Want to Run for President? Start by Buying a Dictionary

picture credit: Filo E.Noynoy Aquino was at it again last night, describing himself as a “fiscalizer” in an interview with CheChe Lazaro on ABS-CBN’s “Probe Profiles” program. The term, which has its roots in the Spanish word fiscalizar, is described in David Chan-oong Kang’s 2002 book Crony Capitalism: Corruption and Development in South Korea and the Philippines in this manner:

“…a unique Filipinism that means one who keeps criticizing the party and providing exposés of fiscal corruption. The ‘fiscalizer’ acts as social safety valve even though he may well have taken graft previously or may simply be waiting for his turn.” (emphasis added)

Kang explains that the process by which one becomes a ‘fiscalizer’ is the pendulous nature of Philippine politics: losing an election puts one in the ‘opposition’ role, while the oligarchs and vested-interest hangers-on flock to the smorgasbord of favouritism represented by the winner. Eventually, the demands of favour-seekers on the leadership become too great, providing an opportunity for the ‘oppositionist fiscalizer’ to counter-offer favours to win parts of the leadership’s influence base to his side, swinging power back in the other direction.

Thus, Aquino’s describing himself in the present-tense as a ‘fiscalizer’ is probably accurate, but his assertion that he will continue to be one when President – and even worse, his campaign manager Butch Abad’s implication that this characteristic is precisely the reason why Aquino will be a good President – is fallacious. If anything Noynoy the President, as one of my colleagues pointed out, will be the one being “fiscalized” rather than being the “fiscalizer”. The most distressing aspect of Aquino’s constant use of the term, along with his frequent referral to his birthright, is that it does nothing more than portray him as another trapo – one who is simply “waiting for his turn”.

This is the danger of political rhetoric based on buzzwords and sound bites and vaguely-sinister hand gestures rather than clear and constructive issue-based platforms. The golden phrases of the campaigner are either meaningless – terms like “political will” and “level playing field” – or mean something quite the opposite of what the speaker wishes us to believe. In either form, they are demagoguery: insipid pseudo-intellectualisms that harm the national debate by diverting all attention from real issues.


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19 Responses to Want to Run for President? Start by Buying a Dictionary

  1. Hyden Toro says:

    I dont think he did a lot, while in the Senate. The guy is tied up with his family interests at the
    Hacienda Luisita in Tarlac. He is just a remnant of Filipino Feudalism. Same as his family.

    They just got lucky because they were against Marcos. If it would be the other way around.
    Marcos would had been the hero. And they would had been the “contrabidas”. I think the
    late Ninoy Aquino was responsible for giving power the the NPA insurgents. Which we are
    fighting today.

  2. BongV says:

    Who exactly will Noynoy “fiscalize”?


    The Supreme Court?

    The oligarchs who bankrolled his campaign?

    The AFP generals?

    The Office of the President? 🙂

  3. GabbyD says:

    i’m shocked ur havent considered the other possibility 🙂 he fiscalizes the executive branch, as president.


    just because some guy defines fiscalizer in some way, doesnt mean its right.

    • BenK says:

      First of all, why should I, as an observer/hypothetical voter, have to consider other possibilities? The candidate is the one applying for the job, it’s his responsibility to MAKE CLEAR – not offer vague statements of intent that are subject to interpretation – what he plans to do with it.

      Second, look at Kang’s explanation and compare it to the 100-odd legislators in this country who are not part of the administration bloc, and honestly tell me that isn’t a pretty darned accurate description of what a “fiscalizer” is.

    • GabbyD says:

      it turns out that it was butch abad who used the word fiscalizer, not noynoy…

      watching it, its clear what abad meant noynoy was a fiscalizer in congress.

      it wasnt about his future plans….

      my earlier point, this clarification notwithstanding, is that noynoy, or anyone, is free to define fiscalizer as he wishes.

      • BenK says:

        No, he’s not. It’s not even a real word in English, but the term having developed, it has to have a distinct definition. Otherwise Noynoy is even more vacillating, random, uninspired, and clueless than he already comes across.

        Defining himself as a “contrarian” (Butch Abad be damned, it’s on Noynoy’s website, so don’t try to divert attribution for it) is not a favorable recommendation for anything, apart from perhaps leading a rebellion.

      • GabbyD says:

        he doesnt? wow, word nazi! 🙂 i guess its a definition of a word that doesnt formally exist — you or i may reject or accept as we see fit. Just as you accepted kang’s definition, but reject butch abads. fine. but i do agree he must at least be consistent…

        also, you dont like the word “contrarian”? or you think contrarian = rebellion? the dictionary disagrees w u buddy!

      • BenK says:

        Kang’s definition is based on a record of behavior of Philippine politicians that spans the history of the Republic. If anyone – Butch Abad, Noynoy, you, or whoever – wishes to refute to it, present evidence of another definition. Blue does not mean red just because someone says so.

        I’ll assume Noynoy didn’t actually do his homework, and even look up what “fiscalizer” means and how the concept is perceived – Kang’s book is pretty close to the top of a Google search of the word.

        And yes, I do have a big problem with Noynoy taking a contrarian point of view, and to be fair to him, he’s not the only one with the problem. Too many candidates running by being “against” something, and not bothering to tell us what they’re “for”. “Transparency” and “defending democracy” and similar b.s. doesn’t count — those are prerequisites, not attributes.

  4. benign0 says:

    From Patricia Evangelista’s Jesus in Yellow on the Inquirer.net:

    In a nation where government responsibility has shifted to the media, and calls for aid are directed to newsroom desks instead of the hotlines of the National Disaster Coordinating Council, this sort of move isn’t particularly surprising. A united GMA7 and ABS-CBN may seem like the best of metaphors for a united nation, but it says very much about the sort of man Noynoy Aquino is. Flanked by stars, surrounded by celebrities, content to ride on the waving banner stamped with his parents’ faces. There is no message, other than that personality is king. There are no voices, not even his. His defenders say it’s not the time for campaign—and yet that video rolls on and on in prime time television. You are not alone, they say, but who stands with you? Anne Curtis? Ate Shawie? Marielle Rodriguez? Just recently, Noynoy promised to give up his share of Hacienda Luisita, and yet denies knowing of eviction notices to farmers even while the case sits in the Supreme Court.

    Noynoy represents the privatisation of accountability and its outsourcing to Media. He is the new breed of Pinoy politicians — relegated to making appearances whilst the parasites that surround him (his “supporters” are pretty much at liberty to spin all sorts of bullshit that pass of as his “message” to his constituents).

    A commentor described the veneer of “substance” that surrounds bozos like Noynoy quite well on Peyups.com:

    celebrity-laden but message-less mtv-like campaign ads

    Very little to work with — that’s Da Pinoy. 😀

  5. Pingback: Why I Will Not Vote for Noynoy: Part 2 « papi for president!

  6. Not just kang-minded says:

    Kang is an expert one but don’t just base your judgment on his definition or perspective. i know you are an intelligent man, please be open-minded and not just kang-minded. Btw, in your article
    “Want to Run for President? Start by Buying a Dictionary”, there was no single definition nor concept taken from a (not kang-minded) dictionary.

    I will rather go for a fiscalizer (which may not be meant as kang meant it, since he is not a perfect being) than a secretary (who is called a “PRINCIPLED MAN”) who just remained silent and looked on his boss’ wrongdoings.

    • BenK says:

      First of all, what makes you think I’m not open-minded? I searched for what ‘fiscalizer’ might mean, that’s how I found Kang’s book. And I balanced all the available interpretations – one from a dictionary, one from a scholar of Philippine politics, and one from the candidate himself – and guess what? The definition of what Noynoy is – based on his record and his own words and behaviour – is best described by the scholar’s definition. I say again: anybody thinks I’m wrong, or more specifically, Mr. Kang is wrong, present a better, evidence-based definition. And, btw, I didn’t see the dictionary definition you feel my article is lacking in your comment, either, so…your appeal to my open-mindedness is a little hollow in that respect.

      All that aside, I’ll go back to another of my previous points: why should anyone at all be obliged by the candidate to interpret what he is and what he stands for? Shouldn’t he just be able to tell us plainly?

      • GabbyD says:

        butch abad DID present a definition of fiscalizer.

        you, however, reject it and prefer the definition of mr kang. you are free to do so, but know this: abad used that word without referencing kang’s definition. this is taking mr abads own words out of context.

        abad is free to put words in the context he wants to. We need to interpret this in the light of that context.

        see, kang’s definition of fiscalizer is not the same as “define red”. mr kang’s definition is more like a generalization, than a definition — a definition is a term that is true for all cases. A generalization is not true for all cases.

      • BenK says:

        That’s still b.s., Gabby. Abad is free to present whatever definition he likes, that is true, but having done so does not make him automatically right. He has to demonstrate in some way how his definition is better than another, especially since it’s not even a real word (Check out my friend Nick Nicholson’s blog. He made a YouTube video of himself trying to find “fiscalizer” in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary. 404). Kang’s definition is, at this point at least, the better because he said, “This is what fiscalizer means in the Philippine context, based on these dozens of repeated examples throughout 70 years of Philippine government”. Whereas Abad’s definition is, “This is what fiscalizer means because this is what we want it to mean”, which doesn’t match the evidence presented by his manok’s record.

        And again, let me ask, as directly as I can, you and other Noynoy bots who care to accept the challenge: Are we obliged to “interpret” your candidate, or is he going to tell us what he intends to do? And just to save you time, skip the nonsense about “the campaign period hasn’t started”, because if the Noynoy machine was even being halfway honest about that idea they would pull the g.d. stupid triumphalist no-content commercial I’m already getting sick to death of seeing.

  7. Not just kang-minded says:

    Gabby has a point. And about the g.d. stupid triumphalist no-content commercial? Don’t expect that one to like that of others, full of beautiful, heavenly promises and perfectly made slogans and matching letters (airing more than dive times a day in primetime slots) but does not assure of being implemented/delivered because there is still a question if they are competent to put up an honest and competent government, not just government brought about by politics of patronage and convenience and cash gifts (inside a paper bag).

  8. just saying my thought says:

    napakaganda ng gusto nyo iparating sa bansa natin, maganda ang hangarin ninyo.
    sana lahat ng pilipino katulad nyo magisip. para kahit papaano malaki ang tsansa ntn magbago.
    kaso ang majority ng mga pilipino, kulang sa aral, nakukuntento sa kung ano ang nasa harap,
    walang pakialam, mas gusto ang kanya kanya. marami sa kanila ang hindi alam kung bakit sila
    boboto at para saan ang boto nila. sana ngayon eleksyon ngitian mo naman ang pilipinas panginoon.

    • nymphetamine says:

      Walang pakialam ang sinasabi mong Panginoon sa eleksyon. Ito ay opinyon ko lamang. Kahit siguro magdasal tayo sa lahat ng santo at Diyos, kung ang mga tatakbong kandidato eh tulad ni Noynoy, eh di mas mabuti pang wag na lang tayong dumasal.. LOL

  9. Pingback: 33 Reasons Why I Will Vote for Noynoy.. NOT | The Anti Pinoy :)

  10. Pingback: Tweets that mention Want to Run for President? Start by Buying a Dictionary | Anti-Pinoy :) -- Topsy.com

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