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The NYT’s hatchet job on Duterte: We should all be outraged

Proposes economic sanctions as those vs Iran, North Korea, Russia, Syria
IF, after reading with a critical eye, the New York Times’ editorial last Friday entitled “Accountability for Duterte,” and you aren’t outraged and even cheer it—as Vice President Robredo and the news website Rappler seem to have—you have lost all sense of being Filipino.

Because of the stupidity and temerity of that NYT piece, by-lined by the paper’s “Editorial Board*”, I am convinced that it is part of a Yellow plot to oust President Duterte.

What the NYT piece asked the US government and the world to do is an outrage: “The EU has proposed hitting his government where it may hurt the most — by imposing tariffs on Philippine goods. Other democratic trading partners should do the same,” the editorial proposed. This sentence alone indicates how rushed or ignorant the NYT piece is, that it is simply a cheap black propaganda.

The NYT—whose biggest stockholder is the world’s second richest man, the Mexican businessman Carlos Slim—is disseminating fake news: that European nations have condemned Duterte and are in the process of imposing sanctions against us. Or perhaps the NYT editors are ignorant of what the EU is and its institutions.

It is not the EU—the union of 28 nations in Europe of 510 million citizens—that has proposed reducing our access to European markets to punish us.

Rather it was only a resolution—and not even a bill—of the European Parliament (EP), which is just one of the three institutions of the EU, the other being the more powerful Council of the European Union (which passes laws with the EP) and the “executive” body, the European Commission. Members of the Council and the Commission are appointed by the governments of the EU nations; the EP by direct vote of each EU nation, in special elections.

Parliament resolution
A resolution of the EP has as much chance of being implemented by the EU as the thousands of resolutions by members of our Congress which are approved only for the sake of camaraderie but which everyone there knows won’t be implemented, since a law – an entirely different thing – would be required for that. House Resolution CR 0004 “granting consent to Senator Drilon to accept the Grand Cordon of Order of the Rising Sun from Japan” by any stretch of the imagination can’t be interpreted as the wish of the entire nation.

NO LONGER IN AMERICAN HANDS? NYT’s biggest stockholder, the Mexican Carlos Slim, who vies with Bill Gates for the title of the world’s richest man.

More importantly, though, how can the NYT so cavalierly – or ignorantly – ask that our country’s “democratic trading partners,” which includes the US, renege on their multilateral commitments to the World Trade Organization and bilaterally to the Philippine state and impose economic sanctions that will hurt not just our businessmen but the poor, especially destitute farmers? When China slowed down their exports of bananas because of President Aquino’s belligerent stance against it, was it Davao’s banana magnates who cried, or was it rather the thousands of minimum-wage banana plantation workers?

The short 400-word (a third of the length of this column) NYT proposal is so idiotic as it is appalling that it could have been drafted not by a professional journalist concerned with facts or logic or even human rights, but by a Filipino political partisan launching a black propaganda drive against Duterte. Was it something a rich New Yorker Filipina handed over to a NYT editorial writer after dinner at her posh Manhattan apartment, telling him: “Just my draft, do whatever you want with it.”

How many countries in the world have the US and the EU imposed trade and other economic sanctions against in the postwar period?

Seven, four of which are troublesome—or “hate-America”—Middle East countries: 1) Iran, as a means to force it to stop its nuclear-bomb program; 2) Iraq, when it invaded Kuwait in 1990; 3) North Korea, also over its nuclear-bomb and missile delivery system; 4) Russia, for its invasion of the Ukraine’s Crimea territory; 5) Burma (Myanmar), in order to force it to free the renowned democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi and undertake free elections; 6) Libya to stop alleged killing of anti-government protesters; and 7) Syria, ostensibly to stop its President Bashar al-Assad from killing the opposition, but in reality to force him out of office.

Burma case
The Burma case is informative, as the NYT or the New York-based Yellow leader, wants the world to confuse what happened to that sorry country with us, or wish would happen. But it was not the European Parliament which ordered the sanctions against Burma, but the Council of the European Union, which means that all of the EU states approved the move.

The NYT thinks we’ve done something as “bad’ as what Iran, Iraq, Russia, North Korea, Libya, Syria did that we deserve to be punished by trade sanctions?

That’s why I’ve said we should all be outraged. Our government must issue a formal protest against the NYT editorial, and our Embassy there request the millions of Fil-Ams in the US to boycott it for their insult to our nation.

I cannot fathom how the NYT concluded that Senator Leila de Lima’s jailing for her alleged involvement in illegal drugs and the deaths due to police operations against suspected drug dealers are as threatening to the world as Iran and North Korea’s nuclear-arms programs, and Russia’s invasion of Crimea. Is our system of republican democracy and rule of law on the same level as Burma? Does the NYT think we’re a failed state like those in Africa that it thinks the US can bully us to comply with its notions of human rights, that actually do not correspond with Philippine reality?

As atrocious as NYT’s putting us in the league of Iran, North Korea, Russia and Burma deserving trade sanctions, are its arguments for proposing to do so.

The NYT claimed: “More than 7,000 suspected drug users and dealers, witnesses and bystanders — including children — have been killed by the police or vigilantes in the Philippines since last July.” The NYT piece came out March 24, and I’ve written two articles, March 20 and March 22, debunking that lie the news website Rappler spread around the world, which was fabricated by adding the 2,555 deaths the police claimed were killed in its anti-drug operations to the 4,525 of murders and deaths due to any reason. That Rappler made a mistake is incontrovertible, yet NYT uses that false number?

To argue that Duterte is so bad that trade sanctions are needed to force him out of office, the NYT claimed: ‘The Philippine lawmaker Gary Alejano filed an impeachment complaint against Mr. Duterte, accusing him of corruption, murder and crimes against humanity in connection with his bloody antidrug campaign. ‘We are of the firm belief that he is unfit to hold the highest office of the land,’ Mr. Alejano said.” Are the NYT writers so ignorant that they didn’t know that Alejano isn’t your ordinary “lawmaker” but the lackey of coup leader Antonio Trillanes IV, who has lied so much against Duterte few people believe him?

Jude Jose Sabio
To claim that Duterte is so bad he will be tried by The Hague-based International Criminal Court, the NYT said: “Jude Josue Sabio, a lawyer for two men who say they belonged to a death squad that operated under Mr. Duterte… says he intends to bring a case against Mr. Duterte in The Hague.” Didn’t the NYT bother to do a background check on this mediocre lawyer Sabio, who got to be mentioned in jurisprudence because the Integrated Bar of the Philippines reprimanded him in 2007 for violating the lawyer’s Code of Professional Responsibility, which the Supreme Court in 2007 upheld and even fined him? What was his violation? For filing a groundless suit against a judge, who ruled against his client. Is that a habit of Sabio’s?

To claim that we have no rule of law, the NYT said: “Last month, Mr. Duterte’s Justice Department ordered Senator Leila de Lima, one of Mr. Duterte’s most vocal opponents, arrested on spurious charges that she took bribes from drug traffickers.” Spurious charges? Didn’t NYT’s fact checkers check that six former drug lords testified that they gave bribes to De Lima, which her own former lover and an assistant had confirmed? If NYT bothered to do some quick research, they would have discovered that De Lima asked the Supreme Court to be released. Does the NYT think it is just a tool of Duterte, when its chief justice and four other justices were appointed by former President Aquino?

The Yellow pieces all fall into place, into a plot: the 7,000 false figure fabricated and disseminated by Rappler’s yellow editors, the impeachment complaint by Trillanes’ minion, the suit purportedly to be filed at the International Court of Justice by a mediocre lawyer, and then De Lima’s portrayal of herself as a human rights victim. All to make up the narrative that Duterte must be taken out, with Filipinos threatened to be hurt through trade sanctions if they don’t move against him.

What a worn-out script.

* Unlike the set-up in most Philippine newspapers, the NYT’s editorial board that writes its editorials consists of 16 full-time journalists. They take turns writing the editorial for the day, edited and approved by the editorial page editor, currently James Bennet. Although the NYT claims that the editorials represent the voice of its board, its editor and publisher, the paper’s deadline constraints do not require each editorial to be approved by the board. None of the current editorial board member are described as having covered Southeast Asia, or the Philippines.