Supreme hypocrisy

By Artchil B. Fernandez

Leading the campaign against fake news and propaganda, Bongbong Marcos (BBM) challenged the media during the 50th anniversary celebration of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) this week. Fake news BBM reminded the media are “negative effects of technological advancements and social media age.”

“We started with mistaken information, then it became more active, disinformation, and misinformation and now, out-and-out, fake news. However, it is something that is to be expected considering how powerful the tool social media has become,” BBM told media people and asked them to do something about the situation. “Like any powerful tool, it cuts both ways. And it is up once again to the KBP to bring a measure of stability, a measure of objectivity, to help our people discern what is the real information and what is propaganda.”

“Take the lead and foster public discussion, truth and credibility, the rule of law, especially in the practice of broadcasting, news reporting and information-dissemination,” BBM exhorted the media.

Hearing BBM say these words makes one cringe. He should address them to himself and his family. The top spreader of fake news, misinformation and disinformation in the country is the Marcos family. Through their troll farms and factories, the Marcos family had been trying to distort history and propagate “alternative” views that whitewash and cover up the dark past of the Marcos dictatorship. Fake news and historical distortion contributed immensely to BBM’s win in the 2022 election.

The most brazen and shameless lie the Marcos family propagates and continues to actively promote is the “Golden Age” myth. There was a time, the lie goes, that the Philippines was rich and prosperous, and it happened when the Marcos family ruled the country for twenty years.

No socio-economic data, facts, or figures support the claim, clearly exposing the myth as a blatant fabrication. On the contrary, the opposite is happened. The two decade-rule of the Marcoses was marked by abject poverty, systemic and clinical looting of the national coffer, massive corruption, horrendous human rights violations, and plunder of national wealth on a scale never seen before in the annals of the country.

One reason fake news, misinformation, and disinformation thrive in the country is due to their active encouragement and promotion of the Marcos family. BBM himself is the principal beneficiary of fake news.

Now BBM is calling the media to fight fake news, misinformation, and disinformation. He even had the gall to say fake news and their promotion in the social media is the scourge of our time – a supreme hypocrisy! The fake news and propaganda machine of the Marcos family is a major block in the fight of the media against misinformation, disinformation, and historical distortion in the country.

BBM sounding the call to combat fake news is like Hitler vowing to respect human rights especially that of the Jews.

It is not only in battle against fake news that BBM is a supreme hypocrite. The same also goes to the National Tax Campaign of the Bureau of Internal Revenue (BIR). Two months ago, the BIR launched a campaign to encourage Filipinos to pay their taxes.

BBM enthusiastically lauded and supported the BIR’s effort. He called on Filipinos to pay their taxes. “I encourage the public to pay the correct amount of taxes on time to support the country’s economic recovery and expansion so critical in this time,” BBM told the public. He pointed out that “every peso of taxes paid will become an investment in uplifting the quality of lives of every Juan and Juana.”

More hair-raising, he warned tax evaders citing the 15 cases before the Department of Justice (DOJ) over tax liabilities amounting to P5.1 billion as well as the 38 cases filed with the Court of Tax Appeals involving a total of P5.32 billion.

Yet, BBM himself is a convicted tax-evader. In July 1995, the Quezon City Regional Trial Court found BBM guilty of tax evasion beyond reasonable doubt and imposed the following penalties:  imprisonment of 6 months and P2,000 each for 3 counts of failure to file ITR (1982, 1983 and 1984); imprisonment of 6 months and P2,000 each for 3 counts of failure to pay income taxes (1982, 1983 and 1984), and imprisonment of 3 years and pay fine of P30,000 for failure to pay income tax for 1985.   The judgment became final and executory on August 31, 2001.

The Marcos family in 1997 was found by the Supreme Court to have owed the Philippine government P23 billion in estate tax which has now ballooned to P203 billion due to nonpayment and interest. The family refuses to pay until now.

What moral authority does BBM has to ask every Juan and Juana to pay their taxes when he himself and his family had not paid their taxes? He should be a role model to the citizens of this country.

The two incidents – the calls to fight fake news and pay taxes, exposed the moral handicap of BBM. There is an urgent need to fight fake news and to encourage Filipinos to pay their taxes. BBM however is not the right person to make such calls or lead these campaigns. He and his family are guilty on both counts. It is hypocrisy of the highest degree for BBM to be an advocate of both causes.

Leaders must lead by example. This is the only way their words can have moral weight and authority. BBM does not have the credibility or the moral ascendancy to lead by example. His calls are therefore worthless, sounded hollow and shallow, and are acts of supreme hypocrisy.