National artist for literature F. Sionil Jose has been copping a lot of flak for his audacity in stating that Maria Ressa does not deserve the Nobel Peace Prize. He has been maligned by prominent personalities and “thought leaders” of the Opposition. Some of them actually have questionable provenances with regard to their prominence. These half-assed prominent personalities don’t even bother to distinguish in their criticism. Sionil Jose is a national artist for literature. If ever he would be awarded a Nobel, it would be for literature not for “peace”.
What exactly has Ressa done to advance the cause of peace? It’s not like the Philippines is a failed state such as Syria or Libya, both of which were the doing of the US pushing with regime-change during the Arab Spring. Ressa’s fans can only claim the “harassment” of Rappler by the government but Rappler remains open. They lump in the denial of a franchise for ABS-CBN without taking into account the fact that a franchise is a privilege, not a right. The sole basis for Ressa’s prize is her “standing up” to President Rodrigo Duterte — a narrative that is largely of her own making. I doubt that the President is bothered by Rappler and Ressa. The cases are pending in the courts. The last libel suit against Rappler and Ressa was settled. It didn’t come to a judgment. What stands is her previous conviction, which is under appeal. In short, she’s being given due process under the law.
What’s dangerous now is how low the quality of our public intellectuals are. If the defenders of Ressa aren’t capable of civil discourse then what’s the point? The fact that they mostly resort to argumentum ad hominem, as noted broadcast journalist Howie Severino did when he criticised Jose’s writing style without addressing the points he made, only proves that their intellectual capacity is lacking. But this is usually the case when your position is weak and indefensible. What’s more dangerous is there is no journalist worth his or her salt who would dare go against Ressa and Rappler. The facts behind Rappler’s funding by Pierre Omidyar are there for all to read. It is not a white paper but supported by facts because Rappler and Ressa did receive the monies. If Duterte really wanted to pin down Ressa, he would’ve been able to do so, one way or the other.
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What is more disturbing is the hypocrisy that accompanies the Ressa defense. She isn’t even a Filipino citizen to begin with. In fact, she is a foreign agent operating in the country and openly challenging the government. Condoning this act is treason. But never mind. What is important is the largesse flows to those in and around Maria — she who has been praised by Biden, Obama and Bono. Proof that, up to today, Filipinos are content to suffer the fools of the past; Aguinaldo, Paterno and Buencamino, who murdered the true patriots and sold us out to foreigners. We are such pathetic idiots if we will condone these acts of treason and not take a stand against it.
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