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What Ms. Maria Ressa has Digong to thank for

November 14, 2019 - Thursday 4:11 AM by Jimmy Laking

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One media pariah named Maria Ressa is at it again, doing what she does best by casting demons from the confines of her air-conditioned office.

In an interview with Bill Whitaker of the Columbia Broadcasting Service, Manila’s fly in the ointment par excellence described the Philippine environment under the Duterte administration as “worse than being in a war zone.”

“This is far worse than any war zone that I’ve been in,” she told Whitaker. “In a war zone you know exactly where the threats are coming from. We’ve been living through three years of this kind of hell.”

We shall come to that later.

In truth, Ressa has a lot of things to thank the Duterte administration for. First and despite the abuse and the beating he’s been getting from Rappler (Ressa’s outfit), Duterte has not resorted to what supposed dictators are wont to make: cancel the citizenship or travel papers of Ressa and deport her to her native Indonesia. Nor is Rappler or its wooly-eyed reporters barred from any point of the archipelago. In fact, they are free to roam around the countryside and validate the news where it matters most at the grassroots if they have the notion.

They were not barred from the war zone that was Marawi either. And despite their tendency to slant the news (and perhaps even the trajectory of bullets), there was no interference to influence what they were supposed to write about.

Nor is her outfit the subject of surveillance, harassment, or censure as any opposition group would get to encounter in the time of Marcos.

I am certain that despite what Ressa had to say or had been saying against this administration, her outfit is in fact thriving under a climate of “free navigation” or press freedom.

It was as if Duterte was saying: “Madam, you are welcome to my country. And you can do your worsT. I will do what is to be done in ridding this country of drugs, insurgency, and poverty.”

Ressa and Rappler should also look at the filing of charges against them for violation of the Anti-dummy Law and for tax evasion as a favor.

Come to think of it, the cases would allow them to put their books in order and to settle whatever liabilities they have neglected in the past. This is plain housekeeping and it took Digong’s administration to remind Ressa and company that they suck in that department.

The cases of course have nothing to do with press freedom, only sheer negligence and indifference.

As to that war zone, Ressa was simply exaggerating as Palace spokesperson Salvador Panelo correctly pointed out.

In this, Panelo was every inch the gentleman. Had it been Teddy Locsin who was asked, my guess is that he would call her a liar or its more colorful equivalents. Trained in evidence as a lawyer and as a writer, Locsin would have no trouble exposing Reesa as a no-account word-spinner.

It comes from habit. Over the years, from the time of Marcos when she was spotted briefly in Davao City to the time of Duterte, Ressa has mastered the art of looking only at the warts and was quick to mistake one aspect as representative of the whole. In this, her journalism sucks.