By Boni Macaranas
Ferdinand R. Marcos, Jr and Sara Duterte are now the country’s top public officials as President and Vice-President, respectively. While questions have been raised by various democratic organizations and sectors about their victory in the recent polls, this Marcos-Duterte tandem along with their allied public officials hold political and economic powers now – the country’s dynasts.
And based on the Philippine Constitution’s Preamble, every government official’s mandate is essentially “to build a just and humane society.”
Will these leaders faithfully observe their mandate to pursue good governance for the more than 112 million of their fellow countrymen? We the people naturally hope that they should, as they swore under oath during their official installations.
Campaign for ‘Unity’
However, this new administration has come facing the legacy of former President Rodrigo Roa Duterte. And if we were to guess how Marcos Jr – Duterte will perform, we cannot help but look back at how this tandem carried out their campaign for “unity.”
They did not elaborate on their program of government to address, among others, the economic problems and the current pandemic and health issues bearing down on the millions of Filipinos. This tandem avoided participating in the Public Forums organized for all the presidential candidates to present their programs of government.
We are aware too that they have behaved the past six years without airing any adverse comment or criticism about how the former president called the Philippine Constitution as only “a piece of paper,” or avoided boldly calling on the Chinese to respect our sovereign rights over the West Philippine Sea. Marcos Jr and Sara Duterte did not say a word of caution or criticism of the thousands of EJKs involving mostly poor Filipinos under the government’s “War on Drugs.”
Army of Trolls
Marcos Jr. was seen on social media as having admitted having a “troll army.” This doubtless led to the overwhelming deluge of disinformation that most likely drowned out the truth for the people to see and understand the real situation.
Thus, it looks like this new administration will pursue whatever key policies and programs of the past leadership – among which mainly its legacy of disseminating disinformation. And this is a dangerous possibility. The confusion of what is fact or fiction in various social media platforms can cause the corrosion of our democracy.
The past six years saw the former president saying one thing, and his spokesperson saying another, confusing the Filipino viewers. Remember his campaign promise about riding a jetski to assert our sovereignty over the West Philippine Sea? Months later he said it was a joke.
And a major promise he made as a candidate was to solve the country’s drug problem in six months, but again he had to confess midway in his term that it was hard to lick the problem. During the campaign period, he kept the people guessing on who he felt were worthy of his endorsement. His public statements were usually taken as policy directions by his officials.
Moreover, the Duterte administration’s “red-tagging” campaign against perceived critics or opponents resulted in illegal arrests and assassinations. Clearly aggravating the situation of confusion in the news was the undeniable historical revisionist messages on social media by the Marcos camp, disseminated even years before the campaign period for the May elections.
It was therefore understandable that implementers among his official family and the decision-makers among the general population received only mixed signals and had to guess what is true or not. Heads of government agencies and other private institutions had to make their own analysis of situations.
In a nutshell, such confusions as to the truth or falsehood or fake news that bombard people in cyber space and in mainstream media somehow erodes the integrity of the democratic institutions – the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government, educational institutions, non-government and civil society organizations, and various sectors of society.
Such is the corrosive effect on the country’s democracy. And to preserve whatever gains the people still have in their quest for Truth, Justice and Peace, and cherish “a just and humane society,” they need to raise genuine People Power!