When just days ago Philippine President Rodrigo Roa Duterte saved the life of an OFW (overseas Filipino worker) from execution in the United Arab Emirates, there was virtually no reportage about this positive story in any of the corporate mainstream media outlets in Europe, North America or Australia that continually pretend to champion “human rights”. Likewise, when Duterte raised the salaries of military personnel there was not a single report to be found. The same silence from western corporate media was also the way in which such outlets greeted positive stories form The Philippines including Duterte’s move to offer free tuition to those studying at higher learning institutions, Duterte’s delivery of Universal Healthcare, the transformation of Boracay from a cesspit back to a pristine environment, Duterte bringing in more foreign direct investment (FDI) in spite of an anti-FDI constitution, the job creating infrastructure modernising Build, Build, Build initiative, the signing of the peace making Bangsamoro Organic Law, an historic agreement to renounce hostility against China and instead to partner with China for maritime resource exploitation, the decline in crime due to Duterte’s war on drugs, the new life saving emergency hotline, the swift liberation of Marawi from terrorist occupation, the securing of FDI funded trains and a Metro Manila light rail system and tax reform that benefits workers and small business owners while taxing big corporations their fair share.
All of these accomplishments have helped to make The Philippines a far better place for human life to thrive under President Duterte than it was prior to his 2016 election. And yet the recent news that the ultra-liberal media outlet Rappler will be subject to tax evasion charges has sent the equally liberal western corporate media into a tail spin with predictable accusations of “Duterte is destroying press freedom” dominating the headlines.
Here are the facts:
–The law under which Rappler is being charged pre-dates the Presidential election of Rodrigo Duterte
–President Duterte has not authored, signed or ordered any new laws curtailing the freedom of speech or the freedom of the press
–The US owned company Facebook has in fact threatened press freedom in The Philippines by removing pages belonging to pro-Duterte activists, journalists and bloggers
–President Duterte has vowed to enforce existing tax laws and to collect more tax than previous administrations who were either lax, negligent or corrupt regarding their application of existing tax laws
–The Philippines does have laws against foreign control of domestic media outlets which is another issue wherein Rappler was accused of being on the wrong side of the law – a law which incidentally long predates Duterte’s Presidency.
Other liberal orientated news websites targeting Filipinos including CNN Philippines to name but one, continue to operate freely while Rappler’s website is still very much available to Filipinos and those throughout the world. Of course there is one incredibly prominent journalist whose rights have been infamously violated. He was born in Australia and is currently in the de-facto prison that is the Ecuadorian Embassy in London, England. He has not seen the light of day in six years and for most of 2018 has not had any internet access – his only previous lifeline to the outside world and the only way to continue his professional activism. Such a man is of course Wikileaks founder Julian Assange – a forgotten journalist who has lost far more than just his freedom to publish.
Yet while Assange suffers what medical experts call a severe deterioration to his physical and mental health, this story has faded from view. even among the media outlets working in the town of his de-facto imprisonment in cruel and unusual conditions.
In his third State of The Nation Address, President Duterte said to his Liberal critics, “Your concern is human rights, mine is human lives”. Duterte has indeed saved many Filipino lives whether from narco-violence, extremist terrorism, or from regimes that put the lives of OFWs at risk. By building a more economically sound and infrastructurally secure society, Duterte continues to work to ensure that future generations of Filipinos will also have a higher quality of life. Of course all of this has been done without promoting the censorship of any law abiding individual or corporation. Yet where are these corporate media outlets when it comes to reporting on how Duterte is saving lives and improving the quality of life? The answer should be self-evident.
When it comes to those who have failed to notice or fail to report on Duterte’s plethora of positive accomplishments while also ignoring his sustained popularity among Filipinos – this reality says far more about the “values” of western corporate media than it does about the reality of The Philippines in the age of Duterte. While Duterte cares about the people, it seems corporate western media outlets care far more about Rappler. There is of course nothing wrong with reporting the facts about the Rappler case and there is equally nothing wrong with offering an opinion about it – even if this opinion is based more on the imagination than on a rational assessment of facts. But what is overtly disturbing is how outlets with millions of Dollars behind them and therefore the resources to report on all major Philippine issues, instead see fit to only heap scorn on Duterte and by extrapolation his millions of supporters, rather than offer reportage on all the major events inside and surrounding The Philippines.
It is as though such outlets have an agenda to scare off investors and tourists from coming to The Philippines even though under President Duterte both have increased. Rappler’s matter is one for the lawyers and courts, but Duterte’s supreme accomplishments ought to be reported on and assessed by true journalists and commentators throughout the world. Ultimately, it is the majority of Filipinos who will determine the fate of their nation and most are happy to have Duterte as the first public servant of the Philippine nation. The world should rejoice in this life affirming phenomenon rather than condemn this reality.