What’s Tagalog for ‘crooked politician’?

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If you’re confused by the impeachment trial of Philippine president Joseph Estrada, it may not be the politics that have you stumped. It may just be that you don’t speak one or more of the four languages that lawyers and politicians are using inside the courtroom.

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According to the CHRISTIAN SCIENCE MONITOR, the proceedings are held in English, Tagalog, Filipino and ocassionally Spanish, depending on the subtle message that the prosecution or defense wants to send. Language has long been spoken along class lines in the Philippines, where the English-speaking elite look down on Tagalog and Filipino spoken by the masses.

Lawyers use English when bickering with each other, then shift to Tagalog when questioning witnesses. While Estrada’s defense uses Tagalog to garner public support among working-class Filipinos, the prosecution uses the same language to discredit witnesses before upper-class viewers.

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is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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