By Rigoberto Tiglao
IT was jailed Senator Leila de Lima’s comment on the Nobel committee’s grant of the Nobel Peace Prize to Maria Ressa that was most accurate, a part of it, that is. “It is a big slap to the face of [President Duterte],” she said.
But not only to him: it is a huge insult to the Philippines itself and especially to all Filipino journalists. The award, in effect, portrayed the country as being in the league of countries like Haiti, Sudan or Uganda in the 1970s with a brutal dictator in power, a cowardly citizenry and a press doing nothing about it — except Ressa who is, therefore, being granted the Nobel peace award.
For whatever explanation Ressa and others have given for her getting the award, the Nobel committee’s justification is given solely in what is called its “announcement.” In its arrogance or by tradition, the Nobel committee and its members do not give any other explanation.
In Ressa’s case it was as follows: “Ressa’s Rappler has focused critical attention on the Duterte regime’s controversial, murderous anti-drug campaign. The number of deaths is so high that the campaign resembles a war waged against the country’s own population.”
If you agree with those claims, then congratulate her and praise her for being the first American Filipino to be awarded the Nobel. But that Nobel justification is clearly a total lie, a fabrication that Ressa has strived to disseminate to US media since 2019 when a private businessman sued her for libel, claiming P50 million in damages to wiggle out of that suit, and another the next year involving her media outfit’s violation of the Constitution by taking in foreign money.
The Nobel committee probably thought that the Philippines is some small poor country in Africa, without decades of liberal democracy and a free press, which allows its government’s “murderous anti-drug campaign” resulting in killings that “resemble a war waged against the country’s own population.
It is a slap to the face of Filipinos in general and journalists in particular. “How could you Filipinos allow your president to undertake a war against his own people, with only Ressa, Rappler and the puny opposition brave enough to fight this murderer? How could you journalists not expose and oppose this murderer? Are you Filipinos so cowardly?”
If Ressa has any sliver of integrity left, and the minutest concern for the Philippines — even if she is really an American who got Filipino citizenship in order to be employed at ABS-CBN in 2004 — she should have rejected that justification.
It was so inane for Duterte’s spokesman Harry Roque Jr. and Foreign Affairs Secretary Teodoro Locsin Jr. to congratulate Ressa’s “win,” both of them describing the award as if it was some competition in which her prowess was found to be better than others.
How can the two congratulate Ressa’s “win,” which was based on her lie that their boss was waging war against Filipinos and that he was a mass murderer? The kindest thing you could say about these two is that they were so lazy that they didn’t’ find out first what the award was for before opening their mouths.
Locsin takes the cake for his naiveté, congratulating “Maria” for the “win,” which he says is “amazing” as even his saint and boss Cory Aquino didn’t get it “for restoring democracy that inspired revolutions throughout the Soviet Bloc and Asian dictatorships.”
The answer to Locsin’s amazement is obvious. The US — the only entity powerful and skillful enough to manipulate the Nobel Prize Committee — certainly didn’t need to raise Cory’s stature at that time. Indeed, several of past Nobel peace prizes were given to personalities to boost the US’ prestige and put down those of its enemies, as in the case of President Obama’s award in 2009, just nine months in office, and to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo in 2010.
The US now desperately needs to raise the prestige of an American Filipino CEO of a news media site that has gone all-out to demonize Duterte and spread lies about his “murderous drug campaign.” There is just no opposition mouthpiece left with any credibility and stature.
The US got the Nobel committee to pick Ressa rather than persons or institutions that were expected to win it in the past turbulent year, like the World Health Organization (for its role, even if controversial, in meeting the pandemic challenge), the Black Lives Matter movement, Reporters without Borders, the high-profile Swedish climate change advocate Greta Thunberg (a favorite since 2019), the Committee to Protect Journalists, or even, as not a few American advocates wanted, Dr. Anthony Fauci for his role in the US fight against Covid-19.
US uses Nobel Prize to demonize Duterte, and therefore his successor
These nominees were all set aside because the project to raise an anti-Duterte propagandist’s prestige through the Nobel had to be done this year, or never. Likely to have figured in the Nobel committee’s deliberations were the survey results that indicated the 2022 presidential elections could be won by the daughter of Duterte, the first ever Philippine president to hurl cuss words against the modern equivalent of the Roman emperor of ancient times, the US President.
More substantially, Duterte has declared, as he put it, the Philippines “separate from the US” and in his actions drawn the country closer to its rival, the emerging superpower China. The US labored and probably spent millions of dollars to get an international body to issue an “arbitration award” against China in the South China Sea issue. Duterte ignored it, so most countries followed suit. As the Roman empire and all empires do, the US cannot allow a puny vassal to break away: they will crush its leader by hook or by crook.
The situation has even become graver for the US: If Sara doesn’t run, likely to win the presidential elections is the son of Ferdinand Marcos, the strongman it pulled out all the all stops to topple in order to retain (unsuccessfully though) its military bases here and to create a template in bringing down the former Soviet bloc dictatorships.
It has become extremely important for the US to have a Philippine president that is totally different from Duterte, who would reverse his friendly foreign-policy stance toward China. With China rapidly openly challenging the US — as in its recent moves to tell the world that the return of Taiwan within its fold is of paramount national importance to it — it desperately needs a pro-American, anti-China president as Duterte’s predecessor was.
The real intent of the Nobel prize being granted to Ressa is so obvious.
What we are seeing here is a hegemon power’s move to interfere with our 2022 elections, and we should be furious at this. It is shameful for us as a nation, or just plain stupid, to cheer for somebody who’s been putting down the Philippines to the world, given a boost by the US, so that a pro-US president will be installed next year.
With its tremendous reach demonstrated in its getting the Nobel Prize Committee to give Ressa that award, we should be very worried. The Yellows are routed, and the Pinks are a bunch of clumsy clowns, but we are under siege by a superpower, the US, and we should rally around President Duterte.
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