Interesting times

Published May 17, 2022, 12:05 AM

by Raymundo W. Lo, MD, FPSP


Dr. Raymund W. Lo

The dust has cleared. The people have spoken. We will have a new president whose father preceded him 36 years ago.

What is going to be interesting is how this new government will fare, considering the numerous challenges facing the Philippines. Can it cope with a still raging pandemic? How will it move forward on the Pharmally issue and massive corruption? How will we weather the effects of climate change? What to do about the rampant inflation caused by the Russia-Ukraine war? How will it deal with the longstanding poverty of the very people that voted it into power? Will it pivot completely to China and lose more territory and maritime rights?

On the other side, VP Leni Robredo appears to have taken her loss in stride. She is setting up the Angat Buhay foundation and has asked her followers to continue her advocacies of uplifting peoples’ lives and continuing her philosophy of “Radikal ang Magmahal.”

The Pink Movement is coalescing around this new entity still to be launched in July. Yet this early, another disinformation campaign has been launched by setting up bogus websites claiming to be the VP’s. It seems the disinformation is here to stay. Witness the confession and remorse on live radio by a troll who claimed to have voted for Leni yet had worked on the campaign to malign her on social media right up until the elections. Many only had harsh words for this person who is now regretting what he’s done, and rightly so.

It is going to be an uphill battle to combat disinformation as the enemy is well-funded and organized. But the kakampinks are not giving up, with many IT folks heading the charge. It doesn’t help that the new administration will probably turn a blind eye, if not support and strengthen the red-tagging campaign, which is even now being promoted by the current administration.

The last thing we need is an online civil war that pits parents against children, friends against each other, and one social class against another. We will never rise above our current pitiful condition if this persists. Yet, I fear it will happen as positions harden on both sides. Already, many pinks are now saying they will no longer reach out to or help supporters on the other side and will just concentrate on their own and their fellow pinks’ well-being.

Meanwhile, the international community is now paying more attention to what’s going on in the Philippines, which may be replicated elsewhere. It is going to focus on the role of social media companies like Meta, (owner of Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, WhatsApp), and TikTok, the primary vehicles of the disinformation campaign, with its power to effect regime change without a single shot being fired but by means of the proliferation of troll farms and coordinated fake news dissemination.

There is no sign that the Russia-Ukraine war will wind down. That has grave implications of further widening the conflict into a world war, where we will be forced to choose sides. It really doesn’t matter which side we will be on, though let’s hope we will take the moral choice, since we will bear the brunt of war’s horrors, as in the last world war.

The next six years will test the nation as never before. People long for stability and peace, which are not likely to happen now. There is a common maxim in ancient China where they had long periods of peace punctuated by civil wars: “Better be a dog in peace than a man in anarchy.” This has metamorphosed into a curse attributed to the Chinese that goes: “May you live in interesting times.”
Well, ladies and gentlemen, buckle up. These will indeed be interesting times.