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False analogy in the time of extra-judicial killings
By Elson T. Elizaga, August 7, 2017

We know that the work of a farmer and that of a fisher are different from each other. We cannot declare a farmer lazy because he does not go out into the sea. Neither can we call a fisher incompetent because he does not use a plow to catch bolinao. If we treat the farmer and fisher as the same despite their differences, we are committing a logical fallacy called false analogy. In Cebuano, false analogy is sayop nga pagtandi. In Tagalog, maling pagkakatulad.

Thoughtco.com quotes Madsen Pirie, author of How to Win Every Argument: “The analogical fallacy consists of supposing that things which are similar in one respect must be similar in others. It draws a comparison on the basis of what is known, and proceeds to assume that the unknown parts must also be similar.”

Last week, a netizen named Abe Purugganan (not Parugganan as identified earlier, sorry) used false analogy by comparing the work of senators and that of a police officer. His meme has garnered 15,000 shares so far in Facebook. Following is part of Purugganan’s message as printed in filipinewsph.net and a similar site:

“For [senators] Chiz Edcudero (sic), Frank Drilon and Kiko Pangilinan: Who is the better public servant? You or Espenido? You sit comfortably on your chairs in the Senate talking endlessly without achieving anything … On the other hand, Espenido battles criminals in our communities. He puts his life on the line to protect our people ….”

Chief Inspector Jovie Espenido is the Ozamiz City chief of police who led the deadly raid on the houses of Ozamiz mayor Reynaldo Parojinog and his children.

It seems Purugganan is a pseudonym. The websites that quote him (or her) look like blogs than news sites; they describe Purugganan as a “former soldier and scout ranger”. (Naa ba diay scout ranger nga dili soldier?). But Purugganan’s identity is beside the point. What Purugganan should have done is compare the work or behavior of two police officers. For example: one who is negligent of his duties and another who is faithful; one who has become an assassin and another who conforms to the rule of law. Because, after all, we cannot reprimand a police officer for not participating in the Senate session because he is not a senator, and a senator’s job is not to solicit search warrants and conduct raids.

But false analogy is so tempting a technique that even lawyers use it. Your president Rodrigo Duterte committed false analogy last year when he compared the US massacre of Moros in Bud Dajo in 1906 to the alleged human rights violations in the Philippines today. Duterte said then US president Barack Obama “is not in the position to bring up human rights violations in the Philippines” because the Americans had, more than a century ago, killed 600 Moros in Mindanao. Your president, in other words, was saying you Americans had also committed extra-judicial killing so you have no right to tell us to stop this practice.

Dr. Rene Oliveros, however, said during an interview with CNN Philippines, that we cannot make this kind of comparison. Oliveros is a professor in Moro History and Islamic Studies. Oliveros said, “We cannot easily correlate it [the Bud Dajo massacre] as extra-judicial killing at the same time. It’s a different situation. There’s a colony [by the Americans]. There’s an occupation, ok, but in today’s context, we‘re dealing here with people, citizens ….”

Paminaw mga ka-DDS, the keyword here is “citizens”. Extra-judicial killing is an attack by a government group on citizens. An attack, a killing, performed by a foreign power on another country is something else. So, we cannot compare the 1901 Balangiga Massacre to extra-judicial killings. They are not the same. What would be the same is Barack Obama giving orders to the police to kill suspected drug traders. Then your president could have rightly accused him of being a fraud. End


Published in Gold Star Daily.


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