An open letter to Reynaldo Santos, Jr., ‘author” of the libelous Rappler article.
DEAR Rey, I am reaching out to you through my column as I have been unable to communicate with you through your email and Facebook page, both of which seem to have been inactivated and I wouldn’t know what office to contact at the Araneta City where you currently work.
As expected, your and Ms. Maria Ressa’s conviction for libel filed by a businessman whom your article claimed was a criminal, has riled the US establishment and its media. They are claiming that this episode again demonstrates that President Duterte has been out for years to get Rappler and Ressa.
They are outraged over the court’s decision partly because Ressa is an American citizen, “one of them.” “How dare this Third World nation prosecute a former CNN reporter who is teaching those brown people how to do journalism!”
The bigger picture though is that the US want President Duterte and his camp toppled, as he has been a huge obstacle to its so-called “Pivot to Asia” program which was accelerated in 2012, which seeks not only to maintain American hegemony in the region but to block the rise of a superpower that could eclipse it, China.
For the first time ever in our history, a Philippine president has dared to declare the country’s total independence from the claws of the American eagle.
Worse, Duterte’s independent foreign policy has drawn us to what after all should be our natural ally, China.
Duterte dismantled the huge gains the US had made through his predecessor Benigno Aquino 3rd, who made the country its proxy in containing China in the South China Sea. It had succeeded in maneuvering Aquino to file the arbitration case against China, the results of which have benefited not us, but the US. Under Aquino, the US restored its military bases — in a modern form — it lost in 1992, disguised through the Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement (EDCA). The US intelligence community — which is embedded in media — has been instructed to throw everything at Duterte, and this false press freedom issue is one of them.
I am writing to you appealing to your patriotism and nationalism, as you are in a unique position to totally dismantle this fiction that Rappler has merely been doing his job.
I have no doubt at all that it was “editor-at-large” Marites Vitug who either fed you all the wrong information on Wilfredo Keng, or maybe even wrote the article herself titled “CJ uses SUVs of controversial businessman” published in March 2012. You had just joined Rappler when it started in January, and you allegedly wrote that piece, quoting National Security Council and Supreme Court sources.
These are among the two most media-averse institutions in the country, for obvious reasons. It took Vitug more than a decade to develop sources here. You could not have developed sources there in three months.
Vitug vigorously pursued the publication of your supposed article as she was deeply involved in the propaganda campaign to blacken the embattled Chief Justice Renato Corona, in order to ease the senators’ consciences in removing Corona, who had a well-known reputation as an upright, incorruptible person.
Believe me about this, you will be the patsy here, Ressa and Rappler will be throwing you under the bus. Note that in the trial, editor Chay Hofileña even claimed that Ressa had no accountability for the libelous article, partly as “she was always traveling.”
Ressa’s actually delighted over her conviction as she will again be hailed as the “champion of press freedom,” which has been her only claim to journalistic excellence, and add another award to her collection. She is dreaming that she will again be Time’s Person of the Year, and this time she will not have to be with two other journalists.
We cannot ignore the probability that the Duterte government, as a “confidence building” move with the US, will allow Ressa, who is an American citizen, to leave for the US — maybe using that old trick that she will be “under the cognizance” of some VIP like Amal Clooney or even Hillary Clinton.
You don’t have the contacts Ressa has — such as the big mestizo magnate here who I suspect has been funding Rappler — who would finance lawyers better than Theodore Te who could try to reverse the Regional Trial Court’s conviction.
The funds that had flowed into Rappler such as those from CIA-surrogate National Endowment for Democracy (NED) are trickling to a stop, that it will have no money to contract better but expensive lawyers. Ask around, I have friends who had been impoverished in the long years of a trial. As you would have noticed, Amal takes in only celebrities as her clients.
Ressa will probably become the head of some NED-funded NGO dealing with the media in New York. Vitug on the other hand will most likely write another “acclaimed” book, after her three which many believe were bankrolled by former justice Antonio Carpio and Jose Almonte.
And you? It is so sad that, in your early 30s, you will be spending your best years in prison.
I can tell you how hellish it is to be incarcerated as I was imprisoned in 1970 for a week in a Marikina jail when I was 18 for supporting a workers’ strike, and then for two years in a military camp during martial law. Civilian-run jails in our country are Dante’s infernos you cannot imagine, and you would be with hardened criminals and perverts. As I experienced, one of the saddest aspects of prison life is when parents visit you, often with tears in their eyes, wondering what happened to their good son to be imprisoned.
The tragedy is that, as you very well know, that libelous article was not yours. Vitug and the managing editor Glenda Gloria convinced you to claim authorship of it, telling you it is for a noble cause for removing Corona, who was “a puppet of the corrupt President Arroyo.”
I know you’re smart enough to realize after eight years, after the disclosures of the massive bribes Aquino gave to Congress to remove Corona and the test of time that proved him innocent, their propaganda project was so unjust.
Why should you suffer for an immoral cause? The nation is more important than friends, family and definitely former colleagues who took advantage of your idealism.
All you have to do is speak the truth.
I am sure the National Press Club and the real journalists of the country will lobby intensely for President Duterte to pardon you and expunge all records of your conviction if you speak the truth now. Save this country from being portrayed as a nation without a free press, and without the rule of law. Save your own skin. Contact me.