Espinoza: Will truth prevail?

·3 min read

WITH the internet and social media available to everyone, it’s now hard to tell whether the messages posted on Facebook, a popular social network site among netizens in the Philippines, are puns, the truth or distortion of facts to mislead readers about the truth.

These kinds of messages are at a fever pitch as the election season has started even if the official campaign period still has to begin next year.

Before the advent of IT and during the years that I was still a news reporter for this paper, my fellow media workers, particularly in the broadcast industry, would jokingly start singing the tune of “Happy days are here again,” when it was already election season. But now, the happy days belong to the trolls. Imagine, a single troll could publish several posts on social media or respond to adversarial posts in defense of its clientele.

Unlike in the newspapers, radio or television networks, we cannot just write and print our personal views about the election and the candidates or talk about it on the air without going through the rigid editing (or censorship?) of the editors. The radio blocktimers are an exception, as they are not bound to the standards of radio stations that they paid for an airtime.

In social media, it’s a free world. A netizen can post about anything, from messages that are canny to the ones that are insane. The only restraint for unhinged posts is the possibility of being sued for cyber libel.

Group chats in social media, mostly in support of their candidates for President, have mushroomed. The worst part is that most of the messages are either high praises for their chosen bets, or below-the-belt attacks against other presidential candidates. Lost in the exchange between supporters (some of whom use dirty language) is the discussion of the platforms of governance of their candidates. Discussing candidates’ platforms is the norm in every election.

I would say that only five of the 97 individuals who filed their certificate of candidacy (COC) for the presidency are considered resolute in running for President. In no particular order, they are Vice President Leni Robredo, Senator Manny Pacquiao, Senator Ping Lacson, former senator Bongbong Marcos (BBM) and Manila Mayor Isko Moreno.

Although the rumor is so loud that Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio, the presidential daughter, would run for President, replacing Senator Bato dela Rosa who had filed his COC for President, I did not include her in the list because she had been firm in her public statements that she would not run for the presidency. But many believed that Senator Bato filed the COC on behalf of Mayor Sara. In fact, Senator Bato announced that he will meet with Mayor Sara to ask for her final decision.

Former senator BBM, just like Senator Pacquiao, is on the receiving end of criticisms about his educational qualification and for allegedly lying about it. But defenders of BBM and Pacquiao shrugged off the accusation, justifying that the minimum qualification of a candidate under our Constitution is that one who “knows how to read and write.”

Of course, in our electoral system the “best” qualification of a candidate is that he or she has billions to bankroll his/her candidacy. Sadly, some, if not most voters, don’t read nor mind the superb resume of a candidate. That may sound disparaging to our own kind, but, if I may borrow the infamous line from former US President Trump, “it is what it is.” It is such a sad scene that is embedded in our electoral system. What matters most to some voters is not the high educational qualification and good platform of governance of a candidate, but what a candidate can deliver on or before election day.

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