THE Philippine Daily Inquirer’s (PDI) editorial the other day was a despicable case of bullying a journalist — veteran TV news anchor Jiggy Manicad. It sets a new low in shameless hack jobs in media.
In a television interview, Manicad had responded to a question regarding the news website Rappler: “I think the government has basis to say there are foreign funds that went into Rappler and it’s a violation of the Constitution.” Manicad added: “Did the Securities and Exchange Commission’s investigation and ruling that it violated the Constitution translate to an attack on press freedom?”
(Ironically, the interview was in the news show “The Chiefs” in the news channel of Cignal TV that is, through PLDT, controlled by the Indonesian magnate Anthoni Salim. “The Chiefs” refer to Salim’s editors in four of the many outfits in his media conglomerate – Philippine Star, Business World, Bloomberg TV, and TV5. Foreign control of Rappler is puny compared to Salim’s uncontested control of what is the biggest multi-media conglomerate in the Philippines.)
I certainly agree with Manicad. Not just because it was my work as journalist, but because I am a Filipino citizen, a nationalist one I would think. It was I who had drawn attention in a series of articles in 2017 to the huge foreign money that had been put into Rappler to keep it afloat, which it even boasted about.
Yet for Manicad’s accurate statements on Rappler’s wanton violation of the Constitution, the PDI published a nearly deranged editorial that spewed vitriol against him, a colleague in the industry? For what?
Because Manicad had presented an honest, well-informed opinion that the SEC’s investigation and ruling against Rappler isn’t at all an attack on press freedom by this administration, demolishing a key element in the Yellows’ narrative of media being harassed by Durterte.
The editorial—a cowardly one really, as the author isn’t named—was so hysterical it gives new meaning to the phrase ad hominem arguments. In its very first paragraph, the editorial, spews out: Manicad is a “traitor, betrayer, double-dealer, Judas, quisling, sellout, defector, rat, snitch, and, appropriately for someone who once worked in media, talebearer.” That’s 10 cuss words thrown at a media colleague. PDI never even did that to the most corrupt politician, or even a murderous, ruthless terrorist. Throwing many cuss words obviously is the height of PDI’s form of discourse.
PDI claimed Manicad was “traitorous.” Traitorous for agreeing with the SEC’s assertion of the nationalist provision in the Constitution banning foreign money in media?
The editorial ignorantly cited for proof the online letter of “journalist Joel Pablo Salud” who claimed that government has been harassing and intimidating journalists. The PDI’s journalistic standards have obviously become so bad. Salud who?
How in the world could the PDI (together with another Salim outfit, interaksyon.com) cite as an authority a mediocre writer who couldn’t keep a job in several newspapers as a copyreader, and for a long time was the PR of several congressmen, and then of former President Estrada’s First Lady? A middling fiction writer perhaps, but a “journalist” the PDI takes as an authority on the matter? C’mon guys, one PDI editorial assistant or even your coffee boy would have deeper insights on the state of Philippine journalism than this fiction writer.
Another authority the PDI cited is the “Freedom for Media, Freedom for All Network,” which has been claiming that press freedom is very seriously under attack in the Philippines. The paper that this outfit network spewed out was done by the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism.
I had exposed back in November 2017 that these two latter outfits would not exist a day had they not been funded by US outfits, mainly by the US National Endowment for Democracy (NED) , which has been linked as conduit of the US Central Intelligence Agency.
Whether CIA assets or not, these two outfits have to churn out narratives that support the NED’s self-proclaimed task as a defender of democracy throughout the world. And if these two publications ever write an assessment that the Philippine press isn’t being attacked, and therefore democracy is robust in this country, NED would stop its funding and they’ll be out of work.
Rather than debunk point by point the PDI’s claims of media harassment, let’s cut to the chase, get back to reality. You decide if the press is under attack by the Philippine state or not.
Despite its very dark future, print media still largely forms public opinion because other forms of media, even social media, get many of their information and analysis from the print media which have large reportorial staffs as well as veteran journalists who’ve built up through many years sources of information.
Print media in this country is dominated by four broadsheets: Philippine Star, Manila Bulletin, Manila Times, and PDI and two tabloids, Bulgar (in which I also have a column), the biggest by far, with Abante, a far second.
Tell me, has any of these newspapers claimed that their reporters and editors have been harassed and intimidated because they have articles and columnists critical of this administration? Not even the PDI has really claimed that, only the hysterical writer of that editorial that is the subject of this column.
PDI’s president Alexandra Prieto went to town in 2001 to accuse President Estrada of attacking her newspaper when he called for an advertisers’ boycott. In contrast, she and her family haven’t said a word claiming harassment by President Duterte – she knows more and better.
No one—not the Yellow senators nor any opposition figure—has claimed that government’s taking back of the government-owned Mile Long property in Makati that the PDI owners had occupied a decade beyond its lease, was Duterte’s means of harassing the newspaper. The PDI owners have been arguing in the BIR that the tax case against their firm Dunkin’ Donuts should be dismissed. My sources claim that the BIR very, very strangely is set to lower the P1 billion that was the final assessment of tax due made years back to just P1 million. Such probably is the power of the press.
It is in fact PDI which has a proven record of suppressing the press. Our new columnist Ramon Tulfo has revealed in his column that “during the heat of the presidential campaign in 2016, the Inquirer withheld publication of two of my columns for being pro-Duterte.”
Manila Bulletin has columnists vociferously critical of President Duterte. Among them is Melito Salazar, vice chairman of the Board of Investments during the Cory and Ramos administrations, whose “classic” column in September last year claimed that that Philippines under Duterte was in such “economic and political chaos” that his “end is near” — the title of his column. Another Bulletin columnist is a former blogger, practically a communist propagandist, Tonyo Cruz, who cuts and pastes Communist Party manifestos and passes them off as opinion columns.
The newspaper’s executive vice president is the Yellow stalwart Herminio Coloma, a top official of both the two Aquino administrations, and one of its editors has been Cory’s spokesperson Deedee Sytangco.
Has there been any accusation that President Duterte or his officials have harassed the Manila Bulletin?
Philippine Star’s columnists have most been neutral to this administration, although its editor Amy Pamintuan has been quick to write acerbic columns on it when an opportunity rises. It has been though the main propaganda venue of top communist leader Satur Ocampo who has regular columnist there and a Yellow Cult leader, Elfren Cruz, who was a high Cory official who even wrote a hagiography of the late former president.
Has this administration asked Philippine Star to stop being a propaganda venue for the communist leader Ocampo and a Cory cult?
Yet the Philippine Star—and the other outfits in Indonesian Salim’s media empire—are so vulnerable to a legitimate government clampdown, since it is controlled through PLDT by the Indonesian Salim, a blatant violation of the constitutional provision that media cannot have a single peso from, or even the slightest involvement of, foreigners.
As I explained in my book Colossal Deception*, all it takes to rend asunder the technical veil that conceals the foreign control of PLDT and its subsidiaries, including its media empire, is for the Securities and Exchange Commission to issue a new ruling to supersede its 2013 memorandum circular No. 893 that gave PLDT the legal technicality to claim that the company isn’t foreign-dominated, contrary to the constitutional provision limiting foreign money in utilities.. (Details why this is so in my book.)
Has this government ever harassed Salim’s media empire for being controlled by a foreigner? To my extreme disappointment, no.
Manila Times is owned by the family of Dante Ang, who would be supportive of Duterte as he has been given the honorific title of Special Envoy of the President for International Public Relations. But this newspaper has columnists, notably my very religious “neighbor,” who are very critical of this administration. Has Duterte or his officials ever asked Ang to fire them, telling him this would help his public relations?
The biggest tabloid Bulgar has been balanced in its coverage, probably because politics isn’t its focus. It has a range of columnists spanning the political spectrum, such as Imee Marcos, Grace Poe , Nancy Binay, and even that “Red running priest.” But it has a columnist, also its editor, that almost everyday writes columns criticizing this administration even for the most petty things. Has Duterte ever asked the newspapers’ owners to fire this editor-columnist?
I don’t think we have to argue that our broadcast media has been so rambunctious that it has weakened not just our democracy but also our collective intelligence. Duterte indeed has been vociferous in his criticism of ABS-CBN, and hinted he will not support the extension of its franchise when it ends in 2020. But other than this, has there been any intimidation or harassment of the network, and of its journalists and those of GMA7?
Why, even the president of ostensibly the world’s greatest democratic nation, the United States, has been relentless in calling CNN, the New York Times and the Washington Post as purveyors of “fake news.”
In succeeding columns, I will discuss one reason why some journalists, even veteran ones, have been so hysterically critical of this administration, manipulating data to create a narrative of suppression of media in this country. The Yellow regime had put up a group of journalists under its payroll, amounting to P4 million monthly during its entire administration.
This is not my speculation, nor from unnamed “sources.” This is from government records. I suspect the message being sent is: Restore our payroll, and we will be supportive.
*Available at Popular Book Store, and in both hard-copy and e-book at amazon.com.