Nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels became a trending topic among Filipino Internet users when his name was mentioned by presidential candidates in a televised debate on March 20.
Goebbels first made an appearance when Vice President Jejomar Binay said that the outgoing Aquino administration’s standard bearer Manuel “Mar” Roxas II had already determined that he was guilty of graft and corruption despite the fact that a court had not come to a decision. Goebbels, who served as the propaganda minister of Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Germany from 1933 to 1945, is often believed to have said, “If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.”
“Only the court can decide whether I am guilty or not, [and] not your accusations, Mr. Roxas – I mean, Mr. Goebbels, sorry,” he said during the debate, which was in Tagalog.
He also took aim at independent candidate and front-runner Grace Poe when she brought up a money laundering charge against him.
“You are also a confidant of Goebbels,” he said.
Binay has been battling a string of corruption allegations since he entered the election. Indeed, during the debate, he came in with documents to disprove the charges only to discover that he was prohibited from using notes by the Commission on Elections (Comelec).
As for his invoking of Goebbels, he did succeed in sparking interest in the figure among Filipinos. Though Goebbels was hardly a household name in the Southeast Asian state before this incident, his name instantly trended when Internet users searched his name and news websites posted stories about him. Some even said Goebbels the real winner in the debate.
Yet analysts doubted that it succeeded for Binay as a political tactic, noting that it was an ad hominem attack and a low blow that illustrated weakness rather than strength.
According to the latest Pulse Asia survey, Binay ranked third with 22 percent support, with Poe along with Davao City mayor Rodrigo Duterte in a statistical tie for first place with 26 percent and 25 percent respectively. Roxas ranked fourth with 20 percent, unchanged from the previous poll.
The debate – the second in the campaign for the presidential election in May – was held at the University of the Philippines Cebu.