The Sorry State of Philippine Political Discourse

The level of political conversation in a country is a determinant to its social and economic progress.

Over the past few weeks, the tension between pro-Duterte supporters (popularly known as the ‘DDS’) and anti-Duterte supported (popularly known as ‘Dilawans’) has escalated. This is fueled by the ongoing word war between PCOO Assistant Secretary Margaux Uson and celebrity icon Kris Aquino. Their exchanges have become subject of online discussions on multiple social media platforms. While the controversy has lost steam following Typhoon Habagat and the celebration of Independence Day, the political conversation focused on the clash between the DDS and Dilawans will continue as we near the commencement of the 2019 Election Season. This situation speaks of the sorry state of political discourse in the country.

The level of political discussions in this country has greatly diminished over past years. Gone are the days of the Tolentinos and Salongas where the quality of policy debates was the point of interest of many Filipinos’ discussions in their respective households and offices. Today, social media conversations are falsely being perceived as a legitimate medium for public consultations instead of proven face-to-face public assemblies and focus group discussions. Moreover, the social media space is polluted by propaganda and fake news.

The reduction in the level of political discourse in the country can be attributed to so many factors. Most social media users exercise little discernment over articles they read online. Very little critical thinking is also being introduced in our current educational system despite cracks at substantive curriculum reform. Worst, people have willingly given up their objectivity and sense of right and wrong due to excessive idolatry.

Meaningful and substantive policy and programmatic debates are no longer the currency in this day and age. Truth be told, ad hominems and toilet humor have clouded many people's minds and judgment on crucial political issues. What makes matters worse is that some appointed officials are guilty of peddling these uncalled-for words and acts.

The level of political conversation in a country is a determinant to its social and economic progress. Unfortunately, the Philippines is still considered a third world country as its level of political maturity remains significantly underdeveloped.

Political bickering, which is one of the most common manifestations of our underdeveloped political maturity, is an exercise in futility. Choosing one personality over another will not solve poverty, unemployment and corruption. Lambasting those who do not share the same political views will only sow further division and hatred amongst our people. Instead, our focus should be geared towards creating channels where people can engage in meaningful political debates and dialogues on critical policies and programs.

At the end of the day, the quality of our political discourse weighs heavily on our political maturity as a people. In the absence of a politically mature people, the country will never be able to achieve lasting economic and political stability.

Unfortunately, political astuteness is not for sale in the market. If it were, we’d have a shortage of supply by now with the huge demand.


About the Author
Mr. Aaron Benedict De Leon is currently a Business Development Practitioner in a private consulting firm. He has more than six years of professional experience in leading and managing political and non-government organizations, specializing in organizational management, policy development and program management. He has had stints with notable political/socio-civic organizations, serving in various capacities as: Secretary-General of the Centrist Democratic Party of the Philippines (CDP) [2013-2015], Founding Chairperson of the Centrist Democratic Youth Association of the Philippines (CDYAP) [2012-2014], Philippine Representative to the International Young Democrat Union (IYDU) [2011-2012], Chairperson of the Christian Democratic Youth [2011-2012], Secretary-General of YOUTH Philippines [2010-2011], and Spokesperson/Communications Director of the GT2010 Gilbert Teodoro Presidential Campaign [2009-2010].
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