinkers past and present, many of whom are great scientists, share the belief of a universal intelligent Creator. It doesn’t appear to be irrational after all. Sir Isaac Newton was devoutly religious, as was Rene Descartes. Einstein famously said “God does not play with dice”. The consummate atheist Oscar Wilde converted to Catholicism on his deathbed.
My position is there is a God, the Creator, and that proof of this automatically whitewashes Darwinism. I write from the perspective of the western world, where Judeo-Christian traditions and values have been pushed back by secularization that came out of the Age of Enlightenment and unleashed dangerous consequences that we experience today.
No philosophical theory which I have yet come across is a radical improvement on the words of Genesis, that ‘In the beginning God made Heaven and Earth’.
… C.S. Lewis
Ever since cavemen gazed at the stars at night, they instinctively felt there is an unseen Creator. Other than Abraham, Moses and some others in the Old Testament who had felt the presence of God, or seen His manifestation, there is no evidential proof of His existence. In our present day science and technology, it is easy to forget many things we understand today, stuff like gravity, electricity, viruses, the expanding universe, the Earth’s revolution around the Sun and its rotation on an axis, etc, were initially abstracts developed out of logical postulation.
Cosmological arguments originated with the Greek thinkers with Aristotle’s ‘First Cause’ being foundational. Aristotle himself must have wrestled with “Nothing comes from nothing”, an idea of Parmenides who preceded him. These are causality theories that something caused the universe to come into being. It was a search for origins of the universe, not a divinity outing. Thomas Aquinas, a 12th century theological philosopher, was one of the first to provide arguments for the existence of God in his book Summa Theologica. He proposed the quinque viae (“Five Ways”) or five logical arguments regarding the existence of God. Aquinas’ arguments basically shifted the idea of the First Cause to an entity we call God. Cosmological arguments run into a problem of the infinite, as each case has a cause, back into infinity. This is the question of if God created the universe, who created God, and so on.
A modern revision of these cosmological arguments is the Kalam Cosmological Argument proposed by William Lane Craig. This is derived from Islamic thoughts. Craig’s idea is all things that came into being has a cause, thus the Universe has a cause. God willed by Speech (or Words) the Universe into being. God is the Uncaused Cause which transcends the Universe, thus it is timeless, spaceless, infinite. Kalam Argument overcomes the problem of infinite regression.
Let’s pause and reflect for a moment, what is this concept of God. Is it anthropomorphic (has human features)? This is asking about the nature of God, and it is a meaningless question as God is beyond nature, it is supernatural. We can posit on the attributes of God. If it created the universe, it existed before Time began, thus it is Timeless. And it is outside, and not part of the Universe, i.e., God is transcendental – beyond the Laws of Physics and Nature. Its essence is Intelligence, thus it is formless and permeates universally, or Omniscient. That it is Omnipotent and interferes in the affairs of humanity is man’s construct based on faith, revelation and theological philosophy.
A Creator exists but the manner of its substance is unfathomable to man. The idea that there is an external Intelligence outside the consciousness of living things manifests itself in Nature. What explains a shoal of fish to change direction simultaneously? How is it possible that hundreds of thousands of fish in a shoal can all change direction in the same split second? A flock of hundreds of birds in flight move similarly in the sky. Frogs, caterpillars, butterflies and some other creatures occasionally obey an unknown intelligence to congregate somewhere. What explains the mass hysteria seen often amongst Muslim women on factory floors?
A pseudoscientific explanation for the existence of God is the “Intelligent Design” argument. Ironically it’s the advancement of science that points more and more to the plausibility of an intelligent and transcendental designer. Science has revealed so many wonders and the intricacies in so many features in the natural world which are impossible to attribute them to have come into being by pure chance. So many things are so finely-tuned in the world for life to exist. Sir Isaac Newton and many of his peers upheld “that the physical laws ….. uncovered revealed the mechanical perfection of the workings of the universe to be akin to a watch, wherein the watchmaker is God.” William Paley took on the watch analogy that if one were to find a watch, one automatically knows it didn’t come into existence on its own, but that there was a designer responsible for it. Francis Collins, who led the Human Gnome Project, said when he first saw the DNA he felt he was looking at the Book Of Life. There are 3.1 billion bits of information in the DNA gnome mapping. It’s simply mind-boggling. He likened the DNA to the softwares that bring machineries to life, the DNA being the softwares that cause cells to function the way they are supposed to and bring life to organisms. Bill Gates adds that whilst software works in parity mode, DNA coding seems to be of a terribly complex 4-bit level.
The American philosopher Dallas Willard (1935-2013) laid out the most logical proof of existence of a Creator. Willard was heavily influenced by the German philosopher Edmund Husserf who started a new way of philosophical thought called Phenomenology which is the philosophical study of the structures of experience and consciousness. Willard’s 3 conditions for the existence of God:
External condition – It is a physical reality that every physical quantity owes its existence to something else. It does not explain its own existence. It does not will itself into existence. Take for example, an apple. No matter how it is cut up and examined, the apple cannot explain its existence.
Conditions precedent – There is a necessary condition in some specific type of state which immediately precedes a physical quantity in time and is fully existent prior to the emergence of the state which it is. The apple obviously requires an apple tree to bear fruit. The apple tree has to be physically present at the time and space of the apple coming into existence. The apple tree itself does not explain its own existence. It came about from some physical apple seed that was planted in some preceding time. So it goes back a series of physical causes — but no physical quantity explains its own existence.
Self-existent First Term – The natural world is observed in terms of (a) currently existing physical structures whose existence depends on that of underlying structures, or (b) events each of which depends on the occurrence of previous events. This logic leads to an ultimate First Term or Cause which can only be satisfied under 2 conditions — (i) There cannot be infinite causes and time because if there is infinity, then the present physical quantity could not have arrived. This is best explained with dominoes. For example, the 200th tile is knocked down by the 199th tile which in turn was caused to fall by the 198th and so on. We keep on going backwards till the 1st tile. There has to be a 1st tile. It is impossible to have infinity in the regression because if so, we will never arrive at the 200th tile; (ii) Since all the physical quantities or events cannot explain itself, the 1st tile domino cannot explain itself, the First Cause must be outside of the Natural system, ie non-physical or transcendental.
Willard’s idea gets beyond naturalism and open up the strong possibility that the non-physical, self-existence First Cause of the Universe is the Christian God.
“All species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce”… Darwin’s theory
Charles Darwin beat many luminaries of his time to the press to publish “On The Origins of Species” in 1859, which was an epoch shattering moment. Darwinism greatly boosted the Naturalists of the time and drove a spear into the heart of Theistic philosophy in the following decades. Did Darwinism in any way negate the idea of the existence of God? Absolutely not. Darwin was in fact a religious person. He made it clear his theory did not present an explanation on the First Cause. Evolution is not an explanation for ultimate origins. It doesn’t explain the Big Bang. Nor could it explain the Cambrian explosion of species. Natural processes have never been observed to produce the biodiversity and complexity of cell development.
Darwin was merely espousing on micro-variations over a vast expense of time. There was no cross species evolution. Many things could not be explained away by evolution. If the giraffes neck grew so long in order to reach the higher trees for the leaves, would it be wrong to expect Filipinos who lived by the seashores to have grown longer legs climbing those coconut trees? Advancement in sciences in fields like epigenetics and new knowledge on mutation, variation, DNA sequencing, etc, are showing that Darwinism is no longer irrefutable. (Read ‘One-third of biologists now question Darwinism‘).
“Knowledge enormous makes a God of me” … John Keats
18th century Age of Enlightenment unshackled men from the chains of the Church. It was euphoric times when great thinkers proposed the rational mind could explain everything in the universe with Laws of Physics or Nature. The absolutes from revelation which had guided the western world were no longer the Way. Naturalism and atheism became vogue and Church attendance declined and continues to decline today.
There have been militant atheists out there ever since. In the late 2000s there was an explosion of Atheistic literature that ‘New Atheists’ became a cause celebre. Any discourse with atheists tends to be rabid and with rancor. Men of science look out of their laboratories at faith believers as irrational and ignorant. Very much similar to any engagement with MMTeers. The living atheist high priest is superstar David Hawkins, who is happily raking in millions from the sales of his books. His latest best seller “God Delusion” made claims that infuriated David Belinski, himself an atheist, to respond with his own book “Devil’s Delusion” which lambasted the pretensions of scientists.
Francis Bacon said it eloquently:
“It is true, that a little philosophy inclineth man’s mind to atheism, but depth philosophy bringeth men’s minds to religion; for while the mind of man looketh upon second causes scattered, it may sometimes rest in them and go no further.”
Atheists will not discuss ‘origins’. As Dawkins puts it, to discuss origin is to bring in religion. And if they must, then they subscribe to Panspermia, a theory of life coming from cosmic dusts contamination caused by travelling space aliens on their star-hopping Odyssey. If pushed, Stephen Hawkins saves them with the Big Bang Theory. But then they are cornered. Big Bang Theory posits the beginning of the world from one tiny dot of singularity. The problem is that quantum physicists agree that at singularity, the Laws of Physics break down. So Atheists’ idea of origin starts off from a state where their Laws of Physics do not apply.
Atheists will attack religion and try to show how irrational it is to believe in faith, without realizing the Science they believe in is in fact, their religion. Invariably, they will point to the destructive nature of religion and how violent religion has been historically. They will point to the hundreds of thousands killed in the Crusades or the Conquistadors, or in the Inquisitions. Yet they fail to see rationalist minds like Maximilien Robespierre drove the French Revolution into its excesses in the period known as the Reign of Terror. Neither do they see the monstrous events of sheer evil madness when hundreds of millions of people were slaughtered in Germany, Russia, China, and Cambodia, all committed by men with no religion.
Atheists do not realize the freedom of thought that allowed them to develop naturalist ideas came from the very Judeo-Christian values and traditions they seek to break from. Compare this to the haunting vacuum of naturalist thoughts from the Islamic or Eastern worlds. Nobody wants a theocracy. That was settled long ago in Jesus’ “Render unto Caesar that which belongs to Caesar; and to God that which belongs to God”. But atheists want to obliterate God.
Where is all this hate for God coming from that is increasingly pulling believers out of Churches? Out of 17th century Age of Enlightenment, rationalists proliferated. These learned minds populated scholastic universities and in 3 or 4 generations, the learning institutions are churning out naturalists and these new learned minds end up in top echelons of governance and the business world. One single person has the capability to change 100,000 minds over time.
Atheistic militancy is nowhere more profound than in the US. America grew as a nation strongly entrenched in Judeo-Christian traditions. Much of the credit for this goes to John Locke who was himself much influenced by Sir Isaac Newton. After World War II, German philosophical seeds crossed the Atlantic Sea as the US took in hundreds of Nazi scientists who became naturalized US citizens. Mostly through the learning institutions the seeds germinated and soon whole new generations of fine minds indoctrinated with nouveau naturalism, took over policy making machineries in government, academia, and decision-making positions in media. And we wonder why the media today are so ultra liberal, churches are hollowing out, and neoliberalism is moving to the extreme left.
Engel v. Vitale 1962 was the landmark case when the US Supreme Court ruled it unconstitutional to have a prayer recitation in public schools. From hence, Americans under Democrats have gone on to kick the Church out of schools, out of government, out of the Police and Army. 12 years under Obama and the Democrats have not only gone to the extreme political left but has gone to bed with extreme right Islamists. Huma Abedin, deputy chief of staff of Hillary Clinton, is a card carrying member of the Muslim Brotherhood. Zaki Barzinji, as liaison to the Muslim American community under the Office of Public Engagement, is the grandson of the founder of Muslim Brotherhood. There were other Muslim Brotherhood affiliates with roles in various levels of the government. Extreme Left Liberals played right into the hands of Muslim Brotherhood’s manual on an Islamic takeover of the US. Today it’s difficult to give a talk on Christianity, nor a civil critique of Islam, without being branded an “Islamophobe”. Entrenched Islamic and Atheist interests in Academia, funded by Saudi Arabian money, will prevent Christian apologetics or Islamic critics, from ever entering US campuses. It’s ironic the naturalists’ disbelief in the Judeo-Christian God paves the way by default to the Islamic God.
“We have not been able to show that reason requires the moral point of view, or that all really rational persons should not be individual egoists or classical amoralists. Reason doesn’t decide here. The picture I have painted for you is not a pleasant one. Reflection on it depresses me … Pure practical reason, even with a good knowledge of the facts, will not take you to morality.” …. Kai Nielsen (atheist).
It is frightening that atheists themselves opine that there is no morality in naturalism. That is not to say that an atheist is naturally immoral. All thinking persons accept that there are laws of morality. If there are laws, there is a Giver of the laws. Atheists reject there is a Giver of Laws of Morality. Naturalists thinkers all wrestle with the issue of morality. The quintessential atheist Betrand Russell said he has no answer to the question of morality and that’s what haunted him. Dawkins submitted that the reality of evil has to be denied if the argument that there is no God is to stay valid.
Nietzsche’s madman asked:
“Whither is God? I will tell you. We have killed him—you and I. All of us are his murderers. But how did we do this? How could we drink up the sea? Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon? What were we doing when we unchained this earth from its sun? Whither is it moving now? Whither are we moving? Away from all suns? Are we not plunging continually? Backward, sideward, forward, in all directions? Is there still any up or down? Are we not straying, as through an infinite nothing? Do we not feel the breath of empty space? Has it not become colder? Is not night continually closing in on us? Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning? Do we hear nothing as yet of the noise of the gravediggers who are burying God? Do we smell nothing as yet of the divine decomposition? Gods, too, decompose. God is dead. God remains dead. And we have killed him.”
What an extraordinary insight. Nietzsche understood Naturalism leads to abandonment of morals. “Unchained this Earth from the Sun” is about the rejection of existence of God. “Who gave us the sponge to wipe away the entire horizon?” is talking about wiping away Judeo-Christian traditions and values and re-writing them. “Is there any more up and down?” is about high and low moral values. “Do we not need to light lanterns in the morning?” – we are blind to moral values that we need to light up the day in order to see.
The loss of moral values in a godless world is the great danger that philosophers can see, even those who are atheists. With no moral boundaries, hedonistic lifestyle surges. The world is increasingly focused on indulgences of the sensual kind – in food, sex, drugs, alcoholism, gaming, filthy wealth accumulation, pornography, etc. Is it a wonder Extreme Left Liberals champion gay sex marriages and abortion and the killing of millions of fetuses. Is it a wonder to see displays of monstrosities of evil entities popping up in public spaces. Is it a wonder why the ‘Living Dead’ zombies themed movies are churned out. Is it a wonder why folks are tattooing their bodies in vile debasement of the temples of God but calling it art. Is it a wonder why the seductively easy way of MMT economics is popping up at this particular time. Everything makes sense taken in the context of lax morality in a godless world. Moral standards are decaying in western societies. When we discard God, we dismantle the moral boundaries that guide our lives. With no God, nothing is sacred anymore. Marriage is not sacred, your property is not sacred, your neighbours’ properties are not sacred, your words and promises are not sacred, the constitution is not sacred.
Move away from God, and abominations fill the vacuum. How many times must the Bible repeat the same story?
The path of atheism leads to nihilism — meaninglessness. Atheists believe after death, there is nothing – just decaying atoms. Deny the existence of God, then there is no meaning in our lives, no hope. Atheists offer us nothing. Is it a wonder many surveys are showing students say they suffer most from meaningless in their lives, which quite often is a cause for suicides. Nihilism devalues lives which are then taken too lightly. Is it a wonder that godless leaders, who believed in their own powers, led to extermination of hundreds of millions in Nazi Germany, Communist USSR, China under Mao, Pol Pot’s Cambodia, and many other wanton unconstitutional killings on smaller scales elsewhere.
Gott ist nicht tot (God is not dead)
Multiculturalism is well and good and it enriches lives. But pluralism is failing due to exclusivity of belief systems. Each community says their way is the right way. Period. Lax immigration policies pursued by extreme left liberalism and Judeo-Christian humanitarian idealism has seen a one-way migration of people from Islamic backgrounds pouring into Western Europe and US. The situation is now untenable and it’s a powder keg waiting to explode. Austria recently closed down many unauthorized mosques and banned foreign imams (mostly Turks) and the reaction of Turkey’s strongman Endrogan is the threat of nuclear war.
On the issue of exclusivity, the reader is pardoned to ask the next logical question – so, which God? In a world facing a civilization clash, one needs to thread carefully to avoid being labelled a bigot, Islamophobe, or someone agitating religious intolerance. Whether you believe in a compassionate God that teaches Love, in Whom you can seek a personal relationship, and gives you Free Will to make your own decisions, or you believe in a God that demands your total submission and requires world domination by the extermination of non-believers, or you have Gods that manifest themselves in some other ways, it is after all, your belief.
To the reader’s question, I say seek and ye will find. In this, I have found the best teacher in Ravi Zacharia who said any worldview must have answers to four questions – Origin, Meaning, Morality, and Destiny and must stand the tests of logical consistency (coherence), empirical adequacy, and experiential relevance. In this manner have I found mine. To this I will add if your faith is strong, never be fearful to allow your beliefs be subject to scrutiny and query, as some faith I know considers it a blasphemy simply to raise a question.
In closing, the words of Dallas Willard:
“The world can no longer be left to mere diplomats, politicians, and business leaders. They have done the best they could, no doubt. But this is an age for spiritual heroes –..
From EL PRESIDENTE TRAILER HD – A Mark Meily Film; You Tube
By Joe Am
The Philippines has been wracked by internal bickering since Aguinaldo had Bonaficio tried for treason. We see this ruthless style of political in-fighting in local elections. It is not unusual to have hundreds of casualties across the nation.
We see it today when President Duterte’s spokesperson Sal Panelo lays blame for China’s incursions into Philippine seas on former President Aquino. Not on China. On Filipinos.
It is a sad nation that cannot find something bigger to bind people together as Filipinos than the petty bickering of win/loss politics.
It seems to me that there are two central elements of government that should be kept separate from political game-playing: 1) the Armed Forces of the Philippines, where everyone recognizes the risks and supports them no matter the outcome, and 2) the Department of Justice, where justice is absolutely neutral. But the Philippines cannot even do that, as we witnessed in the persecution of President Aquino over a battlefield loss in Mamasapano, and the use of justice as a political weapon in the jailing of Senator de Lima, harassment of Senator Trillanes and journalist Maria Ressa, and removal from office of Chief Justice Sereno. Drug lords get consideration, political enemies get attack. By Justice.
Think about that. If Justice is a political tool, where does one go in the Philippines to find honesty and honor?
If battlefield losses are cause for political attack, where does one go to find that credo of military honor that “no man shall be left behind?” Hell, the Commander in Chief gets left behind in the Philippines.
National honor is not automatically bestowed through citizenship. It cannot be demanded as obedience. It is voluntary, it is sacrifice, it is recognition that “the nation must succeed even if I die.”
It is not granted to citizens by oath itself, it is a sacrifice gifted to the nation by citizens who live up to the oath. Think about that. You cannot be given honor in a certificate. You gift honor to others through your deeds.
Ethics and national honor are brothers. Ethics says my profession or organization is only as strong as the weakest person. National honor says my nation is only as strong as the weakest citizens.
There is a whole lot of weakness in the Philippines. Poor people cannot gift honor to the nation that has kept them mired in poverty. It is ridiculous to name-call people who are in no position to give anything. They feel they get nothing. The idea of nationhood simply does not exist for them.
But even among the well-to-do and educated, ethics and honor are hard to come by in the Philippines. Politicians commonly swap parties and pass bills and budgets for personal gain. Not to elevate and strengthen the nation.
Then there are Spokesman Panelo and Secretary of Justice Calida who simply do not care about truth or justice, much less being generous enough to give of themselves to the nation.
I do believe there are a lot of patriotic Filipinos. True nationalists. Most of them are yellows, living by the values stated in the Constitution. Duterte loyalists mistake loyalty for national honor. It is no such thing. It is exactly the opposite. The nation for them is not as important as the people heading it.
That is not national honor at all. It is political favoritism. It is small. It is taking. It is not big. It is not giving.
I have no idea if the concept of nationhood and honor through sacrifice is even accessible to Filipinos. I don’t know what people think being Filipino means. They talk pride, but don’t live it.
It is like Christianity without Jesus. Makes no sense.
China has her way with the Philippines because Philippine national honor is so weak, so fake, so poorly considered.
National honor requires that people get outside themselves and work to build unity and national well-being. Not slice away to divide Filipinos, good and bad, and try to run off with the biggest slice for oneself.