Map of Recent News Regarding the Action Points of Duterte’s Cabinet

a.k.a. Enough of Satisfying our Tabloid Desires. Tigilan na ang TikTik Mentality

By Sass Rogando Sasot guest writer for MINDAVOICES



From the Department of Budget:

“President-elect Rodrigo Duterte’s candidate for budget secretary is looking at a wider budget deficit to fund new infrastructure, which he hopes will boost growth momentum and spread the benefits of the Philippines’ economic improvement in recent years.” (Read:

From the Department of Finance:

“Incoming Finance Secretary Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez said he is mulling over the imposition of additional taxes on junk food to discourage its consumption, promote health and boost government revenues.” (Read:

From the Department of Social Welfare and Development:

“We would like to know about that ano na ang impact ng 4Ps ano nagawa na positive, ano yung areas na nagraduate na because may trabaho na nagkaroon nang lupa or is that impossible, or tingnan din natin na beyond 4Ps ang mga beneficiaries would also be able to organize themselves,” Judy Taguiwalo. (Read:

From the Bureau of Customs:

“A reorganization that includes the abolition and merging of offices is officially underway at the Bureau of Customs (BOC) due to the recently signed Customs Modernization and Tariff Act (CMTA) and the impending change in leadership. Under the CMTA, outgoing Commissioner Alberto Lina said his successor, former Marine Capt. Nicanor Faeldon, may reorganize BOC personnel and employees to streamline processes in the revenue-generating agency.” (Read:

From the Department of Education:

“Incoming Education Secretary Leonor Briones announced Wednesday that she will prioritize the expansion of alternative learning system (ALS) to provide equal opportunities for those who will not be covered by the K to 12 program.” (Read:

From Department of Agrarian Reform:

“Incoming Agrarian Reform Secretary Rafael Mariano announced a review of the implementation of what he said was a “sham” agrarian reform program in a sugarcane estate owned by the family of outgoing President Aquino as among his priorities as head of the agrarian reform department.” (Read:

From Department of Justice:

“Incoming Justice Secretary Vitaliano Aguirre II on Monday said the Bureau of Corrections (BuCor) will undergo some “drastic” changes under the Duterte administration.” (Read:

From the National Economic and Development Authority:

“Aside from generating more jobs in the agriculture and manufacturing sectors, Duterte’s administration plans to reform the income tax system, Pernia said. He added that they want to increase the bracket that is covered by the tax exemption and calibrate the system to the inflation.” (Read:

From the Department of Foreign Affairs: 

“The incoming Department of Foreign Affairs (DFA) Secretary-designate, Perfecto Yasay, hinted on Monday that bilateral talks would be the likely diplomatic track to be followed in the effort to untangle the territorial conflict with China in the West Philippine Sea (or South China Sea).” (Read:

Political Naïveté

Political Naïveté

By Sass Rogando Sasot guest writer for MINDAVOICES



Composite Photo from CNN Philippines


I watched yesterday the whole press conference of Duterte in which he presented some of his cabinet secretaries. One of the questions hurled by the press at Duterte was what he can say about what people are saying regarding his cabinet choices not reflecting his slogan:Change is Coming.” They were chosen because they were close to him etc…KKK blah blah.

Duterte was thankful that the issue was asked. He said that the cabinet secretaries are alter egos of the President. When a cabinet secretary fucks up, the blame goes all the way to the President. The buck stops at him. Thus, he chose his cabinet secretaries based on how much he can trust them and how competent they are. What’s wrong with these criteria? Nothing. You don’t hire people you feel you cannot trust. He also said that for most of his political life he was only based in Davao City. He didn’t create a large network of friends in Manila, the political capital of the Philippines. His sphere of influence is quite small. So, he explained that he could only pluck people from his own small political circle. They are the people he can trust. Was Aquino this transparent to you?

Just in case you didn’t notice, in the last administration the buck didn’t stop at Aquino. The blame even went all the way to Gloria Arroyo. Aquino didn’t release his cabinet choices as early as Duterte. He released his cabinet choices a day or two BEFORE his inauguration. Tell me, did Aquino bother to explain to you why he chose those people? Did you demand Aquino to explain his constant rift against his VP, Binay? No. Did Aquino explain to you why he recommended Domingo Lee to be our Ambassador to China even though Lee didn’t have a fucking idea what diplomacy was, as well as the difference between soft and hard power and the pillars of our foreign policy? No.

Now, as a staunch Leni Robredo supporter (I expressed my support to Robredo as early as October 2015), I was disappointed when Duterte said that he wouldn’t offer any cabinet position to Robredo yet. He mentioned this already before. You know why? Because he doesn’t know if he can trust Robredo. That’s why Duterte said, they must build rapport first. What the hell is wrong with this?

Just in case you were living under the rock, during the campaign period, Robredo herself said that among the presidential candidates it was only Mar Roxas who knew what tasks to assign to her based on her abilities. Clearly, Roxas is not our president. Ergo, following Robredo’s logic, the president-elect, who is not Roxasdoesnt know what tasks to assign to her. So why the hell are you complaining?

Ahhbecause Duterte said giving Robredo a cabinet position would hurt the feelings of Marcos Jr. Let me remind you this: Whether you like it or not, Robredo won by a hairline against Marcos Jr, and with allegations of election fraud. Duterte won with a huge margin against Roxas and the latter was even accused of shaving Duterte’s votes. Robredo’s mandate to lead is very, very, very fragile. Giving Robredo a cabinet position at this stage will be politically risky. 

It is politically risky to give Robredo a cabinet position while Marcos Jr is still seriously considering to file an electoral protest against her. Politics – student council politics, office politics, national politics, or the politics diplomats play within the United Nations – will always be a numbers game. If we stop whining and start looking closely at the results of the last elections, well see why the feelings of Marcos Jr shouldnt be hurt. Whether we like it or not, Marcos Jr is now an indispensable political force  and no amount of Facebook ranting can change it. 

In April 2016, ABS-CBN published an infographics on the distribution of voters in the Philippines. Luzon has the highest number of registered voters, 56% of them inhabit this island. Its followed by Mindanao with 23% of voters. The remaining 21% of registered voters reside in the Visayas. Who dominated Luzon? Marcos Jr. And he dominated it fabulously.

According to the information from COCs shown at the COMELEC-run Pilipinas 2016, Marcos Jr was voted as the majority vice president in 13 out of 38 provinces and the plurality vice president in 9; while Robredo was the majority vice president in 6 and plurality vice president in 8. Majority means the candidate got more than 50% of the votes; plurality means < 50%. Marcos Jr was also the majority vice president in 2 out of 7 NCR cities that have COCs on the website, while the plurality vice president in 4 of them. Robredo was neither the majority nor plurality vice president in any NCR city. However, Robredo dominated Visayas. She was the majority vice president in 7 out of 16 provinces, while the plurality vice president in 6. Marcos Jr didnt win as a majority vice president in any provinces in the Visayas, but was plurality vice president in 2.

Duterte owned Mindanao. Hes the majority president in 21 out of 22 provinces, and the plurality president in 1 of them. He didnt do that well in Luzon and the Visayas. In the Visayas, hes the majority president in Cebu, the most vote rich province in the country. Hes the majority president in one NCR city – Taguig-Pateros, while the plurality president in 8 Luzon provinces, 5 NCR cities, and 4 Visayan provinces.

If you hurt the feelings of Marcos Jr, you run the risk of alienating his HUGE following in Luzon: Abra (89.24%); Apayao (85.21%); Benguet (59.02%); Kalinga (69.20%); Ilocos Norte (96.82%); Ilocos Sur (93.05%); La Union (89.76%); Pangasinan (61.21%); Cagayan (78.90%); Isabela (74.72%); Nueva Vizcaya (66.76%); Quirino (64.23%); Nueva Ecija (55.65%); Pasay (50.69%); and Manila (53.03%). To quote Duterte: that is the political reality.

Duterte didn’t do well in most of the provinces where Marcos Jr was leading. Either Poe or Binay was number 1 in those provinces. Duterte’s grand plan of using his admin to lead the transition of the country into a federal system requires him to get as much support he could get from different provinces, specially from Luzon. The truth is, to achieve this goal, Duterte will need Marcos Jr more than he will need Robredo. The choice then is between alienating the supporters of Robredo or alienating the supporters of Marcos Jr.

Furthermore, Robredo is from LP which launched a very hostile campaign against Duterte. Remember all the black propaganda of LP against Duterte? Oh dear, the political operators of LP even fed them to foreign press. Have we forgotten the attack dog called Trillanes? Do you really think that Duterte can already TRUST Leni after what LP did to him? No.

Regarding that comment about journalists. Duterte was asked what he would do about journalists being killed. Duterte should have just answered by quoting those words attributed to Voltaire, which Duterte always does whenever freedom of speech is implicated. But Duterte and his dirty mouth narrated a story about corrupt journalists playing with fire. If you are playing with fire, expect to get burned. That’s what he meant when he said that journalists aren’t exempted from being assassinated just because they are journalists. 

Duterte was not endorsing the assassination of corrupt journalists. He was saying that if a journalist were about to get killed by a person s/he abused with his/her pen, how could freedom of speech and the Constitution protect him/her? Can a journalist debate with his/her assassin? In his story, Duterte pointed out an unfortunate reality in our country: Not everyone can handle criticisms, let alone abusive criticisms, very well. He said: “Ako praktisado ako, eh yung iba papaano? (I’m used to these, what about others?)” When this part got reported by the media, they highlighted the soundbites and decontextualised them.

Nonetheless, Duterte is in desperate need of a smart, sharp, and charming press secretary. Davao journalists are used to his style of speaking so they understand him. But he must now realise that his reality has now changed and must adapt to it in order to be and remain effective.

Mindanao Tourism Gets a New Lease on Life

Have you ever looked at one of those tourism ads and wondered what sort of stories lie behind the spectacular sunsets, the colorful sceneries, and the sweet smiles of the people in the glossy photographs?

Are they just as happy when the cameras aren’t around? Or does the twinkle in their eyes fade when the afterimage from the last flash dies down. What secrets do they keep and what kind of lives do they lead beyond what tourists normally get to see.

In Mindanao, where years of government neglect has rendered many beautiful places inaccessible except for the truly determined, there is hope that some of these hidden gems will finally see the light.

If there is one thing that the first Philippine President from Mindanao has brought to the national consciousness, it is a greater interest in the land he calls home. While much of the focus so far has been on the political front, images and reports on the beauty of Mindanao are also starting to come out. And with them come the stories of the people.

In the next six years, Mindanao will have an unprecedented opportunity to reveal itself to the world – and the world will, for the first time, have greater access to this last pristine frontier of Philippine tourism. Hopefully this will be supported by the administration with the appointment of a Tourism Secretary who is also from Mindanao and understands its people and culture.

With Duterte and the Muslim rebels promising lasting peace, maybe the stories of Mindanao can finally be told by those who have lived them.


All photos are by award-winning Davao-based Photographer, Rhonson Ng




We Need to Hear What Duterte has to Say

No one is asking anyone to apologize or make excuses for what Duterte says or does, least of all the President-elect himself. Duterte has never sugarcoated any of his faults, so why should he mince words when it comes to talking about the shortcoming of others?

While we do not agree with everything that President-elect Duterte says, we do share his opinion that these are things that need to be said. Seeds of change cannot take root on barren soil. The complacency of the people with the established order must first be uprooted like weeds to allow new ideas to grow.

And like a plow ripping across the hard-packed earth, Duterte’s attacks against the leaders of the Catholic church and the media-elite force the Filipino people to question long-held beliefs about these so-called pillars of truth and virtue.

Whether you agree with him or not, it cannot be denied that he has widened the horizons of public discourse into topics that in the past were only spoken of in whispers. And even if in the process he has taken the brunt of counter-attacks, he has shown equanimity and fortitude in staying this rough and dangerous course.

But then again, even during the campaign Duterte has always declared that he will do what he has must, and his life and the Presidency be damned. These qualities, which some find shocking in the context of our old-style “pa-pogi” politicians, is just what the country needs to shake and break our rotting social order.

Once we get past the self-righteous outrage, we can see that we do need to hear what Duterte has to say. We have to remember that he was not elected to coddle us and sing us lullabies while the country burns to the ground. People chose Duterte because he is as angry as they are.

Finally we have a President that makes us move and take part in the national dialogue on what role these institutions play in public life and governance. With a few choice words, Duterte has done more to open our eyes to the reality of the abuse that we face everyday than the previous administrations has after years of being in power. 

Duterte Works, While the Media Whines

While the infantile Philippine media continues to focus on their self-righteous anger and bruised egos after President-elect Rody Duterte took them to task for failing to rid their ranks of extortionists and crooks posing as “journalists,” his cabinet-to-be has quietly begun the heavy work of righting the many social injustices left by the previous administrations.

In-coming Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD) Secretary, Judy Taguiwalo visited the UCCP Haran compound in Davao City to talk to the tribal leaders of the Lumad evacuees that have been displaced from their homes because of para-military operations in their mountain homeland. 

According to reports, Duterte has prioritized the restoration of peace and order in the affected communities and the return of  thousands of evacuees to their homes. Says Fidel Agcaoili, a member of the panel negotiating for peace between the government and the National Democratic Front (NDF), “When (Duterte) said ‘bring them home,’ he meant to live and safety.”

In the meantime, also away from the media limelight, Duterte’s in-coming Secretary for the abuse-prone, Department of Agrarian Reform (DAR) has vowed to reverse the Department’s “anti-farmer” stance and “ensured that no farmer will be displaced from his farmland.” 

Duterte has made agricultural development and food security through sustainable farming practices one of the pillar programs of his administration.

On the peace and order front, in-coming Chief of the Philippine National Police (PNP), Ronald “Bato” Dela Rosa says that his first priority will be to implement Duterte’s order to rid the PNP of scalawags and crooks in uniform. “Uunahin ko ang mga pulis ko. Lilinisin ko ang PNP. Tatanggalin ang dapat tanggalin. (I will begin with my police force. I will clean up the PNP. I will remove those that need to be removed).

On social media, which was the key communication’s platform that brought Duterte to Presidency, reactions of netizens to the in-coming President’s pronouncements has continued to be positive. Many are even encouraging the President to by-pass traditional media altogether and instead use social media to talk direct to the people.






The Truth About Corruption in Media

President-elect Duterte has called the attention of the Philippine media to address the issue of corruption within their ranks

Now that President-elect Rody Duterte has let the cat out of the bag and called out the Philippine media for the rampant corruption that is happening within their ranks, we need to look further into this practice – not because we want to take sides in this debate – rather, as the guardians of our civil liberties, the media must be held to a standard higher than the one we hold all the other institutions of society by.


The Truth About Media Corruption in the Philippines

The irony of the Philippine media is that it is one of the free-est in the world in being able to express its opinions, and at the same time it also has among the highest number of media practitioners killed while supposedly pursuing their job.

These conflicting realities – a free and independent media able to talk about any matter under the sun and a culture of violence that has resulted in hundreds of their number killed – is almost impossible to understand using western models of the role of media in society.

Conventional wisdom says that media is the fourth estate, the guardian of the people’s welfare against the abuses of those in power, an incorruptible pillar of truth, justice, and integrity. Under this ideal concept, the tools of repression (i.e. the rampant media killings) cannot co-exist with the almost limitless freedom of expression enjoyed by the Philippine media. Either one is free or not.

In order to better understand this phenomenon, one has to look deeper into the roots and role of the Philippine media in the society. In many cases, media companies are run as a business first and an advocate of truth a far second. In these instances, bottom lines carry more weight in the boardroom than by-lines and the policy of “bank balance news, pay-first views” becomes the norm more than the exception.

From top to bottom corruption is rampant in the media industry, but none more so than in the unregulated community radio stations that proliferate throughout the Philippine countryside. In many of these outfits, any person can walk in, buy airtime for a few thousand pesos a month, and basically broadcast whatever they want.

While on the surface this may appear to be the very model of democracy and freedom of expression, the lack of regulation and even the most rudimentary training on journalistic ethics has turned these radio stations from a platform to expose wrongdoing into a tool for blackmail and extortion. 

The way these “block-time” broadcasters practice “journalism” resembles a mafia shakedown more than anything else. Typically they would start by picking a target – a local government official or a businessman – and launch an attack against some alleged wrongdoing (real or otherwise) that they have committed. This continues for a time until either the victim sends an emissary to the broadcaster or the broadcaster himself visits the victim with a proposal to air his side of the issue. This method of double-dealing is what is colloquially known as ACDC or Attack-and-Collect, Defend-and-Collect journalism.

Sadly, this is also the root cause of many of the the killings of media practitioners in the Philippines. In a country were pride and social standing is paramount, an attack on a person’s integrity – particularly on such a public scale – often constitutes a killing offense. While this can never justify a murder, it does go a long way in explaining how these crimes come to be.

From this perspective, much of the blame should be placed squarely on the media industry itself for failing to clean up its own ranks of scalawags and crooks. By insisting on painting all media killings as an attack on press freedom, they are failing to address the real and rampant illegal activities of those criminals who are hiding under the convenient mantle of “media.” Not only does this oversight protect the guilty, it also demonizes the victims, and endangers the legitimate journalists. 

Duterte Calls Out Corruption in Media

Already reeling from the changes it has had to make due to the President-elect’s unorthodox style with dealing with the media, the members of the fourth estate got another broadside from Duterte when he called them out for the rampant corruption within their ranks.

Asked about the spate of media killings that has been the bane of all Presidents from even before Marcos, Duterte turned the tables by saying that many of the killings are the result of media getting paid to take sides in various disputes. Though a prevalent practice, particularly among broadcasters in community radio stations, this topic has long been a taboo for media practitioners.

“Do not expect that all journalists are clean. Marami dyan binabayaran. There is corruption on (the media’s) side,” declared Duterte, adding that “Freedom of expression won’t save you. The Constitution cannot help you kapag binaboy mo ang isang tao.”

By exposing their dirty little secret, expect traditional media outlets to once again be on the warpath against the President-elect. Paid hacks, yellow journalists, and holier-than-thou editors and columnists will have a field day hurling their venom in a vain attempt to bring him down to their level.

In this war, Duterte will once again call on his social media warriors to carry his standard into battle. Just like in the just concluded campaign where his millions of Facebook and Twitter warriors unflinchingly brought the fight to even the biggest media networks in the country, they are once again expected to take the cudgels for their idol.

Netizens react to Pick-up Truck Bishop’s call for Duterte to “show delicadeza”

Netizens of all faiths and denominations reacted negatively to the call of Butuan Bishop Juan Pablo de Dios for in-coming President Rody Duterte to “show some delicadeza before criticizing the Catholic Church.” The bishop’s statements, a reported in the Philippine Star, drew the ire of Duterte’s online supporters, many lf whom called the prelate “a hypocrite.”

It can be recalled that Bishop de Dios is among those leaders of the Catholic chruch who requested favors from former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo. He asked for a brand new pick-up truck, which he said he will use to service his flock living in the mountains. 

Based on the comments and reactions of those who read the reposted news report on MindaVote, majority of the people felt that the bishop stepped over the line of decency with his call. “Kayo po yata dapat ang mag show ng delicadeza,” says Junice Dacalos. “Humingi kayo ng sasakyan sa gobyerno… Ang PCSO ay para sa mahirap, hindi para sa simbahan… Ang mga katulad nyong mapagsamantala ang nakakahiya sa bansang ito.”

For Rosel Zagado, being “100% Catholic” has nothing to do with his opinion about Duterte and the leaders of the church:

John Luneta for his part cautioned the CBCP from “waging war against Duterte,” saying that “they should remember that they have moved mountains to convince carholics to stay away from Duterte last election campaign, yet Duterte won by a landslide.”

For Elsie Tan, she had this advice for Bishop de Dios and all other leaders of the catholic church who still insist on meddling in politics


With Duterte, we should expect the unexpected (and still expect to be surprised)



During his most recent press conference the third to be called in the wee hours of the morning, in-coming President Rodrigo Duterte again spoke at length of his plans once he is officially installed as the 16th President of the Republic.

While the immediate reason for his waking the media up from their comfortable slumber was to talk about his disgust over the failure of police officials in preventing the deaths of several concert-goers to an event in Pasay, the discussion easily weaved in and out of a variety of issues. Each related only by Duterte’s desire to talk about them.

And just like in the past, his messages where a mixed bag of straightforward pronouncements about crime, cryptic allusions to policy decisions, revisions to earlier statements, and many more contradictions that kept the media on their toes the whole time he was talking. 

As expected, there were those who are again quick to fault Duterte for his rambling and seemingly-pointless expositions on topics that range from the peace talks to the price of taxi fares. But while focusing on these minor negatives, they have failed to see that with this simple strategy of deliberately disregarding  protocol and schedules, Duterte has already gained a tremendous upper hand with traditional media. They are now following, instead of leading, the President’s agenda.

His guerrilla-style communications strategy has so far kept the whole country, including his  critics and opponents guessing as to what he will say or do next. By staying three, four, five steps ahead of everyone else, and playing with his cards close to his chest, Duterte is effectively preventing them from laying their traps and ambushes.

Duterte himself has said that people should just stop second guessing what he will do next, hinting that what will happen will happen and anything that people expect is just as likely to be the exact of opposite where he will go.

In a landscape of moribund political strategies and slow-moving trapos, the nimble witted Duterte is running rings around everyone else. Even the media and the bishops, long held sacred cows in Philippine society are having a difficult time adjusting to the new reality that they are no longer as important as they once were.

This is the time of Duterte and his people’s army. This is the time of the masses being able to speak up and make their voices heard without the traditional gate keepers barring their way. This is the time for real change – Duterte style.

Duterte Exposes Cracks in the Catholic Leadership

Image courtesy of Mindavote


Judging from the reactions of most of the people to President Mayor Rody Duterte’s comments on the state of the Catholic leadership in the Philippines, it is clear that there is a big disconnect between the Bishops and the faithful. While some may point to Duterte as causing the rift, the fact of the matter is, the dissatisfaction has been there for a long time and it is only getting attention now because he had the courage to talk about it openly.

Just like the media, the Catholic hierarchy in the Philippines has long dominated the national public agenda. But also like the oligarchy-controlled networks and publications, they have also glossed over their own accountability for their sins. Issues ranging from pedophilia, political meddling, corruption, and a host of other anomalies big and small have hounded the same organization that has consistently called on the country’s political leaders to live morally upright lives.

And this is what Duterte has been going after. In all his interviews, he is careful to separate the sins of the leaders with the piety of the faithful. He talks about the bishops greed, and the poverty of the masses. He points out the weakness of the leaders, and the strength of the faith of the ordinary Filipino believer.

By publicly tackling these taboo issues, Duterte has opened a can of worms and possibly created lifelong enemies that will stop at nothing to remove him from office. Left unchecked, this could be a dangerous threat for Duterte. The tentacles of the bishops are long and well connected in powerful places. And with powerful people. People who would have a lot to lose if Duterte succeeds in his change agenda.

One thing going for the President though is the fact that he has been able to tap into a well-spring of public support, fed by a seemingly unlimited river of frustration with the status quo. If he is able to do as well, or better than he has now, this will be his shield against the slings and arrows that will inevitably increase in intensity in the coming months.

Next: Booming Davao

Our Views on the News