“press freedom” for what? “press freedom” for whom?

of course i’m all for press freedom, and SEC’s move to “shut down” rappler is dismaying, smacking of resbak at the news site’s anti-duterte stance.  but it’s also discombobulating (if kind of reassuring) that SEC makes an issue of, and takes selective action against, foreign funding of media, which is bawal sa constitution but which duterte’s supermajority in the LOWER house of congress seeks to allow via con-ass / chacha (correct me if i’m wrong).

let’s remind ourselves WHY the constitution bans foreign funding / ownership of media.  read cielito habito’s Fear of foreigners.

Our Constitution completely bars foreign ownership on mass media, while limiting it to 40 percent for public utilities and educational institutions, and 30 percent for advertising. …The common thread among these restrictions is the apparent intent of our charter framers to “protect” Filipinos from being “brainwashed” by foreigners.

but, habito says, that’s for an era long gone:

… vast changes in technology and economic realities have rendered most of those constitutional restrictions obsolete, irrelevant, or even counterproductive. … In this age of information and communication technology and social media, there’s no longer any point to the nationality restriction on mass media, as well as on advertising and education.

What it does is to deprive us of opportunities to attract investments that could bring in capital, jobs and improved technology. Foreign media firms like BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera, CNBC and the like could possibly set up a base hub here to draw on certain strengths we have to offer, including in the generation of content with our relative superiority in language and artistic skills. After all, all mass media broadcasting locally, whether Filipino or foreign-owned, are subject to the same inherent power of the government to regulate content and business practices for the common good.

… For a country whose people have made us a “borderless nation” spread all across foreign lands, our seemingly inordinate fear of foreigners sounds rather misplaced.

hmm.  CNNph has been downsizing and, we hear, won’t be around much longer.  and time was when our superiority in english speaking and writing was not “relative” but absolute.  times have changed, indeed, under globalization, but not for the better as far as this always-developing-never-developed third world country of ours is concerned.

here’s a nugget from the comment thread compliments of  !OjO!@hastalavictoriasiempre_ole  

A timely piece indeed, Ciel.

Since you bring up the fear of foreigners, our Japanese friends at JICA often point out that Japan would have ended up like the Philippines had they allowed foreign missionaries, Dominicans and Jesuits alike to infiltrate and destroy their country from Nagasaki inwards. Today, there’s no debate that religion was used as the weapon of choice by our Spanish colonial masters in indoctrinating, conquering and subjugating us. The Japanese were right to persecute the European missionaries who were supplying weapons to various feuding daimyos in order to create internecine wars within Japan, ultimately hoping to pave the way for Europeans to pick Japan apart. Lorenzo Ruiz was just some fictional character unwittingly brought to Japan by the pale devils. Japan was the first country in Asia to industrialize because they had the entire Tokugawa period for nation-building, achieving the westphalian notion of nation-state ahead of everybody else. Had Japan fallen prey to Europeans earlier on, there’s reason to believe that Japan would have been infused with iberian indolence.

Fast forward to the mid-1990s. My son brought two Korean teenage kids home one day, after his teacher requested help with their month-long English immersion program. While waiting for pizza, I offered to play some American movies, expecting they’d choose Independence Day or ID4 in laser disc over the other movies in VHS. To my surprise, both kids with limited English, blurted “American propaganda” almost in unison. As it turned out, Korean students as early as grade school are already taught about the subliminal propaganda employed in Hollywood movies. This is the reason why Korea for a long time had very strict regulations about the entry of foreign cultural products. While they do allow Hollywood movies, Koreans are taught to discern between fact and fiction. And since Korea has distilled the secrets of Hollywood entertainment from propaganda, they were able to use the same secret formula in coming up with their own cultural exports now known as K-wave. One is easily reminded of how easily K-drama easily displaced those latin american telenovelas early in the previous decade. Without a strong core and a strong indigenous Korean culture, coupled with discerning eyes, Korea could have been swamped and inundated by the shortlived J-Pop in those days.

Globalization has brought many benefits, but there’s still no place like home. A weak home country like ours will put us at the losing end of globalization. A weak home country like ours can be easily deluged and overwhelmed by malware and malicious foreign média like Rappler. In terms of nation-building, we are still far behind Vietnam.

so.  press freedom for what nga ba?  for nation-building dapat, yes?  instead, press freedom hereabouts is deployed in the service of vested / capitalist interests (the rich) that rarely, if ever, coincide with the interests of the impoverished masses (the poor).  despite a “free press” since EDSA, the masses continue to be woefully uninformed on important social, political, and economic issues and, therefore, ill-equipped to demand wiser policies and better services of the leaders they elect.

so.  when sal panelo admits that most filipinos don’t understand what the constitution is all about, much less the proposed alternatives, who is to blame for the ignorance?  when most pinoys don’t understand why the president is pushing for BBL or why the lower house ignores him, whose fault is it?  when we don’t understand what senator legarda means when she says that the country has so much money and why none of it trickles down to the larger population and why the masses live such miserable lives, why do we blame only “the educational system” but not mass media for the mass ignorance?

i could go on and on, but let me end with this:  when most pinoys have no idea that in cases of dengue, papaya leaf juice is effective in keeping blood platelet count up (thereby preventing damage to walls of blood vessels, therefore no hemorrhaging) or that it has long been used to stop dengue in its tracks in sri lanka, malaysia, indonesia where they also have locally produced mosquito sprays made of papaya leaf extract as well as capsules and tinctures, what does it say about our DOH and medical professionals — that they all, or their relatives, are in the pay of multinational pharmaceutical giants like sanofi of dengvaxia fame?  obviously there is no money in papaya leaf extract, too many papaya trees everywhere.  but what does it say of our mainstream media — print and broadcast and online — when none of them have the time or inclination to do some research (google it, guys!) and call out the DOH, sabay share such precious info with the public.  perhaps they, too, or their relatives, are in the pay of giant pharmaceuticals? or maybe they’re just plain fanatical about branded western medicine?

so.  really.  when rappler’s ressa says she sought foreign funding “to keep the group free of potential vested interests” she means, i suppose, local oligarchs and political bigshots, pero okay lang ang vested interests ng global oligarchs and multinational bigshots?  i wonder if the same attitude obtains in other media outfits like gma 7, abs-cbn, vera files, pcij, and cmfr that are, like rappler i hear, mostly foreign-funded.

so much for “press freedom.”


  1. […] katawatawa that on facebook a statement from duterte apologist rebecca añonuevo and “concerned writers” supporting SEC’s takedown of rappler has been judged “unoriginal” and “pathetic” — as if the statement by let’s organize for democracy and integrity in support of rappler / press freedom were any less pathetic?  read press freedom for what? press freedom for whom? […]