Fake news: An exercise in creativity

Don’t believe everything you read.
Legitimate media have long made it a point to check and double check facts before publication or broadcast. This assures readers that the news they get is credible.
On the other hand, it seems anyone who has anything to say can post it on the internet, and voila! Servings of fake news are dished out, and swallowed whole by the gullible.
There seems to be no shortage of creativity in publishing fake and vicious blogs by certain parties to supposed critics of President Duterte. Some of them are downright ridiculous. But because many undiscerning readers simply accept them as truth, the effects of these false disseminations are destructive.
One misleading post, “Cory Aquino endorsed EJKs (extrajudicial killings)?,” was put out by someone hiding behind the name localhero.altervista. Many diehard Duterte fans, such as the “Thinking Pinoy” blog, reposted this misleading item.
The truth is, the article never mentioned EJKs or about killing dissidents. In fact, the report in the blog was from a leaked 2011 CIA report in reference to the March 23, 1987 Newsweek article “Covert help for Cory Aquino.” The Newsweek article, which is among the documents declassified by the CIA, said the Reagan administration authorized a multimillion-dollar operation against communist rebels, including intelligence gathering. Mrs. Aquino had purportedly approved the plan.
localhero.altervista’s post is gossip based on legitimate reports, then twisted to suit whatever desired end. The internet offers easy exposure to a much wider audience, making such reprehensible rumor-mongering more dangerous.
The blogger localhero.altervista was brazen enough to use a pseudonym, but not responsible enough to use his – or her – real name.
Another fake news attacking the Aquinos was the accusation that Eldon Cruz, the husband of Mrs. Aquino’s eldest daughter Ballsy, was allegedly involved in the P8-billion road right-of-way scam for projects in General Santos City. No less than Justice Sec. Vitaliano Aquirre presented a signed authorization by Cruz at a press conference. Cruz’s son Jiggy, however, showed specimens of his dad’s signature to prove that the signature was not his.

Bad grammar irritates Kris
Another blog post, this time by a certain Jhun Chatto Paylanco, alleged that showbiz celebrity and former presidential daughter Kris Aquino told television host Boy Abunda that if Mocha Uson pursues her senatorial ambitions, she too would join the senatorial race just to beat her.
Uson is communications assistant secretary for social media.
Without verifying Paylanco’s report, Uson immediately reacted by denigrating Kris and her family scathingly for political ambition.
Readers praised Kris’ gracious response: She said she has not been interviewed by Abunda in recent months. An English major from a prestigious private university, she also said she was “irritated” by the bad grammar in the quotes attributed to her.
Sadly, responses to Paylanco’s post show that people do believe lies like this, no matter how ridiculous, as long as they slam the administration’s critics.
Kris recently remitted more than P2 million in value-added-tax payments. Who in her right mind would sacrifice that sort of income to get involved in politics?
What was left unsaid was that it is tax revenue that pays Uson’s monthly salary of about P130,000, including benefits and perks.

Attacks on Leni Robredo
One marvels at the creativity that goes into every false blog post. The person behind localhero.altervista ran other pieces attacking and falsely accusing Vice President Leni Robredo for nonexistent acts. One said she fired an employee for not posting her photograph feeding children and for photographing her in tears because she was not invited to the gala dinner of the Association of the Southeast Asian Nations. The reaction of netizens to the latter indicated the sentiments against a vindictive administration that often disregarded protocol.
As Jover Laurio of Pinoy Ako Blog said, Robredo may have missed the gala dinner, but Duterte himself was not invited to more important and intimate friendly meetings with other world leaders. Laurio’s blog also revealed where the anti-Robredo blogs seem to be coming from. It is no coincidence that the attacks intensified after Duterte propagandists met with the Marcos family (present were Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr., Imelda Marcos and Imee Marcos) as well as Gloria Macapagal Arroyo and her supporters.
Uson herself publicly announced that she had “just finished meeting with Vice President (Ferdinand) Bongbong Marcos (Jr.)” When Uson got flak for that statement, she said, “Opinion ko lang ito, na si Bongbong Marcos ang tunay na VP at hindi si Leni Robredo (It is just my opinion that Bongbong Marcos is the real VP and not Leni Robredo).” She conveniently forgot that her salary comes from Filipino taxpayers, many of whom voted for Robredo.
In poorer taste was the photo of a function at the Manila Yacht Club showing a tarpaulin backdrop that reads: “Senator Ferdinand ‘Bongbong’ Marcos Jr.” and below that, in smaller print: “Vice President to Be.”
My fear is that our minds are being conditioned on a possible Marcos win in his electoral protest.

Ordeal by transit
The saying “better late than never” should be taken out of our collective mindset. It suggests that tardiness is acceptable. In a progressive society, being on time is necessity. Think of all the lost productivity because people waste time sitting in city traffic that often grinds to a standstill.
I was at a conference in Nagasaki, Japan, where I was really impressed by its transport system. The subway, train, express transit, bus and tram were all on time and easy to locate. No wonder I did not see many private cars around. People, including the elderly, walked and rode public transport.
The conference participants and I were agog at a BBC News report that subway officials apologized for a train that left a station six seconds early. While many of us laughed at the news, we Filipino participants felt envy and shame. Two of our keynote speakers, from Singapore and Japan, recounted how they missed their flights at the Ninoy Aquino International Airport because of the traffic gridlock leading to the airport.
The Japan train and subway may be crowded during rush hour, but it was tolerable. We were not packed like sardines.
I recall my ordeal taking Manila’s rail transit systems recently.
I was at Ateneo de Manila University in Quezon City when I received an urgent call to meet someone in Manila. My driver said I could get there faster by MRT. He was right. I made it in good time. But it was a terrible ordeal even though I was guided to the special car for senior citizens, females and persons with disabilities.
Getting in was bad. Getting out was worse.
My LRT experience was even worse. I was breaking out in cold sweat because I couldn’t breathe. It was that crowded. I got off at the next station fearing that I might faint. Friends joke that passengers standing in the train will not fall when the train lurches. Fellow passengers are packed so tightly around you there is nowhere to fall. It was thus disgusting to hear Palace spokesperson Harry Roque give a positive spin after riding on the MRT and LRT. He told the press: “Mahaba ang pila pero napakabilis naman at napakalamig (The line was long but it was fast and cool).”
He received a lot of flak from netizens who told him election is still two years away and he should not start campaigning now. There was no way he did not notice the LRT1 security staff preventing commuters from entering while he was there. Put yourself in the commuter’s shoes. Trying to catch the train was bad enough. But being denied a ride just because a Palace flunky was in the train was too much.
Netizens said if Roque really wanted to experience what others do on a daily basis, he should try traveling incognito, without bodyguards, during rush hour. In the first place, why does he have to travel with so many bodyguards?
These public servants seem to think that working in the Palace is a reality show.

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