Press freedom’s foe

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I can’t recall Dr. Jose Abueva’s exact words, not having had the foresight to bring along a sound recorder. But I suppose Vergel Santos, Business World editorial board chair, Maria Ressa, head of the News and Current Affairs Group of ABS-CBN, and Isagani Yambot, publisher of the Philippine Daily Inquirer, can attest to their substance.

Santos, Ressa and Yambot were among the panelists in a forum on “Threats to Press Freedom” sponsored by the Futuristics Society of the Philippines last October 13. In the audience were several journalists, including Jose Pavia, Executive Director of the Philippine Press Institute, as well as journalism/communication students from De La Salle University, the Lyceum of the Philippines, and Kalayaan College.

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Media failure

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Some civil society groups as well as individuals concerned with the state of governance in this country have been asking why Filipinos remain unmoved by the corruption scandals the Arroyo regime has generated.

In addition to the usual, predictable answers—the people are pre-occupied with survival; they have become so cynical about government they no longer think any kind of reform is possible; the people themselves have internalized the culture of corruption succeeding governments have nurtured since independence—the suspicion that the media may have something to do with it is growing.

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Outsiders

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“Before we go any further, can I check those diplomas? I’d just like to make sure they’re not from some med school in the Philippines.”

Thousands of Filipinos all over the world are reacting angrily to that remark in an episode of “Desperate Housewives, ” one of the most watched TV shows in the world. The remark has provoked prolonged discussions over many e-groups, especially among Filipinos abroad. And there’s an online petition over a hundred thousand have signed, demanding that ABC network, a Disney company which produces the show, issue an apology “more sincere” than the three sentence version it released last week. Various groups have also thrown pickets at ABC’s US headquarters.

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Perfectionists

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Despite Miriam Defensor Santiago’s outburst—and patronizing “apology”—the Chinese did not invent corruption. Since the so-called People’s Republic abandoned socialism in favor of unbridled capitalism, its corporations have been spreading havoc all over the planet, corrupting the elites of the countries they’re trying to profit from and not caring one whit for the impact of their projects on the world’s peoples. But the Chinese didn’t invent corruption. The Spaniards did– at least in this country.

Upon landing in what’s now the Visayas, Portuguese adventurer Ferdinand Magellan, who had gone over to Spain after a falling out with the king of Portugal, began the conquest of these islands for Spain and Catholicism by pitting the locals against each other.

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