POSTSCRIPT / October 10, 2021 / Sunday


Philippine STAR Columnist

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Duterte must share Ressa’s Nobel prize

Congratulations to Rappler’s CEO Maria Ressa, who won the Nobel Peace Prize for 2021 together with Russian editor Dmitry Muratov for their dedicated work in safeguarding “freedom of expression, which is a precondition for democracy and lasting peace.”

The Norwegian Nobel Committee told a news conference in Oslo on Friday: “They are representatives of all journalists who stand up for this ideal in a world in which democracy and freedom of the press face increasingly adverse conditions. Free, independent and fact-based journalism serves to protect against abuse of power, lies and war propaganda.”

In an interview with Reuters, Ressa, 58, said the prize was “global recognition of the journalist’s role in repairing, fixing our broken world… It’s never been as hard to be a journalist as it is today… You don’t really know who you are until you are forced to fight for it.”

We think President Duterte deserves part of the credit for the Nobel Peace Prize going, for the first time, to a Filipino. Along the same direction of the dictator Ferdinand Marcos’s bloody martial rule, Duterte has been outstanding at intimidating his critics, including those in media.

Ressa and Rappler have been harassed for their critical coverage of the Duterte administration. In addition to disallowing Malacañang coverage and insulting Rappler reporters, the media outfit has been subjected to legal actions involving its operations.

Laboring in a climate of impunity, a number of newspapermen have had to contend with harassment, including threats of physical harm, during Duterte’s watch. Journalism these days still is a hazardous occupation.

In a report in November 2020, the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility said 19 journalists have been killed in the four years of the Duterte administration in what the group described as a culture of impunity. There were additional victims this year.

The CMFR said 170 journalists had been killed in the country since 1986, including 30 journalists during the term of President Noynoy Aquino and 80 under the administration of President Arroyo.

The award to Ressa and Muratov is the first Nobel Peace Prize for journalists since the German Carl von Ossietzky won it in 1935 for revealing his country’s secret post-war rearmament program.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee said Muratov’s Novaya Gazeta is “the most independent newspaper in Russia,” publishing critical articles on “corruption, police violence, unlawful arrests, electoral fraud, and ‘troll factories’.”

Muratov dedicated his award to six contributors to his newspaper who had been murdered for their work exposing human rights violations and corruption – Igor Domnikov, Yuri Shchekochikhin, Anna Politkovskaya, Stas Markelov, Anastasia Baburova, and Natasha Estemirova. Their portraits hang in the newspaper’s Moscow headquarters.

As we write this, we have not heard of any reaction from Malacañang to Ressa’s being the first Filipino to win the Nobel Peace Prize. In Moscow, the Kremlin has congratulated Muratov.

 Phones shriek ‘Magnanakaw!’

WITH many others, we have been wondering how the May 2022 presidential bout of Vice President Leni Robredo and ex-senator Bongbong Marcos, whom she defeated with a slim margin in the 2016 battle for the vice presidency, will be fought on the electronics field.

At 11:43 p.m., Wednesday, the third day of the Oct. 1-8 filing of certificates of candidacy, several smartphones linked to the National Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council reportedly started buzzing and flashing disaster alerts.

On their screens appeared these messages bristling with BBM initials:

Emergency Alert
Buong Buo and Malasakit sa Bansa
Buong Buhay ang Maialay sa taong bayan
Bagong Bukas na Masagana para sa Masa
BaBangon Muli ang Pilipinas (V)
BBM sa Bansa, BBM sa taong bayan
BBM sa Masa. BBM Pilipinas!!!

Clearly, there was a breach in the security protocol of the NDRRRMC in the unauthorized use of its signal frequencies and procedure.

Director James Jimenez, spokesman of the Commission on Elections, said: “The use of the emergency alert system for political propaganda is ill-advised, at best. Whether or not criminal liability will attach to those who are behind this move will have to be determined by the appropriate agencies of the government.”

House Deputy Minority Leader Carlos Zarate and Bayan Muna Chairman Neri Colmenares called on the National Telecommunications Commission and the Department of Information and Communications Technology to immediately investigate and explain how the Marcos campaign was able to “hijack the emergency alerts frequency.”

Judging by the reactions in social media, there was widespread suspicion that the Marcos camp was behind the alert, presumably to multiply the publicity impact of Marcos’ formal launching of his candidacy, except that it backfired.

But the Marcos side countered with charges of sabotage, that this was the handiwork of the opposition. The point was raised, though, that only the allies of the Duterte administration, Marcos among them, could have access to such technical secrets.

We the voters who are supposed to decide the results of the May 2022 national elections are actually not privy to these electronic signals and what the wizards running the automated elections would do with our votes.

Among the immediate reactions in social media to the brazen breaching of the NDRRMC alert system:

Maria Beth @puza65 – Kaya nagkaroon ng emergency alert may nakapasok daw kc na magnanakaw.

Momshie in Davao @MeiLauCheng – Oo nga it’s a warning for disaster. Boomerang!

#LabanPilipinas2022 @votewisely_2022 – Emergency alert kasi may tatakbong magnanakaw bilang pangulo.

Katar Lhal @KatarHol5 – Think about it, emergency alerts of the NDRRMC are always delayed yet BBM’s emergency alerts are on time… connect the dots.

Miriam G. Fuentes @MiriamGFuentes1 – So how safe will transmission of election results be? This is really frightening.

Maldita of Manila @DITA_manila – If they can hack or intercept into that Emergency Alert Signal, they can do the same for the Data Transmission during Elections! Let Us All Remember the 7Hr Glitch in the 2019 Elections.

ThunderPusa @cyianite – Me connection sa govt syempre, hindi nakontento sa troll network nya pati govt platform gngamit n rin #NeverAgain

(First published in the Philippine STAR of October 10, 2021)

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