In the excellent film Liar Liar, criminal lawyer Fletcher Reed (played by Jim Carrey) was put under a spell that prevented him from lying for a day. This simple premise made an interesting film that saw how Reed went on to overcome this “handicap” to win a custody battle for his litigous client while arguing his case entirely with truthful statements.
What made Liar Liar hilarious is the well-acknowledged view that the ability to lie through their teeth is an indispensible part of a lawyer’s repertoir of trade skills. And so depriving them of that ability dooms them to almost certain failure in court. Democratically-elected Presidents, on the other hand, presumably earn the privilege to lead their people on the back of a promise of absolute integrity. So, applying the same premise, removing a President’s ability to tell the truth — even for a day — presumably makes him unfit to be president.
What that can we make of a president who, it seems, has been under a no-truthfulness spell for the last three years?
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President Benigno Simeon “BS” Aquino III and his administration continue to plumb new lows. The Second Aquino Presidency has been caught with its pants down and sucked into the raging pork barrel corruption scandal, to this day continuing to fail to provide a convincing response to allegations that it had violated the Constitution in the manner with which it managed the Disbursement Acceleration Program (DAP) funds. The on-going crisis that is rapidly eroding the the credibility of the Executive and Legislative branches of the Philippine government is threatening to shut down governance completely as politicians focus more on covering their arses to the detriment of performing their real functions — to lead, govern, and legislate.
On top of all that, the Manila City government of Mayor Joseph “Erap” Estrada has one-upped the Philippines’ “prayerful” president by securing authority to apologise to the People’s Republic of China for the botched crisis management operations that resulted in the deaths of nine Hong Kong tourists in the 2010 hostage massacre in Manila. President BS Aquino, in the face of all that, remains adamant in his refusal to apologise on behalf of his country to China. As Manila Times columnist Rigoberto Tiglao points out, no less than Hong Kong Chief Executive Leung Chung-yin had earlier called presidential spokesperson Edwin Lacierda a liar…
The official angrily called for a press conference on October 11 after Lacierda reported that in the meeting between President Aquino and the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region chief executive during APEC meeting in Bali on October 7, both “had agreed to put the (Luneta hostage) issue behind them.”
Leung however retorted: “It was not like my meeting with him was to talk about how to put the issue behind us. This is absolutely not the case.”
This was followed by China foreign ministry spokesman Hua Chunying calling BS Aquino himself a liar, issuing a statement that categorically contradicts BS Aquino’s on-record statement that the Manila hostage tragedy was a non-topic during sideline talks he had with Premier Li Keqiang. In the same statement, Hua “urge[d] the Philippine side to earnestly respect the feelings of the families of the victims, take this issue seriously and offer a fair and reasonable solution as soon as possible.”
President BS Aquino’s entire presidency is, indeed, one big lie. He won the election in 2010 on his daang matuwid (“straight path”) slogan implying that his administration will be marked by uncompromising honesty. This, as we know now, resonated mightily across an electorate hopelessly beholden to the Aquino-Cojuangco pedigree. The fact that his presidency is now associated with some of the most astounding instances of massive fraud perpetrated by a government against its own people has become the biggest irony of our time. What is worse is that BS Aquino’s lying binge does not even seem to be slowing down.
Indeed, rather than personally own up to all that executive lying, it seems he would rather have the “offending” mouthpieces mounted on stakes instead…
THE news late last week was not too good. Apparently, Palace Spokesman Edwin Lacierda and Palace Deputy Spokesman Abigail Valte have been kicked upstairs to the National Economic and Development Authority (Neda) and Herminio Coloma Jr., Presidential Communications Operations Office secretary, is now supposed to conduct the Malacañang news briefings.
Mistakes have been piling up for President Aquino, and the one involving the spokesmen is clearly a mistake. You could never believe what Lacierda or Valte said, but at least they were consistent. They were instructed to make the President look good, and they did. It’s true that Valte, in particular, kept trying to second-guess the questions at news conferences. And if the ratings yielded by the recent Pulse Asia poll are any indication, the two spokesmen clearly made the President look good and kept the ratings up.
That does not bode well for us champions of honesty and transparency. It is likely that BS Aquino has no choice but to lie through the entirety of the remaing three years of his presidency. The alternative for him is unthinkable considering that his mission to save Uncle Peping’s Hacienda Luisita from the clutches of the Comprehensive Agrarian Reform Program (CARP) is still far from being accomplished. Telling the truth now will simply be tantamount to an admission of his bald lying — the Philippines’ biggest open “secret”.
Filipinos for their part have no alternative but to spend the next three years licking all these presidential lies off their grimy floor tiles. It’s a fitting fate for a people who all but lied to themselves when they elected a man who was clearly the least-qualified of the lot back in 2010. Indeed, the truth will set Filipinos free. They’ll just have to wait ’til 2016 for that freedom.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.