Category: Uncategorized

Let Filipinos condemn and boycott the New York Times

I’M sick and tired of the New York Times articles and editorials that are vicious hatchet jobs not just on President Duterte, but on the Philippines itself.

NYT has portrayed our country as one where thousands of corpses of the innocent litter our streets, and that we Filipinos—and therefore even columnists like me— either just keep quiet in fear of Duterte, or that we are savages living in and embracing a failed state.

I am shocked at its latest editorial entitled “Let the world condemn Duterte,” the second on the same topic by its editorial board in just a month, the first titled “Accountability for Duterte.”

What right does the NYT have to call on the world to condemn Duterte, based on their flawed and biased reporting? Didn’t this American paper find ridiculous its editorial that cheered the International Criminal Court to convict Duterte for “mass murder”, since the US voted against the ICC’s establishment in 2002?

The New York Times recent hatchet job on the Philippines, complete with gory picture.

NYT’s extreme bias is so obvious in that its editorial was accompanied by a gory but tear-jerker of a photo captioned “a 17-year-old a few hours after she was killed by masked gunmen in Quezon City, Philippines, in 2016.” But was it a murder committed by Duterte’s purported death squads, or just another case of murder out of the thousands that occur every day in metropolises not just in the Philippines but even in New York?

Its most recent April 25 editorial reveals the plot of the Yellow Cult’s campaign against Duterte: Have somebody file a case in an international body even if it is merely based on allegations by the opposition and hearsay, and then get US media to sensationalize it. Here’s some news for the Yellow Cult whose rise to power in 1986 was to a great extent due to US media: Those days are over.

My head explodes at the NYT, to borrow a vivid sentence recently used just the other day by former George W. Bush spokesman Ari Fleischer, to condemn the United Nations Commission on Human Rights’ February warning to President Trump that repealing Obamacare would violate international laws.

Smoking gun

The smoking gun, or what incontrovertibly shows the NYT’s bias against the Philippines, is the following sentence in that editorial: “Mr. Sabio said in the 77-page filing, that more than 9,400 people have been killed, most of them poor young men, but also bystanders, children and political opponents.” (It was this Sabio who filed a case against Duterte and 10 other Philippine government officials before the ICC accusing them of “mass murder”.)

However, even the mercenary Sabio couldn’t convince himself to make such a brazen lie, with no basis at all. There is no such 9.400 figure of people summarily executed in Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs, claimed in Sabio’s complaint. When it comes to the Philippines, has the NYT’s editors ordered out of the newsroom its much-vaunted fact checkers?

The highest number Sabio could fabricate is 8,000, a figure he wouldn’t even explain how he got: “In his first seven months in the office, or from June 2016 to January 2017, 7,000 drug-related killings have been recorded as having been committed by police and unknown armed persons. The body count has continued to mount and increase into his ninth month in office, reaching up to more than 8,000 to date. “

Note the word-play propaganda trick the NYT uses to accompany its 9,400 figure, which leaves the impression that thousands of children and Duterte’s political opponents have been killed allegedly by police. C’mon now, dear Reader and even dear Yellow Cultist, is this what’s happening in your neighborhood?

I dare the NYT to name a single political opponent of this regime and a single child killed by Duterte’s alleged death squads.

Thank Rappler

Thank the internet-only news outfit Rappler for the 7,000 figure. It invented that figure way back in September and its editors — and its owner — have refused to repudiate that figure the Philippine National Police and I have totally debunked. It’s been the figure quoted by nearly all Western media outfits, the European Union Parliament, and Amnesty International, and of course the NYT.

Sabio made the effort in his complaint to hide Rappler’s complicity though. He claimed that the 7,000 figure was “based on official statistics from the Philippine National Police for the period from 1 July 2016 up to and until 21 January 2017.” The PNP has loudly denied this figure, explaining point-by-point how Rappler invented the figure. Sabio merely claims: “This figure is widely reported in local and foreign media, and also in social media.”
That’s wrong: local media mostly don’t use that figure anymore after PNP explained why it is such a colossal error; in social media, only Rappler uses it.

Rappler intentionally manufactured that figure it to exaggerate the casualties in Duterte’s war against illegal drugs. It added all the 4,525 murder cases that the PNP was investigating to the 2,555 the people who were killed when they allegedly fought the police who were trying to arrest them.

A detailed list based on police blotters compiled by the Philippine Daily Inquirer shows 2,107 killed in the anti-illegal drug war, and by no stretch of the imagination would even half of this be due to summary executions. Yet, even while failing miserably to justify its 7,000 figure, Rappler has continued to “update” it to this day.

As I had predicted in my column last month (“How Rappler misled EU, Human Rights Watch, CNN, Time, BBC — the world”), that 7,000 figure, if Rappler doesn’t retract it, will be used by anti-Duterte groups to extrapolate that the number of extra-judicial killings now total 9,000. If Duterte doesn’t stop his anti-illegal drug war, will it be 10,000 next month?

Ridiculous claim

Indeed it was extrapolated by Sabio to make this ridiculous and atrocious claim in his complaint: “In the event Duterte will be able to end his six-year term, the body count would reach an estimate of 72,000 for six years, based on the 1,000 killings per month, or could reach even a much higher number resulting in a national bloodbath of disastrous proportions.”

What’s appalling in the NYT’s recent editorial is that it totally presumes that Duterte is guilty of “mass murder”. It claims that if the House of Representatives “quashes an impeachment motion filed by an opposition lawyer,” then the ICC can prosecute the case since it may exercise its jurisdiction to prosecute criminals “when their national courts are unwilling or unable to do so.”

What? If the Congress doesn’t impeach Duterte, he is still guilty of mass murder anyway, so the ICC can intervene?

What is appalling is that the NYT believed totally the integrity of what it merely describes as a “Filipino lawyer”. It didn’t even bother to check how such a mediocre lawyer with so little financial resources (even to make the trip to the ICC’s headquarters in The Hague and stay for week in a 300 euro per night hotel there) could have filed the suit.

It didn’t even bother to report that many in this country are convinced that this joker appears to be a minion of the nutty opposition Senator Antonio Trillanes IV, probably using Liberal Party funds, who has been undertaking a plot to oust Duterte, so Vice President Leni Robredo of the Liberal Party would assume power.

Trillanes a hero?

Indeed, read that lawyer’s suit, and see Trillanes is the most often-quoted personality, depicted as a hero and as the only Filipino other than Senator Leila de Lima bold enough to challenge Duterte.

What’s appalling about the NYT’s editorials is that there was no attempt at all to get the government’s side, or even those of non-partisans on the extra-judicial killing allegations. After a query, Communications Secretary Martin Andanar reported that his office had sent letters to the NYT’s editors to debunk its editorials and articles.

None has been published. Compare the NYT’s one-sided articles to those of the Washington Post, which in a recent article quoted ordinary Filipinos explaining why they support Duterte’s campaign against illegal drugs.
I worked for a decade in an international publication as a journalist, and I closely monitored US and European press coverage during President Macapagal-Arroyo’s term as it was my job, both as Press Secretary and later Presidential Chief of Staff, to do so.

I have never encountered such one-sided, biased coverage of the Philippines as the NYT has done. Major US newspapers in the past routinely published my letters to them that cited errors and biases in their coverage. I strongly suspect that a Filipino female tycoon who lives in New York has managed to get the NYT to adopt her stridently anti-Duterte worldview.

With these maliciously cruel and destructive that the NYT has been unleashing against our country, we should all condemn this publication, and patriotic Filipino New Yorkers should boycott it.

I urge my readers to do a patriotic act and write the NYT letters of complaints against their coverage and editorials. Or you can just send the link to this column and ask them to comment. Let’s show these AHs we’re not pushovers, and we’ll not allow biased reportage to slur our country.

NYTs email addresses are: executive-editor@nytimes.com; public@nytimes.com; and letters@nytimes.com. Or post a message at its Facebook page and Twitter account (@nytimes).

Filed under: Manila Times Columns, Uncategorized

Aquino stonewalled inquiry; cover-up underway

Despite its valiant efforts, the Philippine National Police’s Board of Inquiry’s (PNP BOI) report on why and how 44 Special Action Forces got helplessly trapped and massacred by Muslim insurgents on that fateful January day is far from complete.

The big reason for this is that President Benigno S. Aquino stonewalled its probe, and is now desperately trying to conceal what really happened: even as he was informed early that morning that the commandos have been cornered by the Muslim insurgents, he did little to order their rescue.

Aquino refused to be interviewed, declined to give his account of the event to the probe body, which to its credit did ask him. Indeed, those who, together with Aquino, rebuffed the PNP-BOI’s request seem to be guilty that they’re worried they might incriminate themselves or disclose Aquino’s criminal negligence if the PNP investigators interviewed them.

This is clear right on the first page of the report, in its Executive Summary:

“(The) BOI failed to secure an interview with the President, suspended Chief PNP Alan Purisima, Chief-of-Staff AFP General Gregorio Catapang and Lieutenant Rustico Guerrero. All concerned officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines refused to be interviewed by the BOI despite repeated requests.”

It’s understandable why Purisima refused to be interviewed. He is likely to face a court suit for violating the order of the Ombudsman and for usurpation of authority. It would be unlikely that Aquino’s best friend would see the inside of a jail cell or a military stockade while he is President. But with the case likely to drag on to the next administration, that could happen, and worse, he could lose his retirement benefits.

PNP-BOI report: Police asked for army artillery at 7 a.m.; Army fired phosphorus markers 11 hours later, at 6 p.m. Did Aquino tell them to do so?
PNP-BOI report: Police asked for army artillery at 7 a.m.; Army fired phosphorus markers 11 hours later, at 6 p.m. Did Aquino tell them to do so?

Catapang’s refusal to be interviewed by the PNP-BOI is unacceptable, as he could have very crucial information. If the armed forces hadn’t dilly-dallied in rescuing the Special Action Forces trapped by the insurgents, and if they just fired the phosphorus markers at 7 a.m. when they were asked to do so by PNP officials, and not 11 hours later, the 44 commandos would still be alive.

Or did Aquino give Catapang reasons to withhold their forces, which might be why they refused to be interviewed by the PNP-BOI?

Technically, it is only his Commander-in-Chief Aquino who could order him to be interviewed by the PNP-BOI. My bet is that it was Aquino himself, with the order relayed by Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, who told him to stonewall the investigation.

Moral depravity

Aquino’s refusal to talk to the PNP-BOI probers, and even to just submit this account of the event, is not only an indication of his guilt but his moral depravity.

He called for what he pretended was a “prayer meeting” of evangelical groups, just for him to have a televised pulpit to give his account of the event, which was to put all blame on SAF director Getulio Napeñas, who didn’t have a chance to face his accuser.

Aquino refused to talk with the PNP probers, who might just ask the kind of questions that would show that he panicked and froze after the reports that the SAF were being massacred. The biggest lacuna in the PNP-BOI’s otherwise very comprehensive report: What did the President do that whole fateful day to save the SAF troopers?

He was informed that the operation didn’t go as planned at early morning. Aquino was not only the Commander-in-Chief but acted as strategic commander who helped plan the operation from its very inception and was privy even to its minutest details.

Yet there is no report, even in that of the PNP-BOI, that he called his security officials who were with him since the morning of that day in Zamboanga City to a crisis-conference to deal with the situation, to draw up a plan to rescue the trapped SAF forces.

After reading the PNP-BOI report and all other accounts of the Mamasapano event, I totally, completely stand by my columns almost three weeks ago, “Aquino got mad, panicked and closed his eyes to reality” (Feb. 24) and “Aquino orders SAF operations, then abandons his troops” (Feb. 5).

Even his speech at the “prayer meeting” last week, with all the blame heaped on Napeñas and all the details of the operation he disclosed, Aquino hasn’t explained a bit: “What did you do when you were informed the SAF were in trouble?”

Covering up his culpability in rescuing the SAF is this Administration’s main concern now. To the credit of the PNP-BOI, it reported a detail many have missed:

Missing messages?

“PDG Purisima’s sworn statement included, as an attachment, a transcript of his SMS exchange with the President on January 24, 2015. The BOI noted that such transcript did not consistently indicate the time when the SMS messages were sent and/or received by PDG Purisima or the President. Out of a total eleven SMS messages exchanged between them, only five messages indicated the time of transmission or receipt.”

“The BOI also observed that there appears to be an unusually long gap or an absence of SMS exchange between PDG Purisima and the President after 11:38 a.m. and before 6:20 p.m. The BOI could not determine on the basis of the submitted transcript if the eleven messages enumerated therein were the only SMS exchanges between PDG Purisima and the President on January 25, 2015. The BOI could not also determine … whether the absence of SMS exchanges between him and the President after 11:38 a.m. and before 6:20 p.m. indicates an absence of communication between two individuals during that period, or whether Purisima did not include in the transcript their SMS exchanges for that period.” (Emphasis added.)”

In short, the BOI was questioning why there were no SMS messages for seven hours after 11:38 a.m. Aquino’s last message, according to Purisima’s statement was actually at 10:16 a.m., which didn’t even ask about the situation of the SAF troops: “Basit should not get away.”

Is that what Purisima is hoping will make Aquino continue to back him up – that it would be devastating to the President if he made public their exchange of messages that he deleted in his transcript, which would show that the Commander-in-Chief just got mad, panicked, and abandoned his troops? Did Aquino paraphrase the infamous statement he made in the Yolanda episode: “May buhay pa naman sa kanila, ‘di ba?” Or did Aquino send angry messages cursing Purisima for the fiasco?

That the 10:16 a.m. message from Aquino was the last seems impossible given how Purisima and Aquino were frantically exchanging messages early in the morning, and especially since only the two were, in fact, running the operation.

The PNP-BOI emphasized how the President stonewalled the investigation, making it difficult to find out what he did on that fateful day by pointing out: “The Board likewise lacked access to the specific details of the activities of the President on January 25, 2015 in Zamboanga City that could have shed light on events prior to, during and after the operation.”

It also pointed out, quite significantly:
“The BOI did not have access to other crucial information such as call and SMS messages logs, and the text content of the SMS messages sent and received by majority of the key personalities before, during and after the execution of Oplan Exodus.”

“The Board requested key personalities to submit their cellular phones for digital forensic examination. CSAFP Catapang and Guerrero refused to submit their cellular phones to the BOI. Purisima also refused to turn over his cellular phone to the BOI.”

Why would they refuse to do so, if they had nothing to hide?

Filed under: Manila Times Columns, Uncategorized