By Artchil B. Fernandez

Biased = anti-Marcos. This sums up the thinking of the Marcoses vis-a-vis-vis the media, the facts, the truth, and the world in general.

Presidential aspirant Bongbong Marcos Jr., son and namesake of dictator Ferdinand Marcos, Sr., is at the heart again of another controversy when he refused to participate in a special program of GMA 7 network to interview selected presidential candidate hosted by veteran journalist Jessica Soho. Five were invited – Vice President Leni Robredo, Sen. PanfiloLacson, Sen. Manny Pacquiao, Mayor Isko Moreno, and the dictator’s son.

The snub is more than enough to spark a storm but the reason given by Bongbong Marcos fueled the fire.

“The reason why Bongbong Marcos decided not to join the Jessica Soho show is founded on our belief that the hostess of said popular talk show is biased against the Marcoses,” Victor Rodriguez, Marcos’ chief of staff and spokesperson declared.

“And therefore, we believe her questions will just focus on negativity about BBM which the UniTeam dislike and will not subscribe…,” he added.

Widespread criticism of his non-appearance in the interview forced Bongbong Marcos to rebut them. Lifted from his playbook, attacking those he deemed hostile (a classic tactic of his trolls) he accused the veteran journalist of being biased.

“I am only basing my judgment on my experiences in the past few years. Not only me but also my sibling and anyone who has any association with Marcos, there is real bias,” he arrogantly declared. He further clarified that biased means “anti-Marcos.”

GMA 7 immediately demolished the Marcos lie. “The questions are tough because the job of the presidency is tough,” GMA said in a statement. “We believe that this is an important exercise to inform the public about the candidates seeking their votes in Eleksyon 2022, to help them make the best, most informed choice on their ballots.”

Attacking Jessica Soho is a classic squid tactic of the Marcos camp. Anything unfavorable to the Marcoses is biased and only things favorable to them are fair. In short, what does not promote the agenda of the Marcoses is biased.

Soho is a multi-awarded journalist with more than three decades of experience. She is not someone the Marcoses can control for she will never compromise her integrity and credibility as a journalist. To justify Bongbong Marcos’ rejection of her invitation for an interview a lame excuse was invented – she is biased, an anti-Marcos.

It is clear to everyone why Bongbong Marcos turned down the interview. He was afraid to confront the truth. In 2011, Soho in an interview asked Bongbong Marcos about human rights violations during martial law. Bongbong Marcos stammered, unable to answer the question. That interview may have deeply scarred or scared him. Soho was respectful and even sympathetic to Bongbong Marcos, telling him she understands it is a difficult question. But a journalist worthy of his/her calling must ask the tough questions.

Bongbong Marcos is suffering from aletheiaphobia or fear of truth. His whole campaign is built on lies and falsehoods. He has to control or manipulate the narrative during the campaign to maintain and sustain the deception. A veteran, hard-nosed respected journalist with an impeccable reputation is dangerous for he/she can puncture the myth and lies. It is not surprising that he only allows himself to be interviewed by sympathetic persons or showbiz hosts whose questions are lifted from a slam book.

The biggest problem of the Marcos campaign is how to prolong the lies and falsehoods until Election Day. They know that eventually, the truth will catch up with them and in the end, it will come out. Encouraged by the polling numbers of their candidate, they have to keep up with the lies even up to voting day only.

Keeping away independent-minded journalists with integrity from Bongbong Marcos is one of the key strategies of the Marcos campaign to nurture the lies. Less public talk in an uncontrolled environment for Bongbong Marcos, the better for his campaign. But for how long can the troll farms, paid TikTokers and vloggers, deceptive YouTube videos can conceal the truth?

As the Jessica Soho fiasco had shown, there is no way Bongbong Marcos and his campaign can avoid the truth. His refusal to be interviewed by the multi-awarded journalist only highlighted Bongbong Marcos’ aletheiaphobia. The incident also put on the spot the lies of the Marcos campaign such as fabled Tallano gold and its public distribution once Bongbong Marcos wins, martial law as the golden age, absence of massive human rights violations during the Marcos dictatorship, no ill-gotten wealth among others. The Marcoses can run but they can never hide from the truth.

The Jessica Soho snub exposed the Achilles heel of the Marcos campaign, its fear of truth. Truth is the best antidote to lies. The truth about the Marcos dictatorship serves as the best foil to the Marcos fabrication. For example, the Tallano gold is fake and the Marcoses will not distribute bars of gold to Filipinos if Bongbong Marcos is elected president. If there are tons of gold to be given out, the Marcoses would have done it a long time ago. Why make Bongbong Marcos’s presidential run contingent on the gold distribution? This is a classic “budol-budol,” pure deception.

The most interesting question in this election is, can outright lies and falsehoods win the presidency? Bongbong Marcos anchored his candidacy on deception and believes he can lie his way to victory. This is the first in Philippine election history that a candidacy was launched solely and purely on falsehoods and deceit.  Anyone who does not buy the lie is “biased.”

Will there be enough Filipinos they can deceive to win or the vast majority of the people still value honesty, facts, and the truth?  This will be known on May 9, 2022.