A royal pain

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WITH the 21st century so young, the media are already calling the April 29 event “The wedding of the century.”

The British media’s focus on the wedding of William Windsor and Catherine Middleton is understandable. There may be a republican movement in Britain that detests the monarchy and wants it abolished, but there are enough monarchists out there to merit — if that’s the word — the kind of breathless attention such conservative papers as London’s Daily Mail have been paying to the run-up to, and the actual wedding of, two unremarkable people who, if the groom were not second in the line of succession to the British throne, the world would have no reason to notice.

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Judging Willie

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FORMER University of the Philippines law dean Raul Pangalangan says that the public call for an advertisers’ boycott of the TV5 program Willing Willie—and presumably some of the program’s sponsors’ withdrawing their ads–is “fraught with danger” for free expression. I submit that it is indeed fraught with danger, though not for free expression, but for its abuse.

Dean Pangalangan recalls that an advertisers’ boycott has been used before, for example in 1999, to intimidate the press. Reacting to press criticism, then President Joseph Estrada convinced his friends in the movie- making and -importing business not to advertise in, and to withdraw their ads from, the Philippine Daily Inquirer. More recently, when inducting the new officers of the AdBoard, Benigno Aquino III called on advertisers not to support media organizations (in both print and broadcast) guilty of “sensationalism” and false reporting.

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Inflexible

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COMMISSION on Human Rights chair Loretta Rosales was right: the death penalty has no place in any legal system — make that in any civilized legal system — but the rest of her statement the day after Sally Ordinario-Villanueva and Ramon Credo were executed in Xiamen, China, and Elizabeth Batain in Shenzhen, also in China, was off the mark.

Rosales issued a statement condemning the death penalty, but also declared that Ordinario-Villanueva, Credo and Batain had been “twice victimized,” first by the drug syndicates that used them, supposedly without their knowledge, to smuggle drugs abroad, and second by the “inflexibilities” of the Chinese judicial system. Rosales also took the opportunity to suggest that China consider abolishing the death penalty.

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Monsters

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THE improvements observers have noted in the reporting of the Philippine elections in 2010 have since been exposed as momentary, and as the exceptions rather than the rule.

ABS-CBN may have mobilized citizen journalists to help assure free and honest elections; it may have placed in prime time both special and public affairs programs to provide the electorate the interpretation and analysis it needed to help it make informed decisions on election day; and two of the leading broadsheets may have been pro-active in their effort to elicit from the candidates their views on and intended solutions to the problems facing the nation.

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