As you may already know. Just this afternoon. Approximately at around 5pm on the 13th of February, 2019. The Duterte administration’s investigative arm (NBI) suddenly flipped in favor of Duterte and contrary to legal norms. NBI agents stormed the Rappler office in such desperation to arrest Rappler’s founder Maria Ressa on a cyber-libel complaint which stemmed from an article published months before the actual cyber-libel provisions in the Anti Cyber Crime Law of 2012 has ever been taken into effect as a law. Ironically enoug, they made sure that Maria Ressa won’t be able to pay up for bail as offices closes down after 5:00pm. Imagine how the Duterte Troll Network would elaborate this a humiliating propaganda piece?
Why attack Maria Ressa?
I know most if not many of the netizens out there. Especially those whom were captivated by the flawed logic of Mocha Uson, Nieto, Sassot and the gang would agree about arresting Maria Ressa the founder of Rappler. Given that Rappler had been actively fact-checking and removing toxic and disinformation networks which most these people relied on for the rest of their netizen life. It was also Rappler who first published stories about how Duterte weaponized the Internet and brainwashed a lot of people through efficient use of black-propaganda techniques.
It’s also been rumored by these same people that Rappler had been biased in its reporting and was therefore alleged to have been working with foreign intelligence organizations to destabilize the Duterte administration. Even the president himself agrees to this at a time wherein a story broke out regarding the recent frigate acquisition deal — sources showed that a post-it notes coming from the office of the now senatorial aspirant Bong Go had been whisked over to the office of the Sec Lorenzana recommending a particular contractor. Despite several attempts to deny his alleged intervention on frigate deals. Only did it became clear when Duterte spilled the beans and explicitly revealed Bong Go’s involvement in the frigate deal.
As it it became apparent to us that in this dark times of rampant disinformation. It’s becoming clear that we needed more clearer, more transparent and absolutely untarnished stories about our government’s decisions, policies and scandals. We want to see the right angle so we can better paint an accurate perception of current political turmoils. Especially if these are important things that affects moral and democratic norms in the country. I know that these are times where’s it becoming harder to trust the source of information you see across the Internet then so does our need for a more authoritative source of information which Rappler provides.
Why we should stand with Maria Ressa?
First of all. It really doesn’t require so much rocket science to notice the obvious surrounding Duterte’s desperate motives in taking down Rappler for its scathingly truthful and unbiased reporting which has so far exposes many of Duterte’s allies from public scrutiny and possibly even public accountability. Owing the fact that Duterte brazenly barred a reported from Rappler to enter Malacanang or cover many of Duterte’s press conferences.
Maria Ressa. The founder of Rappler. An innovative online news-publishing network. Has been slapped with several counts of tax-evasion when a Omidyar Group donated their investments as capital to Rappler. And then consecutively filed libel charges against her stemming from an article published last 2012 using a law that hasn’t yet even been put into effect during the commission of the alleged offense.
“..Maria Ressa was charged with a law that hasn’t yet even been put into effect during the commission of the offense…”
I’m going to say this from a netizen’s perspective. I am not a journalist. But as an ordinary citizen. I can truly appreciate how the media publishes credible stories which I truly can glean upon and deconstruct without the typical ebb of partisanship flowing through the article which was quite endemic on most opinion pieces published today either by competent experts and or journalists or even the lowly vitriol members of Duterte’s cyber propaganda army.
Why do we need a Free Press?
The freedom of the press is vital to the cogs of our democratic community. It’s the engine that keeps the flames of ‘Free Expression’ alive wherein people are kept aware and informed on the current state of the nation and whisked them at just the right angle to appreciate political truths on scandals and political discussions without the tenets of ultrapartisanship. Of course the main goal of the press is always to censor the government. It has always been envisioned by our founding fathers.
“..The moment we no longer have a free press, anything can happen. What makes it possible for a totalitarian or any other dictatorship to rule is that people are not informed; how can you have an opinion if you are not informed? If everybody always lies to you, the consequence is not that you believe the lies, but rather that nobody believes anything any longer..”
Free plunderers or Free Press? Whose side are you?
We’ve to come to a point where these attacks may not even stop on Maria Ressa alone. Our continued silence on these issues may even embolden the attack and will gradually worsen our current political situation. Just imagine? Corrupt politicians no longer afraid of the public owing from the fact that they can now just plainly threaten journalists? Imagine that these corrupt politicians continues to harass, oppress and steal from its people — and you don’t know that?
The moment we no longer have a ‘free-press’ then so does our freedoms. The moment this government harass and jails its journalists for being too vocal against its questionable policies then we’ve just now been threading the path of becoming a totalitarian state.
Today is just totally dark. Silence. No outrage. When will the people speak?
Who would’ve thought? It’s been just several decades since 1986 where people stood before tanks and many imprisoned and some gave their lives to restore the very same freedom we enjoy now and our children of tomorrow. Perhaps, the seniors of ’86 may find this surreal. Have we forgotten that the abuses of yesterday started with the destruction of a free press?
I do not wished to be labeled as an alarmist. But this the right time where we ought re-evaluate our understanding on things and try to see everything on a different angle. Not on the same lens as Duterte’s paid propagandists. But just the lens of an ordinary Filipino. Like me. Do you see where we are heading?