THE National Endowment For Democracy (NED), accused of being a venue for Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) propaganda and destabilization operations in Eastern Europe and most recently in Hong Kong, has added another Internet news site here to its stable of such outfits critical of the Duterte regime.
In what is practically an up-yours message to Duterte, the internet news site is based in Davao City itself, and purportedly covers mainly Mindanao: MindaNews.com.
Just two years ago MindaNews was a bare-bones internet site with very little following. Especially this year, it has surged as a full-blown website, obviously patterned after another NED-financed outfit Rappler.com, after that controversial US funder gave it $70,000 (P4 million in 2017 and 2018), and reportedly another $35,000 for this year. MindaNews doesn’t disclose this very important information in its website.
NED actually is just the implementing agency, with the funds provided by the US government’s State Department through its arm, the Agency for International Development, as reported in the latter’s website.
While purportedly a non-partisan news outfit (as Rappler also claims), MindaNews spins news reports into anti-Duterte propaganda, with its opinion writers clearly having a anti-government stance. (“Another extension of martial law in Mindanao is an abuse of power.”)
One opinion writer, Marcos Mordeno — which one report claims is MindaNews editor — almost always echoes the Communist Party line on developments and events in Mindanao, even during the past regime. Indeed, bulatlat.com, obviously a communist front, has even been posting many of Mordeno’s opinion pieces.
It is not clear though if Mordeno is indeed the website’s editor. Contrary to the accountability requirements for media — print, broadcast, or internet-only outfits — MindaNews doesn’t disclose who its editors are. (Nor does it disclose that it is funded by the US government.)
It only discloses the following in its website: “MindaNews is the news service arm of the Mindanao Institute of Journalism. It is composed of independent, professional journalists who believe and practice people empowerment through media.”
An “About Us” section that a google search yielded — but which apparently has been taken down in the MindaNews website — lists the directors of Mindanao Institute of Journalism, with Marcos Mordeno as president, Gail Ilagan as vice president, with two other members.
Mindanao Institute of Journalism, however, doesn’t even have a website, and at least in my google and yahoo searches, has had no other activity.
It is obviously a ghost entity, designed solely to skirt the Constitution’s prohibition on foreign funds in media as NED’s funding, according to the AID report, was not given to MindaNews, but to the “Mindanao Institute of Journalism.”
NED itself in its arrogance, however, doesn’t even bother about such legalities, and said in its report that the money given to the “institute” is to set up a media enterprise: “To provide the public with a credible source of independent news reporting. The organization will publish an online daily newspaper that covers critical and under-reported issues in the southern region of the country, including the peace process, governance, business, and the environment. The publication will feature articles and reports that examine in more depth the impacts of local- and national-level policies on communities in the region.”
Neither the NED nor the US State Department obviously respects our Constitution.
MindaNews is cross-linked to the other news sites funded by the NED: the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism, Rappler, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility, and Vera Files, which have received $2 million (P100 million) in funds since 2016, or when Duterte assumed power. This means that each of these anti-Duterte US-funded media entities routinely post on their websites the reports of the other websites. This has the effect of increasing the readership of their websites and putting their articles high in google and yahoo’s search results.
The US-government’s funding of MindaNews is a very bad precedent that threatens our sovereignty. Any foreign government or a mammoth media enterprise can simply go into Philippine internet media by coursing its money through a “fake institute.” What would be next? A US-government funded VisayasNews and LuzonNews? Will our people’s opinions be molded by the US state?
This is alarming as internet-based media is gradually dominating media here and in most countries, being second only to broadcast media as the people’s main source of information, and opinion. Indeed, I became interested in MindaNews only after I noticed that more and more posts reaching my Facebook timeline were from that foreign-funded outfit.
The US-funded media outlets violating our Constitution must be stopped. NED and the AID have an agenda to mold our people’s minds along that superpower’s worldview — which include the idea that Duterte is a brutal pro-China strongman who must be toppled.
And they have the gall to claim that Duterte is an autocrat who has been suppressing media. Why, he is even allowing to operate media which violates the Constitution by taking in foreign funds.
* “HK destabilizer NED is same outfit funding anti-Duterte media” (The Manila Times, Aug. 7, 2019).
For background: “CIA conduit funding anti-Duterte media outfits,” (TMT, Oct. 9, 2017). Also, “US govt funding for anti-Duterte media: P74M” (TMT, May 1, 2019); and “PCIJ and other media entities funded by US govt should disband themselves” (TMT, May 6, 2019).