A world of lies
We are wallowing in a world of lies, especially these days as politicians jostle with each other for seats in the Senate and the House of Representatives as well as for various local positions.
Our parents and elders may have taught us not to tell lies—it is, according to many religions, a sin—but our putative leaders, at least those allied with the Duterte administration, are busy convincing the public that lying is not only NOT a sin, it is expected of candidates running for public office.
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte, who observers say is campaigning for the Hugpong ng Pagbabago to soften the ground for her own alleged presidential run in 2022, put it succinctly: “I tell them all (Hugpong candidates) that there is no single candidate who does not lie, so honesty should not be an issue now.”
She was reacting to charges that “government funds” had been used to fund the seemingly illegal campaigning of former presidential special assistant Bong Go with T-shirts bearing his name and visage included in the kits given during an assembly of local government officials. “Inday” Sara got back at the accuser, opposition senatorial bet Gary Alejano, who she said had been lying since participants had paid for the kits—without mentioning that these had been paid for by funds provided by their own local governments.
Mayor Duterte also got back at critics who said the issue regarding the discredited educational credentials of former Ilocos Norte Gov. Imee Marcos was not a mere question of “qualifications” but of “honesty.” Well, according to the mayor, no problem, since everyone lies anyway.
This cavalier attitude toward the truth was seconded by presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo. He was reacting to accusations of plunder committed by the Marcos family which his principal, the President, casts doubts on. Pooh-poohing lingering anger at the massive plunder of state resources by the Marcos family during their 21-year stay in power, Panelo resorted to an ad hominem attack: “These anti-Marcos people talk as though the Marcoses stole a mountain of money (Kung makapagsalita naman kasi ang mga anti-Marcos, parang gabundok ang ninakaw…)”—conveniently forgetting that the Supreme Court and even courts outside the country had found proof of the Marcoses’ corruption, with the total amounts stolen equivalent indeed to a “mountain of money.”
One administration candidate should be commended, though, for his honesty. Former police official Ronald “Bato” dela Rosa, asked his thoughts on his party mates’ seeming allergy to debates with the opposition, declared: “Let’s be frank. Those people (rally audiences), would they purposely go just to listen to issues? I don’t think so. Those people go there to be happy. If you make people laugh, they’d be more at ease with you.”
He forgets, it seems, that people are supposed to vote for candidates based on their positions on issues and not on how well they sing, dance and share jokes, or how they look. Again, dishonesty in intent and attitudes toward their role as legislators and fiscalizers.
Indeed, the truth appears to be a casualty not just in this campaign but in the last few years since the advent of social media and the fudging of the once clear lines between propaganda and news, truth and falsehoods. As observers note, we are now living in a “post-truth” world. “In the hands of the powerful, or those bent on climbing the ladders of power over others,” writes Australian political science professor John Keane, “the post-truth phenomenon functions as a new weapon of political manipulation.”
Post-truth, posits Keane, “is not only about winning votes, siding with friends or dealing with political foes. It has more sinister effects. It is a gaslighting exercise.”
“Gaslighting” is a term taken from the title of the movie “Gaslight,” where an opera singer is manipulated by her husband who wants to make it appear that she is going insane. By means of lies, innuendo, manipulation and outright deceit, the heroine nearly falls for her husband’s schemes, until she meets a detective who helps her find out the truth.
In much the same way are we, Filipino voters, being led to believe that lies are truth, that truth does not matter, that honesty is fakery, and falsity is all part of the game.
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