June 19, 2018, 11:42 pm
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Poisoning the well

Back in 2013, a colleague of mine expressed concern at the surge of pro-Martial Law propaganda material on the Internet. It depicted Martial Law as a sort of golden age, where Filipinos loved Ferdinand Marcos, and all was well in the Philippines. The material was obviously funded, in the form of scripted videos. It was disturbing back then. Today, it is more disturbing to see that style of propaganda being used to precondition the minds of the public about the pending electoral protest of losing vice presidential candidate, Bongbong Marcos. You could almost see the machine going into full throttle as soon as it became clear that Vice President Leni Robredo won. “Natulog lang kami, nanalo na si Robredo,” (We slept and suddenly Robredo won) implying that there was cheating that happened. Yes, the lead was slim for anyone’s comfort. But the fact that the Marcos camp has thrown everything at Robredo in the last two years and has come up empty-handed shows us how much of a desperate attempt this electoral protest really is. Back in January, the Robredo and Marcos camps traded accusations about the real source of delay in the electoral protest proceedings, eventually leading to a challenge: sign a motion to withdraw all your pending motions before the PET. Only Atty. Macalintal showed up with signed motion in hand, of course. Marcos’s lawyers? Nowhere to be found. It seems they only show up when they cannot be confronted with facts, when their propaganda can be left unchallenged. And so, the story goes. It’s a vicious, tiring cycle: the Marcos camp comes up with something absurd, worthy of landing them in the front pages; Robredo is duty-bound to respond, if only to point out the absurdity of the claim of the day. At one point, the Marcos side dutifully screeched “The audit logs are not inside the ballot box! The audit logs are missing!” and proceeded to ring every alarm bell in town, only to be told by actual election experts that audit logs are not supposed to be inside the ballot boxes. The sane ones watching can only shake their heads in disbelief, wondering how utterly obtuse these talking heads can get. It’s an underhanded tactic meant to poison the well, in the event that the PET throws out Marcos’s protest. These seemingly absurd allegations are meant to plant seeds of doubt in the minds of the audience, with persistent bits of alleged wrongdoing. In essence, it is the exercise of repeating the lie over and over until some people believe it. They’ll be prepared to discard these theories if they are proclaimed the victor, trumpeting their trust in the process, but it will be as easy to turn the other way in case Robredo’s victory is upheld. The Marcoses are clearly grasping at straws at this point, with the electoral contest taking longer than they expected. By October, certificates of candidacy for the 2019 elections need to be filed, and Bongbong cannot do so without abandoning his protest. It now seems that his sister, Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos will now step up to the plate, to ensure that their family stays in power and influence. This means they have to field more family members to keep their hold in the North, especially cumbersome since House Majority Leader Rudy Fariñas is now on his third term as Ilocos Norte representative. As the days wear on, we can expect more smokescreens from the Marcos camp. The more mud they throw, the bigger indication of yet another looming victory by Robredo, who remains steadfast amidst all the noise. Desperate times call for desperate measures, as the old adage goes, and there can never be a measure too desperate for those thirsting to reclaim the old power they used to wield.
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