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Brewed Coffee, Please.

Fake News, Priorities, and Leadership

Bhenjar Toor, Editor-in-Chief




I never liked mocha on my coffee! For some reason, I just loved the honest, truthful, unadulterated flavor of the good, old, plain, brewed coffee. I have always wondered why.

No, it is not because she “as a singer dancer whose trademark gyrations and near-explicit sexual moves titillated Filipinos since 2006”. It is not even because she “pivoted from sexy dancer to political blogger after an interview with (then) President-elect Duterte.”


Oooops! Am I still even talking about my coffee intoxication?


Let us just cut to the chase and be straightforward. I do not like Mocha Uson. Plain and simple.


Why?


I am tempted to call her evil personified, the one that Lucifer Morningstar would say your response to what a maniacal sex addict would say as his deepest desire, because she might even be a perfect fit in one of those devilish roles in the Netflix series of the Lux bar owner. But more than her well-established showbiz persona, it is not really what she does with her career that is bothersome but the impact she has made on Philippine society that has led to so much havoc and divide.


For a starter, Uson would usually use her flimsy excuses that it was either an honest mistake when there is nothing honest about a deliberate lie or a symbolism when those in the field of research or writing knows that if we claim to be speaking in behalf of truth, symbols cannot necessarily replace real images if we wish to have an accurate depiction of the things we fight for; it is like showing the image of 300 brave spartan soldiers in place of those who died in the Tiananmen Square. It just would not add up.


Her list of fake news run long from the time she posted Honduran forces in place of Filipino soldiers, posting a news report praising the DSWD supposedly packing 50,000 relief goods when it was taken from an October 2015 news report, putting Mayon Volcano somewhere else when search engines should have easily reminded her of its actual location considering that she even claims to be busy reading law books in one of her usual photo ops. Her list is just so long, and one can just hope those were itemized achievements and not something else.


Lately, she finally found out how people can take the fight to her when she posted about Pasig Mayor Vicoo Sotto’s request for the national government to allow tricycle drivers to operate even without the enhanced community quarantine due to the COVID-19 outbreak. She faced an unprecedented backlash. Although she claims that another administrator has posted it, the fact it was posted in her platform speaks volume of why she is a waste of taxpayer’s money.


If anything, Uson captures how the present administration has been in the face of the most pressing issues and emergencies the country must deal with starting this year – highly incompetent, too politicized, and severely numbed. And Mocha has spilled so much of her own handiwork that she can only be the face one can associate to the summer of 2016.


Spewing justifications or lies one after the other, Uson is very much responsible for twisting the facts about extrajudicial killings, for making a mockery of the Federalism campaign, for making the practice of journalism appear unprincipled by creating contemptuous perception of a process that relies so much on verification.


What is amusing though was when confronted with the same accusations she has hurled to the media practitioners, she argues that she is not a journalist and thus, not covered by the same ethical standards. Talk about the pot calling the kettle black.


Once you are a public official or anyone who influences public opinion it is incumbent upon you or anyone for that matter to base your public pronouncements on logic or even factual bases.


Uson though, despite her probably being the darling of that crowd, is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to what has gone so wrong with our government.


The recent pandemic has become a testament to the truth that the best and worst of men are seen during the most challenging times. This has been so true as in the case of many of our public officials from the very top down to the smallest government units. It was at best a showcase of the good, the bad, and the amusing. Add to that those that have become a painful sight to behold.


Not so surprisingly, Uson also managed to grab the limelight to sustain her notoriety. Unfortunately for law-abiding citizens, she was not even made to answer for violating the Bayanihan Heal as One Act when she held a gathering when a lockdown has already been in place.


From the get go, it has been clear that the government response is not going to be enough to contain the Corona virus as we saw how the pandemic went full swing despite the Duterte administration amassing more than Php 8 Trillion of debt to supposedly address various concerns affecting the different sectors.


Poised to lose their jobs, almost 9 million Filipinos will now have to become more creative as to how they will make ends meet as they meet the new year. This is what government has projected by end of the year because of retrenchments left and right.


But then again, there is just no winning when you cannot do anything about the tyrant’s rules.


At a time when medical attention through mass testing and financial support should have been the way to go if only to enable everyone affected to weather this storm of a health crisis, we see unnecessary moves on the part of government or their agents being prioritized and being even part of the conversation.


You have the directions to phase out old jeepneys when jeepney drivers have lost close to a hundred thousand per family for more than three months of being locked down. There was the push for Federalism at the onset, which again became silent after much criticism was hurled at it.


Talk about stalling and prolonging the hearing on ABS-CBN’s franchise renewal, Congressman Rodante Marcoleta was a sight to behold when it comes to his fishing expedition, except that there are no fishes and that his denial of certain acts favoring other networks was not so honorable when set against a seasoned journalist’s well-documented report catching him making a very flat lie. Obviously, the giant network will have to battle with political giants who have just let out their pawns now showcasing their own Mocha Uson stunts. They will believe what they themselves have drawn for the unwitting public to also believe.


They may succeed, perhaps, or they can fail if people begin to realize that they are merely being taken for a ride.


As if this is not enough, you also have the lousy and unequal implementation of the Bayanihan Heal as One Act. To date, Senator Koko Pimentel have yet to belie accusations that he deliberately violated the protocols. Talk about using your common sense. If it has been an ordinary citizen, they may have been tossed into a much congested prison cell or worse could have turned out to be another Winston Ragos, only this time the latter was a former soldier and his case was somewhat moving towards a certain direction.


Maybe, just maybe, if you are bold enough to declare that you are having a mananita, they can probably let you get away with all sorts of excuses just like what the President did for National Capital Region Police Office (NCRPO) Chief Debold Sinas.


But nothing beats the queen herself. Uson is in a class of her own. Imagine failing to come out with any relevant contribution to the first position given to you, joining a party list accused of corruption and not knowing it while also claiming that she is in it to fight corruption, saying that all the wrong information she has deliberately posted in her blog are honest mistakes when they are deliberate as what we have kept on pointing out and yet people remain apathetic.


There has been so much distraction that distorted meanings of good governance seem to permeate public consciousness. It seems you can say all the bad words you want to say and be praised for being your true self if you are a former mayor who is now president, but may be arrested and humiliated in public if you are just an ordinary citizen expressing your frustration.


There are just so many issues that we need to tackle, and not enough space may be enough to fully make sense of all them. 2020 has just become that year when everything that you have dreaded may happen. It is just so overwhelming that there is not much to do but sit down and ponder while you sip a cup of brewed coffee and realize that we came this far because we all allowed it.


The fact a Balik Probinsya program is pushed when there is a lockdown due to a pandemic, an Anti-Terror Bill is being forced when people are already terrorized by a virus, and other non-essentials are being given so much fuss about while thousands have been infected just makes you ask if you are insane for thinking that this is a medical emergency that requires financial aid to everyone who will have to be locked down and in effect will lose their job or those decision-makers who have done so little to alleviate the conditions and yet feel so offended when criticized for their omissions and commissions.


We need to put an end to this, and to make it happen it must be a collective effort. Journalism can only open our eyes. It is still up to us to make change happen, and this time make it change we can believe in.


Journalism is the fourth estate. Whether we agree or not, it remains relevant. The powers-that-be have remained the same. They are still the dragons we need to slay when it comes to writing about the facts. For now, the knights in shining armors are gagged into relative silence. A chilling message has been sent, and it appears to be just the opening salvo.


While trolls continue to lord it over cyberspace, has resorted to cheap commercial tricks of using various tricks or even playing up even the most inconsequential lies made to appear relevant by their repeated fabrications that the vulnerable and the gullible have embraced, there is one good weapon that can eventually vanquish them – focusing on good journalism by providing new and factual content that will unveil the naked truth.


Between Journalism and any government, I find Thomas Jefferson to be closer to the truth when he made his mind known.


“The people are the only censors of their governors; and even their errors will tend to keep these to the true principles of their institution. To punish these errors too severely would be to suppress the only safeguard of the public liberty. The way to prevent these irregular interpositions of the people is to give them full information of their affairs through the channel of the public papers and to contrive that those papers should penetrate the whole mass of the people.”


He was right when he insisted that “the basis of our governments being the opinion of the people, the very first object should be to keep that right.”


And I can only agree with his choice when he pointed out that “…were it left to me to decide whether we should have a government without newspapers or newspapers without a government, I should not hesitate a moment to prefer the latter. But I should mean that every man should receive those papers and be capable of reading them.”


You see, governments exist to serve the masses that has put them where they are and not the other way around. They are there to protect them and not terrorize them or even kill them; for if governments are voted to become our masters and not as public servants, then what is the point of all these exercises? It is time we write about it. Insist on it. Make it happen.


The Pasig Review, in its birth pains, is born out of the shambles of a war-torn journalistic pursuit. And as such, we will embrace what journalism is supposed to be – one whose first responsibility is to its readers who deserves only the truth.


And whether it may be the last thing we will stand for, then so be it. But for now, we will continue to enjoy that brewed coffee. And no mocha still because it continues to leave a bitter taste in the mouth no matter how much sweetener is added.


We need a leader who knows what to prioritize, who is interested with the truth, and who can lead by example and by inspiration.


I guess naked is meaningless without the truth.


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