On lying and politics: Looking into Sara Duterte’s defense of Imee Marcos

March 8, 2019 - 12:02 PM
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Imee Marcos and Sara Duterte-Carpio
Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio defended Ilocos Norte Governor Imee Marcos for lying about her educational credentials. (Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos)

Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio made an unexpected statement in defending senatorial candidate Imee Marcos for misleading the public about her educational credentials.

Duterte-Carpio, the campaign manager of Hugpong ng Pagbabago, lashed out at opposition senatorial candidates under the Otso Diretso slate who harped about Marcos for not being truthful about her background.

“Kasi [ang] sinasabi nila, the issue is not about a college degree but honesty,” she said to reporters.

“Lahat sila sinungaling. Lahat ng tao sa mundong ito [ay] sinungaling,” the Davao City mayor added.

She claimed that Magdalo party-list representative Gary Alejano, an opposition senatorial bet, was guilty of lying in accusing her father’s aide, Bong Go, of using public funds to print out shirts with his face on them.

Duterte-Carpio’s remark, meanwhile, was not lost on some Filipinos who observed that it normalized lying among public officials.

Alejano also reminded Duterte-Carpio on the implications of running for public office.

A former poll body official and an election watchdog noted that candidates running for public office should always “strive to do to better” following Duterte-Carpio’s statement.

“You should strive to do better. It doesn’t necessarily mean that because everybody is doing it (lying), it’s right… You should find ways to correct it,” former Commission on Elections commissioner Gregorio Larrazabal shared.

Kontra Daya convenor Danilo Arao also warned not to make politicians’ unethical actions a norm.

“It’s not an issue of whether or not you have a degree, but whether or not there is truth to what you claim. There is a distinction between white lies and lies that really deceive millions of people and hoodwink people into partaking of their money,” he added.

Politicians and lying  

Psychologist Jim Taylor believes politicians lie because it has something to do with narcissism, where a person considers himself “special.”

“Narcissists are arrogant, self-important, see themselves as special, require excessive admiration, have a sense of entitlement, and are exploitative… This constellation of narcissistic attributes causes them to believe that they are right and, even if they are not, they’re too smart to be caught or suffer the consequences,” he said.

Taylor also notes that it’s all about self-preservation and keeping themselves afloat in a tumultuous environment where they are constantly under public scrutiny.

“The cost/benefit ratio for lying is in their favor. Politicians run this calculation when they create or shift a damaging narrative, attack an opponent, or respond to indefensible claims against them,” he remarked.

Psychology professor Dan Ariely noted that politicians lie for their own self-interests since they believe it is about “the ends justifying the means.”

“We have an agenda that we want to get things done,” he said, delving into how some politicians would think and approach challenging situations. — Artwork by Uela Altar-Badayos