BASED on events solely in the past 30 days, it is incontestably US shadowy entities and their principal agent here, Rappler and Maria Ressa, who are inarguably suppressing Filipinos’ right to express their sentiments. We should be outraged.
Case No. 1: Rappler takes down its own polls
Ressa’s US-funded propaganda site, Rappler, launched on October 7 an online poll for viewers to vote whom they want to be president in May 2022. It said that the poll would run for three days and would be done monthly. Although Robredo was winning in the first several hours, Ferdinand Marcos Jr. subsequently overtook her the next day with huge margins.
This was despite the fact that Robredo’s camp, or Rappler itself, deployed a thousand trolls to vote for her; so stupidly obvious as the voters had Arabic or Indian names and many having their identities written in Sanskrit or Arabic.
By the second day, Marcos was winning nearly by a landslide, with 72 percent of netizens voting for him, and only 24 percent for Robredo.
Rappler suppressed Filipinos’ freedom of expression, and took down the poll, without leaving any trace that it had been undertaken, claiming that it “realized that the poll was not aligned with our objectives, so we have decided to take it down.” It certainly wasn’t “aligned with their objectives,” which was obviously, with the help of trolls, to portray falsely that Filipinos were preferring Robredo over Marcos.
Case No. 2: Petition vs Ressa taken down
On October 25, a netizen (I haven’t even heard of his name) started an online petition at change.org asking the Nobel Prize Committee to recall the peace prize given to Ressa.
It claimed that Ressa’s award was based on her blatant lies that she and other journalists were being persecuted by the Duterte government. The truth is that it was her most despicable way of evading her jail sentence (for six months and heavy financial penalties) for libel filed by a private individual. Respected government agencies like the Securities and Exchange Commission and the justice department also won cases against Rappler for violation of the constitutional ban on media taking foreign money, which it appealed to higher courts.
Two days later, when over 160,000 netizens had signed the petition (which is near impossible to cheat, as it requires a netizen’s email), it was abruptly taken down by change.org, with no explanation at all. The number of people signing was accelerating at a pace and going viral that it could have totaled 500,000 in a week’s time.
Obviously Ressa and her tentacles had enough influence at change.org for it to take down the petition, even if it had the potential of earning money for the outfit as it “requests” (without requiring) a donation of P100 from each signer.
Netizens have propounded two explanations as to how Ressa managed to get the petition taken down.
One explanation is that, according to the reputable blog GRP Insider, change.org’s Philippine “campaigns director” — i.e., its staff in charge of its operations here — is Ma. Salvacion “Inday” Espina Varona, arguably the most open leftist activist in Philippine media.
Varona reportedly had moved out of her poorly paying jobs in the leftist National Union of Journalists of the Philippines and other NGOs to get a job at change.org, which at least pays a decent wage, and wants to join Rappler as a senior editor.
The second explanation, which I think is the more significant one, is that a major investor of change.org is the Omidyar Network, set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar who has been inexplicably funding entities that undertake the kind of propaganda work the CIA had been doing in the 1950s. This work is to undermine governments in developing countries which refuse to be servile to the US, on grounds that they are not democratic enough.
It is Omidyar, together with another American company, North Base Media, who put P100 million into Rappler in 2016. Without those funds, it would have closed down, as its investor Benjamin Bitanga refused to throw in more money to what was a heavily losing enterprise, in which Ressa, however, was making P300,000 monthly as CEO.
Such funding is a blatant violation of the Constitution, which bans any foreign money in media in the country. For a country that Ressa claims is authoritarian, her lawyers, which Omidyar has funded with a P30 million line, have managed to get the cases floundering in the courts — for five years now.
Ressa quite obviously asked the change.org funders, also her own financiers, to take down the petition.
Case No. 3 Facebook “Pink Taliban” column taken down
The third case in just a month’s time of how the Pinks suppress freedom of the press and expression is as outrageous as the first two. A column by my esteemed colleague Antonio Contreras — who has written so many anti-Duterte pieces — was not just taken down on Facebook. He was banned from doing FB Live for days.
In his column Contreras points out that the Pinks are so “dominated by people who are so drunk with self-righteousness and who think they are God’s gift to the future of this country.”
“They speak of free speech and cheer Maria Ressa for winning a Nobel Peace Prize, as they gnash their teeth at ABS-CBN’s fate, yet they are intolerant of any offensive speech that comes their way from the other side of the political divide. They harass, bully and threaten to sue a poor woman who claimed that people who joined the pink caravans were paid, yet would freely accuse anyone who supports Marcos as a paid troll. They have redefined the art of hypocrisy to a new level. They have earned what I have coined to refer to them. They have become our country’s Pink Taliban.”
Contreras was of course livid when that column he posted on Facebook was taken down. He wrote in his succeeding column: “I was told that I had violated Facebook’s community standards. Thus, a legitimate opinion column that was vetted by the editors of a legitimate newspaper, has now been judged to have violated standards of propriety. I examined my column, and it did not contain any claim to facts that could be construed as ‘fake news’ and it did not incite violence. It did not contain offensive, sexual and graphic language. It was a valid criticism of the behavior of the supporters of presidential candidate Robredo.”
And to think no one, not even the purveyors of fake news, has ever claimed that Duterte or any of his officials and supporters had suppressed any article critical of him or his administration whether in Rappler, Facebook, or any newspaper and broadcast media.
It is the Pink Taliban, and their American masters, that are suppressing Filipinos’ freedom of the press and of expression. Just as the US funded the Taliban (and al-Qaida) in the 1980s so they could fight the Soviets, it is funding the Pink Talibans to overthrow Duterte and his probable successor.
We are under siege by US entities that will be moving heaven and earth to prevent a Duterte 2.0 administration, and especially a Marcos president, from assuming power next year. Our independence as a nation is under mortal threat.
Wake up to that reality.