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A “Pangulo” ideology: leader-centrism and the return of a Marcos presidency


The latest 2022 Philippine Nationwide Elections have been one in all, if not essentially the most, polarising and puzzling one within the nation’s political historical past. It had reaffirmed outdated and embedded rules in politics whereas revealing some new traits. Essentially the most noticeable attribute of the election is the dominance and eventual victory of Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., regardless of his household’s tainted fame. Many attribute his resurgence to the rise of pretend information, historic revisionism, and disinformation in social media. Sophistication and saturation of mentioned disinformation however, psycho-political circumstances have facilitated the resonance of Marcos’ electoral marketing campaign. Disinformation concerning the Marcos narrative has resonated as a result of it appeals to deeper political values shared by many Filipinos who additionally see themselves as largely ignored by the EDSA regime and maligned by its partisans.

The absence of political events with distinct ideologies is just not tantamount to both absence or weak point. Ideology itself is irreducible to get together doctrine however is, fairly, constituted by each key ideas and a political worth system whose coherence might be analysed by political psychology. On the coronary heart of the 2022 Philippine elections is a leader-centric political worth system which is characterised by deep political reliance on leaders.

For the case of the Philippines, leader-centrism manifests itself by the next:

First, leader-centrism entails a detailed political and private identification with their particular person chief. Some could label this as persona politics, however it’s restricted to the attraction to sure attributes of a person chief or candidate. Somewhat, leader-centric tendencies contain an intense identification with the chief, by which followers construe assaults on their chief as an assault on themselves. These assaults might be attributed to on-line feedback, content material, information gadgets, tutorial works or something with opposing narratives. Thus, historical past, morality and info develop into subservient to the success and safety of their particular person chief.

Second, leader-centrism entails the willingness to give up public coverage to leaders, alongside ethical and patriarchal traces. A earlier research on illiberalism amongst Southeast Asian international locations exhibits that almost all Filipinos are keen to present absolute energy to a frontrunner that they contemplate as morally upright. Moreover, as proven in Tables 1 and a couple of beneath from the Asia Barometer Survey, most Filipinos have clear leader-centric tendencies when it comes to each seeing leaders as a parental determine who is aware of what’s greatest for the folks, and as a decisive entity that may “get issues achieved” even when unusual residents have neither management nor affect over the coverage course of. Regardless of the existence of hybrid tendencies, it’s believable to recommend that the Filipino political psyche is characterised by clear leader-centric tendencies on the expense of citizen-centric ones that are extra appropriate for the pursuit of democratisation.

Why is that this the case? The place does this leader-centrism come from? Remigio Agpalo posits a “Pangulo Regime” that refers to a state beneath the management of the “pangulo” because the metaphorical head of the physique politic. This schema connects the centralisation of state authority in direction of the president with the socio-political fixation on the person chief. Agpalo additionally recognises that this emerges from a Filipino cultural trait of “pagdamay” or collective sharing of experiences that additionally identifies authoritarianism as a sensible technique of implementing “pagdamay.” Whereas Agpalo’s Pangulo Regime consists of institutional facets of presidency, he additionally connects the idea to his normal statement on the Filipino’s cultural tendency to simply accept hierarchical buildings and authoritarianism. Therefore, sustaining the Pangulo Regime is a Pangulo Ideology as the gathering of embedded Filipino political values and ideas that favour leader-centrism, hierarchy, and potential authoritarianism. This idea highlights the cultural and psycho-political facets of a Pangulo Regime.

How has this “Pangulo Ideology” manifested within the latest elections? Bongbong Marcos’ marketing campaign arguably succeeded by deploying the next key ideas extra constantly aligned with a “Pangulo” ideology.

First is the notion of “Unity” or “Pagkakaisa”, the core slogan of his marketing campaign. This embodies each the aforementioned willingness to give up public coverage to a frontrunner as unifying entity, and intolerance in direction of opposition to a selected chief. Unity additionally invokes the physique metaphor inside the Pangulo Regime discourse, which considers all followers as a part of one physique beneath the pinnacle that’s Bongbong Marcos.

Second is “Pagsunod”, or compliance. A typical retort uttered by his supporters is “Sumunod na lang” or “Simply observe” which demonstrates the primacy of conformity as a trademark of authoritarian tendencies within the Philippines. Although this will take the type of a broader worth (i.e. compliance to the regulation and the federal government), what renders compliance a part of a “Pangulo” ideology is its utility to the primacy of a selected chief. Particularly, it turns into compliance to the desire of the chief, and conformity to the teams supporting them.

Lastly is the notion of “kami laban sa kanila” or “us versus them” which embodies the tribalism that outcomes from polarisation between competing leaders and their camps. Opposition alongside coverage traces turns into secondary to the defence of leaders; a mark of ethical politics – a matter good versus evil, of salvation and vindication – over coverage oriented rivalry and consensus formation. Underneath this idea, any criticism or doubt expressed in direction of the chief might be thought-about “unpatriotic” and un-Filipino.


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This ethical antagonism is a product of intensified private identification of followers with leaders because the embodiment of their political beliefs and pursuits. These can vary from a necessity for good governance to the outright need for revenge. For Marcos supporters, Bongbong’s presidential marketing campaign has been a chance to avenge the Marcos legacy and the loyalists who really feel marginalized by the now defunct EDSA regime. Furthermore, Bongbong Marcos’ silent “underdog” and “sufferer” approaches to sustained assaults towards him and his notorious mother and father have amplified the zeal amongst his supporters to defend him. Consequently, their opponents have been pejoratively labelled as “Dilawan” or “yellows” by being related to the Liberal Get together and the EDSA Folks Energy narrative.

The interpretation of leader-centric values right into a “Pangulo” ideology entails the absorption of civic political life beneath the primacy of a frontrunner. This may take varied varieties exemplified by the campaigns of each Bongbong Marcos and his primary contender, Vice-President Leni Robredo. They’re arguably two-sides of the identical leader-centric coin. Each campaigns appealed to “Unity” albeit from completely different angles. The Marcos marketing campaign deployed a generic enchantment to “Unity” that allowed supporters to venture their very own beliefs on it, subsequently disappearing into an amorphous entire. The Robredo marketing campaign in flip deployed sectorial help by the slogan “For Leni” (ex. Lecturers for Leni, Attorneys for Leni, Farmers for Leni, and so forth.). Each campaigns have additionally been marked by rabid tribalism and requires compliance. Within the Robredo marketing campaign, this has taken the type of aggressively forwarding a liberal and anti-Marcos interpretation of Martial Legislation, which in flip have been met by an equally persistent defence of the Marcos legacy. Consequently, the debates on Martial Legislation and the Marcos legacy have led to deepening polarisation and aggression between these two camps.

A core distinction with Leni’s marketing campaign is her concentrate on citizen empowerment by volunteerism. For instance, her volunteer-driven pandemic response  has been interpreted as “upstaging” Duterte’s authorities or management, consequently offending the perfect of hierarchical construction of a “Pangulo Ideology.” The “Robredo Folks’s Marketing campaign” could have attracted and activated most of the educated and progressive sectors of society however not the vast majority of voters nonetheless seeped within the tradition of leader-centrism. It is usually value noting that Bongbong Marcos is following Rodrigo Duterte’s widespread administration which affirmed and strengthened the Filipino’s chief centrism. By allying with Duterte’s daughter, Sara Duterte-Carpio, he appealed and absorbed giant elements of Duterte’s pro-authoritarian base.

These are solely preliminary observations and insights, however they’re essential in understanding the resonance of disinformation, the persistence of autocratic and intolerant tendencies, and the following decline of democratisation within the Philippines. Even conventional political strategies of propaganda and patronage can solely be efficient beneath sure cultural and psycho-political circumstances. General, the present pressure between democratisation and the Pangulo Ideology should be resolved by truthful and thorough re-examination and negotiation. Solely then will a extra vibrant Filipino democracy emerge.

* Information analysed on this article had been collected by the Asian Barometer Undertaking (Waves 4 and 5), which was co-directed by Professors Fu Hu and Yun-han Chu and obtained main funding help from Taiwan’s Ministry of Training, Academia Sinica and Nationwide Taiwan College. The Asian Barometer Undertaking Workplace (www.asianbarometer.org) is solely liable for the info distribution. The creator appreciates the help in offering knowledge by the institutes and people aforementioned. The views expressed herein are the creator’s personal and this paper is just not a part of the venture itself.

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