At Large

‘Post-truth’ and untruths

01:04 AM January 11, 2017

“Post-truth” is supposed to be the word of the year 2016, and frankly, I have a hard time wrapping my brain around what it means. There was a time when something was either true or false, or a half-truth or half-lie. But what is a “post-truth”? Is it a truth that has been twisted into a lie? Or a lie that has been burnished to bear traces of truth?

It brings to mind those illustrations in old catechism books that seek to show what the various states of grace and sin mean. A “grace-filled” soul is shown as a pure white heart, unblemished by sin. The heart of someone who has committed a “venial” sin, which is sinning in the minor leagues, is shown bearing dark spots. While the heart of someone who commits mortal sin is shown to be entirely black. So if “post-truth” is not exactly a lie, is it a truthful statement besmirched by black spots?


Whatever, “post-truth” in this age of social media seems to be a term concocted by so-called trolls who want to put a more pleasant spin to their main activity, which is lying. Directed at social media denizens who cannot be bothered to look beyond the heading, or who are so fanatical in their belief (or disbelief) they accept everything as fact even if it defies their own experience or intelligence, “post-truth” posts contain a little truth here, a little skewed analysis there, lots of deception all around.

Take the fuss being kicked up about the alleged move, led by no less than Vice President Leni Robredo, to oust President Duterte. The allegations are supposed to justify the sudden move (a text message sent by an underling) to kick out Robredo from her post as chair of the Housing and Urban Development Coordinating Council and therefore from the Duterte Cabinet.


As proof, the pro-Duterte operatives cite Robredo’s presence in “several” rallies calling for the ouster of the President. This Robredo has stoutly denied, for which she was roundly called a liar, among the more pleasant of the epithets hurled at her.

For further proof, and to demonstrate how deceptive she has been, some of the operatives posted photos of Robredo present in an affair attended by prominent activists and members of the political opposition. What the “post-truth” champions neglected to mention is the context of those photos and what the affair was really all about.

The photos posted in Facebook were taken at the Bantayog ng mga Bayani (Shrine of Heroes), which honors martyrs and prominent activists who fought martial law. The occasion was the annual enshrinement last Nov. 30 of the names of 19 pre- and post-Edsa heroes in the Bantayog’s Wall of Remembrance.

The occasion held extra significance not only because it was held on National Heroes’ Day, but also because on that day protest actions were held to condemn the burial of the remains of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos in the Libingan ng mga Bayani (Cemetery of Heroes). If the heroism of the 19 honored that day was still in doubt, it was underlined by the stealthy, devious Marcos burial.

Yes, Vice President Robredo was at the event, but she was joined by Duterte’s Social Welfare Secretary Judy Taguiwalo (herself a martial law victim), as well as by families and survivors of the 19 honorees, including the Salongas (whose patriarch, the late Sen. Jovito Salonga, led the move to create the Bantayog); former senator Wigberto Tañada, the present head of the Bantayog Foundation and whose father the former senator Lorenzo Tañada was one of the earlier honorees. On a personal note, also honored that day as a champion of press freedom was my late cousin Letty Jimenez Magsanoc. (“Apostolic” duties prevented me from attending.)

His own narcissistic personality may have led Duterte to assume that Robredo’s presence at the Bantayog affair was her way of thumbing her nose at him. But he hardly figured in the ceremonies and speeches, and calls for him to resign or leave office would be aired at other protest actions where the Vice President was not present.

So, nice try Duterte-ites. You’d have to look elsewhere for incontrovertible “proof” of the Veep’s alleged guilt. But we’re not holding our breath for a clarification, much less an apology, from you.


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TAGS: leni robredo, Marcos burial, ouster plot, post-truth, Rodrigo Duterte, social media, Word of the Year
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