The ‘pepe’ and  ‘dede’ of governance

Congratulations to Communications Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson. In just 24 seconds, the beauteous retired purveyor of online porn has done more for federalism than what the entire 25-person Constitutional Committee of President Duterte has achieved in the past six months.

On Thursday, Aug. 2, Mocha and friend Drew Olivar aired a brief online video on federalism. Federalism, with 18 federated regions, is being proposed by the Con-Com headed by former Chief Justice Reynato Puno as a panacea to the Philippines’ age-old problems of poverty, income inequality, and government corruption and incompetence.

The video has been seen by at least 362,000 people, making it viral. An old video on federalism aired on YouTube which explains in pedantic and perfunctory tone the United States federalism has only 32,000 views.

In the Age of the Internet, communications is not just about information or education. It is more entertainment. Information that is bullsh*t is more entertaining and better appreciated when peddled as pure entertainment that is part joke, part satire, and part goodtime. “Good time” is a Filipino slang for “pulling one’s leg.” It also has sexual connotations.

In a 24-second video entitled “Good News Game Show with Drew and Mocha,” Drew danced a jingle with the following lyrics: “I-pepe, i-pepe, i-dede, i-dede, i-pepe-pepe-pepederalismo!”

The male host suggestively touched his crotch (his “pepe”) and chest (his “dede”) while dancing the jingle.

To me, the video and its lyrics are pregnant with meaning. It shows Mocha has, indeed, something between her ears.

In Filipino slang, “pepe” refers to the genitals. Young boys are instructed by their moms to bring out their “pepe” to urinate as part of their toilet training. “Dede,” on the other hand, usually refers to a woman’s breast. When a baby is hungry, the baby has to “dede” and the mother exposes her “dede.”

Now, any government worth its salt has two basic functions—feeding the people (the “dede” function) and running a clean and efficient government, otherwise, the people are screwed up (this is the “pepe” function).

Now, can a proposed federal government do its “dede” function well?

Judging by recent history, the answer is No. That is why you have inflation that is the highest in six years. The current (July) 5.7 percent inflation is basically a reflection of high food prices. Food prices are high because there is not enough supply of it. Like rice. The country needs to import rice yearly to the tune of two million tons.

But the government effectively bans rice imports and imposes hefty tariffs on its importation—35 to 50 percent. This makes Philippine rice price double the world price of rice.

Unfortunately, rice is 20 percent of the Consumer Price Index. Of very 100 CPI points, 20 points come from rice, meaning 20 percent of the average Filipino household’s expenditure is spent on rice. Of the annual inflation rate of 5.2 percent in June, 0.5 percent came from rice, which means that without rice, the inflation rate would have been just 4.7 percent.

Another major contributor to high inflation is fish. It contributed 0.6 percent to the 5.2 percent June inflation rate. Without fish, the inflation rate would have been just 4.6 percent. The Philippines also has a severe fish shortage. Yet, the government restricts fish imports with tariffs of 7 to 15 percent.

Together, rice and fish contributed 1.1 percent to the June inflation rate. Without rice and fish, the June inflation rate should have been just 4.1 percent, and there would not have been sharp increases in interest rates and in prices of other commodities. Duterte’s net satisfaction rating, per the Social Weather Stations survey of June 2018, would not have dropped precipitously to +45 in June, from +59 in March, a sharp fall of 14 points. Assuming there are 50 million adult Filipinos, a 14-point drop is equivalent to 7 million people. That’s big.

The Consultative Committee (Con-Com) which drafted a new Constitution had previously tapped Uson to educate Filipinos on federalism.

Con-Com spokesperson Ding Generoso said more Filipinos would know about federalism because Uson has a huge following on social media, with her Facebook page having close to 5.7 million followers.

After the outrage that the “pepe, dede pederalismo” video has triggered, Generoso, the ConCom itself and countless thoughtful Filipinos have distanced themselves from Mocha Uson.

Common. Mocha Uson has just taught us an important lesson in governance. Governance is feeding the people. That is dede. Failing in that, government screws you up. That is the pepe part.

Believe me. Just like the present and the previous forms of government for the Philippines, federalism surely won’t deliver on both the “dede” and “pepe” of governance.

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Topics: Tony Lopez , The ‘pepe’ and  ‘dede’ of governance , Mocha Uson , federalism
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