The so-called “Black Friday Defend Press Freedom” rally organised to re-package Rappler‘s corporate compliance issue into a “press freedom” issue turned out to be a mere fart in the wind. The rally, held at a Quezon City roundabout commemorating boy scouts who died in a plane crash, did not attract enough participants to fill even half of the memorial landmark’s circular space. This, however, does not stop the social media “influencers” who organised the event from continuing their screeching fits about the imagined “assault on press freedom” they insist is being perpetrated by the government of Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte.
The “proof” being used by these outrage faddists is none other than embattled “social news network” Rappler which stands accused of being in violation of a constitutional requirement that Filipino media companies be 100 percent Filipino-owned. According to these “activists”, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) acted under the orders of the President himself. Just because they think so apparently served as their evidence that it actually is so. Thing is, even Inquirer columnist Randy David, a staunch critic of the Duterte administration, wrote in his column today that he believes “it is counterproductive and unfair to accuse [the officers of the SEC] of being Duterte lackeys.” David further writes…
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Having known some of them in their private capacities, I can say that, in terms of values and political inclinations, they have probably more in common with the journalists at Rappler than with Mr. Duterte’s solicitor general or justice secretary.
Winnie Monsod, David’s colleague at the Inquirer, also pointed out something markedly absent in all the public screeching of the “activists” that have rallied around Rappler…
The investors in ABS-CBN and GMA-7 are passive investors, but the SEC thinks the investors in Rappler are more than passive because they have powers that the [Philippine Depositary Receipts (PDRs)] holders of ABS-CBN and GMA-7 do not have. That is what Rappler has to clarify to the SEC.
Rappler has some explaining to do that has nothing to do with “press freedom”. But because this is the Philippines, where “activism” mirrors the Juan Tamad archetype Filipinos have come to accept is a pillar of their cultural character, lazy thinking prevailed over critical thinking. Rather than apply a critical mind of the posturing of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa following the outing of what is, essentially, a failure in her stewardship of the company she heads, Filipino “activists” charged ahead with a brain-dead and obsolete advocacy.
Indeed, this is an opportune time for Filipinos to put under scrutiny the small set of “influencers” that seem to drive these waste-of-time political activities. According to a report published by Rappler (who else?) writer Bea Cupin, a key group of organisers of the “Black Friday” rally call themselves “Bloggers for Freedom”. But who are these bozos? Cupin’s “report” lists 59 of them…
Myk Mykapalaran Cruz
James Romer V. Velina
Mc Richard Viana Paglicawan
Saul de Jesus
Mark Will Mayo Magallanes
Rhadem Camlian Morados
Czarina Maye Noche
John Clifford Sibayan
Inday Espina Varona
Eugene Alvin Villar
Reynaldo Pagsolingan Jr
Renz Daniel de Vera
As someone who actively monitors the Philippines’ political buzz on social media, I can say that not too many of these names jump out as particularly noteworthy. For that matter, I’m surprised that many of these even regard themselves as “political bloggers”. Indeed, many of the names found in this list made names for themselves blogging about showbiz and lifestyle topics. Thus there is some level of intellectual dishonesty in the manner with which many of these “influencers” arbitrarily rebrand themselves to suit the occasion or, perhaps more to the point, to suit a juicy opportunity to climb the social ladder.
I have a Feedly app subscription to the RSS feeds of 23 bloggers I consider to be “political bloggers” primarily. These 23 bloggers collectively publish from 3 to 10 blog posts per day (not including the roughly 2 out of 5 days there are zero posts from all 23). The output of our assets contributing to Get Real Post and GR Pundit beats all 23 combined on volume most days. And we’re not even talking about quality yet.
You know what is really killing “press freedom” in the Philippines? It is not the Philippine government. It is Filipino indolence. The fact that the output of 23 of what I consider to be the most prolific and insightful Filipino political bloggers is easily dwarfed by the output of GRP says a lot about the flaccid resolve of Filipinos to give their mainstream media real challenge. Rather than articulate well-structured ideas in long form, the social media “influence” industry in the Philippines has become a wasteland of Twitter “activists”. This is the real reason their street rallies fail — because there is no substantial intellectual capital upon which to build real activism in the Philippines today.
If it is true that there is an “assault on press freedom”, where are the casualties? There are none. Even the most rabid Yellowtard would be hard-pressed to name even one “influencer” or “journalist” thrown in prison by the Duterte government. The fact is, the notion of an “attack on press freedom” is a fake advocacy.
It is amazing that in a country of 100 million, 59 obsolete bozos make up its society’s pre-eminent “blogging community”. Are there no others?
Perhaps the effort to be less lazy should start with none other than me. Rather than content myself with the lazy option of following the same 23 “bloggers” I’ve had on my Feedly account for years, I will need to mount extra effort to find those others. Filipinos will also need to re-evaluate the “thought leaders” they follow. The reason political discourse in the Philippines is so intellectually bankrupt does have something to do with these lazy “bloggers”.
Tama na, palitan na, now na.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.