What is the “Matrix”?
“It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.”That’s what the wise elder Morpheus tells Neo in the beloved sci-fi flick “The Matrix,” a movie about a listless young man realizing that everything he had been told about his world was a lie, and that he and his fellow human beings had been living in a simulated reality called, well, the Matrix.
Simulated reality is what comes to mind, too, over the just-released document improbably named “Association Matrix Between BIKOY and ELLEN TORDESILLAS,” in which a rudimentary diagram — passed off as the work of “a group sympathetic to the President and deeply involved in the IT business” who “decided to provide the information to the President out of concern” — is supposed to show via “Email foot prints” (sic) that a slew of journalists, lawyers and media organizations is in a grand conspiracy to oust the government of President Duterte.
The Manila Times published what it must have imagined was a blockbuster story under the byline of its very owner and publisher, a Duterte-appointed “special envoy for international public relations.”
The story cockily implied the unassailability of its source: the Office of the President no less, which, incidentally, was also the accuser.
How convenient — Malacañang feeding the Times with grave insinuations that certain individuals and outfits were engaged in “overt acts to bring down the government,” and that paper parroting the charge against fellow media workers based on the self-serving claims of its source.
Pressed later for any evidence that would support the “Oust Duterte matrix,” presidential spokesperson Salvador Panelo could only manage his usual exquisite contortions before finally giving up on any rational explanation: “Galing kay Presidente, e. Paniwalaan niyo (It’s from the President, so you should believe it).”
Where did the President get his information? Panelo said he didn’t know, but “considering he is the President, he has so many sources, e validated ’yan (it’s assumed to be validated).”
It took less than a day for observers and plain citizens alike to punch yawning holes in the so-called validated matrix.
Winnie Monsod, one of the names mentioned, was identified as a Rappler journalist. She is not; she is a columnist in this paper.
Veteran journalist Inday Espina Varona is not a lawyer, much less connected with the National Union of Peoples’ Lawyers. Varona, who used to work for The Manila Times, was obviously chuckling when she posted online: “My former employer just promoted this University of the Philippines dropout to lawyer. Journalist to lawyer. Just on those glaring errors of fact, that article fails big time.”
Other big-time falsehoods in the “validated” document: Luz Rimban, a founding trustee of the media organization Vera Files, said she had been out of the group since 2018 to focus on her duties at the Ateneo de Manila University.
The Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, linked by the document to journalist Ellen Tordesillas as alleged collaborators on the release of the recent “Bikoy” videos where an unidentified man accuses the President and his family of overseeing the drug trade, flatly denied being in touch with Tordesillas, or running any stories on the videos for that matter.
Tordesillas herself dismissed the charge as “hilarious,” adding: “What I find disturbing is, if this is the kind of intelligence report that the President gets and bases his actions and policies on, the country is in big trouble.”
Indeed — hilarious and disturbing. This absurd “matrix” — the latest one, anyway, from an administration dangerously besotted with funny-looking diagrams meant to intimidate pet enemies such as alleged drug lords, detractors and critics, and basically anyone calling bull on the Palace — is exactly what the movie’s definition of the word is: something that’s being pulled over the eyes of the people to blind them from the truth.
But hardly anyone is fooled. Public laughter and savage memes greeted the release of the matrix, and even the Armed Forces, it seems, isn’t buying.
While Panelo was turning himself into a pretzel conjuring an “oust-Duterte” scenario, AFP Public Affairs Office chief Col. Noel Detoyato was quick to swat down the talk: “As of now, we have not seen any specific threat,” he said.
Never mind The Manila Times, but there goes, once again, the credibility of Malacañang and its hapless coven of fabulists, whisperers and amateur illustrators.
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