Despite a vast international fear mongering initiative mounted by Rappler CEO Maria Ressa to paint the Philippines as a blood-soaked “war zone”, very few are convinced that the Philippines is a bloody mess. Indeed, what actually came out of all that are revelations that Ressa lied about her claim that she knew a thing or two about war reporting — revelations she has so far not responded to properly.
What became more evident, instead, are facts that the Philippines is anything but a war zone. Two big events over the last month have been pulled off successfully, the 30th Southeast Asian Games and the successful Philippine leg of U2’s The Joshua Tree concert both held in Manila. What had been fed to foreign media, on the other hand, comes mainly from the slanted “investigative journalism” pieces of shady media characters like Ressa who, backed by equally-shady foreign funding, have made names for themselves — and racked up frequent flyer points — on campaign trails of slander against the Philippine government and its hardworking police force.
The very chi chi Washington Post in a recent report, for example, is seeing the collective brains of its storytellers bent beyond recognition by the persistent popularity of incumbent Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. As if screaming What the Hey??, the Post’s headline reads, “Thousands dead. Police accused of criminal acts. Yet Duterte’s drug war is wildly popular”. You could almost hear the synapses in the brain of author Regine Cabato tying themselves in knots as she writes…
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Yet President Rodrigo Duterte’s bloody campaign is overwhelmingly popular here.
The reasons are manifold, but they hinge on Filipinos’ apparent willingness to overlook the death toll as long as Duterte’s government satisfies their individual economic and political interests, analysts say. The politician promised to eradicate criminals — “kill them all,” he said — and Filipinos appear to view Duterte as keeping his word.
And of this alleged “death toll”? Facts depend on who or what is “reporting” them, but one thing’s for sure, the media isn’t at the top of the list of credible sources for the right numbers. Because of a propensity to sensationalise the “news” coupled with common knowledge around who really signs the pay cheques of “journalists” employed by big corporate media outlets like ABS-CBN, the Inquirer, and, of course, Rappler (and the latter CEO’s now renowned dishonesty), Filipinos are regarding the shrill screams of bloody murder by “media practitioners” with grains of salt.
Some time back, Manila Times columnist and former ambassador Bobi Tiglao wrote in detail about the crooked “reporting” of Rappler on the supposed “death toll” of Duterte’s War on Drugs and how it had been summarily picked up without much of a fact check by Ressa’s foreign media cronies.
I had emailed Rappler managing editor Glenda Gloria and the researcher who wrote the piece, Michael Bueza, two weeks before I wrote my exposes on their epic lie, requesting if they could clarify to me how they got the 7,080 figure. They didn’t respond at all, not even a “no-comment” or mind-your-own-business reply.
It is so unfortunate and unfair for our country that Rappler’s 7,080 number has been swallowed uncritically by the European Union Parliament, the Human Rights Watch, CNN, Time, USA Today, and by most foreign media, exaggerating by a third the number of those killed in Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
As bizarre as it sounds, the Philippines’ community of Opposition partisans are deferring to foreign agents to resolve what are essentially domestic internal issues. However, backdropped by the Philippines’ fully functional criminal justice systems, its free press, and its working electoral process, the argument that Duterte runs a ‘tyrannical’ or ‘authoritarian’ regime is weak and has not gained much traction amongst the broader base of Filipino voters. Thanks to their propensity not only to ignore but to outright block insightful challenge to their partisan narrative, a huge swathe of the Opposition bloc had imprisoned their thinking in little inbred cliques of like-minded amigas engaged in orgies of mutual high-fiving. The failure to properly read the public sentiment had manifested itself in this year’s national elections in which the entire eight-person Opposition coalition had suffered a catastrophic loss.
Leading the lemming-like march to the abyss are key Opposition “thought leaders” like Maria Ressa. It’s Strike Three. Ressa had led her flock down three ideological rabbit holes — (1) the idea that Duterte is a tyrant, (2) the notion that “press freedom” is under attack, and (3) the idea that the Philippines is a “war zone” littered with corpses. The score as such:
Maria Ressa is out.
The sooner the Philippine Opposition realise this, cut their losses, and purge themselves of idiotic thought leadership, the sooner they may find hope of winning an election sometime in the future. And that is what comes next.
benign0 is the Webmaster of GetRealPhilippines.com.