"The ultimate casualty is the truth."
Fake news is unverified news—rumors or gossip.
I have been a journalist for nearly seven decades. I have seen several forms of fake news. I myself have been sued 17 times. Of those, I have apologized four times because I was careless, or did not verify facts.
I have covered 10 presidents starting from President Elpidio Quirino. During Quirino’s incumbency, his political enemies peddled fake news that he and his wife had a “golden orinola.” This fake news item stuck with them for years. It did great damage to their image.
There was also a rumor that President Ramon Magsaysay snuck out of the Palace at four o’clock in the morning for a tryst with a woman in high places.
Then, during the time of President Macapagal, there was a rumor that his Executive Secretary Fenny Hechanova and his wife traveled to France with a suitcase full of cash to be deposited in Switzerland. Their host supposedly poisoned them with gas—which they survived. The suitcase disappeared.
Even at that time, money transfer could be done through the wires!
But as far as I can recall, the biggest hoax of the century was the so-called Yamashita treasure. Tomoyuki Yamashita was known as the Tiger of Malay because he reportedly raided and ransacked the temples of Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand for gold and treasure.
Thus, when Yamashita became commander of the Japanese imperial forces in the Philippines, he reportedly brought with him treasures from Malaya and other countries occupied by the Japanese.
That was, of course, pure nonsense, but it did not prevent treasure hunters from all over the world to come here digging. Some of them even went to Fort Santiago!
Even Marcos believed it at the time. He called my brother Desi, the hero of Bessang Pass—a battle which led to the surrender of Yamashita—to team up with General Zosimo Paredes to hunt for the Yamashita treasure. The two-month hunt was financed by businessman Santos Pelaez.
My brother was skeptical but proceeded with the hunt, anyway.
Upon his return, my brother said it was a fruitless expedition. The only thing they discovered was a case somewhere in Nueva Vizcaya that contained skeletons of soldiers.
Another example of fake news is the so-called exposé of Senator Ninoy Aquino that Marcos had some 400 muslim soldiers massacred on the island fort of Corregidor.
That exposé became headline news because it was reportedly an attempt of Marcos to invade and occupy Sabah.
The story was attributed to one Muslim soldier who escaped the massacre—later called the Jabidah massacre—after which the Senate condemned Marcos. The Muslim group was reportedly headed by Col. Eddie Martelino, who assumed the name Abdul Latif.
But if it really happened, there would have been clamor for the head of Marcos by the relatives of the Muslims. But where were they?
The trouble with fake news is that people believe them and act on this belief. The ultimate victim is the truth.
* * *
Another example of fake news was the reference to the 1986 EDSA People Power Revolution. My gulay
, it was not a revolution. It was baloney!
This piece of fake news has to do with history in connection with the 1986 People Power revolution that the Yellos have circulated and that was accepted as gospel truth by some sectors of the national and international press.
This was the misperception that President Corazon Aquino was the icon of democracy. She was made out to be responsible for the revolution that ousted the strongman Ferdinand Marcos. This is farthest from the truth!
The truth is that when Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and PC/INP chief Fidel Ramos broke away from Marcos, Cory was in Cebu.
She only later on returned to Metro Manila. She then hid in the Pink Sisters convent. The nearest that Cory Aquino got to EDSA was at the corner of Ortigas Avenue and EDSA where the POEA building is located. She returned to the convent where she continued to hide. That’s a fact and I dare the Yellows to contradict it.
And yet, she was called the icon of democracy as if the exile of Marcos was all her doing.
It’s a distortion of history. Unfortunately, some local and foreign media turned this into a historical event.
Santa Banana, Cory was just a beneficiary!
Speaking of EDSA, on Feb. 23, 1986, Jaime Cardinal Sin called on people, through the radio, to go to EDSA at the vicinity of Camp Aguinaldo and Camp Crame where Enrile, Ramos and Col. Gregorio Honasan were encamped.
Sin believed the people should gather to protect this group because there were reports that Marcos might order the bombing of the place. He did not, because he did not want anybody to die. That to me was a consolation—a testament to the character of the man.
About half a million people gathered at Edsa. In the end, the US government decided to spirit away Marcos and his family to Clark. From there, they were loaded in a US military transport plane to Honolulu Hickam Base.
[To be continued]