Wenceslao: Propaganda vs. reality

Candid thoughts

AMERICAN Keith Thurman suffered the same fate as many other opponents of Filipino boxing icon Manny Pacquiao. He thought he had prepared well for their recent bout, but no one could really be prepared for the PacMan because of the way he fights. No other boxer has the same style as Pacquiao so no one can simulate him for his opponent before a bout. Thurman didn’t know what to expect and was knocked down in the first round.

Thurman got cocky on the way to the fight and got shamed. That’s what usually happens to outsiders who are looking in, or to observers. Everything looks easy when you are outside the fray. But perception changes once reality, as we often would say, bites.

When Rodrigo Duterte ran for President in 2016, his propaganda machine that included not only his own social media powerhouse but also the social media forces of the Marcoses succeeded in making the administration of former President Noynoy Aquino look inept. The major issues used then were how government dealt with super typhoon Yolanda and the devastation it wrought on parts of the Visayas, specifically Tacloban City, and its handling of the Mamasapano encounter that had a number of government troops killed.

In painting Aquino as inept, the Duterte camp got cocky during the campaign. It was during that period that the vow to eradicate the illegal drug trade in a few months and for Duterte to ride a jet ski into disputed territories in the West Philippine Sea was uttered. None of these were fulfilled, of course, when the Duterte camp became the administration.

Nobody even talked about these in the President’s recent State of the Nation Address (Sona) because doing so would already be repetitive. It was the President’s third Sona, and I think it became apparent that his vows wouldn’t be fulfilled even after his first year in office. Aside from the unfulfilled promises, also left unnoted is how the present dispensation has been dealing with tragedies of such magnitude as Yolanda and Mamasapano.

One such tragedy is the devastation wrought on Marawi City after terrorists laid siege on the area and had to be dislodged with violent force. Marawi is to the Duterte administration what Yolanda and Mamasapano were to the Aquino administration. Yet nobody seems to be talking about it despite the slow progress in government’s rehabilitation work there.

I couldn’t see, though, the same cockiness and arrogance the Duterte camp possessed when it was an outsider looking in. It must be because it finally realized that it’s far easier to be cocky and arrogant when you are not the one dealing with the consequences of your failures. Or when you are not the one being crucified as inept.

It would actually be good to go beyond the popularity surveys conducted periodically by Pulse Asia and Social Weather Stations and go into an assessment of how the Duterte administration dealt with the major problems of the nation and compare this with how its predecessor did it. It should give us a lesson on how to deal with political propaganda the next time around.


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