IT is infantile for Palace communications to simply say, in reply to the New York Times’ evident campaign against President Duterte and the Philippines, that the President has “shrugged off’’ the attacks or that he is “unfazed.”
These characterizations will not impress any of our eminent state guests, who are now in the country to attend the 30th Asean Leaders’ Summit. They expect something more imaginative and acerbic from the leader whom Time magazine named this week as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.
This exchange made me think for some reason of what Sean Connery‘s character said in the film, “The Untouchables”: “You wanna know how to get Capone? They pull a knife, you pull a gun. He sends one of yours to the hospital, you send one of his to the morgue. That’s the Chicago way! And that’s how you get Capone.”
The exchange also called to mind the fact that New York journalism had an instrumental role in fomenting the Spanish-American War, which led to a chain of events that is fateful for Philippine history, which included the following: the sending of Admiral George Dewey and his Aquatic Squadron to Manila Bay, and the destruction of Spain’s decrepit navy; the entry of US forces into Manila against the objections of Gen, Emilio Aguinaldo and Filipino revolutionary forces; Aquinaldo’s proclamation of the independence of the Philippines in Kawit, Cavite on June 12, 1998; the signing of the Treaty of Paris in December 1898, under which Spain sold the Philippines to America for $20 million; the outbreak of the Philippine-American War in February 1899, which would rage for nearly three years until June 1902.
The role of the New York press in the destruction of the first Philippine Republic will be remembered by Filipinos, as they contemplate today the determined efforts of yet another New York newspaper, the New York Times, to stop our duly elected President and his government, in conspiracy with Filipino opposition groups.
Answering NYT journalism
I do not propose that the Philippines should deal with the NYT the Chicago way.
But as a minimum, the Philippines should answer the accusatory journalism of NYT by denouncing its journalism as propaganda by a media organization as a tool for a political group fighting the Duterte government.
The Philippine response should raise the following points:
1.NYT as a newspaper company does no business in the Philippines like circulating its daily editions or selling advertising. It is not registered in the country; it is strictly alien to the nation.
2.By espousing the stoppage or overthrow of President Duterte, NYT is acting like a state to call out and do harm to a sovereign state, the Philippine Republic, which has its own laws and is signatory to the solemn covenants of the United Nations.
3. To publish its now voluminous journalism on the Philippines, the New York Times has not sent or posted a single journalist in the country, so he or she could investigate firsthand events and developments, interview knowledgeable personalities, and secure documents. No NYT reporter and no member of its editorial board is listed in Philippine records as having entered the country, or talked to Filipino officials. The conclusion is clear: NYT has made its reports and editorials without setting foot in the Philippines. Its journalism on the country was not earned.
NYT may claim that it has used the reports and photographs of freelance journalists, and of certain political and non–government organizations. The fact is, NYT’s failure to do reporting or fund reporting on its own invalidates its grandiose call for the stoppage or overthrow of our duly elected President.
3. This journalism by remote and without responsibility is totally at variance with the Times’ reputation and record for serious, fair and credible reporting. By stinting in fielding journalists at the scene, NYT has made its recent journalism on the Philippines hollow and bereft of substance.
4. From the evidence, NYT has violated the canons of good, responsible and ethical journalism. Instead of serving as an example of good journalism, NYT by publishing journalism that is not supported by on-the-spot coverage of the Philippines, is better regarded as the graveyard of serious journalism.
5. NYT could have secured handily interviews with President Duterte, the head of the Philippine National Police (PNP). Gen. Ronald dela Rosa; and other top officials of the Philippine government. No such interview took place, because
NYT never asked, and was not here; no NYT journalist was here.
Posturing like a state
What we are faced with here is a newspaper that has an inflated view of its own importance, that postures like a state, in order to call out President Duterte and his government.
NYT is taking part in the internal politics of the Philippines by taking the side of groups opposed or critical of the Duterte government. It claims as fact and finds meritorious the wildest claims and charges of the opposition.
It has embraced the cause of two self- confessed killers, Edgar Matobato and Arthur Lascañas, and has completely disregarded the findings of Senate inquiries that dismissed their testimonies as nothing but lies.
At a time when journalism is threatened by an epidemic of fake news and post-truth politics, and an ever-rising social media, the times now need more than ever serious, fact-checking and thoughtful journalism.
NYT has made a cause célèbre of the lawsuit filed by one Filipino lawyer against President Duterte and 11 officials before the International Criminal Court.
NYT fancies that ICC will give due course to the case because it has placed its support behind it.
Deluded about its importance
This paper is deluded about its own importance. It is time, I think, for the paper to consult its high-priced lawyers for advice on this matter. It will then quickly discover that the Sabio complaint has zero chance of being entertained by the ICC, and still less of effecting the prosecution of Duterte et al in the international court.
In 1898, an English poet wrote that it is “the white man’s burden” for the United States to take the Philippines and civilize the Filipinos.
In 2017, an American newspaper is telling the world to condemn President Duterte and pave the way for regime change.
The first time, we Filipinos declared war on America.
This second time, we are under compulsion to declare war on the New York Times. Perhaps we should begin by banning NYT from covering the East Asia summit in Manila in November. Let‘s see whether it will stint on the coverage of an event which will gather Xi Jinping, Vladimir Putin, Donald Trump, Shinzo Abe, and other top world leaders in the same room.
But you can never tell.
Because of circulation decline, poor revenues, and staff costs, NYT is now cutting its budget on everything. It has more confidence in bullying foreign countries that cannot fight back.