“Sensationalism, Propaganda, and Justice”

For Friday, January 6, 2012
Good Morning Philippines

With still more than a week to go before the impeachment trial is to commence, the “pro impeachment” and the “pro Corona” camps are already full speed ahead in their efforts to win the hearts and minds of whoever feels passionate enough about the outcome of the “morality play” that promises to entertain the country in the coming weeks. The people will be glued to their TV sets to witness who really is the “bad man” in this battle about something we may never really find out what, who, or why, but the choices are there: an autocratic President; “a corrupt Chief Justice;” a cover-up for government incompetence; GMA’s “sins;” retention of, or “just compensation” for (HLI wants P12B), Hacienda Luisita; or a combination of all of the above. Though the “articles of impeachment,” the defense’s formal reply, and the prosecution panel’s response, have all been submitted and publicized, we’re certain those “following” the proceedings, the non-lawyers at least, have not read any of the three volumes of documents simply because we still are not a country of “readers” unless the stories are sensationalized. So, the “camps” involved in the battle are aware that to win the hearts and minds of the general public, they will have to sensationalize their propaganda and synthesize their messages into catch phrases and slogans which PNoy and his followers are, arguably, the reigning experts in that field, as evidenced by what brought PNoy to Malacanang in the first place – “kung walang kurap, walang mahirap,” not to mention their control of media.

So far, the competing strategies are, on the one hand, to equate the assault on Corona with an assault to the independence of the judiciary as well as the autocratic tendencies of PNoy; and on the opposing side, to equate the trial to PNoy’s supposed on-going drive against corruption and lump Corona together with GMA who up to this day, is still considered a “kiss of death.”

As far as personalities are concerned, to pit Corona against PNoy may be a one sided contest in favor of the President, as far as perception is concerned, so we may see a shift in tactic on the side of the pro-Corona group to, instead, pit the Chief Justice against the foaming-in-the-mouth “attack dogs” in the Lower House, a body whose reputation is not unsullied by any means. That should provide the surrealism to the drama. The anti-Corona group will stay with their strategy to interweave Corona together with GMA believing, rightly, as Gibo only knows too well, that GMA will be the albatross around his neck, weighty enough to bring him down.

If public perception turns out to be too one sided, the Senators, the re-electionists in particular, will have to go with the flow like debris washed with the gushing current. If the battle for perception turns out to be even handed, then we may see justice actually being served but that seems to be the last scenario both sides will be counting on. It must be remembered that above all else, this drama is being played out not so much in the “august halls of the Senate,” a description some people cringe when hearing, but in the country called the Philippines. And as we all know, many strange things have happened here that has popularized yet another phrase even foreigners seem to have picked-up, and that is: “only in da Pilipeens!” So, expect that unexpected developments and surprises await and lurk in every turn of the corner in this latest tele-novella that will rivet and entertain but, alas, also distract, again, from our deepening woes.
Sound… camera… action!


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