Kris is Not Noynoy: Is Being Humble and Proper a Liability?

Is it better to ignore hate than shut them down?

Firing back in a manner her late brother, former President Benigno "Noynoy" Aquino would never do, Kris Aquino on Christmas Day showed critics "the Aquino [they] super deserve", addressing those questionning her relief efforts for Typhoon Odette victims.

Accused of politicking by "haters and trolls", the youngest daughter of martyred Senator Ninoy and the late President Cory Aquino said she was nothing like her late brother Noynoy, whom she said was "too humble and proper for his own good".

"Thankfully, walang kapatid na aawat sa aking ngayon saying: ignore them, anyway we know and God sees the truth," Kris said, adding her brother, who died of kidney failure last June , "chose to suffer in silence".

"Iba na ang panahon, because haters, bashers and trolls, you are now getting the Aquino you truly deserve, dahil 6 years old pa lang, palaban na ko," she added.

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Is being too kind really a liability for politicians?

In today's age of misinformation, it's extemely hard for one to just keep on choosing their own battles. As propaganda machines are on overdrive especially on social media, "you really have to counter everything", sociologist Athena Charanne Presto told reportr. 

"Because if you let a lie or disinformation fly by just because you don’t wanna throw back a rock to the people throwing rocks, those lies build up and they become the truth for some. That has happened very often already in the Philippines," Presto said.


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Aquino largely kept silent since stepping down in 2016 in the face of online criticisms -- many of them warranted and many of them also a product of "fake news" on social media.

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During his funeral homily for the only son of democracy icons Ninoy and Cory, archbishop Socrates Villegas said Aquino's silence had been a "dignified" one, that of "noble statesmen now rare and forgotten". A family friend of the Aquinos, Villegas said he envied Noynoy for crossing over to a place where "fake news have no place, trolls are dead, God's name is not blasphemed."

"He died as he lived. He abhorred fanfare. He slipped away quietly... Walang wang-wang. very PNoy and not surprising," he said. 

"When PNOY died this year, those who just wanted to express their condolences mostly started with the disclaimer na 'He is not perfect but... or 'He may not be perfect, but..'", Presto the sociologist said, noting this was pretty telling of today's reality: how "propaganda can really make or break a person."

Aquino's shortcomings in handling several crises -- Super Typhoon Yolanda (Haiyan) in 2013 and the Mamasapano carnage that left 44 police commandoes dead in 2015 -- gave critics an opening to associate the color yellow with failure in leadership during the 2016 presidential race. It ushered in an entirely new political universe where being "dilawan" no longer exclusively connotes the courage and hope it representated during the First People Power Revolution. 

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Since then, misinformation on social media only worsened. In fact, politics became so divisive that Filipinos avoid discussing it in family group chats, a Pulse Asia survey has revealed.  

"While it’s true na 'radikal ang magmahal', I would also say na that has limits," she added, citing the current strategy of presidential aspirant Leni Robredo that urges supporters to be more patient in responding to mudslinging that has defined election politics in the Philippines.

Presto said in this age of disinformation, every candidate should at least come out and urge their supporters to be patient and to engage with others in a dignified and empathic manner when dealing with people who do not necessarily have the same ideas as them. 

Not doing so only puts a double burden on supporters of candidates like Vice President Robredo, who, despite suffering the most from these attacks in the last six years, was the first and only one so far to have consistently urged her supporters to engage this way. 

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“I have been at the receiving end of fake news, at first, I decided to ignore it and focus on work but the more I keep silent about it, there are people who eventually believe in these fake news, and I can’t blame them because that’s the only thing they see,” Robredo had said in 2018, finally deciding to speak up against unfounded claims about her family that was spreading on social media at the time.

"All of the candidates should have done that at the very onset, even before they expressed their intentions to run. Napakarami nang supporters nila ang nakikipag away sa social media. Kung sila nag aattack lang tas ikaw defend-defend lang, magpreprevail 'yung attackers, lalo ngayon na social media is the main battleground given na nasa pandemic tayo," Presto said.

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