The sight of a noted critic of Rodrigo Duterte being placed under arrest bristles the senses. However, if you look deeper, the truth becomes obvious.
Let me tell you about freedom of press in the Philippines. We’ve already killed it once. On November 23, 2009, 34 journalists were murdered in the Ampatuan Massacre, an act that was later dubbed as the worst example of violence against the media in human history. Sadly, we own that legacy, and we are wary of the signs of a repeat.
Internationally, the arrest of Rappler’s Maria Ressa seems something similar, a governmental crackdown of a noted critic of an unpopular leader (read: Rodrigo Duterte).
That she might be, but that this is certainly not.
It may feel like the cold-blooded murder of the press, but I feel it is an excuse. One used to power the motivations of those opposed to the present administration.
Simply put, her arrest was related to a libel case filed against her (by a private individual) dating back to 2012. It is nothing else. Due to the furore (at home, but particularly, abroad), it now seems like a political issue. But there is no basis to tie Duterte to Ressa.
Nevertheless, it rolls on. Baseless suspicions are aimed, and muck is raked.
The suspicion of suppression is ludicrous. You cannot cry about it while using free media coverage. The clear winner out of this is Maria Ressa, as she’s getting what she desires—attention of the press, and in turn, the people. I believe she’s using her right to free speech as armour to deflect from her own bending of it.
But, here we stand. A simple libel case magnified into a vast political issue, throwing mud at the President to see what sticks. As an honest citizen, one who dreams of a country united in peace, the media circus, and half-baked international speculations, are not welcome here.