I AM intrigued by the recent turn of events. Why is there so much brouhaha over press freedom following the closure of the operations of Rappler, a media outfit which was discovered to be generously funded by a foreign outfit knowing for its covert destabilization activity in foreign government and leaders not friendly to America?
How much more money had been infused to discredit the Duterte government that a number of radical organizations and foreign-funded media firms suddenly emerged in an unusual activism that stemmed from Rappler’s closure?
Stop, look and listen.
Have they lost their freedom which they claimed was deprived of them?
It was all about suppression of press freedom which Rappler complained of following the closure order by the Securities and Exchange Commission. But should SEC just watch in akimbo after it discovered that a notorious foreign funder-Omidyar Network (ON) can intrude into the editorial content and policies of the media company?
I do not wish to comment farther on the case of Rappler which is now with the Court of Appeals but the outfit itself is actively covering activities that had proceeded from its claim that its freedom had been curtailed and the activists, as if on cue, damning it and walking out of class to “fight Duterte’s dictatorship and tyrannical attacks on the youth and people”.
The sound and fury seem to drown the basic issue on what is (press) freedom and what is criminal. But this is not even as simple as determining whether it is just an issue of freedom or crime. This is intertwined with the issues of nationalism, sovereignty and national security which are stonewalled in the razzmatazz and drama taking place in the University of the Philippines school campus, the leftist legal fronts like Kilusang Mambubukid, Kabataan Party List, the Senate hall and inescapably the foreign funded media organizations.
The issue of press freedom and crime had been convoluted. The noise and sloganeering appears to be an attempt at concealing the crime of the past administration among them the Dengvaxia horror and the Mamasapano massacre of the police 44 Special Action Force. It is used by the moribund opposition and some onion-skinned politicians to question bloggers and social media platform like Facebook which impliedly Senators like Grace Poe and Manny Pacquiao want to sanction. Poe even raised the possibility of barring Facebook in the Philippines.
The opposition charged that pro-Duterte supporters and bloggers used Facebook to spread fake news. Bloggers from all political persuasions and ideology use FB and funny because the senators and the anti-Duterte bloggers aimed their turrets on Asec. Mocha Uson as if all the fake news emanates from her. They spared no words in discrediting her for mistakenly citing that Mt. Mayon is located in Naga. What a big issue that was and still is and Uson remains quiet to make her critics happy with their sarcasm.
Recall that Duterte’s followers intensively used the free platform of FB because they were deprived of space and airtime in the traditional media. Duterte was running on a shoe-string budget during the Presidential derby. Duterte contracted advertising placements in ABS CBN but even as he paid for this in advance the network never aired these. But he was not lacking in volunteers who covered the events of his campaign. They told their stories and post these in FB along with the crude video they took from their cellphones or handheld cameras. Jun Evasco, the campaign manager, was surprised to learn that not a few domains carried out news and videos of the campaign sorties. They were later dubbed as trolls but who cares. Their message reached the masses and the videos of the Duterte campaign were viewed by millions all over the country and by Overseas Filipino Workers who were cheering for the candidate of their kind.
Were they viewing fake news in living colors?
The political opposition has never gotten over their defeat. The votes were just too overwhelming no amount of machination and cheating reversed the outcome.
Until today they cannot come to terms with reality. They blamed Facebook and Zuckerberg for their humiliating defeat and as the midterm election is nearing they want to ban Facebook. This time they charge FB for being a harbinger of what they claim are fake news. Symptoms of their hopelessness and defeat are showing this early.
I wonder whether they will blame the Social Weather Station and Pulse Asia for the “excellent” trust rating of Duterte. I wonder too whether they suspect the international credit rating firms for the investment and stable grade they gave to the Philippine economy under Duterte. I wonder whether they find the BIR and BOC collection figures fakes.
Will they blame the Supreme Court for affirming the extension of martial law in Mindanao?
Year 2018 is a Build, Build, Build year. Surely the din of the rabid rallyists, the headless Commission on Human Rights, the retinue of foreign-funded media establishments and the interlopers from the Catholic church will be swallowed by the rumbling of construction equipment.