PCIJ and other media entities funded by US govt should disband themselves

  • Reading time:9 mins read

IF they have any ounce of integrity and patriotism left in their bones, those running the four media entities funded by the US government, should disband their outfits. Nothing less is demanded of them.

Or have their US masters told them to just wait for the courts or the Securities and Exchange Commission to order them dissolved, so they could shriek, “The Philippine press is being persecuted?”

These outfits are the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility (PCIJ) — which have been funded by the US State Department for over a decade — as well as Vera Files and Rappler which have received American government money in the past two years.

The US State Department through the National Endowment for Democracy (NED) — admittedly doing the propaganda work that the Central Intelligence Agency used to do, as its founder has stated—has given these four more than P100 million for at least 10 years, without which they would have folded many years ago.

The Yellows’ poster boy Jim Paredes and their social-media operator Rodel Jayme have proven themselves to have much, much more integrity and sense of honor than the operators of these four outfits.

After his video sex chat was posted in the worldwide web, Paredes apologized and withdrew from public life, even stopping his weekly column at the Philippine Star. Jayme profusely apologized that the website he had set up was used to upload a piece of vile black propaganda against President Duterte and his family.

By contrast, the PCIJ et al. have astonishingly buried their heads in the sand. They do not even mention the words “USAid” or “NED” in their statements. They continue to propagate the falsehood that their funders are private US philanthropic foundations like the Ford and Asia Foundations.

The evidence against PCIJ et al. is more solid and damning than Paredes’ video or internet experts’ “link analysis” that traced the Bikoy video to a website which was found to have been set up and run by Jayme, and constitutes three aspects.

First, the fact of US funding for the PCIJ et al. is indisputable.

Heads of media firms funded by US govt through AID and State Department: clockwise, from top left, Coronel (ex-PCIJ), de Jesus, Ressa and Tordesillas.

It was the official public website of the federal agency, the US Agency for International Development (AID), that contained the data that the PCIJ and CMFR have been getting US taxpayers’ money for over 10 years since 2009, with Vera Files and Rappler starting to get such money in the past two years.

Why would the AID course its funds allocated by the US Congress through the State Department and not directly to the NED?

Because even as AID is already a “soft-power” arm of the US government, its aim being to develop allies by giving them money, it wanted to ensure that the funds to the four media firms were in line with the State Department’s goal, which is to advance American interests through diplomacy and molding of public opinion all over the world.

If PCIJ and CMFR deviated from the American line, would they have been given funding by the US State Department for over 10 years? Indeed, even recently, the CMFR has been a venue for spreading anti-China lies, the kind that the US State Department has been spreading on the South China Sea dispute.

Second, for entities that demand transparency in government, the four — and especially PCIJ and CMFR — have been hiding their huge funding by the US government, given regularly each year, at roughly the same amounts (averaging P7 million) like salaries.

Why would they conceal their funding if there was nothing wrong with these? PCIJ has deliberately hidden this fact by claiming in its websites and statements that the bulk of its funding came from an endowment from the Ford Foundation and “donations.”

For over a year now, I had been asking the PCIJ and CMFR — the heads of which, Malou Mangahas and Melinda Quintos-de Jesus, respectively, had been my friends — to provide me with details of their fund sources, a reasonable request to media entities claiming to be champions of truth and transparency.

They refused to do so. It was blogger Rey Jose Nieto who discovered the fact that their funding, at least from USAid, are disclosed in the latter’s website.

Third, even as the facts of their US government funding have been uncovered, PCIJ et al. continue to issue statements which totally ignore this solid information, as if they had not been made public. They even claim these reports as being intended to suppress their anti-Duterte coverage.

They admit to their receipt of foreign funds, but they never disclose specifically what institutions gave them the money. They even claim the funds to be legal and not violative of the Constitution. They obviously have not read the detailed ruling of the Securities and Exchange Commission which says that the Constitution mandates that a media firm must be purely Filipino and anything less than 100 percent control violates it.

Their justification for the foreign funds they have received is so ridiculous that I’m beginning to wonder how they could ever have been considered good journalists.

Vera Files head Ellen Tordesillas even incites the Yellows’ anti-Chinese racist propaganda and argues that their American funding is of the same genre as China’s funding of the infrastructure projects of this administration. That argument staggers the mind, although an easy answer is that there is no constitutional prohibition against foreign funding of government projects. There is though for media.

PCIJ’s former head Sheila Coronel in her 2,000-word statement sent to newspapers and to media all over the world does not once mention “NED” or “State Department.” She claims that foreign funding for her outfit gets is no different from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s “philanthropic funding” of the UK newspaper The Guardian.

Coronel’s mind may been been frozen by the terrible winters in New York where she has lived for a dozen years teaching rich Americans journalism, a prime example of the phenomenon called brain-drain that afflicts this country.

A stretch
It is such a stretch for Coronel to place in the same category as the Gates Foundation with its unassailable philanthropy, the US Department of State with its avowed aim of pursuing America’s national security interests globally, by diplomacy and propaganda.

Coronel’s investigative skills are employed only when these serve her propaganda purposes. She didn’t investigate the fact that the Gates Foundation’s grants to the Guardian were not yearly grants as that of the US government to PCIJ and CMFR. They have been for very specific purposes, such as the setting up of a micro-site in the Guardian’s website devoted to monitoring countries’ compliance with the UN Millennium Development Goals.

She wasn’t even curious as to why the Gates Foundation gave the grant to a UK media firm and not to an American one. This is because the UK does not restrict foreign money in media. The US does. Coronel’s capacity for intellectual dishonesty has grown in the US.

Coronel has even gone to her global friends to use the issue to paint the country black, and her statement, which no newspaper here found worthy to print, was posted in the Global Investigative Network website.

The editor’s note to her statement reads: “Pro-Duterte columnists are now attacking the modest funding that these nonprofits receive from overseas.”

Modest at P7 million year for websites like that of PCIJ and CMFR with their miniscule staffs?

That a foreign website echoes these four US-funded media outfits black-propaganda line, very falsely claiming that the staff of the four outfits “routinely get death threats for reporting on a government ‘war on drugs’ that Human Rights Watch says has killed 23,000 people since 2016.” What? Even the newest anti-Duterte propaganda platform disguised as the Ateneo-La Salle’s Drug Archive which Coronel’s office funded — claimed a 7,000 deaths. That 23,000 figure was invented by Antonio Trillanes 4th since last year.

With such an incontrovertible disclosure that it was the US State Department them funded them — something that has never happened before in Philippine media, and which, to be honest, I found really shocking — operators of PCIJ, CMFR, Vera Files, will go down in Philippines history as a gang lacking in any sense of integrity, honor, and least of all patriotism. No amount of intellectual contortion can they deny that since they are funded by the US government, they are agents of a foreign power — the most powerful, whose track record in interfering in the affairs of sovereign nations is without parallel.

Paredes and Jayme are men of principles compared to them.


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