"Legitimate media practitioners are not buying this."
I really wish I was not writing on this issue as I have some good friends on the other side of the fence. But the manner by which some sectors, including the principal, have been putting spin on the story has become so unbearable for me.
Why is it that when some personalities in the media industry are slapped with cases even though not related in the furtherance of their journalistic work, they are quick to cry suppression of press freedom? This is further aggravated by some groups, who, in the flick of a finger, are ready to rock and roll and throw in their support without first examining the merits of the case.
During the Aquino administration, I was slapped with a P250-million libel case by an official of his government. And no, it wasn’t about the money for this former government official. The case was intended to send me a message to stop writing and criticizing the former administration.
Prior to the filing of the case, I was invited by a PR man for a supposed press conference inside the Hacienda Luisita. He got my number from my former editor, who called me up, informing me of a invitation to a press conference. The PR man gave me the meeting place and time. But when I asked him how many media men will be covering the press briefing, he told me I will be the only one. A press conference to be held inside the Hacienda Luisita and I will be the only one covering? No one needs to be an expert on intelligence to determine something bad was being planned against me. I immediately called up my former editor and he advised me to back off.
Now, aren’t those two incidents intertwined? Maybe yes, maybe not. But do they constitute harassment? I firmly believe so. In fact, after these two incidents, I would start receiving calls at least once a month, informing me of the death of someone I don’t even know. And I believe I was being harassed. But that time, I did not cry of suppression of press freedom. Being a journalist, it would be normal for us to expect that our subjects, especially those affected by our writings, to do everything in their means to stop or silence us. But then, I do not have any evidence directly linking any of my subjects to the harassments I’ve been receiving.
The motive for the lone coverage press conference could be denied, and the libel suit could be easily justified as a legal prerogative of the official who sued me. In fact, anyone could easily say I am still writing up to now.
Now comes Maria Ressa whose case is totally different from mine, and yet howling louder than a cornered wolf of suppression of press freedom.
In a narrative of the sequence of events leading to the present-day predicament of the Rappler chief executive officer, former ambassador and Manila Times columnist Rigoberto “Bobi” Tiglao details why Ressa should blame no one but herself in the legals cases she is facing.
According to Tiglao, “Rappler was running out of money, with its original stockholder Bitanga refusing to infuse new money and its save-a-crusading press gimmick not generating enough funds.”
Tiglao explained that the reason why Rappler was in the reds then was because, aside from “Ressa’s and her top editors huge salaries, the online media outfit invested tons of dollars in very expensive internet technology, which among other things make google put Rappler on top of its search engines.”
Tiglao furthers that Ressa ran to her friends in New York reportedly including Sheila Coronel to get money from North Base Media and Omidyar, two entities linked to Soros who, the Manila Times columnist avers, have a penchant for telling Third World press what to do.
But apparently, Tigalo adds, Ressa never read the Constitution, so she discovered only later to her horror that the SEC would conclude this was a violation of the total ban on foreigners in media, and would therefore order Rappler closed.
To avoid the guillotine, Tiglao noted that Ressa resorted to the PLDT and Globe solutions, declaring Rappler did not sell any share to North Base Media and Omidyar, but Philippine Depositary Receipts, even as their underlying value are the shares.
But again, Tiglao said Ressa supposedly committed a slip as she failed to realize the PDRs were securities which were sold for a profit of P160 million, with the two US firms shelling out a total of P180 million for PDRs based on P19 million worth of Rappler shares.
And this, Tiglao says, were not even reported in Rappler’s ITR and even her own as she supposedly owns the shares.
The long and short of it is that there was an income generated from the sale of the PDRs and it was not reflected in the company’s and Ressa’s ITRs. The government filed cases of tax evasion and now Ressa is crying suppression of press freedom.
Wow! What a way to twist facts. And we, legitimate media practitioners are not buying. So please stop.