EARLY this year, on January 16, to be exact, the National Press Club (NPC), which I then still headed as president, issued a statement as regards its position in the case of social news media outlet, ‘Rappler.’
At the time, government investigators thru the SEC, just found out that this media entity headed by a “half-baked” Filipina, Maria Ressa (she’s a ‘Fil-Am’ and former CNN International reporter), had broken the Constitution that limits media ownership only to Filipinos.
This, Rappler and Ressa did, apparently knowingly, purposely and deliberately, when it accepted US$ 1 million in “fund infusion” from US-based, ‘Omidyar Network,’ which, incidentally dear readers, has gained the repugnant reputation of “destabilizing” governments (like Ukraine) which falls below the standard of servility for the rest of the world to follow imposed by Western Imperialism.
In this statement, the NPC has no choice but to call out Rappler and their “supporters” in the industry for their insistent claim that all this effort by the present government to bring to heel those who willfully violate the rule of law as “suppression of press freedom.”
Back then, we stated:
“Where mass media is concerned, no (foreign) control whatsoever may be granted. 100 percent Filipino control means zero (“0”) foreign control. ‘Control’ is any influence over corporate policy, and not limited to ownership of stock.”
“As the SEC noted, Rappler breached this constitutional limit when it allowed Omidyar to exercise control over its corporate affairs as provided for in their internal agreement, in exchange for a fund infusion of US$ 1 million.
“Responsible journalism also means complying with the law.”
Further on in this statement, the NPC also said:
“In the broader Philippine media industry, Rappler is just one among the thousands of media entities in the country and whose operations have remained free.
“There are about 436 television broadcast stations, 411 AM radio stations, over 1,000 FM radio stations and more than 400 newspapers today operating freely in the country besides those that now have proliferated in social media and whose actual number no one really has any idea.
“To say that the fate of one media entity found to have run afoul with the law translates to media repression in the country is stretching the argument a bit too much.”
Nearly 12 months later or just this week, all of us gets to read that a warrant for Ressa’s arrest, essentially for “tax evasion,” was issued by the Pasig RTC—and not for libel or any “work-related” offense.
Having this in mind, yours truly has no choice but to call your attention again, dear readers, to the statement of the club because, up to this time, Rappler/Ressa and their like-minded confederates, err, colleagues in the industry, continue to peddle the yarn that their self-inflicted legal woes is a continuing assault by the government against “independent journalism” and those who dare criticize our authorities, specifically, Pres. Duterte.
This is farthest from the truth, of course.
But apparently inspired by the “Master of Propaganda,” Joseph Goebbels of Nazi infamy that “if you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will come to believe it,” Rappler and their fellow road travelers continue to insist on their ‘Big Lie.’
Unfortunately, as matters now stand, a lot of people, including those from the Fourth Estate, are no longer as enthusiastic, as they were before, in coming to their succor.
For why rush to aid a “colleague” found in “culpable violation of the Constitution?”
When Rappler accepted money from Omidyar, that is what it willingly committed, that’s the long and short of it, insofar as this corner is concerned—Rappler committed culpable violation of the Constitution.
Also, when Rappler allowed the entry of a foreign partner notorious for causing instability, it has become, in effect, a “will ing tool” in the commission of Omidyar’s not-so-hard-to-see “agenda” against our country.
We only have to look at what happened to Ukraine in 2014, just 4 years ago.
Congress, in 1992, repealed RA 1700 or the ‘Anti-Subversion Act of 1957’ that turned the CPP into an illegal organization.
But over the way some groups are continuing with their effort to destabilize the government, some its passages find relevance today, especially those referring to the effort (by the CPP) “to place the government under the control and domination of an alien power.”
Incidentally, RA 1700 may have been repealed but PD 885, which amended it in 1976, appears to remain in our statutes. PD 885 expanded the definition of “subversive organizations” and it would be worth the while of the authorities to refer to it once in a while.
Indeed, PD 885 defines “subversive organizations” as:
“Any association, organization, political party, or group of persons organized for the purpose of overthrowing the Government of the Republic of the Philippines with the open or covert assistance and support of a foreign power by force, violence, deceit or other illegal means shall be considered and is hereby declared an illegal organization.”
What say you, Atty. Sal Panelo?