A Pinoy Expatriate’s Insane Musings

Philippine Propaganda 101: Masters of Distortion

Posted by Marvin on September 17, 2007


Such a big, high-brow word but one to which we are exposed to everyday via the relentless, omnipresent media. Ideally, the media should be able to distinguish the various forms of propaganda and shield the gullible masses from half-truths and lies from personalities. Unfortunately, “sound bites” sell newspapers…and so things fall through the cracks so to speak…

What is propaganda anyway?

Propaganda is the deliberate, systematic attempt to shape perceptions, manipulate cognitions, and direct behavior to achieve a response that furthers the desired intent of the propagandist.”– Garth S. Jowett and Victoria O’Donnell, Propaganda And Persuasion

This definition is still too complicated for me…Let’s try some recent examples:

“…MANILA, Philippines — Freed communist leader Jose Maria Sison hurled invectives at Malacañang, calling President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo a “demon infant” who “fooled” the Dutch government into believing he was a murderer.In a phone interview, the 68-year-old Sison said his release confirmed that Manila simply filed trumped-up charges against him.“My release only proves that the Dutch government was fooled by National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales and the demon infant Arroyo,” he said…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

What does this example say to the readers? Joma is innocent. However, it you dive deep enough and actually look at the actual decision (very few readers have actually seen this) by the Dutch court, it will be evident that:

  • The Court rejects the demand of the Public Prosecutor and recommends termination of the accused’s remand in custody. The Court basically set the accused free but did NOT make any binding ruling on the charges themselves. It just says that based on the preliminary evidence, Sison should not be remanded to the custody of the government. Is Joma correct in saying that the court exonerated him? Not in a long shot…but his statements extoll this perception as fact. Half-truths…Hmmm…Classic example of propaganda…
  • The Court further states that “…There are also indications that the accused is still playing a leading role in the (underground) activities of the CC, the CPP and the NPA….” Joma keeps on denying that he is the one leading the rebels – always insisting that he is just a “consultant”. Wow! He must be the most powerful consultant I’ve ever known. Imagine folks in the hills follow his pronoucements even if he is cavorting free and eating three square meals a day in the relative safety of Utrecht. The Court looked at the preliminary evidence and deemed that this is NOT the case. Hmmm…Again, classic propaganda tactic by Joma…

The bottom line is this: The case against Joma is still alive. The only difference is that he will not be in custody from now until the trial starts. Joma should give the Dutch authorities more credit. They are not that gullible enough to be “fooled” by Malacanang…

Let’s try another example:

“…Sison described his 17-day stay at a prison center in The Hague as “torturous” and reminded him of his days in jail during the martial rule of former president Ferdinand Marcos. “I remember the time I spent in solitary confinement during the time of the late dictator President Ferdinand Marcos. They interrogated me every day and there was an overheated electric bulb overhead,” he said…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Joma is really laying it on thick on this one. He is basically comparing the Dutch government with Marcos’. The reality is that the Dutch government is one of the most progressive governments in the European Union and is averse to any maltreatment of prisoners. Pinapalabas ni Joma na sobra siyang nahirapan with flowery figures of speech like the “overheated electric bulb” comparison. Grow up! If the Dutch government is anything like the Marcos regime, you bet your Ho Chi Minh smile that you will not even notice the light bulb as you will be having an intense and “electric conversation” with Sgt. Jun “Jumper” Corriente about your bulbs. OA masyado itong si Joma! Shaping perceptions by false comparisons…Hmmm…Classic propaganda tactic…

From one fool to another fool:

“…MANILA, Philippines — Senator Ana Consuelo “Jamby” Madrigal on Friday urged Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) founder Jose Ma. Sison to file a case against President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo and National Security Adviser Norberto Gonzales for “malicious prosecution”…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

Misguided…That’s one polite word to describe Madrigal. Media-hungry and “kulang sa pansin” are other apt decriptions but I won’t go into that. She is asking Joma to sue GMA and Gonzalez for “malicious prosecution”. The truth is that the Dutch case was prompted by the filing of murder charges in the Netherlands by the widows of Romulo Kintanar and Arturo Tabara. These poor widows are the plaintiffs while the prosecutors are the Public Prosecution Service of the Dutch government. The Philippine government provided information but the final decision on prosecuting Sison rests with the Dutch authorities. Talk about barking at the wrong tree.

At the end of the day, Joma’s case is about the senseless killing of two men dialectically opposite him in beliefs who have been freed from captivity and are looking at a different way of pursuing their dreams and aspirations.

This woman tends to overestimate the clout of the Philippine government. Kung Singapore nga na kapitbahay natin – hindi natin nakumbinsi na palayain si Flor Contemplacion, isang bansa pa kaya sa Europa? Misdirection or redirecting blame to others to further one’s plans and ambitions…Hmmm…Ito ang classic propaganda

Here’s another sore loser example…As they say, nobody ever really loses in the Philippines. Laging dinaya‘Ika nga

“…The NBN deal has been in the news over the past two weeks because of allegations of bribery and overpricing. Nueva Vizcaya Rep. Carlos Padilla accused Commission on Elections Chair Benjamin Abalos Sr. of brokering the deal and of receiving sexual favors from ZTE.AHI cofounder Jose “Joey” de Venecia III also said Abalos offered him $10 million in exchange for backing off from the deal…”
Source: Philippine Daily Inquirer

The “Liar, liar…Pants on fire!” routine is quite popular in the Philippines. One of the propaganda pitfalls is the fact that people tend to believe the whistle blower especially in cases of major scandals. In the case of the NBN deal, Joey de Venecia III has put on the mantle of Sir Galahad against the corrupt infidels. But before we extol him and his cause, let’s look at his case first. He is the son of Jose de Venecia, Speaker of the House of Representatives and is the co-founder and major stakeholder of Amsterdam Holding Inc. or AHI. AHI lost the NBN deal to a Chinese company. Questions:

  • Why did AHI submit an unsolicited bid? Why gate crash a party so to speak? Aren’t they part of the government list of qualified suppliers? If they are not in the list, why? Can they even undertake the project of this scale?
  • How did they find out about the NBN bid? If you are not invited, who do you know that will help you with inside info?
  • Section 5 of the Anti-Graft and Corruption Practices Act indicates that “…it shall be unlawful for the spouse or for any relative by consanguinity or affinity, within the third civil degree of the President of the Philippines, Vice-President of the Philippines, Philippine Senate President, Speaker of the House, to intervene directly or indirectly, in any business, transaction, contract, or application with the government…”. Does Joey de Venecia know this? An unsolicitied bid constitutes intervention in my book. Granted that this is an honest bid, de Venecia should have inhibited himself out of delicadeza

Folks who would like to stay clean should be careful about engaigng in a mud-throwing contest while in a muddy field…There is a good chance that you’ll have mud in your face even before you even throw the first shot…Sabi nga ni Joey de Leon: “Explain before you complain!” Hmmm…Propaganda again…

Be discerning…Don’t swallow everything – hook, line and sinker…Things are not as simple as it seems…


2 Responses to “Philippine Propaganda 101: Masters of Distortion”

  1. Dave said

    Hi there. Lurker here. =) I enjoy reading your blogs. Keep it up.

    By the way, you are looking for “Conventional Wisdom, the writer?” (see Winners, Losers article). Where can i email you…so you can “glorify” me. hehehehe.

  2. Marvin said

    Thanks Dave…

    Are you really the Conventional Wisdom writer? Do you have a blog of your own?

    Use this e-mail address: This is my spam trap but it is linked to my real e-mail account.

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