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Monsod’s biggest, most brazen lie

SOLITA Monsod, the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s columnist most emblematic of its politics, last week wrote a column titled “The administration’s biggest, most brazen lie.” It is ironic — even hilarious if not for the seriousness of the topic — that she bases such a declaration on what is clearly, totally, indisputably, inarguably a lie. It is the most shameful, and so far most sickening, of Monsod’s string of Duterte-demonizing pieces.

You don’t even need to do research to immediately suspect that she is lying when she wrote:
“Mr. [Rodrigo] Duterte’s total number of extrajudicial killings (EJKs) issued [sic] by the government: 20,322. That figure appears in the government’s report of accomplishments issued at the end of 2017 and circulated in the media, covering the period July 1, 2016 to Nov. 27, 2017. So, that is only 18 months of Mr. Duterte.”

C’mon, would the government, in this case the Presidential Communications Operations Office which issued that report (and accessible in the internet), report that in its “accomplishments”? If it did, I don’t think its most efficient head, Martin Andanar, would have lasted this long in his post.

There was of course absolutely nothing in that document that reported as an “accomplishment” 20, 322 EJKs. What was there was a graphic that reported, among other things, 3,967 “drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations” and “118, 287” drug personalities arrested, and — a figure that would be important in this column — 16,365 cases of homicide in the entire country, i.e., killings due to any reason.

Was Monsod seeing things? Knowing Monsod as an academic, before she became the top Duterte demonizer, I initially blamed it on her advancing age (she’s 80, would you believe?), and you can imagine what happens if for four years one has been livid over this president’s rule — and popularity. Maybe it was due to her failing eyesight, and combined with the psychological phenomenon called motivated perception (seeing what you desire to see), Monsod read 20,322 killed in Duterte’s anti-drug war. “Que horror!” she probably exclaimed.

This is so far from the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency’s report of 6,011 “persons who died during anti-drug operations” as of December 2020. The only case of EJKs in which police were convicted was the 2016 killing of 17-year-old Kian de los Santos in Caloocan City. As far as I can gather, there are about 15 cases in the courts accusing identified police figures of EJKs. Anti-Duterte groups, especially the communists, prefer to spend for demonstrations and publications, rather than for lawyers prosecuting actual police for EJKs. 

But why did Monsod write a precise figure of 20,322? Why not 27,000, the number of EJKs Rappler’s Maria Ressa claimed in her interview with BBC’s Stephen Sackur last year, or 9,000 which former investigative reporter Sheila Coronel cited in a 2017 article in the journal Democracy, or the 30,000 a columnist in this newspaper recently claimed?

It would have puzzled me no end, if not for the fact that I debunked something similar in September 2017. That year Rappler ran an article by a newbie researcher (obviously wanting to impress Ressa over his militancy, or yellowness) that since Duterte assumed office in July 2016 to January 2017 there were 7,080 EJKs. The report claimed this figure was based on the Philippine National Police’s (PNP) data.

How did that researcher concoct that figure? He added the PNP’s 2,550 figure of “drug personalities killed in police operations” to the 4,525 cases of “deaths under investigation or investigation concluded.” Voila: 7,080 EJKs. PNP officials became hoarse in the throat explaining that “deaths under investigation” are deaths due to all reasons — domestic violence to robberies to assassinations — and are not necessarily due to drug-related killings. And in the first place, how could Rappler even assume that all of the 2,550 “drug personalities killed” were executed unarmed, that none tried to fight back?

I myself pointed this out in two columns, yet Rappler ignored the explanation and to this day “updates” its grossly false derivation of the number of EJKs. United States media of course didn’t bother to check Rappler’s figure — after all Ressa was a CNN reporter. That 7,080 figure was swallowed hook, line and sinker by the Western media, and even by the European Union and United Nations bodies.

Duterte’s critics then extrapolated the 7,080 figure (1,011 per month)] to claim 14,000 EJKs after Duterte’s two years, then 28,000 after three years — which the columnist in this paper rounded off to 30,000. That is how brazenly lies are spread by the West and its minions — remember America’s claim of Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction.

Astonishingly, what Monsod, a former academic and veteran journalist, did was to ape what that newbie, inane researcher did three years back. Monsod added the 3,967 “drug personalities who died in anti-drug operations” at the end of November 2017 to the 16,365 cases of homicide in the entire country. Voila: 20,322 as the figure for Duterte’s “total number of EJKs.”

If she published a paper with that kind of intellectual dishonesty, or incompetence when she was at the University of the Philippines, she would have been promptly kicked out. It not only attributes something to someone who did not say so. It diabolically used facts to make a lie seem data-based.

Why did Monsod do this? Apparently she wanted to replicate the Rappler trick that was believed three years ago by the media and nongovernment organizations in the West, and even by UN bodies, as that lie has run its course.

I’m wrong in what I wrote above about Monsod, my apologies. Winnie hasn’t aged at all, has excellent eyesight and she’s probably just reliving her glorious years fighting Marcos. She’s still at the head of the pack of Yellow propagandists, who however seem more and more becoming deranged because of four years of a Duterte they have failed to demonize, with a Duterte 2.0 in the horizon.

I dare Monsod: debunk this column point by point in your next column, or to save on your column space, send it to me, I’ll publish it in this space.

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