Information empowers. But in the age of fake news which has found a fertile base in social media especially Facebook, lies being passed on as information have become a powerful tool for mass idiotization.
This occurred to us while watching President Duterte regal the Filipino community in Saudi Arabia, with falsehoods which the audience lapped it up with gusto.
Before some 6,000 OFWs at the Lusail Sports Arena in Doha, Qatar last Saturday, Duterte repeated the false stories he had peddled before about Sen. Antonio Trillanes IV and his fellow military officers stole utensil and beddings of the Manila Peninsula where they set up their base of resistance against the government of Gloria Macapagal Arroyo after they walked out of a hearing in Makati City Hall on Nov. 29, 2007.
In his usual rambling speech, Duterte said: “Isa pa rin iyon gago (referring to Trillanes). Hindi naman napalaban, iyon iyong gagong nagwara-waradiyansa Makati, kasi mag-revolt daw sila tapos sinira iyong Peninsula. Oh, ninakaw lahat ng tinidor, baso,lahat ng inumin bago nag-surrender sa pulis. Sabi ko, napakagago putang ina.
(Another stupid guy. He didn’t fight. He just made a mess in Makati, staged a revolt then destroyed Peninsula. They stole fork, glass, and drank before surrendering. I said stupid, son if a bitch.)"
That’s an outright lie. I, together with more than 50 journalists, covered that happening and nothing of that sort happened. The officers, who are referred to as the Magdalo, conducted themselves in the most decent and respectful manner even in the middle of the siege. It was the military who rammed a tank into the lobby of the hotel, not the Trillanes’ group. Nobody drank liquor during the siege.
One of those officers, Cash Cabochan, reacted with a post in Facebook when Duterte said the same last month.
On Duterte’s allegation that they were cowards (“naduwag”) in the 2003 Oakwood Mutiny and 2007 Manila Pen siege, Cabochan said, “We were not there just to pick up a fight with the Armed Forces but to voice out the problems and corruption that gripped our nation.
"On both incidents, we did not fire a single shot because we believe our country does not need tough guys and dead men. What we need are honest leaders and inspired people. Those incidents won’t give us that. Which is why we chose to live, face the consequences, suffer (with our families), believing that one day we have to rise and fight again for truth and for the Filipino people.
“If fighting tyranny is cowardice, aaminin ko po na duwag po kami. Lagi namang may kaba at takot, pero sa panahon na kailangan tumindig, tatayuan at haharapin po namin ito. (We admit t we are cowards. Having fears and nervousness is normal but in times one has to stand u[, we stand up and face it.) And we will be consistent, problems will not be solved by guns, bullets, and dead bodies. Violence is not the answer. Understanding the message will.”
As to the lies about utensils and beddings, Cabochan said the President should not revise history because a lot of people know what he said did not happen.
He said, to be fair, they should not be the one who should be defending themselves against these false allegations. “Ask the media personalities who were there,” Cabochan said.
“Nakapanliliit po na ang Presidente natin (It’s embarrassing to see our President), on national at international TV, is spreading rumors and lies just to gain sympathy. Maari pong makahawa ang ganitong ugali sa mga (This could infect) cabinet members and supporters," he said.
Cabochan said “Filipinos deserve a leader, leaders for that matter, who will unite us by the truth of his or their words and hearts, and not to divide us by hate, fear, and lies.”
Trillanes refused to be distracted by Duterte’s allegations. He said in a text message: “First of all, everyone knows that it's not true so I'll just let him make a fool of himself. But here's the thing: I accused him of stealing billions of pesos and the most that he could accuse me of is that I stole utensils. So I guess, I won that one."
Trillanes was referring to his exposé about a BPI about of Duterte that was a recipient of deposits that reached some P2.4 billion from 2006 to 2015 which media reported, including ABS-CBN, the Philippine Daily Inquirer.
Trillanes further said that there was at least P211 million in the account in 2014 which Duterte did not declare in his Statement of Assets, Liabilities and Networth (SALN).
He initially denied the existence of the account but later on admitted when private citizens deposited into the account and showed a record of transaction bearing his name and his daughter's, Sara Duterte.
In the same speech at Doha he again lambasted ABS-CBN and Inquirer on reporting about the BPI bank account.
“Huwag kayong makinig kayo lalo na iyang Inquirer na walang—yung before the election, iyong ABS pati iyong Inquirer, nabasa naman niyo may 200 million daw ako. Iyong last minute nabuhos nila. Eh wala na akong magawa eh. Eh sabi ko sa mga tao, kung maniwala kayo, kayo ang bahala. But kung mayroon akong 211 million sa bangko, p***ina mag-withdraw ako bukas At noong na-mayor na ako sinabi ko sa Inquirer pati ABS, nandiyan iyong mga buang siguro diyan …Sabi ko sa Central Bank, buksan ninyo lahat. ‘Pag may kalahati lang ako niyan, I will step down as president
(Don’t believe in the Inquirer- before the election, ABS and Inquirer, you read they said I have P200 million. That’s last minute they poured on me. There was nothing I could do. I told the people not to believe. But if I have 211 million in the bank son –of-…I’ll withdraw tomorrow. When I was mayor I told Inquirer and ABS, there are fools… I told the Central Bank, open everything, if you can find half of the amount, I will step down as president.)”
Duterte, however, never issued a written authorization to support what he kept on repeating in public.
Last February, following Duterte’s public announcement that the Anti-Money Laundering Council (AMLC) can open to the public records of his bank accounts, Trillanes requested the council to release “all flagged/reported” bank transactions of Duterte.
AMLC declined the request saying it would violate the bank secrecy law.
“Whatever reports are in its possession, based as they are based on bank transactions, are confidential and may be disclosed only in strict accordance with the requirements and procedures, and may be disclosed only in strict accordance with the requirements and procedures prescribed under the law and jurisprudence,” the council said.
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Disclaimer: The views in this blog are those of the blogger and do not necessarily reflect the views of ABS-CBN Corp.