“ONLY in the Philippines”, they say.
It’s not just the lands, not just the geography, not just the resources, that make us different from other countries. For better or for worse, it is the people that make us so unique - and needlessly complicated.
Over time, especially in the past 30 years, we have developed a society that has accepted political circus as part of everyday life. And sadly, the Philippine broadcast media has played a major role in it.
Long before the term “clickbait journalism” was even coined, the Philippine media already practiced it. Flair has weighed more than substance. And sensationalism – not facts – has become the main selling point to every story they feed us.
As a result, simple and supposedly straight-forward issues are blown out of proportion. And we, the citizens of this country, are fed with not just incorrect information, but also are served with a mentality that we can be controlled by them.
And that is the sad state of political propaganda in the country today.
Take for example the first three years of the Duterte administration. President Rodrigo Duterte is a Mindanaoan who rose to power with a promise for massive change. He is not the prototypical and demure leadership figurehead that the national media has become accustomed to. Not long after taking office, President Duterte had to deal with more than just his political adversaries, but also the media as well.
To say that the President had to endure three years of political propaganda is a gross under-statement.
For one, he had to face mostly black propaganda. From grossly exaggerated numbers of supposed EJK cases, to Matobato/Lascanas tell-alls that led to nothing and lately, the spurious “Bikoy” videos that was pretty much confirmed as a hoax by “Bikoy” himself.
In each instance, the Philippine media played a major role in building narratives out of it. And they chose to go the way that would rile up more people, perhaps even encourage them to dissent against the president, never mind the economic cost to the country.
Our political season essentially extends far beyond the actual election period. Whatever broadcast laws we have on political propaganda, they have all become alarmingly useless in the face of a vociferous system that allows or encourages politics to dictate almost everything.
For one, there is really no such thing as equal and fair treatment of our political personalities. It is clear that the media favors one side over the other, regardless of how much they deny it.
How can we forget the lackluster media coverage of President Duterte’s campaign in 2016? Compare it to the crazy coverage his presidential rivals were getting from the media, and you know right away that whatever laws we have on this matter, have become pretty much nothing.
And this partly explains why the citizenry has developed a disdain for the national media. In our eyes, they have become a medium to destroy administrations.
They have become king makers. They have this power that they have cultivated all these years. They know it. And they’re having a grand time taking advantage.
If we were to make all our laws on political propaganda credible, the media has to stop making a circus out of it all.
There is always a loophole on almost all our laws, and in this case, it’s not so different. Except maybe, the abuse is far worse.
We all dream of a life that’s oh-so simple. We all wish of a community where things are accepted at face value, and accepted for what they are. No frills, no distortions, no veiled lies.
For this to happen, the media has to respect not just our laws, but also the people. We have had enough of the circus.
Yes, the show must go on. But things need to change. For once in our lives as long-suffering citizens of this proud country, we deserve a better show. (Fariznah Dataya, AdDU Mass Communication)