Legacy of lies

By Artchil B. Fernandez

In a move highly unusual, the Du30 administration opened 2020 by unveiling its legacy, three years and a half in office. Its term is not yet over, why is it in a hurry to showcase its achievements? This is a Freudian slip, exposing the insecurities and inferiority complex of the present administration.

An administration secure of itself will not engage in cheap self-aggrandizement and self-promotion. A confident administration will let the future generation evaluate and examine its legacy. It is not afraid of the cold scrutiny of future scholars and historians.

Aware of history’s unkind verdict and indictment, the Du30 administration is trying to preempt the future. This is a futile exercise since nothing will prevent the future from uncovering the truth. At most, this can only give Du30 and his cahoots a momentary or temporary relief. They can not control or coerce the future no matter how hard they try.

It is easy to point the bloody and gory war against illegal drugs as Du30’s legacy. This is Du30’s pet or flagship project which slaughtered thousands (6,600, official PNP figure to 27,000, human rights groups estimate) and is the most visible “achievement” of his administration. But this is not Du30’s overarching legacy.

Du30’s enduring and lasting impact on the country which etched a mark in history is his legacy of lies. Du30 not only normalized lying and made it a way of life but enshrined lies in the social fabric of Philippine society. He institutionalized lying.

The strongest evidence on Du30’s legacy of lies is the list of accomplishments presented by his officials during the Duterte Legacy Launch. The data are riddled with lies, a real testament to his ignominious legacy. To cite all the lies is beyond the space of this column. Here are some of the blatant lies of the Du30 administration.

Without even bothering to check, the administration claimed the Alternative Learning System (ALS) and one of its major programs, the Accreditation and Equivalency (A & E) Program as its legacy. ALS has been around since early 2000, implemented under RA 9155 passed in 2001. Du30 was still a small Davao City over-lord at that time. During that period, running for president is not even part of Du30’s wild dreams.

More astounding is the assertion of the Du30 administration that it built 64 airports all over the country. If true, this is an amazing engineering feat, building almost six dozens airports in only three and a half years. This one is for Ripply’s Believe It or Not. Since there are 70 airports in the country today, the claim implies that the Philippines has only six existing airports before Du30 became president! It appears the officials of the administration are high on an unknown illegal drug when they conjured the figure.

The infographic of the administration boldly declares that Du30’s “Build, Build, Build” program generated 4.2 million jobs. Current data show that there are 4.22 million jobs in the construction industry. If one accepts the claim, it means that all construction jobs in the country are generated by “Build, Build, Build” and there are no construction jobs in the private sector. This is an absurd claim. A look at the constructions going on and one can see that construction jobs abound in the private sector with no connection to public works. Officials of Du30 wrongly assume the public consists only of his fanatics who swallow their lies line, hook, and sinker.

Closer examination of the data in the infographic on Du30’s legacy reveals administration officials were cherry-picking the figures. But even in this, they made glaring mistakes reflecting the poverty of their mind. For example, the infographic said the unemployment rate under Du30 is record low since 2005 at 5.4 percent. This figure is the unemployment rate in July 2018. If they are really serious in creating a good image for the administration they could have cited the 4.5 percent unemployment rate in October 2019. Obviously, smartness is not a strong asset of Du30’s officials.

The most evident lie is not in the infographic but on Du30’s favorite program, the war against illegal drugs. When Du30 assumed the presidency, there are only 1.8 million drug users in the country according to the survey of the Dangerous Drugs Board. To justify the bloodbath he unleashed, Du30 few months into his presidency said 3 to 4 million Filipinos are hooked to illegal drugs. Last year Duterte came out with an astonishing claim, there are now 7 to 8 million drug users in the Philippines.

Where did Du30 get his figures? He did not cite any source and it is clear he is plucking data out of thin air. Du30 is plainly lying.

Through his lies, Du30 undermined his pet project. Using his fake data, drug addicts in the country increased from 3 to 4 million in 2016 when Du30 became president to 7 to 8 million in 2019. This indicates that the war on drugs, Du30’s crowning glory is an utter failure. Despite the mass murder of thousands of suspected drug pushers and addicts, the number of drug dependents soared proving that Du30’s approach is ineffective.

There are countless of instances that Du30 unabashedly lied to the Filipino people. His apologists and fanatics would excuse Du30’s habitual lying as jokes or he is only with playing with words. These crude justifications insult public intelligence and failed to conceal the true persona of Du30 as an incorrigible liar.

For three and a half years Du30 governed the nation through lies and deception. While fake news is ancient, it is only during Du30’s presidency that falsehoods and lies take center stage in national life. No president before Du30 normalized lying and tried to make it acceptable. Politicians lie since time immemorial but they always try to hide it or cover their lies. Not Du30. Fake news, falsehoods, lies are Du30’s enduring legacy.