License to chill

Sonny Trillanes, Mocha Uson chat after Senate hearing
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Whether they’re in the opposition or administration side, the distinguished senators of this endangered Republic, who’re otherwise hopelessly fractious, share one thing: their hatred for “fake news” — and a consequent, irrepressible urge to penalize its disseminators.

That’s what last week’s hearings on the subject led by the Senate Committee on Public Information and Mass Media chaired by Senator Grace Poe suggests, among other equally troublesome implications on press freedom, free expression, and the little that’s left of Philippine democracy.

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Reinventing Mocha Uson

Mocha Uson
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How does the appointment of blogger and die-hard Duterte partisan Margaux “Mocha” Uson as an assistant secretary in the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) mesh with President Rodrigo Duterte’s declaration last March 10, during the launch of government channel PTV4’s Cordillera hub, that he would open the government media system to Muslim groups and to the members of the Communist Party of the Philippines (CPP) so they can air their grievances and explain their views to a larger audience? Or is this latest presidential appointment an implicit repudiation of what at the time looked like an enlightened media policy in the making?

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