Friday, September 30, 2016

Why Duterte remains popular with the Filipino People (applying Communications theory)x

In the collective consciousness of the Filipino people, this drug menace is a political problem rather than a social one. In the past, massive drug addiction is perceived as a manifestation of a dysfunctional Filipino society. It is a social ill, one of the urban problems which people put themselves thru.

However, as the socialization of the means of production is accompanied by the increasing socialization of the means of consumption, urban problems such as "drugs addiction" becomes political. In the minds of many, the proliferation of drugs is a direct manifestation of systemic decay, of the utter uselessness of the political leadership in addressing its spread and the state's inability to put order to a slowly becoming violent and drug-crazed society.

Thus, while Duterte speaks of his relentless fight against drugs, the mass of people listening to him interprets this as a brave, rational, and substantive attempt at lessening social tensions thru political action. Mass support remains very high because of the frequency and consistency of Duterte's message---that he is here to fight for the people being oppressed by the system, as evidenced by the spread of illicit drugs which victimize millions of poor families, and which spread, the state was rendered inutile.

Duterte will remain popular with the mass of people because he is, consciously or unconsciously, feeding the public with a customized set of messages which, in the absence of gatekeepers, seep into the public sphere thru the least expensive media network---the Internet. The least control of information via the Internet has led to a massive customization of messages which influences the Filipino people’s perception about the Duterte administration. Since there is no one who exercises gatekeeping of information being released online, it is the people who form a collective image or perception based on individualized interpretation of reality, which are parts of a distinctive whole (Gestalt model applied here).

Since many Filipino families are affected one way or the other by this urban problem (drugs), millions of individuals share the president's hatred against it and even subscribe to his prescription ("Killing"). The message thus cuts across socio-economic sectors, grouping individuals into "networks". Thus, sub-consciously, there are two existing networks: those who had direct experience with their loved one "victimized" by drug addiction and those who had no direct experience yet, because of the socialization of this urban problem, share the same sentiment with the president as to its elimination.

Hence, it would be extremely hard to form a strong opposition against Duterte because almost all Filipinos are cognizant of this urban problem and consciously (even unconsciously) hold their own interpretations about its solution. Duterte had not launched an ideological war; rather, he had us believing that solving the drug problem is basically political rather than social.

This explains why Duterte and his associates want nothing more than the head of Senator De Lima in a platter because by prosecuting Delima, they are thus, putting a definitive human and also, political face behind the problem. This administration wants the public to realize that hey, the solution to this drug menace is political rather than a law and order one.

The worst part of this realization is the continuing fascination or talk about this menace while every other urban problem is being left out or being de-prioritized.  One example is graft and corruption. While we animately discuss this drug problem, the people's attention remain fixated into it, causing us to lose sight of other things, mostly political and economic issues.

One of this crucial issues concerns the continuing dominance of the oligarchs in the economic life of the people. While Duterte becomes fixated with this drive against drug, the more serious problems besetting this country remain unresolved.

However, the saving grace here is the continuing decay of neoliberalism, as a form of capitalism. Even without conscious intervention of state institutions, neoliberalism will continue to slide or decay, and eventually, slide to irrelevance. It is safe though for our president to continue playing a toughie because even without doing anything, the mechanism that is neoliberalism, would ultimately reach a state of irrelevance, and decay.