Cariño: Baguio Connections 113: That Hardtalk interview (conclusion)

Baguio Stories

TO CONTINUE with Ressa's answers as provided here last week, 6) No, Ressa would not say that the international community has let her down, also that the US "pushed against what was happening in the drug war," and that "Last December the US government actually took away the visa of the man who carried out the drug war. He was the Philippine National Police chief. He's now a senator, Bato dela Rosa."

She later added, 7) "I think what you're seeing both in the Philippines and in the United States is very similar to what's happening to many democracies around the world including in the UK!

So what's happened is there is this kind of astro-turfing of manufactured consensus. Manipulation of the public at mass scale using Facebook, has happened here in the Philippines. You asked about the popularity of President Duterte, that's partly buoyed by a propaganda machine that we got clobbered for exposing in 2016."

8) "I'm saying that democracy is essentially dead and part of what killed it are social media platforms that have become part of behavior modification systems... Studies have shown that cheap armies on social media are cutting down democracy, rolling it back. In 2017 it was in 27 countries. In 2018, that doubled. In 2019, it was up to 70 countries and these are different research studies, right?"

9) "What I'm saying is...first of all he doesn't have an extraordinary man-date. He was one of five presidential candidates he had... out of 60... 61 million voters he had 16 million votes."

And 10) "I think I would agree that post People Power was a failure. We had endemic corruption. We replaced one set of leaders with another who then created their own ..."

So there. Ressa was asked tough questions; her core beliefs were challenged. And she answered the questions firmly from where she stands on all 10 difficult issues Sackur raised. Hence, academically, she held her own in that Hardtalk interview. It is one thing to not like Maria Ressa; it is another thing altogether to write that she was sacked, exposed, "linampso" and whatnot, all with exclamation points. Again, she held her own, like it or not, like her or not.

In the meantime, the Anti-Terrorism Act of 2020 that passed both houses of Congress was signed into law by President Rodrigo Duterte on 3 July. As of this writing, at least six petitions have already been filed with our Supreme Court, challenging said law, Republic Act 11479, on various grounds. Expert lawyers have weighed in.

They have for instance cited the vagueness of the definition of "terrorism," that the definition itself as found in the RA lacks a clarity of the terms and concepts used to describe terrorism. They have also said that what criteria set by the RA to meet the said definition can include even the innocent; these, among other matters.

For us, the people, while we witness the experts' battle out this RA, we ought also to educate ourselves, read it, and get ourselves familiar with this highly significant piece of legislation so that we may rightfully opine.


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