It would seem, indeed, that Rappler was “targetted” by the Philippine government when it was singled out for shut down through action channeled via the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on charges of accepting foreign funds in exchange for some degree of control. Some “journalists” have incorporated that notion into the “assault on free speech” screeching fits Filipinos are being subject to today. Even more curious, they also see the question of Who might be next? as further reason to be outraged.
Perhaps it is high time that our so-called “journalists” are reminded of an important character trait that underpins excellent journalism. That character trait is curiosity. A true journalist would be curious about who else is in violation of constitutional bars against foreign ownership. That some of the Philippines’ most revered “journalists” prefer to be outraged than curious is, indeed, a disturbing thing. If Filipinos are subject to a media industry populated by people who are paralysed by outrage and not motivated by curiosity, then the country is in real trouble, indeed.
It is very likely that Rappler CEO Maria Ressa felt reasonably safe violating the law because she sees others doing the same. That’s pretty much how the Philippines works, after all. Everybody breaks the law with impunity. Consequences are meted out selectively. Unfortunately for Ressa, Rappler was selected this time. But, see, just because you were picked out amongst all the crooks to be the regulator’s flavour of the month does not in anyway reduce your culpability for any of your unlawful acts.
On that principle, it is easy to see just how baldly hypocritical this whole “activist” movement around “free speech” is. You’d think that a truly progressive activist movement would advocate justice. Instead, they are, themselves, being selective about mounting their outrage campaigns. The bigger activist cause begging to be given attention is the cause for applying the force of the law across everyone subject to it. The revelation that Rappler had been violating the law with impunity for years should have been a wakeup call to investigate the entire industry.
Instead, Filipinos’ so-called “activist” chose to go down the lazy path by rallying around a fake victim.
Maria Ressa is a fake victim. In reality, she is a crime suspect. She is CEO of a company found to be in violation of the law. The real victims here are her company’s employees — people who had been delivering their end of the deal to their employer all these years. In exchange, their employer –their CEO — betrayed their trust and the trust of the state.
Filipino activists should break free of the paradigm that “free speech” is in danger in the Philippines. It is not. That idea was spun by a desperate suspected crook frantically covering up years of management negligence.
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