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Before Rappler, there was PCIJ: A foreign-funded media weapon of the Yellows

COME to think of it, the Yellows most probably used the misnamed Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) as its template for Rappler, and improved on it by having daily new reportage and by spending millions of pesos for technology to expand its internet reach.

While both viewed themselves as God’s gift to Philippine journalism, with PCIJ indeed producing to its credit about two dozen good investigative reports in its 29 years of existence, it has since degenerated into a tool of the Yellow forces and, recently, of US foreign policy.

This is not my opinion but the indisputable conclusion from facts, which anyone can verify by simply going to the PCIJ website and poring over its articles since 1999.

There is no PCIJ article critical of the second Yellow regime of Fidel Ramos posted in its website.

But it produced dozens of articles against Ramos’ successor Joseph Estrada, especially on his wealth, so that its executive editor then boasted that it was PCIJ that brought that presidency down just as the Washington Post’s Wood-Bernstein duo toppled the Nixon administration. (In our case though, I was told, ‘Deep Throat’ was the top intelligence man of Fidel Ramos, who allegedly went all out to topple Estrada who was then going to prosecute him for the corrupt Amari deal.)

Right after the Yellows broke away from President Gloria Arroyo’s administration, PCIJ, with the same intensity as the Philippine Daily Inquirer, posted scores of articles vehemently critical of her, her family and her administration. The articles’ vociferousness was such that it was as if it expected to repeat its alleged feat with Estrada.

Many of the articles bordered on tabloid sensationalism. An article titled “Shame and Scandal in the Family,” simply listed the allegations raised by the Yellows against the Arroyo family, all of which — despite the Benigno Aquino administration’s efforts in six years to pin them down on these accusations — have been proven false.

Balanced investigations?

The anti-Arroyo articles were a mockery of investigative journalism. These simply cited some data and spun them as conclusive of Arroyo’s corruption such as the articles titled “Arroyo’s mysterious millions,”“Obscure firms bag DPWH deals,” and “Mike Arroyo claim stalls land reform in Negros.”

But not only that. PCIJ ran puff-pieces on anti-Arroyo personalities, such as Jim Paredes (titled “We should awaken memory”), or had them write articles in its site, such as those by Vicente Romano and Chito Gascon. Even communist demagogue Jose Maria Sison wrote a lengthy article in its defunct magazine, titled “A Stronger Revolution.”

PCIJ together with the Philippine Daily Inquirer during the Arroyo administration was the tandem that was the Yellow’s propaganda weapon. Even months after Arroyo stepped down from power, the PCIJ was still producing articles hounding not just Arroyo but even her children.

And during President Aquino 3rd”s regime, how many articles were there that were critical of him?

Not a single one.

There was a seemingly critical article titled “The Wealth of P-Noy,” which reported that his wealth had grown nearly three times, or from only P15 million as of December 2009 to P55 million as of December 2010. But the article turned out to only preempt criticism on the astonishing increase in Aquino’s wealth after a year in power. It claimed that the increase was “likely” due to inheritance from his mother’s estate.

The PCIJ in fact did not conceal its admiration for Aquino, as in its September 2016 article titled “P-NOY’S POVERTY CHALLENGE: Bold blows vs corruption, cautious steps vs poverty” (caps in original):

“Aquino 3rd became the Philippines’ 15th president on June 30, 2010, triggering a contagion of hopefulness among Filipinos. He wooed and won votes with a slogan that was simple, yet catchy — ”Kung walang corrupt, walang mahirap.” Without corruption, there’d be no poverty.

The second Aquino presidency has spread a virus of hope that finds sole parallel in the tide of goodwill that Filipinos bestowed on his late mother and democracy icon Corazon ‘Cory’ C. Aquino after the 1986 EDSA People Power revolt.”

Did the PCIJ investigate how Aquino’s Transportation department made daily commute a hell for Filipinos because of its corrupt handling of the MRT 3? No. That department’s corruption in handing over its maintenance to Yellow cronies? No. The Interior department’s overpriced purchase of 300 Indian-made utility vehicles that broke down after three months, with no parts available? No.

Did it report Aquino’s total incompetence in preparing the Eastern Visayas region for the Yolanda super-typhoon that led to the horrific drowning of thousands, and the area’s rehabilitation after the disaster? Not a word.

The loss of Scarborough Shoal because of Aquino and his Foreign Affairs secretary Albert del Rosario’s bungling? The massacre of 47 elite police troops in Mamasapano in Mindanao? The Aquino administration’s “midnight” purchase of P3 billion worth of the Dengvaxia anti-dengue vaccine that turned out to be defective that it has led to the deaths of about 150 children? How Aquino funneled billions of pesos to his home province and to other Liberal Party bastions in the scheme called the Disbursement Acceleration Program?

The absence of any article on these crimes of the Aquino administration is enough proof that the PCIJ had become a tool, an effective one, of the Yellow Cult.

Not only that, the PCIJ was even a part of the propaganda against Ombudsman Merceditas Gutierrez and Chief Justice Renato Corona, whom Aquino strived — successfully — to remove in his agenda to control all branches of government. Toward the May 2016 elections, the PCIJ focused on that other Aquino target: Jejomar Binay.

From its six-years hibernation in “investigating” government corruption during the Aquino regime, the PCIJ energetically devoted its resources in portraying Duterte’s as the “presidency bathed in blood,” as its former executive director titled her article.

Its propaganda thrusts in its 50 or so articles are exactly those of the Yellows’: that Duterte’s anti-drug war killed thousands of innocents; that Marawi City hasn’t been rehabilitated; and that administration’s cases filed against Rappler’s CEO for tax evasion are all about suppression of the press.

Its most notorious, or hilarious, “investigation” was its “exclusive” publication of former Davao City police Arthur Lascañas’ alleged diary relating the “bloody exploits of Duterte’s Davao Death Squad.” The diary was so obviously fake, with its terms like political Waterloo and “The Divine Trap” (the title of a 2014 novel by a Belgian banker) so beyond the police sergeant’s bank of knowledge. PCIJ was simply used by Antonio Trillanes 4th in his project then to get the International Court of Justice to try Duterte for human rights violations.

PCIJ shares with Rappler another feature: It has relied on foreign funding, mostly from US entities. In Rappler’ case, the Securities and Exchange Commission ruled this as in violation of the Constitution’s ban on any foreign participation in media.

It was the Asia Foundation that funded PCIJ in its early years. For the years 2015 to 2016, the Washington-based National Endowment for Democracy, an entity said to be a conduit for the Central Intelligence Agency’s propaganda activities, gave it $106,000. (NED has also been funding two media entities critical of Duterte: Vera Files, $70,000, and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, $278,000. )

I have asked PCIJ’s executive director, citing my right to Freedom of Information, to furnish me with a report on how much funding from foreign entities it has received so far, including details. I hope it adheres to the same transparency principles it has been demanding of government officials.


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