Proving R.S.F right

Harry Roque Jr.
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Four media-related events  occurred within days of each other last week.

One was the release by the press freedom watch group Reporters Sans Frontieres (RSF — Reporters Without Borders) of a report on the troubled state of press freedom in many countries including the Philippines. RSF ranked the Philippines a low 133rd out of 180 countries.
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Just for laughs

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The gulf between what President Rodrigo Duterte says and what he does is raising already dangerous levels of cynicism about government and governance even among those who supported him in the 2016 presidential elections. But he doesn’t seem to be aware of it. Even if he were, it’s doubtful if he would at all be concerned, secure as he is in the conviction that his loyalists will continue to support him, anyway.
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Made in China

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and People's Republic of China President Xi Jinping
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In the aftermath of President Rodrigo Duterte’s visit to China, Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) Secretary Martin Andanar announced the availability in that country of scholarships on media and communication studies for his staff, and, presumably, for anyone else qualified and interested in a career in government media.
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Mere anarchy

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His defenders and partisans, as well as the trolls his regime pays out of public funds, describe President Rodrigo Duterte’s “leadership” as “decisive.”

They’re referring to the speed with which he tried to address the drug problem — the extent of which his minions, among them Alan Peter Cayetano, and he himself, exaggerate — and his promise to end it within six months. (Cayetano told the United Nations last year that seven million Filipinos are drug addicts, while Mr. Duterte pegs the number at four million. PDEA, the Philippine Drug Enforcement Agency, put it at less than two million in 2016.)

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Two countries called “Philippines”

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There are two countries that go by the name “Philippines.” The real, historical one is home to the Filipino millions, nearly half of whom are poor and powerless because they’re ruled by one of the most corrupt and most incompetent political classes on the planet. The other is an imaginary one — a creation of those very same rulers to convince the ruled that everything is fine, indeed nearly perfect, in this earthly paradise.

A March 31 statement by the Office of the Executive Secretary (OES), for example, kept referring to “the Philippines.” But it sounded as if it were describing an entirely different country outside of history.

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Branded

Martin Andanar
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Communications Secretary Martin Andanar announced last weekend that his office will soon launch a “big project.” He was referring to a program to promote the country as a tourist destination and encourage foreign investments.

By “big,” however, he also meant it will be heavily-funded, which should further warm the hearts of his already overpaid, skills-challenged fellow top bureaucrats in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) who’re daily trying to prettify the regime they’re serving while demonizing its critics and anyone else who doesn’t agree with it.

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Blaming the victim

Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno
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They said they weren’t pressured — nor, presumably, bought and paid-for, promised any favors or gifts, or intimidated — to make it. But the call by some judges, lawyers and Supreme Court employees for Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to resign so obviously blames the victim for the decline of public respect for the Supreme Court rather than the desperadoes responsible for it that one can’t help but wonder how credible that claim is.

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Warning to power

Rodrigo Duterte
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The International Criminal Court (ICC) isn’t as useless as President Rodrigo Duterte described it when he learned it was looking into the possibility of prosecuting him for crimes against humanity. But the ICC record over the last 16 years since it was established hasn’t been spectacular either.

The Court is mandated to prosecute political leaders who have committed the crime of genocide, crimes against humanity, and war crimes. But in a world rife with racist tyrants, neo-Nazi and fascist dictators, and other vermin who use state power to torture and murder, since 2002 it has managed to convict only a relatively few of those guilty of the crimes mentioned, most of them from the African continent. It has ordered the arrest of 33 others, however, and twenty-three trials are ongoing.
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Decline and fall

EDSA 2018 protest vs Duterte
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President Rodrigo Duterte described the civilian-military mutiny known as the “People Power Revolution” that overthrew the Marcos terror regime 32 years ago as among “the most crucial and trying (of) times” for the Philippines. But his communication people apparently don’t think so, and neither do their trolls, his followers, and his allies in the Marcos family.

Presidential Communication Operations Office (PCOO) Assistant Secretary Mocha Uson, for example, sneered at the nuns’ facing the guns and tanks of the Marcos military then as a “drama,” or just for show, and even suggested that the ouster of the Marcos dictatorship was driven by “fake news.”

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No better time than never

Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno
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Former Chief Justice Reynato Puno says this is the “better time” to shift to a federal form of government. He didn’t say what he was comparing today with (a better time than when?). But he did claim that it’s because there’s enough public support to realize it.

Puno didn’t say this because the public opinion polls say so. No survey on what people think of federalism has so far established if there is indeed widespread support for it. The former chief justice instead based this assessment on the results of the 2016 presidential elections, which Rodrigo Duterte won with 16 million votes.

Since Duterte the candidate made the shift to a federal government from the present unitary form one of the planks of what passed for his campaign platform, Puno concludes that his victory indicates popular support for federalism.

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