The first day of April gives license to many people to play practical jokes and spread lies. April Fools’ Day provides them cover for their pranks and allows them to not take any responsibility for the consequences of their actions.
Many take this game to social media, where they make various announcements and elicit reactions from their friends and acquaintances, only to say they have been joking all along.
It feels very much like April Fools season in the Philippines, however, now that the campaign season for national and local positions is in full swing. Every day we hear statements, promises, commitments, and stories that try to sway the voters in favor of this or that candidate.
Right on cue, the association of Catholic bishops has warned the public against voting for liars in the coming elections.
Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines president, Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas, enumerated the various forms of lying that candidates commit: exaggerating qualities or actions, saving face, invoking hearsay, resorting to flattery, refusing to respond to issues, and using black propaganda against one’s rivals.
If we were to take the archbishop’s words to heart, there may not be anybody left to vote at all.
The truth is, nearly every candidate has lied—using these methods—at one time or another. It’s a question of degree: the only difference is that others may lie more brazenly than the others.
A recent example would be a comic book circulated by the supporters of the administration presidential bet, portraying him as a hero who defied odds to do his job for the benefit of the victims of the typhoon.
Another candidate has been called out for material misrepresentations in her Certificate of Candidacy—even as the order for the its cancellation has been overturned by the high court.
Other candidates have refused to answer allegations of corruption, reveal the state of their health, and come clean with their human rights records.
All have exaggerated their qualities and portrayed themselves as larger than life. And that is only for one position; numerous other posts are open.
And since it is unthinkable that people should write nothing at all on their ballots, the situation forces us to compromise, whether we like it or not.
Unfortunately for the country, the season for charades will not pass and be forgotten. The consequences of playing the fool, to the gratification of these jesters, will last long and reach far.