Some see a coincidence where others perceive a conspiracy. But when the New York Times publishes yet another scathing editorial against President Rodrigo Duterte, in reaction to an unusual, highly irregular and suspiciously timed filing before the International Criminal Court, you’d have to be really clueless if you can’t connect the dots yourself.
“Let the world condemn Duterte” is the headline of the latest NYT screed against the Philippine president, which eggs on the ICC to “send an unmistakable signal to Mr. Duterte that he may eventually have to answer for his crimes.” Reprising a call it made an earlier editorial it published against the president, the paper said favorable ICC action on the case filed earlier this week by lawyer Jude Sabio “would encourage governments to take measures against him, such as imposing tariffs on Philippine goods.”
I don’t know why the NYT has decided to go ballistic on the ICC filing against Duterte, especially since it doesn’t even mention that the US has not allowed the court to have jurisdiction over the American government. And it blows my mind that the newspaper I have always admired can so cavalierly conclude that Duterte is already a criminal, when Sabio’s pleading—to say nothing of all the various moves to hold the president accountable criminally —has not gotten anywhere yet.
But we’ve all seen this before, haven’t we, this arrogance of the Western media that is using all of its influence in order to stampede courts of law and world opinion? We’ve seen it all the way back to the end of the 18th century, when American publishers like Hearst, Pulitzer and Luce thought nothing of bludgeoning their own and other governments into acting to “save” smaller countries—the fledgling Philippine nation included—from themselves.
Going back to the present, the NYT and its local collaborators in the Philippine media are very much aware that the Sabio filing (there is really no “case” to speak of yet) in The Hague last Monday is nowhere near a resolution of the case of alleged extrajudicial killing perpetrated in Davao City when Duterte was mayor. As the editorial admits, the court “was created to prosecute cases of genocide, crimes against humanity and war crimes among member countries only when their national courts are unwilling or unable to do so.”
But at the same time, NYT boldly claimed that “there is already more than enough evidence for a preliminary investigation” gathered by Sabio from opposition politicians and anti-Duterte human rights bodies, as well as the president’s own “savage words.” And right there, we are back to the turn-of-the-century world expositions, where American politicians imported Igorot tribesmen to show how these little brown Filipinos don’t even know enough to tell right from wrong, or to see who is really a savage and who isn’t.
The savage words of the NYT editorial may not sound like Duterte cursing out and threatening the drug dealers. But they are even more dangerous than anything the Philippine president can say, because they are based on the self-serving allegations made by Filipino opposition politicians in league with the Western press in order to subvert a popular and legally elected government—and its popular and much-admired campaign against a terrible social menace.
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The Sabio filing has been described by Malacañan Palace as an ill-disguised attempt to embarrass the Duterte administration as it starts hosting duties for the 50th anniversary of the Association of Southeast Nations in Manila. As one relative of a prominent US-based, anti-Duterte Filipino-American businesswoman once boasted, it doesn’t have to be true, it just has to sound that way—at said the proper time, if I may add.
The anti-Duterte faction in Filipino politics and their Western and Philippine media collaborators do not want Duterte to look good before the countries in the region and elsewhere, which is why they have to synchronize the Sabio filing on the week of the opening of the Asean Summit here. In much the same way that a congressman filed an impeachment attempt against Duterte on the last day that Congress was in session, the enemies of the president aren’t really seeking his ouster, just his demolition through well-timed propaganda.
The Western media’s complicity in the timing of this latest attack is understandable, given their hatred of Duterte. But I really have a problem with the Filipinos involved in the ICC non-case, who gleefully join in the conspiracy to shame their own country when they should be celebrating it for hosting an important regional event.
Then again, these are politicians who venerate a family whose patriarch was convicted of crimes against his own people during World War II. Why shouldn’t the acolytes of this most opportunistic and hypocritically self-righteous of clans not allow themselves to be used similarly in the present time, when Filipinos are just beginning to enjoy the return of real pride in their country and government?
Let the world condemn the West for trying to impose its will on a smaller, weaker country by unleashing its propaganda dogs on the Philippines. I urge Filipinos to reserve their condemnation for the Filipino collaborators of these foreign meddlers, especially the enablers of people like Sabio and the Yellow politicians funding him.