#OPINION | Bongbong Marcos — a coward, a tyrant!
by Eleutheria Alaya* & Veritas Bellator*
*The authors of this article have opted to use pseudonyms to protect their identities.
On January 22, UniTeam candidate Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. declined to attend the Jessica Soho presidential interview, citing bias on the part of Soho as the reason for declining the invite. When asked by One News Monday anchor Marciel Halili on what bias it was, the candidate responded with “Anti-Marcos.”
When offered a spot in the CNN presidential debate and the KBP forum, he — unlike the brave leader that his supporters paint him — declined the reputable media networks in favor of the debate hosted by Sonshine Media Network (SMNI) managed by church leader and televangelist Apollo Quiboloy. Quiboloy, a sex-trafficker wanted by the FBI, has deep ties to the current Duterte administration and has openly endorsed tax-evader Marcos.
Most recently, the Marcos camp confirmed that the presidential candidate will not be attending the presidential debate held by the Commission on Elections (COMELEC). Spokesperson Vic Rodriguez relayed that he will instead “engage in a more personal face-to-face interaction that discusses real issues,” and yet, the debates tackle problems Filipinos experience while his rallies don’t.
The hypocrisy and cowardice from Bongbong Marcos tell a lot about his capability of leading a democratic nation, which is to say, none at all.
By snubbing interviews and debates from both credible and non-partisan networks but still attending debates from outwardly-partisan networks, Marcos contradicts himself and says that only those “anti-Marcos” are biased. Pro-Marcos networks, on the other hand, are prioritized as his definition of bias is curtailed to preserving his image and presidential bid.
The Jessica Soho presidential interviews, the KBP Forum, and the CNN debates — which he all declined — employ responsible journalism, which focuses on truth-telling, facts and not kissing the feet of a public figure with a problematic track record. The aforementioned networks are free from bias as they remain impartial and prioritize the truth above everything else.
The same cannot be said for SMNI. Although it describes itself as an “alternative network that broadcasts the uncompromising truth” that “emphasizes responsible journalism and broadcasting,” the network is littered with pro-Marcos–Duterte propaganda, attacks on government critics, and disinformation.
The network made groundless accusations of government critics ABS-CBN and the Makabayan bloc being members of the Communist Party of the Philippines–New People’s Army (CPP–NPA). They also reported misleading and outright false claims for the benefit of the Marcos camp, claiming that the presidential candidate passed his bachelor’s degree in social studies even after Oxford had clarified that he did not.
He chose SMNI, which he knew would coddle him and air only information beneficial for his image, to win the people. He, then, portrays journalists that are in his words, “anti-Marcos,” as dishonest while retaining the supporters he has by keeping them misinformed about his platforms and achievements.
Apart from his actions towards debates and interviews being a clear case of bias manipulation, his selective media appearances prove that he does not have what it takes to be the president of a nation. His continuous appearances at media networks that shield him from independent journalism show that Bongbong Marcos is a coward.
A presidential candidate should attend debates and interviews to let people be informed, but where was he? Should Marcos be elected, how can we expect him to lead in crucial events and be held accountable for the lives of Filipinos when he can’t even attend debates, where all he has to do is provide his stances and platforms and answer questions?
Unity is all that we hear about at UniTeam rallies, which by itself seems reasonable but hypocritical of Marcos. If he isn’t willing to serve citizens that speak critically of him, he can never unite the country; his so-called advocacy that he’s so adamant about will prove to be nothing but empty promises.
This candidate is also not open to any discussions or criticisms about his father’s authoritarian rule, and the censorship, abuses, and murders during it. In the same interview that he defined bias as anti-Marcos, he stated that talking about Martial Law was a waste of time: “if [Martial Law] will be the topic again, there’s no use because my opinion will not change.”
His aversion to truthful news and critical citizens point to a probable destruction of democracy. While democracy may sound like a no-brainer, true democracy only comes if the people can make informed decisions and openly criticize the faults of the leader; Marcos makes it difficult for the Filipinos to do so.
Disinformation about his presidential candidacy through media and internet trolls has been rampant. He perpetuates this through his selective media appearances on media outlets that will serve him best, as well as propaganda littered on social media. He has also made direct jabs at press freedom, especially with Rappler journalists being denied coverage of Marcos Jr.’s meet-and-greet with Ilocos Sur officials whereas other media outlets were allowed in.
All his actions point to a coward and a dictator. His rise to office will only serve as the catalyst to the downfall of a country already on the brink of collapse.
A Marcos Presidency
Another Marcos presidency will lead to yet another authoritarian rule.
Authoritarianism has not stopped reigning in the Philippines: from the dystopian-like, fascist Marcos dictatorship that shut down media networks, arrested journalists, and aired only Marcos-controlled media to the Duterte administration which denied ABS–CBN its franchise and authored the Anti-Terror Law.
If Bongbong Marcos becomes president, we might experience a repeat of his father’s dictatorship. Reliable news sources would be discarded in favor of pro-Marcos propaganda, akin to SMNI. Government critics and activists will be tortured, killed. The Filipino people will be controlled and silenced.
The country cannot afford to face another oppressive regime — not when the first killed 3,240, tortured 34,000, imprisoned 70,000, corrupted 10 billion USD, stifled press freedom, and silenced citizens.
Our history has shown what a person like him is capable of. We must put an end to a cycle that has hindered the country and its people from progress. Using our votes on the May 9 elections, let us stop a no-show candidate from burying democracy six feet under once again. We must not vote for another tyrant — and a coward at that.