Revenge of the provincianos

Published April 27, 2018, 10:00 PM

by Mario Casayuran and Vanne Elaine Terrazola

Getsy Tiglao
Getsy Tiglao

By Getsy Tiglao


The University of the Philippines College of Law and the Ateneo de Manila University School of Law appear to be slipping. For the second year in a row, the two Manila-based law schools failed to get into the top 10 while the law schools in the provinces were the ones that dominated the list of bar topnotchers.

The 2017 bar exam topnotcher is Mark John H. Simondo from the University of St. La Salle in Bacolod City. The top four were all law school graduates from the provinces, with two coming from the University of San Carlos (USC) in Cebu City. Last year’s bar topnotcher, Karen Mae L. Calam, was from the USC as well.

For decades UP Law and Ateneo Law were considered the top law schools in the country. But this thinking may soon change as the standards in the two schools continue slipping even as the provincial law schools graduates show outstanding performances in the bar exam conducted by the Supreme Court.

The only Metro Manila-based schools to get into the top 10 are the University of Santo Tomas and San Beda College Manila, the alma mater of Davao City’s most famous son, President Rodrigo R. Duterte. The President obtained his law degree from San Beda College of Law in 1972.

UP and Ateneo are schools of the country’s elite class. Even though UP is a state university, many of its students are from the middle to upper classes of society who intend to forge lucrative careers in law, medicine, politics, or in business.

It is a scandalous fact that the government continues to subsidize the education of UP students from the higher economic classes, many of whom would later go abroad and change their citizenships. This they do instead of giving back to the country that helped them get an education.

On the other extreme, some UP students with their misguided passions have proven to be easy recruits for the Communist Party of the Philippines. They fail to recognize that the CPP is nothing more than a murderous extortion gang. Its primary goal: the downfall of government and civilized society.

Ateneo, meanwhile, is the bastion not only of the elite but of the landed, oligarchic class whose politics remain firmly in the so-called “yellow camp” or those still supportive of the Aquino-Cojuangco family and the mythology of EDSA, a set of 1980s-era political beliefs that are slowly losing adherents.

The past two years have witnessed a sea change in Philippine politics, and it seems also in the society at large. Whereas before it was the Manileños that were always in charge of government, now it is the Davaoeños and Mindanaoans that are in top positions in Malacañang, the legislature, the military, and the rest of government.

During the May, 2016, presidential campaign, Duterte was often derided by his detractors as nothing more than a provinciano. They cited his crass language and colorful jokes as evidence of his lack of sophistication and unfitness for public office.

Boy, did Duterte prove these Manileños wrong. He showed them that the majority of the voting public don’t care whether you curse in public or show up in crumpled shirts as long as you get the job done. Also he confirmed what we’ve known all along: Filipinos want a strong leader to lead this raucous nation of 100 million.

Duterte appointed to top positions in government many Davaoeños with some classmates from San Beda, a lot of former military men (with their great organizational skills, they’re the best kind of bureaucrats), a smattering of officials aligned with former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and surprisingly, many holdovers from the former administration of Benigno Aquino III.

Appointing officials from various political camps shows the President’s lack of vindictiveness, unlike previous dispensations which removed laudable projects or programs just because it was the idea of their political “enemy.” The key here is to become a team player once you are in government. If you want to criticize the boss, just resign and become a full-time oppositionist.

Filipinos from the provinces still hold many of the old-school Filipino values such as industry, honesty, integrity, and professionalism. Metro Manilans have become too Westernized with their obsession with money, material goods, fame, and power. They’ve forgotten that doing your job well, whatever it is, and serving the country will add meaning and value to your life.

In only two years, the provinciano-powered Duterte administration has been able to undertake massive reforms in almost all sectors of the economy. Former journalist Manny Piñol, from the town of M’lang in Cotabato, is doing a great job boosting the agricultural sector. Zamboanga-born Carlos Dominguez, meanwhile, has overhauled the taxation system to give a tax break to lower-income classes.

Duterte and his Cabinet are the most-hardworking group of people I’ve seen since I began working in media in the 1980s. They’re old school professionals and just like the students in law schools in the provinces, they let their work and output speak for themselves. Bar topnotcher or leader of the Philippines, provincianos rule.