I’m grieving

Tonight, I grieve for the Philippines.

Over 80% of voting adults went to the polls to elect their next government “servants” today, from top down to members of city councils—president, vice-president, senators, and a ridiculous amount more. The stakes for national positions were high.

While there were ten candidates vying for each of the top two positions (president and vice-president are voted for separately), the race came down to two teams that couldn’t be more different.

One camp—known as BBM-Sara—stands for same old, same old—political family dynasties, corruption, autocracy, oligarchy, nepotism, and loyalty over competence. I found no clearly articulated platform. I’ll not be going into details here, but John Oliver summarized the dismal history of this camp well.

The other—known as Leni-Kiko—is the camp of high hopes—hope for transformative change, for honesty, transparency, and competency. And kindness. Oh yes, and decency and radical love. And it presented a long list of progressive policy positions and programs they would implement.

At the end of this day, with over 65% reported as counted, two out of three voters supported BBM-Sara.

Given that this result returns the Marcos clan to power, the very same that ruled under brutal martial law until People Power ousted them in 1986, it’s reasonable to ask why Filipinos would bring them back. My take is that they were duped.

The point of modern propaganda isn’t only to misinform or push an agenda. It is to exhaust your critical thinking, to annihilate truth.

Garry Kasparov

I not only grieve with my many Filipino friends who worked so hard for a chance at genuine change. I’m also feeling a potent dose of anger.

First, there’s the fast mounting evidence of rampant anomalies. Sad to say that’s par for the course in this country (as in many others). I saw it coming when the election oversight body was stacked with partisan officers, and the task of managing the election infrastructure was given to a dubious character. I’m bracing for a powerful backlash.

But most important is the role that a continuous stream of disinformation has played. Many have been loudly ringing the bell to warn that lack of more stringent regulation on the social media platforms is a direct threat to democracy. Foremost among them is Nobel Laureate Maria Ressa, CEO of Rappler online news.

If we fall, this isn’t going to be the Philippines alone. This is a global information ecosystem. Like in 2016, we were the first domino to fall followed by Brexit, Trump, Bolsonaro – well, here you go again. Brazil has elections in October, the US has elections in November. So if we fall, stay tuned; it’s coming for you.

Maria Ressa

Starting in 2014, Rappler has presented Facebook with reams of evidence of troll farms, fake accounts, and coordinated disinformation campaigns working to rehabilitate the Marcos name. The social media platform has failed to act, as it has failed to act in several past elections around the world. We are in trouble.

To my many Filipino friends who are in shock and mourning, I stand with you. But please don’t think your valiant efforts have been in vain. The beautiful and generous energy of civic duty and volunteerism must live on and harnessed for further good of this country that you and I love.

These are just my first thoughts on this election. As an “alien” here, I am by national law not allowed to express opinions while the campaigning was ongoing. Now that it’s over, I’m free to voice my feelings and thoughts… at least until someone declares martial law again.

Democracy relies on free speech. Yes, say anything you want, but it relies even more on the speech being truthful. It is the truth, after all, that sets us free.

John F. Kerry

Anything bring up some thoughts for you? Please share.

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  • With this news, I am sickened once again with the disheartening wickedness of power around the world. However, I still hold faith and hope that the energies of good people around this world will somehow reach a critical volume of voices and actions to make the big changes that are necessary to overthrow these dark systems and structures. Goodness, selflessness, striving to lift each other up, cannot fail. Trite words compared to the magnitude of this event; not even close to explaining the lump in the pit of my stomach.

  • I am heartbroken, but not defeated.
    I am still hopeful, I will never lose the hope that this
    campaign for good ignited in our hearts.

    • Oh yes, Gigi, never defeated. Goodness and hope will prevail, certainly in our everyday lives. You, my dear friend, are a loving model for this and I so appreciate you. 🌸💜🌸

  • I feel despair at what disinformation can do. But at the same time, surprise that information doesn’t have the same power using the same channels., Why is that? (I guess it’s related to the Kasparov quote you included)

    • I share your despair, Ihor. It’s heartbreaking to see the citizens of one country after another succumb to lies and propaganda. Why doesn’t truth have the same power? Partly for what Kasparov said, but also, I think, because those promoting goodness don’t engage in the same nasty dissemination tactics. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. 🌸🙏🌸

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