Sackur’s Hard Talk
"Maria got exposed for what she truly is."
After our educational agencies, DepEd and CHED, said that the law obliges schools, both public and private, to abide by the earlier agreed calendar save for the deferment of opening to August, we have had a plethora of issues and concerns raised on the subject mainly on the manner by which lessons will be conducted. This, after President Duterte ordered that until a vaccine and cure for COVID-19 is made available, no face-to-face teaching will be done. Thus, the blended lessons formula. The DepEd and CHED went about findings ways how the same will be conducted. Unfortunately, they were mostly focusing on the public schools system.
Before we get to expose the glibness and fakery of Maria Ressa yet again after that all too contrived jab she made about the ‘sad state of press freedom’ in the country immediately after her conviction for cyber libel by Manila RTC Judge Raquel Estacio-Montesa, let me first call out the authorities about the state of our private educational system.
It was only a week or so ago that their attention was called about the state of our private school system which still hosts a substantial number of students specially in the pre-school and tertiary sections. And, not because of the blended-lessons-manner-of-
Private education in this country relies mainly on tuition and other fees. Save for some schools whose students availed of the government’s voucher system or who have enrolled in the study now, pay later program which, by the way, has yet to be given a boost with government funding and guarantees like in the United States and other countries, our private school system is heavily reliant on the ability of parents , guardians or benefactors to carry the burden. In boom times, a good number of parents would rather put up and get their children into the system. In gloom times, too bad. This is one of those times and what an impact this pandemic has been on their pockets. Thus, we are seeing an exodus of private school students falling over each other to line up for positions in the already over crowded public school system where tuition is free and fees are minimal.
In the meantime, these private schools must invest in equipment, facilities and training of teachers for the blended learning mode, which will rely heavily on information and communication technology. Providing education is not cheap. Schools regularly increase tuition, mainly to hold on to their teachers and employees (under the law about 60 percent of any increase in tuition goes to the teaching and even non-teaching personnel) and have to continually upgrade facilities. Given this state of affairs, there must be a way by which the government get to assist our private schools to ensure that they remain in the system by way of low interest loans, guarantees, tax incentives and the like. After all, we are sure we cannot have a working and responsive educational system without the private sector institutions’ active and sustained participation.
Last June 25, some days after her conviction of cyber libel by the Manila RTC, Maria Ressa got to be interviewed by Stephen Sackur, the consummate talk show host, over his multi awarded program Hard Talk on BBC.
Earlier, Ressa’s case got some play in the usual platforms like CNN and the New York Times, among others, carrying essentially her favorite line: that her conviction over a case lodged by a private individual was all part of the “curtailment of press freedom” and “continuing suppression of dissent under the Duterte administration.” Knowing her and her patrons’ connections with these outlets we were not surprised that such would be the slant carried by these organizations the day after her conviction. Thus, we looked forward to listening to Sackur’s interview as we were
Sure he will not mince words to get to the truth and punch holes in Ressa’s narrative. We were not disappointed.
Early on, Sackur got Ressa off her high horse back to reality. As she went about glibly reciting her “ordeal” under the administration from 2016 to the present (four years of hardships or things to that effect, curtailing of press freedom, etc. and culminating with this conviction as she recited it), Sackur told her point blank that there are as many opinions even serious criticisms coming out of diverse media platforms including social media in the Philippines belying her claims. “The Philippines is not like North Korea,” Sackur interjected. She was stopped on her tracks.
Then, Ressa proceeded to wing her way with the casualties of the drug war, inflating her figures from the officially recorded 7,000 or so figures to her and her cohorts’ favorite 27,000 without offering any substantiation at all. Then, the spiel: most of these people are from poor families and all that jazz which, to the unsuspecting eye, subtly leads to a conclusion that this “deadly drug war” would sink Duterte’s popularity and approval. Sackur caught her there and he proceeded to say that for most of the last four years of President Duterte, he has been getting high approval ratings even up to 80 percent from the survey agencies. To him as for all other right thinking people, those are figures which leaders in most countries would literally die for. Sackur did not let her get away.
There were a number of other Ressa misstatements and contrivances which Sackur so elegantly disposed of that at the end of the interview her favorite spiels amounted to shallow, unsubstantiated gobbledygook. She mentioned her four cases nonchalantly passing these off as if these had anything to do with her spiel. Well, she had to be reminded those involved tax evasion, anti-dummy, and violation of the full nationality requirement for mass media ownership under the 1987 Constitution which had nothing to do with press freedom. And then, finally, she was reminded that up to now her news organization’s website is running full speed churning out all kinds of innuendoes against Duterte and criticism of this administration.
That was it. Ressa, for all her glibness and clever diversions, got exposed for what she really is: a charlatan on the way to being an out and out stooge of people and organizations dedicated solely to putting the administration in a bad light no matter the facts and the truth. Grabe.