2022 Philippine Elections

[OPINION] Let’s talk ‘bias’

Joel Pablo Salud

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[OPINION] Let’s talk ‘bias’
'[Bongbong's] father’s shadow will forever be his prison, his father’s sins the chains that bind.'

Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr.’s refusal to attend Jessica Soho’s presidential interview on the largely clunky excuse that Ms. Soho is “biased” may not be as out of whack as we think it is.

While it wasn’t the appropriate response from a presidential aspirant, surely, it was logical for anyone who has something terrible to hide. 

The Old Provençal and Old French origins of the word bias, which was biais, which means “to go sideways” or “against the grain,” are very telling. Marcos Jr.’s track record of skirting tough questions relating to his father, dictator Ferdinand Marcos, puts him on war footing against the journalist whose job and inclination is to dig for facts. 

In this context, the word bias is transformed from something offensive into what real journalists ought to wear as the profession’s Purple Heart. A journalist’s bias for the truth will always remain at loggerheads with the Marcoses’ partiality for lies. The two will never agree to simply disagree. 

Where people were dehumanized, and human lives snuffed in the name of power, these two issues must and will cross swords. 

For many years, the Marcoses have been trying to redefine the word “bias” to simply mean hostile or confrontational. In fact, to Junior, to be “anti-Marcos” is biased. One cannot be biased, in a manner of speaking, without the camouflaged intent of destroying someone’s reputation — with or without justification makes no difference. 

Thus, the word’s highly “prejudicial nature” should be anathema to any journalist worth his or her salt. 

What Marcos Jr. refuses to admit is the fact that his own intolerance of the truth has made him into a hostile, unsympathetic, and biased witness against anything honest and truthful. This makes him antagonistic to all efforts at vetting the facts. 

Take for example his campaign promises of unity and peace. It lacks one crucial cog in the wheel: justice. You will not hear him say that word. Skipping the notion of justice in any promise of peace leaves the latter ripped of its backbone. It will not stand.

Bias can also relate to any act which limits inquiry only within the candy-coated borders of positiveness. Anything deemed negative is shunned. But who’s to say what is negative and what is not? 

Surely, to remind a person that he could soon die is never negative. Or else, we’d have to restructure the sales pitch of insurance companies and the sellers of memorial plans to be a little less forthright. That death is bound to happen makes it the best marketing spiel ever, morbid as this may sound.

Marcos Jr. who practically grew up under the swooning stares of the New Society’s “beautiful people” would have little, if at all, ability to accept criticism. Junior’s father himself, brilliant as he was as dictator, frowned upon any scrutiny of his Martial Law regime, to say nothing of grievances raised against it or his person. 

I recall those quiet suppers we had, made all the more dull and reticent not by Marcos’ promise of peace but the fear which restricted any mention of the dictator’s name with angry or bitter airs. My family’s refusal to even mention the name Ferdinand Marcos at the table was the most unforgettable thing about Martial Law that I remember.

In fact, the silence, which had spread far and wide in so short a time, was anything but a result of peace. It was overbearing, arrogant, highhanded to the point of being exasperating. One conspiracy theory which fueled the silence was that pro-Marcos spies lurked even within the confines of one’s home. It was enough to muzzle everyone into quiet submission.

The press hardly did anything to change it as there was hardly any free press to begin with. Members of the free press were either jailed, killed, or disappeared. Media which operated under the thumb of Ferdinand Marcos tooted only his praises.

Marcos Jr. grew in that climate of enforced devotion to power. This would most likely be resurrected should Junior win in the 2022 elections. Proof of this is how he included many of his father’s ideas into his platform of government. 

That he has no ideas of his own to rack up his political platform is a given. It is even safe to assume that Junior is not running for the presidency as his own man but as his father’s reincarnation. The depth of the subterfuge and swindle is staggering, to say the least. 

This is not just the Marcoses trying to regain power. This is the family attempting to bring the dictator Ferdinand Marcos back to life through his son’s presidential bid. 

One can only imagine what that day would be like, what with the Marcoses’ continuing refusal to admit accountability for the family’s past crimes. Marcos Jr.’s choice of media that are largely sympathetic to his cause is proof of what the free press would be facing should Junior win in 2022.

Suffice it that the Bill of Rights would again take a backseat for the more welcome decrees that would help buttress the family’s image. Corruption would again become rampant, not that it suffered any lull in the past six years. 

In the latest Transparency International 2021 Corruption Perception Index, the Philippines “gets the same score as Algeria, Egypt, Zambia, and Nepal, ranking 117 in a list of 180 countries.”

The push to unleash the Marcos narrative has begun: the acquisition of ABS-CBN’s frequencies under the name of billionaire industrialist Manny Villar

Manny Villar’s son and former public works secretary Mark Villar had joined the senatorial slate of Marcos Jr. for 2022. Another frequency, Channel 43, had been awarded by the National Telecommunications Commission to Pastor Apollo Quiboloy, a known “spiritual adviser” of Duterte. 

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How these acquisitions will be used to favor a Marcos-Duterte tandem is well-nigh predictable. That, among other awful things, is unadulterated bias. Expecting them to be fair is out of the question.

No man is born perpendicular, says author E.B. White. Given that we are humans honed largely by thought and experience, the same thought and experience tell us our current and future biases. 

Those with the discipline of being critical know when and how to ask questions. The answers formulated through these questions, however painful the upshot, leaves such people evermore the wiser. 

Those who refuse to be critical, out of sheer cowardice or plain laziness, or worse, a romanticized allegiance to the absurd, will have to settle for false claims than facts. 

Thus, Marcos Jr. will never be his own man, nor will he think past his father’s plans of domination. No. His father’s shadow will forever be his prison, his father’s sins the chains that bind. He will remain biased in the crudest, rudest sense of the word, as biased as a rotting carcass is for its muddy grave.

This is the price of power in excess: not even the dictator’s very own son will be able to break free from the shackles and impositions of that brutal dictatorship. Junior’s inability to think for himself, to man up, and live his life according to his terms will be his undoing.

And ours, if and when he wins. – Rappler.com

Joel Pablo Salud is the author of several books of political nonfiction. He now saddles his pen as one of the senior editors of Rappler’s Central Desk.

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