“Fake it until you make it.”
By Alex P. Vidal
NEWARK, New Jersey -- Sometime in 1997, a radio station in Iloilo City in the Philippines made a “flash” report that a woman had filed a case for sexual harassment and abandonment against then Vice Mayor Guillermo dela Llana.
She claimed to be the vice mayor’s alleged inamorata.
It spread like a prairie fire.
A few curious supporters and worried relatives immediately stormed city hall looking for the vice mayor.
Reporters were in a mad scramble to get Dela Llana’s side at noontime.
A dentist by profession, Dela Llana didn’t know what hit him.
He refused to comment when asked by reporters, but muttered: “I have no idea about it; I don’t know what’s going on.”
Print and TV reporters, who didn’t have an inkling of the report’s genesis, refused to leave the Sanggunaing Panlungsod premises even if the vice mayor had requested for privacy and locked himself inside his office.
Later in that day, members of the city hall press corps converging inside the office of the late Councilor German Gonzales were able to secure an “affidavit” signed by the “complainant” and with a stamp from the “city prosecutor’s office.”
It was the same document the radio station had used as the basis to make the report.
We verified it in the Hall of Justice and found out the complainant was non-existent.
The address she had used was also fictitious.
In other words, the affidavit was a fake.
The radio station that broke the report had been taken for a ride.
It was one of the first known cases of fake news in the pre-social media era when bloggers weren’t yet an on-line vogue.
Dela Llana’s camp surmised the dirty stratagem had been engineered by a female political enemy it didn’t name.
The political enemy supposedly had “retaliated” after being “humiliated”.
Until now, the author of that obnoxious assault on Dela Llana’s reputation was never identified and sued for moral damages.
Some members of the city hall press corps, however, “knew” who was the vice mayor’s tormentor.