Manipulating the development of the Philippines

Mike Wootton

Mike Wootton

When somebody does something wrong, then they should own up to it, tell the truth, apologize and take the consequences, shouldn’t they?

But this, it seems, is rather old-fashioned thinking. Of course we can always debate ethically “what is wrong.” Some things which appear wrong may be justifiable.

Euthanasia for example, may or may not be wrong. Lying to protect another person’s feelings may be considered the right thing to do in a particular set of circumstances.

In general, though (ethical debate aside), many acts would be considered by most people to be obviously wrong and inexcusable. Where this is the case people will often resort to equivocation or “weasel words” to avoid directly denying their real intentions in some wrongful doing often as a weapon in some manipulative activity by which they would seek to change the generally held perception of the morality or legality of a particular act. It is, of course, one thing to make an honest mistake and it is quite another to set out to deliberately deceive for some exploitive or wrongful purpose.

This sort of behavior happens everywhere and most notably on a national scale in China via the Xinhua news agency, which publicizes what the government wants the 1.3 billion population to think, and there is no question that it does a very good job of that. Reinforcing the work of Xinhua is a national social structure and behaviors which allow “the Party” control, as well described some years ago in “Brainwashing in Red China” by Edward Hunter, an American journalist (It’s a very interesting read).

But in the Philippines, there is a culture of manipulation in some areas. It must be brought about by a combination of corrupt and deliberately dishonest practice, combined with the great reluctance, even paranoid fear, of being seen to be responsible for making a mistake—whether honest or not. Using sets of words which say “I am right,” either to cover up an honest mistake or as a deliberate ploy as part of some grand deception. If people were more able to own up to having made mistakes, then it would be much easier to identify the real wrongdoers, for instance the current DAP justifications!

Around here nobody really believes anything that anybody says, a factor that really makes life so much more difficult than it needs to be. As I observed the other week, the “show me your ID” culture just demonstrates that people don’t even generally believe that others are actually who they say they are! Add to this the regulatory mess which exists, conflict, confusion and incompleteness, combined with a non-functioning and often poorly qualified executive branch of government, which does not even implement and enforce the laws made by the legislature. Add a further measure of, on the one hand, excessive greed and acquisitiveness and on the other, abject poverty, and you have a society which is fertile ground for the exercise of manipulative skills by those who are that way inclined.

The problem with this widespread manipulation, aside from its obviously encouraging a culture of dishonesty, is that important matters which would benefit the economy of the nation just get lost in the endless detailed debates about who is actually telling the truth, even what is the truth; and these types of excessively “anal” debates last long enough for the original good and economy benefiting intention, whatever it may have been, to be either just forgotten or overtaken by events. I guess the objective of the manipulator is to sow enough uncertainty in people’s minds to divert from the real benefit of what is proposed in order to detract and lead the debate into a detailed discussion about something which is irrelevant, possibly even getting some aspect or other of the matter into the legal system where it can languish for years without being resolved, and even if it were resolved there would still be the main issue to settle, or perhaps another sidetracking into some other incidental irrelevance?

This sort of nonsense it seems to me goes on all the time and at all sorts of levels, it is why the court system is so overburdened with cases and most importantly one of the major reasons why so little progress is made in infrastructure development and those other developments which would make the Philippines a real Asian Tiger and benefit everybody.

Mike can be contacted at


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