Not All Womanizing

Presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte kisses a woman during his proclamation rally. GRIG MONTEGRANDE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Presidential aspirant Rodrigo Duterte kisses a woman during his proclamation rally. GRIG MONTEGRANDE/PHILIPPINE DAILY INQUIRER

Gabriela party-list, a sectoral group with two seats at the House of Representatives, caused a stir on Twitter last night over a statement made by Rep. Luzviminda Ilagan that implied that Davao City Mayor Rodrigo Duterte’s womanizing is not that bad.

In a report on ABS-CBN News that will by now probably be blamed on mainstream media taking things out of context, Ilagan said that the bits about Duterte — presidential candidate of PDP-Laban – having many girlfriends and cavorting with women at political rallies are a product of media hype and, anyway, are just part of who Duterte is as a person.

“I personally even say that look beyond the words, look beyond the actions. Focus on what he has done, what he can do, what he is still doing that will benefit our people,” Ilagan, who is, incidentally, running for councilor of Davao City under Duterte’s local party, said.

Besides, she said, Duterte’s marriage has been annulled, and so he is not really womanizing when he has multiple girlfriends.

In December, Gabriela Rep. Emmie de Jesus said of Duterte in an Inquirer report that “[w]omanizing and treating women as objects is an affront to women and it is not something that should be flaunted.”

This was also said in a party statement that month:

These [acts] reek of machismo, reinforces the society’s low regard of women and consequently increases women’s vulnerability to violence and abuse. This is both distasteful and unacceptable.

A GMA News Online report attributes the statement to both Gabriela representatives.

But this is now acceptable, apparently. Or at least the womanizing part is, going by Ilagan’s statement. The Gabriela representative was silent on Duterte’s kissing sprees and his justification that how he is with women is just basic biology.

And that, perhaps, is the bigger sin than this political accommodation by Ilagan, who is nominally still with Gabriela but whose statement the party-list might yet disavow as her personal opinion.

By excusing Duterte’s womanizing ways — an issue that few have really raised — and being silent about his behavior with female supporters, Ilagan has engaged in a sort of double speak that could gain her points with Duterte and his supporters in Davao City without overly undermining Gabriela’s position.

She has also,  intentionally or not, minimized the objectification of women at Duterte-Cayetano rallies. (Senator Pia Cayetano has much the same thing by pretending to not notice what happens at these rallies, so it’s a common thing.)

This is not, of course, the first time that party-list groups have looked the other way for what they call tactical alliances.

Former Bayan Muna Rep. Satur Ocampo was once on the same ticket as Sen. Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son of the man who had him jailed during martial law. Bayan Muna Rep. Neri Colmenares of the Makabayan Bloc that Gabriela is also part of has also accepted the endorsement of Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada, the man that umbrella group Bagong Alyansang Makabayan helped overthrow in 2001.

In between, Makabayan has also allied itself with revolutionary figures like Senators Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Aquilino Pimentel III, and then Las Piñas Rep. Cynthia Villar

Perhaps Gabriela’s latest statement is only disappointing because of our naivete. We expect these party-list groups to offer better and more principled politics than the prostituted mainstream parties when there is no actual promise of that. Or, at least, no more promise than made by mainstream parties.

Party-list groups are political groups and it is silly of us to think that they are any different from the United Nationalist Alliance, the Liberal Party, or the Nacionalista Party except perhaps in size and advocacy.

If anything, this recent move by Gabriela shows how well some party-lists have moved into the mainstream of Philippine politics. Sadly, it is in a way that makes them near indistinguishable from everyone else.

Politics is Addition: Makabayan edition

Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada with members of the Makabayan bloc

Manila Mayor Joseph Ejercito Estrada with members of the Makabayan bloc


In January 2001, when the presidency of Joseph Ejercito Estrada began crumbling and his political allies began jumping ship to join the growing crowd at the EDSA shrine calling for his resignation, a young activist with AGHAM-Youth wept bitterly: “The politicians have stolen the moment, they have stolen our protest.”

And he was right. In the months leading up to EDSA Dos, the movement to oust Estrada was led mainly by Bagong Alyansang Makabayan and the groups affiliated with it.

read more »

Begin the love-in


In case you were looking for something to show that politics in the Philippines is more about candidates than any actual polis, consider the diabetes-inducing wave of goodwill flowing from magnanimous officials-elect.

Senator Aquilino Pimentel III has extended an olive branch to defeated United Nationalist Alliance candidate Juan Miguel Zubiri months after Zubiri accused him of being a wife beater. Months after Pimentel called Zubiri a “fake senator”, to wit:

“Zubiri is the face of dagdag-bawas and other insidious and malevolent forms of electoral fraud in this country. He is one good reason why some of our people completely distrust elections and politicians.” (Press statement, March 12, 2013)

He was referring, of course, to the 2007 mid-term elections, when he was cheated out of a Senate seat. Zubiri resigned before Pimentel could be officially proclaimed the proper winner of those elections. Soon after his resignation, Pimentel and Zubiri were on TV holding hands and presumably slapping asses and talking about how they’re actually very good friends.

Until the 2013 elections, anyway. read more »

Same Old Story

Here’s a development that surprised few but disappointed many: The Makabayan Coalition, an alliance of progressive party-list organizations promising a new brand of politics, has admitted guest candidates to its slate.

None of them is a new name and Bayan Muna Representative Teddy Casiño’s justification for the team-up is as old as Cebu Representative Pablo Garcia, who, at 86, is the oldest lawmaker in Congress.

Citing the principle of “politics is addition,” Casiño said he and the guest candidates would “mutually” benefit from the alliance.

Makabayan Coalition has thrown its support behind Senators Francis Escudero, Loren Legarda and Aquilino Pimentel III, former Las Piñas representative Cynthia Villar and former Movie and Television Review and Classification Board chair Grace Poe Llamanzares, calling them, along with Casiño, the “Senate Champions.”

Escudero and Legarda are already old hands at the Senate while Pimentel is seeking his second term. Villar is the wife of Senator Manuel Villar Jr. and mother of Las Piñas Representative Mark Villar. Escudero, Pimentel, and Villar are from political families.

Escudero, Legarda, and Llamanzares are common candidates of the two big coalitions fielding candidates in the 2013 elections, the administration’s and the also-administration-but-not-as-much United Nationalist Alliance.

Villar is an official candidate of the administration coalition while Escudero and Pimentel are friendly to Malacañang. Casiño is not and has been critical of the Aquino administration, but that apparently doesn’t matter as long as everybody’s happy.

Casiño, before he officially filed his candidacy, promised an alternative to “basically the same names, faces and vested interests that have dominated Philippine politics for decades.” His challenge then: “Wala na bang iba?” Is there nobody else?

That question has apparently been answered.

Rep. Boboy Syjuco, Mr. Pogi 2010

Former Technical Education and Skills Development Authority (TESDA) director general and now Iloilo Representative Augusto Syjuco Jr finds nothing wrong with putting his name and face on billboards proclaiming his projects.

After all, he appeared in a TV ad for TESDA with celebrity Sarah Geronimo just before the May elections to promote…something. TESDA’s vocational training programs, probably. Or possibly the 49,000-peso dough cutters TESDA bought when they could have gotten them for just 120 pesos.*

Singing is a technical skill.

read more »

RP politics: all in the family

Twenty some days into the new administration, this ‘new’ politics they all promised sounds more and more like the old politics. More accurately, it’s beginning to look a lot like the old old politics of cacique days.

read more »

Manny Villar Has No Balls

Sen. Manuel Villar, Jr. has been selling the public his formula for success over the past few months. He says that the future of the nation is hinged on “two things: hardwork and perseverance.”


And he does have these two things indeed, judging from the billion-peso empire he’s created in real estate.

That being said, Villar lacks two other things that might come in handy when you’re a president: big brass balls.

read more »