The game is up for Maria Ressa. As CEO of embattled “social news network” Rappler, she should have been on top of her company’s risk exposure to the business environment — including the regulatory framework in the country within which her business operates. She and her cheering squad used the argument that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is penalising her for something that they could have cited over the last several years Rappler has been in operation. But the fact that the regulation Rappler is being penalised for — accepting foreign funding — was not invoked in previous years does not make that compliance risk go away.
Maria Ressa is, in short, solely at fault for the troubles Rappler suffers today. But rather than take accountability for her executive lapse in judgement, Ressa has instead chosen the path of, wasting even more of Filipinos’ time and attention span. As I had written some time ago, the Philippine Opposition already suffers from a glaring lack of strategic direction thanks to all the rabbit holes the screeching lot of the Liberal Party stalwarts that presume to lead it have led it down. The whole notion that “fighting for Rappler” equates to “fighting for press freedom” is another such rabbit hole the Opposition have stuck their pointed heads into thanks to their Yellowtard leaders.
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To begin with, Rappler is no different to the other big corporate media organisations that make up the inbred oligopoly that is the Philippines’ media industry. It is no more “independent” of the influence of the powers-that-be than any of the others. The way certain “activists” are fashioning Rappler into God’s Gift to Philippine Press Freedom, it is as if this “freedom” all emanates from Maria Ressa. This is evidence that Yellowtard “activists” don’t actually understand the real essence of free speech.
The truth is, no one person or media entity is truly “unbiased”. Everyone has a bias — even (shockingly) Maria Ressa herself! It takes a vibrant ecosystem of biased people articulating, exchanging, and, most important of all, debating views for a “free market of ideas” to produce a balanced collective thesis. In plain English, this is just the old turn-of-the-century vintage principle of “wisdom of the crowds” (or, going even further back to the mid-1980s political jargon, the so-called “will of the people”). It is on this principle that the idea that “democracy” progressively yields the best results for the majority is founded. The Darwinian dynamic of said “free market of ideas” kills weak ideas and propagates strong ideas. Or so the thinking goes.
Whether or not this “free market of ideas” system actually yields good results for the majority has become debatable. But the fact that it may or may not does not mean that a monopoly on truth is a better situation to have. And herein lies the irony that sails way above the pointed heads of the screeching Philippine Opposition. By putting Rappler and its czarina Maria Ressa up as a single rallying point for a so-called “fight” for “press freedom”, these bozos are suggesting that Rappler — and Ressa — hold a monopoly on truth. Perhaps this is the reason Ressa had exhibited the sort of recklessness and impunity that she is now being punished for — because such an idea, through the sheer pounding of her own cheerleaders, got so deeply-embedded in her own pointed head that she had lost all sight of her role as the most accountable person in her organisation.
Rather than externalising Rappler‘s problems as an issue of “press freedom”, Ressa should woman-up and acknowledge that she is responsible for failing to mitigate the compliance risk she sat on for years that led to the debacle she and her organisation is in the midst of today. Ultimately, Rappler‘s problem is internal in nature. The organisation suffers from the internal problem of being led by a CEO who has utterly failed to do her job. And that is the truth Filipinos should be fighting for.
Indeed, Filipinos have long been criticised as a people who never take personal accountability for failure. Rather than correct that detestable cultural character, Ressa is proving to be a model of that dysfunctional way of thinking. Rather than celebrate Ressa for being an exemplar of “truth” she should be put up as a model of what not to be. And that is the TRUTH.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.