On hoaxes and Propaganda

Before beginning my article on hoaxes and the propaganda machine, I would like to share this video:

Leni Robredo gave a speech at Alabang Country Club last March 21, 2016. The vice-presidential candidate, tells how and why she arrived at the moment of deciding to run in the elections as a district representative and for the second-highest position of the land.

There were times when she seemed that she was about to cry. A poignant part of the speech was when Leni recalls that she was told by her children that it felt like “Dad’s plane was missing again” when she decided to run in the upcoming elections. I was very skeptical of personalities running on the basis of their dead relative’s good name but Leni Robredo’s sincerity and simplicity dispels all of that. In this campaign season full of propaganda, Leni effectively communicates her message as genuine which appeals to even those who are still doubtful of her running mate, Mar Roxas.

If there is any major reason to vote for Mar Roxas, it would be Leni Robredo. He was the only one who approached and sought a candidate who was not really popular (She only registered a mere 1% in surveys up until she announced her intentions) or one who came from money. The Robredos live a decent life, untainted by corruption issues even while serving in the government. According to the speech, both her and Jesse are kind of leaders who had their political awakening during the turbulent years of the Marcos dictatorship. Leni was a college student who started attending mobilizations after the assassination of Ninoy Aquino (the second quarter storm as veterans of those days call the phenomenon). Leni also recalls how Jesse reprimanded her about pulling strings to get a job when she was applying to his government office. Leni was the daughter of a Regional Trial Court judge who was a friend of the governor who readily issued a recommendation letter for his nephew’s reference (Jesse Robredo was the nephew). Leni did not get the job she was applying for, even if assuming that Jesse Robredo was already attracted to her, and even with her credentials (she a degree in Economics from the University of the Philippines) for the simple reason that the job had already been offered by someone else.

That’s the kind of integrity that Jesse Robredo displayed even at a young age (he was 28 years old).

Two weeks later, his office called again and offered Leni a position that required writing skills. Leni wrote an essay about the role of Cory Aquino in the EDSA People Power Revolution. She started her work (and presumably her romance) with Jesse on the 18th of August. Exactly 26 years after, Jesse’s plane would crash off the coast of Masbate and he would be found dead on August 21, 2012 almost twenty years after death of Ninoy Aquino.

While one ha often overlooked the vice-presidency as a spare tire, lessons from history would tell otherwise. GMA’s succession to the office is enough to drive the point but even without the chance of replacement, the disgusting example of a corrupt leader like the current Vice-President Jejomar Binay (guilty according to the Ombudsman he apparently has immunity), who has been campaigning his entire term for the presidency, should remind us to take more consideration on who to choose to seat at the Coconut Palace (a name for a place so bizarre one would think it a place taken straight out of a magic realist novel).

In contrast to the hope one feels over a candidate with integrity having a shot at the vice-presidency, I’ve been terribly annoyed by several hoax political sites such as this, that continue to spread terrible lies aimed at discrediting the campaign of Mar Roxas. On this latest hoax, a “beautiful netizen” reminds Roxas against forcing government employees and soldiers to vote for him. I worked for the government until the 15th of March this year but I was never forced to vote for Roxas. No one ever campaigned inside our offices or threatened to withhold our benefits if we didn’t vote for Mar. The truth is many government employees are voting for Mar and his partido because of the increase in their benefits during the Aquino administration. Add to the fact that for co-terminus government officials and employees, the election of Mar Roxas, means a longer term, another six years of not having to look for a crappy job in the private sector.The support of government employees is only natural if they feel that they are happy.

While the sites seem to have very credible names with their own domains, they seem to have only mushroomed as the campaign season was approaching. They obviously come from various organizations linked to one or more of the presidential candidates. I wouldn’t bet that they only mean to support the candidacy of Mayor Rodrigo Duterte, as they are equally suspect of using the popularity of the feisty Mayor. I have no major issues against Rodrigo Duterte, except for his taking pride for committing human rights violations, and his utterly stupid proposal of Federalism, a form of government copied from the United States, which disregards the historical intentions of our national heroes when they conceived of this nation.

I think that Duterte now has the perfect chance to exercise strong political will by organizing and disciplining his supporters. Until he actually does that, I would believe that Duterte will let false accusations slide (he is not adverse to it anyway as proven by his insistence that Mar did not graduate from Wharton) and that this would be the kind of “wisdom”he will use to impose his style of justice when he becomes president (he seems to be forgetting that there are two other co-equal branches of government).

Duterte may not have intended it but he represents the kind of provincialism and regionalism that has crippled the revolutionary movement of 1896. While it is only urgent to remedy the welfare of the Visayas and Mindanao regions as they have have been treated with less priority by past administrations, it would be foolish to plainly pin this apparent neglect on the presidency. How can improvements on infrastructure go full blast when peace and security issues continue to get in the way?

Even with rapid development, one cannot arbitrarily shift the focus of projects to Mindanao or the Visayas when the majority of the population live in the metropolitan areas. Projects would have to be delivered gradually according to a standard policy and in the right proportions to harvest sustainability so it can go on long after the regimes have changed.

Another issue I would like to raise not against Duterte but on the sensible electorate is the fact that one of Rodrigo Duterte’s closest advisor is a known leader of a cult.  Apollo Quiboloy, not long ago proclaimed himself the “Appointed Son of God” (I wonder when God called for a board meeting in heaven?). The title “Son of God” refers to no one else but Jesus Christ himself so is he saying that Jesus is not enough that God would have to appoint another Son, and from all places in Davao City? You all watched Mel Gibson’s The Passion, so let me know when that messiah is up for keeping it real.

I don’t necessarily find it anomalous that Quiboloy provides Duterte with helicopters and allows him to address his congregation in order to lambaste Mar Roxas about his links to the illegal activities of mining companies (Roxas is a friend of Eric Guttierez, the owner of the mining firm. True, but until solid evidence that Roxas has benefitted from illegal mining has been presented, Duterte’s accusations even if delivered from the pulpit would just be another one of his hoaxes). When he was running for president, Noynoy Aquino, was circumspect enough to decline an invitation in 2010 by Apollo Quiboloy.

What I find anomalous Quiboloy. Just look at the kind of suits he wears and you would sense that something is wrong with him. While I am a church-going person, I would be among those people who would rather that any religious personality keep out from matters of the state. That said, I hope the future president is guided spiritually. I am intrigued at what sort of guidance a false prophet like Quiboloy would offerr with his empathic butchering of traditional Chrisitian doctrines that has successfully swindled millions for his own self-enrichment.

In a time when even a columnist of the Philippine Daily Inquirer can be beguiled into believing hoaxes, us citizens have to be more vigilant and investigative. Google or question everything! Doubt, if only to prove oneself right. Rage against the propaganda machine.



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