First of 2 parts
EDGARD Arevalo and Rafael Alunan in this much-respected paper two weeks ago wrote similar columns claiming that China was preparing for an invasion of the Philippines by establishing armed “sleeper” cells and that the National Bureau of Investigation (NBI) had arrested such infiltrators, arresting eight Chinese in their residence which had assault rifles with markings “From the People’s Republic of China, and “military patches.”
That is such colossal, blatant fake news. The NBI has officially and totally denied Arevalo and Alunan’s claims. Their similar reports reveal the two amateur columnists’ gullibility and incompetence as writers, arising from inexplicable hatred of China. In the case of Alunan, once President Ramos’ Interior and Local Government secretary, he even insanely called for the mass killing of the Chinese “until the last drop of the (their) blood.”
It is astonishing how these two could be so maddened after reading fake news published in a report of a single spurious website.
A worse development is that because of the Manila Times’ integrity, Defense Secretary Gilbert Teodoro Jr. believed the fake news and posted it on his Facebook page, thus a ranking government official disseminating to the world a total falsehood against a neighboring country. Because the byline of the fake news was at the end of the post, many readers of his post had thought he wrote it himself, prompting many bloggers, mostly identified with this administration, to repost it.
In his October 22 column, Arevalo claimed the NBI had raided a house in the Valle Verde 5 subdivision in Pasig City, arrested “eight Chinese” and confiscated “high-powered weapons with markings ‘From People’s Republic of China,’ ammunition and badges designating roles such as ‘blasting team,’ ‘recon team,’ ‘sniper team.'”
Arevalo’s intellectual dishonesty or gullibility or both is demonstrated in that he claims that the report was from an online news site, bilyonaryo.com, portraying it as if that site is a legitimate media outlet. Bilyonaryo.com, however, is such a spurious website that it doesn’t even report — contrary to the practice of all legitimate news sites — which its owners, editors and writers of its pieces and opinion columns are.
Widely known in the media industry, though, is that the site was set up — desperately because of their dire financial need — by a former Philippine Daily Inquirer Malacañang reporter who was fired for using the paper to extort money from businessmen and former president Aquino 3rd’s favorite press undersecretary. The two have been trying unsuccessfully to draw viewers to their lackluster website by posting sensational reports, which, more often than not, turn out to be wrong.
For some reason, bilyonaryo.com revised its first report on which Arevalo based his Manila Times column. The site’s post in the early morning of October 17 was headlined “Valle Verde shaken as NBI arrests 6 tenants with high-powered weapons.” In the afternoon, for some reason that I suspect could be financial, the website issued an update that the tenants disclaimed ownership of the “high-powered” weapons.
Arevalo’s maliciousness as a writer and disregard for the truth is also revealed when he wrote: “Reports about the raid came out belatedly in mainstream media. And with the story this big, it bewilders me why it took three days before a major TV network ran a story about it.”
He wouldn’t be bewildered at all if he knew, as most media men do, how stupid he was to believe and republish a claim on a dubious website. Most media are aware of bilyonaryo.com’s bad reputation and never use its reports.
Does Arevalo, a former spokesman for our armed forces and Philippine Military Academy graduate, no longer practice the PMA Code of Honor (“We do not, we will not lie, steal, or cheat, nor tolerate among us anyone who does”)? He should at least do what anti-China Coast Guard spokesman Jay Tarriela did 19 years ago when he was caught cheating in an exam, thus violating the PMA Code of Conduct, prompting him to resign as a PMA cadet. In this case, if Arevalo cannot disprove my claims in this column, he should immediately resign as a columnist if he has the slightest bit of integrity left. If he still thinks he is a “gentleman and an officer (even if retired),” he should apologize to the Chinese Embassy for maligning their country.
Only one media outlet, GMA News Online, bothered to check the story after three days. Yet Arevalo lied through his teeth in claiming it confirmed the bilyonaryo.com’s and his fake news. Rather, the GMA News Online quoted NBI Regional Director Rommel Vallejo as saying: “There is no truth to the report that this is part of the Chinese to create a destabilization plot in the country.” He explained that the military-looking patches with the words ‘Sniper Team,’ ‘Assault Team’ and ‘Machine Gun Team’ were removable patches in “Airsoft” costumes sold in online shops. (“Airsoft” is a popular team-based shooting game in which participants eliminate opposing players out of play by tagging them with spherical plastic projectiles shot from low-power air guns called airsoft guns.)
The NBI official also denied there were rifles with “From the People’s Republic of China” marking. He added: “The firearms were being used by the suspects to threaten their fellow Chinese. We received complaints regarding this Chinese individual who is often drunk and has a habit of picking up a fight… he’s a bully to other Chinese nationals.”
According to the complaint submitted to the Pasay City prosecutor, the firearms were one Daniel Defense M4 5.56 mm carbine (not eight assault weapons as the fake news claimed) with its 22 bullets and two US-made Glock 40 pistols with their 118 rounds. Daniel Defense rifles are top-quality, expensive firearms, mostly bought by the well-to-do. The complaint, however, did not identify the nationalities of the suspects. For some reason not explained in the complaint, only one of the suspects, Zhang Da Zhi, was detained and charged with illegal possession of firearms, while the other, Liu Minglong, was released without charges.
The hot air released by Arevalo and Alunan turned out to be over the arrest of one Chinese bully.
Arevalo, in his anti-China bias, totally believed the report of a spurious website, and Alunan, a week later, would believe the gullible Arevalo column. But his piece is much more disgusting though, as you will find out below.
Titled “The signs are clear,” Alunan repeats the report in his column published two days after Arevalo’s fake news. However, he doesn’t give any source for his report — not the bilyonaryo.com post and even his colleague’s column published two days before. This is intended to portray his fake news as an accepted fact.
For such a big story, they didn’t even bother to google if other media outlets confirmed Arevalo’s piece. Their intellectual dishonesty and absence of any journalistic ethics are demonstrated by the fact that for such an important report — as Arevalo himself claims — they didn’t even bother to ask for an explanation on the case of the NBI that arrested the alleged “sleepers,” the PNP, the Chinese Embassy whose country was maligned for planning to invade the country, and even the Malacañang press office to get their reaction on the purported planned invasion by foreigners.
Alunan was hoping he could create a paranoiac frenzy against the Chinese, using totally fake news: “How many communities are harboring sleeper cells within striking distance from our centers of gravity, such as Malacañan Palace, the Senate, Congress and the Supreme Court; provincial capitols and city halls; headquarters of the Armed Forces, National Police, Coast Guard and EDCA camps around the country; strategic institutions like the central bank, business and financial centers; critical infrastructure such as energy and water supply networks, public transports and telecommunications?
He rants like a madman: “Expect China to stage sabotage and terror raids; seize control of strategic infrastructure; attack EDCA bases, centers of power and defense manufacturing facilities; occupy high ground overlooking our strategic lines of communication; and rule the nation through surrogates in the government.”
I couldn’t believe Alunan could state publicly such an abomination as follows: “What we need to do is adopt Israel’s survival mindset to defend our nation until the last drop of the other side’s blood.” (Italics mine.) Why is he calling for the mass killing of the Chinese here, as the Israelis are doing against the Palestinians in Gaza? Are we already in a state of war with China?
I can’t believe this prestigious newspaper would allow printed in its pages such exhortations to mass murder an ethnic group. These two don’t have the right to use the powerful tool of journalism to spread their lies against a neighboring — more powerful, by the way — country.
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