On cue, a bevy of social media “influencers” are cheering the latest conspiracy theories surrounding purported Russian “influence” on Philippine social media. In their “investigative report” Russian disinformation system influences PH social media, Rapplerettes Vernise Tantuco, Wayne Manuel, Michael Bueza, Glenda Marie Castro and Gemma Mendoza (collectively billed the “Rappler Research Team”) go to amusing lengths to describe a network of influence that links “Russia and the St Petersburg-based Internet Research Agency (IRA), a state-sponsored troll farm” to writer on geopolitics Adam Garrie who, they claim “writes for websites known to spread misleading claims, and who has been quoted extensively in online posts and interviewed by news networks with links to Iran and Russia.”
Once this link to Garrie is “established” this “research team” then ropes into this “conspiracy”, Philippine-based website The Daily Sentry, former ambassador and Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao, and bloggers RJ Nieto and Sass Rogando Sasot among others on the basis of the number of times they cite Garrie’s work. As if the kind of conclusions these Rapplerettes draw from this sophomoric “analyses” weren’t enough, they refrain from any form of actual evaluation of the substance of the actual published works of these personalities and sites. Indeed, making no judgement on whether the content in Garrie’s work is “fake” or constitutes “misinformation” or “propgaganda” or any of the adjectives used by Fake News Crybabies to summarily indict content producers and publishers, it is evident that Garrie’s body of work requires a thorough examination before any of his assertions can be glibly debunked — perhaps an initiative beyond the “expertise” of this “research team”, to be fair.
As far as can be seen, this report is but a pale shadow of the work of the characters and organisations it presumes to merely label as agents in a grand conspiracy to influence Philippine politics. Thing is, who is even not into the content production business to influence people to begin with? Everyone in this space is out to persuade people or influence politics. Anyone who claims that they aren’t is, for sure, the biggest hypocrite of the lot.
If these Rapplerettes are going to demonise anyone because of some sort of perceived “link” to foreign agents or governments, then, perhaps, they should train their “investigative” chops on the real deal and not look too far (and stretch their imagination) beyond that of the Roman Catholic Church. Ancient texts clearly document the absolute subservience of the agents of this organisation to a foreign government — that of the Vatican City and its head of state the Pope himself. Considering it is an organisation controlled by a foreign government all the more makes notable the vast infrastructure of influence it operates in the Philippines. The Church — and, by command responsibility, Rome — operates extensive broadcast and other mass media facilities, runs exclusive schools attended by the children of the country’s most powerful oligarchs, and exerts virtual mind control over an enormous number of voters. In that regard, the influence of the unabashedly foreign-controlled Roman Catholic Church and its henchmen in the Catholic Bishop’s Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) dwarfs any semblance of the imagined fantastical influence the Russian government may exert on Philippine society being cooked up by Rappler‘s so-called “research team”.
Before these ladies apply their quack “investigative” methoodology on their selected enemies, they should first make sure it does not backfire on an ally of theirs — in this case, their overlords in the Philippines’ premiere kingmaker, the Catholic Church. Obviously, these Rapplerettes can’t think that far ahead nor beyond the little cluckety echo chambers they’ve coocooned themselves within.
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