CBCP should name insidious forces behind fake news
The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines’ (CBCP) pastoral letter on the May elections (“‘Radical distortions’ of Edsa 1 alarm CBCP,” News, 2/26/22) is a loud wake-up call for Catholics and Filipinos as we elect our national leaders this May. To quote the bishops’ statement: “[W]e are appalled by the blatant and subtle distortion, manipulation, cover-up, repression and abuse of the truth, like: historical revisionism — the distortion of history or its denial; the proliferation of fake news and false stories; disinformation—the seeding of false information and narratives to influence the opinion of people [and] hide the truth to malign and blackmail people.”
Compared to their previous pastoral letters that simply reiterated long-standing moral guidelines in electing the country’s political leaders, this pronouncement by our Church leaders is unprecedented and underscores the perilous state of the current sociopolitical situation.
The CBCP statement is the result of intensive communal discernment but still begs the question: who is the source of the massive disinformation campaign? People exercising their better judgment during this electoral season would easily know which presidential campaign is engaged in this wicked enterprise. But many rabid supporters of the leading candidate have become so falsely indoctrinated by social media and oblivious to historical facts that they easily fall for the “pandemic of lies” generated by the camp of their beloved candidate. They are even viciously purveying these lies.
Our good bishops have shown their firm resolve to exercise their role as spiritual and moral guides to their flock, given the methodical fabrication of lies and half-truths in social media and organized attempts to obliterate the gains of the Edsa People Power Revolution. But by directly naming the insidious forces behind the fake news about martial law and the black propaganda directed at political rivals, Church members would be even more confident of their moral choice when they vote. Many priests, religious and Catholic lay groups have endorsed Vice President Leni Robredo in their individual capacities after assessing the relative qualities of the leading candidates and weighing the likely adverse impact of a Marcos victory.