SC Associate Justice Leonen warns of rise of ‘false messiahs’
Filipinos must embrace “critical thinking” to prevent the rise of a demagogue who can manipulate the public into falsely believing in that person as a “messiah,” Supreme Court Associate Justice Marvic Leonen said.
Leonen, keynote speaker of the recent Democracy and Disinformation Forum, said that the “disenchantment of those whose voices remain unheard and stifled have led them to look for a false messiah.”
“Demagogues — this is just a warning, I am not referring to anyone — can arise out of legal frames that are formally democratic,” the magistrate said.
“Usually they take advantage of the exclusion and frustration of the majority. They offer quick fixes and represent themselves sharply from the more conscientious leaders who know that the major problems require patience, strategy and participative resources,” he added.
The forum was organized by media organizations, the academe, bloggers and civil society groups in response to the spread of fake news that have challenged social norms, values, fundamental freedoms and democracy in the country.
Leonen warned that social media “has the ability to erase attention, create digital amnesia and dull critical thinking.”
“The demagogue thrives on dichotomies, the ‘us versus they’ syndrome … They demonize their enemies often in an effort to dehumanize them to stoke passion among their followers, at the same time immunizing them from their humanities,” he said.
Subscribe to INQUIRER PLUS to get access to The Philippine Daily Inquirer & other 70+ titles, share up to 5 gadgets, listen to the news, download as early as 4am & share articles on social media. Call 896 6000.