Journalism in troubled times

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
Standard

Should the media report everything government officials do and say for the sake of that elusive concept called “objectivity”?  Philippine practice suggests that that’s what most journalists assume — and that, no matter how erroneous, outrageous or potentially harmful the statements and actions of those sources may be, their responsibility ends with accurately quoting them.

Continue reading

Getting away with plunder

Jinggoy Estrada, Bong Revilla, and Juan Ponce Enrile
Standard

The acquittal last week of former Senator Ramon “Bong” Revilla, Jr., and his alleged accomplices’ being found guilty and sentenced to the mandatory penalty for plunder of reclusion perpetua (20 to 30 years’ imprisonment) has understandably raised doubts over the justice of the decision. Two of the five associate justices of the Sandiganbayan’s First Division that tried the case are even questioning the majority opinion.

Among the questions that have been raised is why, if Revilla is indeed innocent, he is being ordered to return at least part of the PhP124.5 million in pork barrel funds pocketed by his alleged accomplices, and if his former chief of staff who has been convicted of the offense could have done it on his own and without Revilla’s approval and even instigation.
Continue reading

The dimensions of impunity

Joseph Estrada, Rodrigo Duterte, Gloria Arroyo and Imelda Marcos
Standard

Those Filipinos aware of the record-breaking looting of the public treasury by the Marcos kleptocracy are hailing the Sandiganbayan’s conviction of Imelda Marcos on seven counts of graft. They had already lost hope that any of the billions diverted to Swiss bank accounts, real estate, and jewelry and art collections in Bern, Paris and other world capitals will ever be recovered, or that any form of legal retribution against the thieves is forthcoming, but have been heartened by the graft court’s decision 27 years after charges were filed against the Marcos family matriarch.  

Continue reading

Credible — or a nuisance?

Standard

A “nuisance candidate,” to summarize what Section 69 of the Omnibus Election Code says, is someone who files a certificate of candidacy (COC) with the intention of mocking the electoral process or putting it in disrepute; whose name is similar to that of other registered candidates and whom the electorate can therefore mistake for him or her; or who has no real intention to run for the office for which he or she filed a COC.
Continue reading

The passing of elite democracy

Standard

The filing of certificates of candidacy (COCs) by those running for the Senate ended two days ago on October 17. As usual, the media focused their attention on high-profile and so-called “nuisance candidates.” But they failed to mention that the outcome of the May 2019 elections, particularly for the House of Representatives and the Senate, will be crucial to the survival of this rumored democracy.
Continue reading

Brainwashed

UP Diliman campus (Ederic Eder)
Standard

The spokesperson of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP), in elaboration of the AFP chief-of-staff’s tale of a “Red October” leftist-rightist conspiracy to oust President Rodrigo Duterte from power, said last week that the country’s university and college students are being “brainwashed” into activism and radicalism.
Continue reading

With friends like these…

Duterte and Enrile
Standard

In the evening of February 22, 1986, then Defense Minister Juan Ponce Enrile and Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) Vice Chief of Staff Fidel Ramos announced that they were withdrawing their support for the dictator Ferdinand Marcos. It was only a few hours after AFP Chief of Staff Fabian Ver had discovered and foiled their plan to storm Malacanang, oust Marcos, and replace him with a military junta.
Continue reading