“It was around long before the term ‘false news’ was coined.”
With the US presidential election almost over – I say almost because Donald Trump refuses to admit – Filipinos are now talking about the 2022 election. At this point, my wild guess is that it will be a fight between two women – Vice-President Leni Robredo and President’s daughter Sara Duterte. Bongbong Marcos, who lost to Robredo and insists on being cheated, can also run. His election protest is now taking place at the presidential electoral court. But would Sara Duterte give way to Marcos? Senator Panfilo Lacson can also try it. But under which party? There is also speculation that Senator Manny Pacquiao would run in light of his billions. How about Senator Bong Go? Everything can happen. * * * I have seen many things in my seven decades as a journalist. I’ve covered 10 presidents. I saw fake news before there was a term for it. An example of false news is the joke about the treasure of General Yamashita, the so-called “Tiger of Malaya”, who was Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Imperial Forces in the Philippines during the four years of the occupation (1942-1945). The story was that Yamashita raided all the temples of Malaysia, Burma (now Myanmar) and Laos and collected all of their treasures, one of which was a golden Buddha. The story gained ground when it was said that Ferdinand Marcos found the place where Yamashita buried the treasure. It fueled the belief that Marcos was indeed a very wealthy man. The legendary treasure was even the subject of a Hollywood film. Of course, there was no Yamashita treasure at all. I should know, because when Marcos became president, he asked my eldest brother Desi and the then Brig for help. General Zosimo Paredes is looking for the legendary treasure. The search was financed by a businessman who at the time had a contract with the armed forces for the supply of fire extinguishers with the “Carabao” brand. After months of circling the Cordilleras and Region 2, Desi and the general found nothing. My Gulay, did you know that some treasure hunters have even dug in Fort Santiago? This Yamashita treasure was a big fake. * * * Fake news is nothing new. I remember Arsenio Lacson, Mayor of Manila, made a big deal out of a “golden urinal” during the Elpidio Quirino regime. Another piece of false news was that President Magsaysay slipped out of Malacanang at four in the morning in order to get extramarital trysts. How could he do that when he was guarded 24 hours by the PSG? And then there was this story about President Carlos Garcia’s wife, who is said to have gold rings made from mosquito nets. But if you live in an air-conditioned palace, what use would mosquito nets be? The poor boy from Lubao, Pampanga, was not spared either. Finance secretary Fenny Hechanova and his wife Chit reportedly headed to France on their way to Switzerland to deposit a suitcase full of US dollars that is allegedly part of Macapagal’s bad fortune. When the couple was staying with Fenny’s French friend, the room was gassed. Fenny was killed, but his wife survived. The suitcase with the cash disappeared. But how can you go through customs with this amount of money without being discovered? Likewise, a Chinese Filipino banker, Vic Tan from Continental Bank, is said to have taken a suitcase full of dollars at the airport on the way to Hong Kong. But how can someone be so stupid as to carry a huge amount of money at the airport? And then we have people power at EDSA. Half a million civil society officials gathered after the Americans drove Marcos and his family from Malacanang. But that was romanticized because the so-called revolution did not take place in the whole country. A revolution changes the system of government. This event only initiated a regime change. Another joke was the Jabidah massacre exposed by Senator Benigno Aquino III. His story was that in Corregidor around 400 Muslims were trained to take over Sabah under Colonel Eddie Martelino. Ninoy said all 400 were killed when the conspiracy was exposed.
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