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Is there really a ‘Yellow’ army out there?

President Duterte has blamed much of criticism against him as coming from or is orchestrated by what he calls the “Yellow.”

What the eitch is “Yellow”?

It turns out “Yellow” are supposed to be millions of admirers of former President Benigno Aquino III, whose signature color yellow he inherited from his parents, the murdered politician Ninoy Aquino and former President Cory Aquino.

If you’re active in social media then you know that there are “Yellowtards” and “Dutertards.” Leave it to Pinoys to come up with silly names.

To non-social media types, Yellowtards are supposed to be Aquino supporters and Dutertards are Duterte fans. From what I gather from Facebook, Dutertards don’t seem to mind that they’re called that. In fact, they seem proud to be called that, and they carry the name as a badge of loyalty to the President.

I’ve also seen how vicious they can be in defending their idol. They go to great lengths in castigating Duterte’s critics, cursing them, accusing them of being unpatriotic, and/or threatening them with physical harm.

The Yellowtards, on the other hand, appear to be calmer and less hysterical (although some of them do curse and use foul language, too). They try to reason out with the Dutertards. But they’re often drowned out by the Dutertards. As a consequence, the Yellows often just ignore the Dutertards.

Incidentally, psychologists advice that the best way to deal with what are called Internet “trolls” is to just ignore them and sooner or later they will stop badgering you. Trolls are online provocateurs who send out inflammatory messages to annoy people, start arguments, and pick a fight.

Public discourse is important in a democracy because through it all sides of an issue are discussed. But the debate must be based on reason. Yelling and cursing are not arguments. Threatening other people with harm is, to say the least, unhealthy and even unlawful.

Debate cannot be productive if either or both sides use invectives and bad faith in presenting their respective cases. More sober and reasoned debate is the way to go.

A final point. Is there really a “Yellow” force, an “army” of followers of the Aquino family?

I doubt it. I think the “Yellow” label has been concocted to create a bogeyman, an all-purpose moniker for an imaginary enemy. Otherwise, where are the “Poetards” and the “Binaytards”?

Surely the millions of people who voted for Grace Poe and Jojo Binay also have grievances against the Duterte administration. What has become of them? Have they all slinkered in the dark? Or has everybody turned yellow now? That is unlikely.

Every side of a conflict needs an enemy, a bogeyman, a target, an object of hatred, in order to justify its accusations. President Duterte, for example, cannot just complain to the wind. He needs something or someone to blame. In this particular battle, it has to be the “Yellows.”

But labeling every critic as “Yellow” is off target. Surely there are a great number of Aquino loyalists out there. But “Yellow” is not a monolith. That’s giving too much credit to Aquino.

There are many citizens who disagree with Mr. Duterte’s policies or strategic approaches. They’re not all “yellow.” Many are just plain citizens who have legitimate grievances.