Who does she think she is? It seems Rappler CEO Maria Ressa believes (1) she is above Philippine law, (2) that she can simply reframe several charges against her into a single “press freedom” crusade, and (3) that engaging the services of an “intrnational human rights lawyer” will make her position before any Philippine court stronger. One wonders where Ressa gets the padding she keeps adding to her thickening face.
Ressa has long styled herself as a “Filipino” fighting for “press freedom” in the Philippines. But lately her true American colours are shining through as she sets a bad example in suggesting that imperial courts and lawyers trump their counterparts in the colonies. Perhaps, too, unlike most real Filipino heroes, Ressa enjoys the security of a pretty solid umbilical cord ready to reel her back into Uncle Sam’s embrace. Indeed, after Ressa was arrested earlier this year, the US embassy issued a statement that said “We hope the charge against journalist and Rappler CEO Maria Ressa will be resolved quickly in accordance with relevant Philippine law and international standards of due process.”
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Former ambassador and Manila Times columnist Bobi Tiglao warned that this statement was not motivated by any strong opinion harboured by the US Government over the state of that “press freedom” situation Ressa is all shrill about.
The statement was not due to US concerns over a purported attack on the press, as Rappler implied. It was simply because Ressa is a US citizen, and US embassies are required to publicly express concern over a high-profile citizen being arrested and charged in local courts.
If Ressa had to spend more than a day in detention, we would have seen a US embassy officer visit her to check on her situation, as is standard operating procedure for American embassies.
Evidently, much of the “bravery” Ressa supposedly exhibits before the cameras in her “fight” really lends itself to an implicitly strong safety net America extends to save her pointed ass in case it catches fire. This is an assurance veiled by that seemingly benign expression of “concern” issued by her embassy recently which, on close examination, comes across more like a stern lecture directed to the local administrators of a former colonial territory. Old habit’s die hard, right Joe?
For that matter, much of that “fight” Ressa styles herself as being in the forefront of is being waged using foreign backers — an affront to everything real Filipino nationalists stand for. Ressa has marshalled no less than the mighty New York Times, various “press freedom” advocacy groups and think tanks, a motley lot of European “activists” and cause-oriented groups and, most recently, the very chi-chi Amal Alamuddin Clooney.
Clooney, we might recall, made news back in 2015 when she brought the case of former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo to the United Nations Human Rights Council after the administration of then President Benigno Simeon ‘BS’ Aquino III repeatedly subjected her to legal pressure (executed by then Justice Secretary Leila De Lima). Interestingly enough, Left-leaning groups at the time were loudly vocal in citing Clooney’s involvement in the case as “interventionist”.
Luz Ilagan party-list representative of the communist-sympathising “women’s issues” group Gabriela warned Alamuddin to respect Philippine Law; “Otherwise, her actions might be construed as interventionist”. A strange position to take by a representative of a group affiliated with a movement renowned for its singular objective of overthrowing legitimate democratic governments through violent revolution.
For his part, then Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Sonny Coloma insisted that “there is no ill will toward the former President and we are simply following the processes of law.”
It seems Ressa has not learned much from recent history. Even Clooney’s formidable star power was not enough to assuage a blatant violation of Arroyo’s human rights when an illegal “watch-list order” was issued by De Lima back then to prevent her from seeking medical care abroad. Indeed, no less than the late, Senator Miriam Santiago pointed out that De Lima’s actions had “no legal basis”.
“It is a very serious and grave mistake to think that national security, public safety and public health can be interchanged with national interest,” she said. “We are putting words in the mouth of the Constitution, that is why the Supreme Court ruling is correct.”
We are seeing a pretty clear pattern here. Even back then a Yellowtard government was in power and was walking all over the Constitution. Today, a Yellowtard-led Opposition is still walking all over the Constitution. Quite ironic considering the Philippines is actually subject to a Constitution created in 1987 under the watch of the First Yellowtard government led by the late former President Cory Aquino.
Clooney is walking into a little quagmire that, clearly, is not worth her time. Ressa is but a sad caricature of the cancerous colonial mentality that imprisons the Filipino psyche. The Philippines’ criminal justice system, flawed as it may be, remains fully-functional and operates within the frame of the very same 1987 Constitution the Yellowtards routinely disrespect. And Duterte, for his part, remains a popular president — attesting to the strong mandate he continues to enjoy.
Filipinos are clearly in a strong position to sort out their own affairs — something the Opposition (who are led by shrill “thought leaders” who never miss an opportunity to loudly proclaim their love for an independent Philippines) bizarrely seem to be discouraging.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.