A Reaction to "Beware of the real bobotantes" An Editorial by Tonyo Cruz: Will the Real "Bobotante" Please Stand Up

A Manila Bulletin online editorial entitled "Beware of the real bobotantes" by Tonyo Cruz caught my attention. This editorial piece is all about the author's condescending opinion about Miriam Defensor-Santiago, her choice for Vice-President, and the voting public who chose her as their president whom he refers to as "bobotante".

A Reaction to Beware of the Real Bobotante by Tonyo Cruz

Let me get this out of the way first, my primary candidate whom I have clearly expressed my support to upon the announcement of her candidacy this coming 2016 Philippine election is Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago. Now after that statement, you have either click out of this opinion piece because of an instant allergic reaction to (1) Senator Santiago in general, (2) the Santiago-Marcos tandem, or opinion against Tonyo's piece; or if you are still here, then congratulations for having an open mind willing to hear what other people has to say about the matter.

What I will be doing is quoting Tonyo Cruz' editorial piece online entitled "Beware of the real bobotantes" in the October 16 Editorial section of the Manila Bulletin website. I do not own nor claim ownership of the article and this will simply be a commentary that aims to dissect, provide rebuttals and counter-arguments in this condescending Manila Bulletin opinion piece. I will be addressing him. Let's get started.

Miriam Defensor Santiago gave the nation – especially the intellectuals – a much-needed reality check on Philippine traditional politics after she unapologetically announced Bongbong Marcos as her runningmate in the 2016 elections.

The announcement turned the tide of support for Miriam into a tsunami of frustration and disappointment.

Right from the start, you start off strong by indirectly implying that there is something awfully wrong about Senator Miriam Defensor-Santiago's preference as her Vice-President running mate, Senator Bongbong Marcos. You imply that this will be problematic to the voting public, with the special mention of the intellectuals who have chosen her as their (our) President for the 2016 Philippine election.

You generalize that after such announcement that seemingly ALL supporter's perception of Santiago changed to frustration and disappointment. While some are true as I observed this myself, this was not the complete picture as a good majority are still supporting her candidacy as President of the Philippines for 2016. There is a reason for that... her achievements and performance as a lawmaker.

Because never mind that Filipinos can split the ticket, as we often do. What irks us is this: How could this highly intelligent and one of the nation’s brightest political superstars wittingly help deodorize the Marcoses and present a Marcos as a qualified vice president or president-in-waiting?

Why should we not mind that fact? Why are you discounting that the voting Filipinos can always opt out of Marcos and chose a different Vice-President candidate? We then find out what causes all this frustration and disappointments for him; Santiago choosing the son of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos who was held responsible (as how the chief of staff should be) for the atrocities committed during the Martial Law era.

Those who audaciously defend Miriam and Marcos are the real “bobotantes.” They are in the same league as those who defend Mar Roxas and Len Robredo, and Jejomar Binay and Gringo Honasan. Let me tell you why.

You then proceed to make a very bold and condescending statement that those who support Miriam and Marcos are the real "bobotantes". "Bobotantes", the combination of two Filipino word "bobo", a condescending insult which means stupid and "botante" which means voters; therefore "stupid voters". What is interesting here is that he mentions other Presidential and Vice-Presidential candidates like Mar Roxas and Len Robredo, and Jejomar Binay and Gringo Honasan.

We'll start to see who Tonyo may support in the 2016 Philippine election; the Presidential candidate Grace Poe and her Vice-Presidential running mate Chiz Escudero. One can argue that he has only named those who have officially filed their Certificate of Candidacy, but come on! We all know that Poe-Escudero will be in the game, so why not call them out? Well, why indeed; unless he finds no faults in them. He supports them. We'll get back to this one later on his piece.

The apologists of Miriam and Marcos are intellectual and moral orphans who want us to believe nothing is wrong in the tandem, and that nothing is wrong with Miriam’s vice-presidential battlecry “Marcos pa rin.”

I am a Santiago supporter, but I am not blind to the flaws and blunders committed by Santiago, nor turn a blind eye on the atrocities committed by Bongbong's father in the past. So basically this one is not for me, right? Or is it?! You continue on implying that these Apologists makes them (those non-supporters) think that there is nothing wrong with the tandem. I am aware of my candidate’s flaws, but amidst all of that I am still in support of Santiago. Like your awareness of the flaws of your candidate and still voting for her.

Well, I just hope that you are not making a fallacious statement as hasty generalization is not a good argument. I am referring to your statement that these Apologists are intellectual and moral orphans. Hmm curious, what do you mean when you used the term "intellectual orphan" and "moral orphan"? Is there an absolute parent of intelligence and morality? I hope you don't go all religious fundamentalist on us. My mind is no longer boxed in by religion.

For what is the use of intelligence if it is offered to help whitewash the Marcoses’ record and present its scion as a national leader worthy of votes and the vice presidency?

You seem to think that Anti-Marcos sentiments have the exclusivity to intelligence or how intelligence is proper utilized. I would like to assume that Santiago has something up her sleeve for choosing Marcos. Nothing is as plain as black and white like how you paint and view her. It is as faulty as to think that ALL Miriam supporters are INSTANTLY Marcos supporters (will vote for Marcos).

By choosing Marcos, Miriam reopens a can of worms: Her support for Joseph Estrada in the impeachment trial and her agitation at Edsa Tres. Her mental fitness to make important decision. Her moral compass

You assume here that past blunders committed by Santiago's will not resurface. Even if she didn't choose Marcos as her running mate, it will still be reopened as mudslinging is a common phenomenon in Philippine politics. There is no argument that Santiago has made blunders in the past; non-criminal blunders if I may emphasize; of her questionable loyalties whether it is to Estrada or to Arroyo. But amidst all these obvious criticisms to her in knowing how to play with an age-old established flawed political system in the Philippines, she still managed to performed and stood above the rest performance-wise. You can question her mental fitness to make important decision (For what? Your parties’ interest? To side with chaos and the unconstitutionality?) or her moral compass (which you seemingly imply to have exclusive superiority on). We chose her not for such blunders but for her achievements and what she will be capable of once she acquires the highest seat in the Philippines.

Miriam and the Miriam-Marcos defenders now own the distinction of being symbols of impunity that reigns in Philippine traditional politics. Their opportunism and naïveté are not our problems – except if their flawed reasoning manage to infect the electorate.

So we are a symbol of impunity now eh? But if you trace the source of this impunity, who or what can truly be held responsible for it? Who or what has allowed the impunity towards the Martial Law victims? Why is it that up this day that the Marcos(es) are not kicked out of this country, prevented from holding any position, or been brought to "justice"? Is it the Santiago's supporters fault? Are all Santiago supporters, Marcos supporters? You seem to be throwing fist in the air. Not pounding on the right doors. You seem to commit another hasty generalization; a non-sequitur and hasty generalization.

It is also a bit naive of you to think that your opinion is the only opinion that matters; or anti-Marcos sentiment that matters; that your sets of candidates are the only deserving candidates. That opposing opinion cannot influence the electorate. We can see the deep-seated hatred towards the Marcos that affecting you as a supposed rational man and "intellectual" as much as you avoid it.

The defenders of Roxas and Robredo are no different. They also commit the same intellectual and moral mistakes in their crazed ad crazy quest to install their idols.

Now this is where it gets interesting. You start dropping names. First off, Roxas and Robredo…

Nearly six years into Daang Matuwid of high taxes, collapsing public services, selective justice, incompetence, presidential pork barrel, disaster mismanagement and others, why do they insist that this yellow scam be “continued and expanded” even further? Are they masochists and do they want the rest of us to be masochists, too?

Finally something to agree on; well, Aquino and Roxas supporters will sing a different tune. But to their credit, they will tend to focus more on the positives and achievements as well that is pretty much obvious, right?

Talk to any of the few intellectual supporters of Roxas and Robredo and they’d say two things: Brag about their candidates’ character, and demonize the others. Character is obviously not enough, especially “manufactured” character – BS Aquino himself is the best argument against this.

It looks like you had no luck in finding intellectual supporters of the Roxas-Robredo camp as you seem to generalize that all they do is brag about their candidate and demonize the others. Not because you haven't found any, or have not put an effort to actually engaging in discussions with one, doesn't justify your hasty generalization. Hmm, isn't this what has been considered the norm in Philippine politics? While I am not supporting this or this is acceptable. Makes you wonder if there is any presidential candidate who has not demonize their opponents and has not bragged about their character... (Ahem! Poe! Ahem!)

There’s a third thing they’ll say: Daang Matuwid is perfect, Aquino is the best, and his reign must be continued. Shades of Marcos, if you ask me. But the most important response to them is this: We deserve better because Daang Matuwid has been weighed and found wanting.

We deserved better and those who claim that they too can also continue a Daang Matuwid (Grace Poe) variant should also be questioned, right? For crying out loud, don't you think Grace should get her own slogan? Even the "Bagong Umaga" is not even hers, but her father's. We deserved better and an inexperienced candidate like Grace Poe is miles below what Miriam Defensor-Santiago has achieved; or do you deny and dismiss that?

The stragglers of the Binay-Honasan camp are in other parts of the same complex where the yellow trolls and the Miriam-Marcos diehards reside.

How about the Poe-Escodero? are they on a different playing field? Poe is into necropolitics as well and Chiz is to supporting Marcos as well, or have you forgotten that. Necropolitics, let's get back to that.

Like his defenders, Binay refuses to accept the fact that his brand has been sullied by his utter failure to sufficiently respond to the serious charges hurled against him and his family. He seems to live in a bubble, oblivious to his falling fortunes in the eyes of the public.

What we can commend of Binay and his supporters are their resilience. Political will? Hahahaha. Binay lives in a bubble just like the Marcos(es) with how they believe and deny the atrocities committed during the reign of the father.

We have been told that elections are the “ultimate expression of democratic will” in our system, but these tandems and their defenders represent the worst in Philippine traditional politics.

Hmm, only those tandems? How about those whom you didn't mention? Are they the shining beacon of hope that this country needs? Where is Trillanes, Cayetano, Escudero, or Poe? The supporters/defenders and the tandem you heavily antagonized represent the worst? And what of you who seem to take it up your high horse to proselytize this. Who will be your candidate that you'll endorse? You have only endorsed Neri Colminares, and so far I have no qualms on his candidacy. Isn't it better to lay your cards on the table so that we can easily criticize and scrutinize each other's candidates?

The defenders of these tandems are spreading poisonous ideas of cynicism, resignation, and defeat, aside from the gross misinformation and deception. They boggle and tire the senses so that we would give up the cause of change.

Cynicism? Resignation? Defeat? Seriously. As far as I am aware, I am a supporter of Miriam and I have made it clear that I will continue to support her amidst her past blunders (support for Arroyo and Estrada - "I lied" interview). You seem to be making a fallacious statement. That defenders and supporters are ALL doing those condescending allegations which have no rationality. So what kind of poisonous ideas of cynicism, resignation and defeat are you referring to OR are we here to simply pull ad hominem (s) up our fundaments and throw at those who has opposing views here?

But how do we manage the avalanche of political trash this election season?

Well, our barangays tell us to segregate our trash into “nabubulok” and “di nabubulok” and we could use the same concept to guide our way:

Well that is a good concept. Let's see what you have to say.

Both the Binay-Honasan and Roxas-Robredo tandems are obviously “nabubulok” in their corruption, deception, incompetence, cynical candidacies of convenience, necropolitics, and the blatant use of public funds and ill-gotten wealth.

Miriam-Marcos meanwhile are “di-nabubulok,” due to impunity and naked political accommodation.

Okay, a bit harsh but has a point. Hmm, necropolitics. I wonder who else is seemingly using that tactic that didn't make the list (Ahem! Poe! Ahem).

I am not surprised with your stand on Miriam and Marcos.

They, their ideas, and their defenders all ought to be sent to the political garbage dump for proper disposition.

Well for someone who is striving for unity, and has a general positive outlook on Philippine politics; that sure is some pretty bold condescending statement; a statement claiming your side as the only valid opinion. This reminds me of that over-privilege religious group that cripples the traffic with their every undertaking just because they can. But alas we are in a democratic system and not a totalitarian one where your group's voice is the only thing that mattered and you’ll “dispose” those who go against it.

The similarities end there, however.

These three tandems should embolden citizens to study, criticize, and condemn a system that maintains only fake political parties, dominated by political dynasties, and ruled by guns, goons, and gold. This is at the root of our frustrations and disappointments, and at the same time the lifeline of the worst traditional politicians and their defenders – the true bobotantes.

Only three? What of the other? What of Poe and Escudero? Or the independents like Trillanes and Cayetano? Shouldn't it far better if we ALL look at all these candidates? To look at them with a critical eye. What system maintains these fake political parties? What is a TRUE political party system to you? Condemn the system? Are you referring to the 1986 Philippine constitution, then? Then what do you propose? Are we simply shouting in a vacuum here or do you have a better alternative? Let's continue and we'll know what you have to offer.

We deserve a new, modern political system with genuine parties that hold caucuses, primaries, and conventions to openly select candidates and where citizens could actively participate, way ahead of Election Day. It is a system that puts platform and programs above personalities. This is what excites us and what we deserve as a proud people – the true saviors of our country.

I agree, we need a new political system. We had a taste of a totalitarian one and been "spoiled" and frustrated by a democratic system (and behind all them are strings pulled by a theocracy and oligarchy), it is probably time to try out other system. How about Parliamentary or Federalism, or a hybrid? Well, it could make a big difference if only the states men and women that will be voted this election will push for a much needed change; a charter change. But that can still work with the current democratic system, all it takes is the political will and numbers to amend or revise dated laws to give them a much needed update to cater to a more transparent and secular society; of change favoring debates and abolishing of political ads. It can happen if we place competent and progressive thinking lawmakers in office. .

This may not happen yet in the coming elections, but having such realizations would provide us a framework to make sense of the limited and elitist choices that we may soon have, expose and pit the warring dynasts against each other, and take concrete steps forward.

If so, then we need to put the right people in office. We can all start in putting people who have good platforms and not because of star power, necropolitics; or misplaced patriotism and nationalism. Concrete steps forward? Who has the political will and understanding for that? From where I am looking at right now, Miriam Defensor Santiago seems to be the best one; a game changer.

The latter may come in the form of a first people’s senator, and lots more patriotic partylist representatives – because those we could very possibly help win and introduce bold measures in Congress. There remain these openings for progressive change in an arena of dominated by political Frankensteins.

First people's senator? Who are you referring to? Pacquio? We have clashed ideas and I personally think Pacquiao's incompetence, poor performance in congress over his matches internationally, lack of focus, and dedication to lawmaking; makes him ineligible to even be considered to be voted as a Senator. We are not discounting that he has brought a good sense of pride to most Filipinos through boxing, but as a lawmaker? He miserably fails. How can a religious conservative become a progressive lawmaker? He is against such laws like the RH Law. But I digress; you are probably referring to new faces which I can back up. Not just the incompetent (in public service and lawmaking) poor performing (in track record) kind of Manny Pacquiao.

Political Frankenstein of whose creation? A frankenstein of what aspect? Are you making ad hominem reference again not backed up by rationality?

This early in the election season: Never give up quickly and never give in to the traditional politicians and their defenders – the real bobotantes. Don’t get mad, get even by taking a larger view and fight battles that we could win.

So this is how you define a REAL Bobotante. So a REAL or TRUE BOBOTANTE are the Filipino voting public who (1) gives up quickly (no longer casting their votes) and (2) gives in to traditional politician and their defenders. So define a traditional politician again? Is Grace Poe not a traditional politician with her recent blunders and necropolitics?

Well at least you are consistent with your cynicism, I mean condescending statement earlier with ~ those who audaciously defend Miriam and Marcos are the real “bobotantes.”

What I can say is this. What constitutes a Bobotante is someone who already pass judgment without even listening to the platforms and positions taken by a candidates. I initially support Miriam Defensor-Santiago because of some personal and rational biases, but if ever she makes a stand on issues that currently matter, then I can always choose another candidate with stronger political will and have better proposals. This is why debates are important.

Oh, I definitely agree on this one. This is why I am campaigning for Miriam Defensor-Santiago and not voting Grace Poe, Mar Roxas, or Jejomar Binay. I am also campaigning against Pacquiao and Sotto as they run for Senate; a bunch of religious fundamentalist conservatives who impose and force their belief system in legislating laws rather than passing progressive laws that will benefit the mass that lacks proper education.

In short: Don’t be cynical. Cynicism is the lifeblood of the system we hate and we hope to revolutionize soon.

Cynicism is an attitude or state of mind characterized by a general distrust of others' motives. Your stand on Miriam-Defensor Santiago, Bongbong Marcos, Mar Roxas, Len Robredo, Jejomar Binay, and Gringo Honasan are not cynicism? Then what do you call this?

I'll end this with a conversation we had about Pacquiao and how I expressed my strong criticism against him running. You gave me a "good optimistic" piece which obviously should now be applied to you on this post:

The Irony and Selective Bias of a Political Left Wing Member

How ironic and a bit hypocritical.


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