Monday, January 22, 2018
Day of Prayer for the Legal Protection of Unborn Children
The scribes who had come from Jerusalem said of Jesus, “He is possessed by Beelzebul,” and “By the prince of demons he drives out demons.” Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, "How can Satan drive out Satan? If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin." For they had said, "He has an unclean spirit."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I believe that you are the source of all goodness. I know that your goodness is both a challenge and a promise. I trust that your goodness will envelop me if I allow myself to be found by you. I love you for wanting to fight the battle against evil for my sake.
Petition: Lord, help me not to be afraid of the battle against evil.
1. Not Indifferent: With Jesus on earth, another world becomes evident around us: the world of evil spirits. Jesus has come to take control of the kingdom. The devils are in a panic and begin to lose ground. Jesus is a threat to evil. His goodness, truth and holiness are capable of putting the devils into submission. When Christ takes a stronger hold on my life, things begin to change. Do I let Christ challenge evil in my heart? In the world around me?
2. Not One of Them Jesus brings change: But change is not evil per se. The change that Jesus brings is good, since he comes to put demons in their place, bringing about good. This awakening of the good worries the devil. The conquest over evil is not always done in peace and tranquility. Does the spiritual opposition I face as I try to overcome evil in my life cause me to hesitate in the fight or to wish that Jesus and his teachings would not be so demanding? Do I realize that facing difficulties is a sign of growth in Christian authenticity? Do I let the goodness of Christ radically define my life? Even in the face of opposition?
3. Only Good: Think of the joy that people experienced when Jesus freed them from the power of the Evil One. Think of the joy we feel after making a good confession, attending a good retreat or progressing in virtue. Jesus comes into our life to bring the joy of freedom from evil. He is God’s goodness made flesh. Do I rejoice to have Christ as my friend? Do I try to listen to his teachings with a willing heart, thankful for the chance I have to abide in God’s heart by living the life of grace? What an amazing friend I have! I can trust in his power to lead me along the path of life.
Conversation with Christ: Christ, I know that you are more powerful than evil. Help me to face up to evil in my life, encouraged by your friendship and strength. In your name Lord, I will walk with confidence.
Resolution: I will do something to share my faith with others today.
According to the latest Western media feature, “popular” Filipino blogger Jover Laurio worked for an Australian call centre before her rise to “fame” as blogger and “thought leader” of the Philippine Opposition. This is particularly relevant to me as Laurio had some time ago used information she had somehow obtained about my private residence and even telephone number to issue threats against me. Indeed, the information seems to have been shared with many of her followers and allies in social media as the information was presented to me as part of veiled threats many times over the years.
It is likely that the call centre Laurio works for serves Australian incumbent telecommunications company Telstra. I recall that some of the threats she and her cohorts addressed to me made reference to telephone bills. If this is the case, Telstra should investigate whether Australian privacy laws had been violated both by Laurio and her former employer in the course of obtaining and distributing my private information.
Australian Privacy Principle (APP) 6 of the Australian Privacy Act 1988 prohibits an entity from “using or disclosing personal information for a purpose other than the purpose for which it was collected, unless the individual consents, the individual would reasonably expect their personal information to be used for the secondary purpose, or another prescribed exception applies.” Furthermore, APP 8 stipulates…
If an APP entity is to disclose personal information to an overseas recipient, APP 8 requires it to take reasonable steps to ensure the recipient does not breach the APPs. This usually requires the APP entity to impose contractual obligations on the recipient.Relevantly, if the overseas recipient does breach the APPs, the Privacy Act imposes liability on the APP entity that made the overseas disclosure.
This means there is opportunity to investigate possible breaches of privacy from Australia as a business entity based in Australia that had transmitted private information of its Australian clients to an overseas subsidiary or contractor — such as, in this case, a call centre operator to which it outsourced some of its operations — could be held liable for said breach.
Much had already been written with regard to the hypocrisy surrounding the way the Philippine Opposition had propped up Laurio as a “hero” in a so-called fight against an imagined tyrannical Philippine government. The fact is, however, even though much had been written about Laurio herself, there is scant material to be found about the actual content that she publsihes on her much-vauntedPinoy Ako Blog (PAB) itself — except for one noted blogger, Katrina Stuart Santiago, who actually took the time to mount a critical evaluation of Laurio’s work on PAB. In her piece, State of blogging, microblogging, media #crisis, Stuart-Santiago writes how “anyone who even spends time reading through Laurio’s site would find that she employs exactly the same tools, the same tone, the same kabastusan [crassness] that we find offensive in the DDS microblogs and fake news-propaganda sites.” She goes further to write about Laurio’s intellectual dishonesty on exhibit in her work published on PAB…
Laurio has entries that are but a series of questions dripping with malice and insinuations that are based on unnamed sources; she calls out Duterte officials and ends by saying versions of: “Sana hindi po ito totoo …” or “Kung mali ako …” Both these strategies are used by Duterte propagandists. These are no different from Asec Mocha using the world “allegedly” when she used to make her baseless accusations (she’s been very careful to keep from doing that of late), and ending her criticism of Liberal Party Senators, or mainstream media, with “Nagtatanong lang po!”
And on Laurio’s being the foremost celebrated Resibo Queen (a reference to the screencaps she uses as “proof” for her “fact checks” in her “fight” against “fake news”), Stuart Santiago is dismissive…
Laurio does not hyperlink to her sources — something that RJ Nieto (one of her favorite nemesis) actually takes seriously — and I’ve caught her often enough leaching off other Facebook pages’ content and passing the content off as her own. She then gets comments like “ang talas talaga ng mata mo Pab!” Yet the same information was posted on the Facebook page of We Are Collective days before she even put it on her blog.
It is quite rich that no less than the New York Times would toe the Philippine Liberal Party line by featuring her as a “hero” on their illustrious pages and website. Laurio, like her idol Rappler CEO Maria Ressa is a fake hero. Their prowess with playing the Victim Card no longer fools Filipinos. Unfortunately, they had succeeded at fooling the editors of the New York Times. For its part, the Times seems to have succumbed to the temptation presented by a juicy story without applying basic journalistic rigour, like taking into account alternative sources on the matter of Laurio’s new-found public profile. This latest piece is notable for an absence of the points of view of supporters of the incumbent Duterte government. Now that is being a hypocrite.
With the revoking of Rappler’s license to operate as a business, “opposition” were hopping mad about it being a dictatorship move and suppression of freedom of speech. But those are not what happened. What happened is that one of the real threats to press freedom and freedom of expression was brought to account. I’m not sure why not being allowed to operate as a business is a threat to freedom, as Rappler can always operate as a blog. Being a business does not necessarily give legitimacy or credibility. But even news agencies and media companies can be threats to freedom all over the world because of two things.
1. Irresponsibility and Incompetence in Journalism
Not too long ago, an ironic moment was Rappler itself hosting a forum with some journalists giving talks. Several of them said an even greater threat than media killings is irresponsible journalism. Rappler seemed to have dismissed their guests’ advice.
One of those mistakes was claiming that the attack on Resorts World Manila last 2017 was by the terrorist group Daesh (more popularly known as ISIS). It later turned out that the culprit was just one man, a civil servant disgruntled by gambling losses at the hotel. It has been said that people who were trapped in the hotel got wind of the rumor that it was an ISIS attack and panicked, contributing to their being more easily killed. This would place responsibility for causing unnecessary panic on Rappler’s shoulders.
We can learn from some media mistakes abroad as well. Among them was media (both traditional and Internet) getting suspects wrong – and thus, inconveniencing or harming innocent people. An example as cited in my source for this part of the article was how media kept on reporting and naming suspects of the 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing, only that none of them were the ones later found guilty – the Tsarnaev brothers. After the 2001 Antrax attacks (when anthrax pathogens were spread through infected letters mailed to people), a New York Times columnist identified a researcher named Steven Hatfill as the possible culprit. Hatfill filed a defamation suit, and FBI investigations cleared him of the crime.
Another related issue is when media goes in bed with political sides, or partisanship. Rappler is thought to have been doing this with Aquino-aligned vested interests since since its start. But before that, American journalists and writers were employed by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (C.I.A.) as spies and shills. This is revealed by Watergate reporter Carl Berntstein and inJoel Whitney’s Finks: How the C.I.A. Tricked the World’s Best Writers.
On another thing. As I mentioned before, one issue with journalism is the concept of gatekeepers. Editors have to pick news to feature and throw the rest to the cutting room floor. The original reason is that news broadcasts have limited time to air. These days, however, there’s reason to suspect that selection is done with deliberate picking of the more sensational items. I am reminded of Dick Stolley’s rules for People Magazine. As a business, the magazine doesn’t have to really care about people, but just sells copies, using the sensationalization based on Stolley’s rules.
Another good example, as I mentioned before, was the Filipinos bar fracas. This was raised by a Philippine Star article, the author of which claimed that the Filipinos chocolate bar composition of being “brown ouside, white inside” was an insult to Filipinos. So local politicians decided to ride on this and attack the Spanish chocolate company, and we know how that foolishness turned out.
Let’s also use an infamous photo example from abroad. Anyone recall Brian Walski? He was the photographer who edited a photo in Iraq that totally changed the context, for the reason that it would “look better.” It ran on the paper he was working for, but the editors later learned about the photomanipulation. That cost him his job. It might bring to mind the recent “Pieta” photo by Raffy Lerma in the Inquirer, which isn’t photomanipulated, but it doesn’t stick to just reporting the facts, and instead gives it unnecessary dramatization that tries to influence the reader – a no-no for journalistic ethics.
Because of these mistakes and betrayals by members of the press, people are getting distrustful of mainstream media, and would rather trust “direct channels” like the Internet. They don’t even bother to check if what they see on the Internet is true or not. To them, anything but mainstream news is more trustworthy. Fake news spreads easily because mainstream media, wittingly or unwittingly, aids in making people want it.
2. Who Owns Media
The Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility and the Media Ownership Monitor both mentioned that a major threat to free expression in the Philippines is the nature of media ownership. Most of the owners are politicians or politically-aligned big businesses. This would undermine the press’s role as truthseekers or defenders of freedom of speech, and the press instead becomes a tool to serve vested interest agendas.
Not only do will the journalists’ output be highly biased or slanted, but they can also be used to attack people. Journalists have been responsible not just for mistakes, but for deliberate actions of trying to ruin people and mislead readers. For example, Rappler reporters and allies behaved more like shills than reporters. On the side, I also suspect that the old urban legends (such as the Bongbong Marcos we see now actually being a clone, Agapito Flores inventing the fluorescent lamp, a Filipino inventing the moon buggy, etc.) were sideline projects of journalists in those days.
Indeed, one of the points made in many books these days about journalism (such as Robert Atschull’s Agents of Power and Gadi Wolfsfeld’s Making Sense of Media and Politics) is that most media companies are owned by businesses with questionable agendas. Omidyar Network’s involvement in Ukraine and other attempts to destabilize governments has been widely discussedand can’t just be shaken off as “fake news.” But it is only the tip of the iceberg.
This is why the discussion of “control” in the Philippine Depositary Receipts of Rappler is important. The nature of that control, if it could only be known, would likely reflect self-interest at the cost of truth and true respect for others (aside from violating the law). But even without foreign aid, there are Filipinos would stop at nothing to be dictators over the country, while painting those who counter them as the “evil ones,” using the media.
The real threats to journalism in the Philippines are not from outside, but within. Journalism is not an industry free of corruption; it is rife with such, which even Singaporean figure Lee Kuan Yew mentioned. Indeed, the real threat to press freedom is the abuse of it, and demonstrating to people that you don’t deserve it. We readers should hold media companies to account and challenge them to do shape up. Of course, in the end, people will believe what they want, and the important thing about real freedom of expression is that it allows even individuals to differ from what the established organizations report.
It would seem, indeed, that Rappler was “targetted” by the Philippine government when it was singled out for shut down through action channeled via the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) on charges of accepting foreign funds in exchange for some degree of control. Some “journalists” have incorporated that notion into the “assault on free speech” screeching fits Filipinos are being subject to today. Even more curious, they also see the question of Who might be next? as further reason to be outraged.
Perhaps it is high time that our so-called “journalists” are reminded of an important character trait that underpins excellentjournalism. That character trait is curiosity. A true journalist would be curious about who else is in violation of constitutional bars against foreign ownership. That some of the Philippines’ most revered “journalists” prefer to be outraged than curious is, indeed, a disturbing thing. If Filipinos are subject to a media industry populated by people who are paralysed by outrage and not motivated by curiosity, then the country is in real trouble, indeed.
It is very likely that Rappler CEO Maria Ressa felt reasonably safe violating the law because she sees others doing the same. That’s pretty much how the Philippines works, after all. Everybody breaks the law with impunity. Consequences are meted outselectively. Unfortunately for Ressa, Rappler was selected this time. But, see, just because you were picked out amongst all the crooks to be the regulator’s flavour of the month does not in anyway reduce your culpability for any of your unlawful acts.
On that principle, it is easy to see just how baldly hypocritical this whole “activist” movement around “free speech” is. You’d think that a truly progressive activist movement would advocate justice. Instead, they are, themselves, being selective about mounting their outrage campaigns. The bigger activist cause begging to be given attention is the cause for applying the force of the law across everyone subject to it. The revelation that Rappler had been violating the law with impunity for years should have been a wakeup call to investigate the entire industry.
Instead, Filipinos’ so-called “activist” chose to go down the lazy path by rallying around a fake victim.
Maria Ressa is a fake victim. In reality, she is a crime suspect. She is CEO of a company found to be in violation of the law. The real victims here are her company’s employees — people who had been delivering their end of the deal to their employer all these years. In exchange, their employer –their CEO — betrayed their trust and the trust of the state.
Filipino activists should break free of the paradigm that “free speech” is in danger in the Philippines. It is not. That idea was spun by a desperate suspected crook frantically covering up years of management negligence.
Sunday, January 21, 2018
Third Sunday in Ordinary TimeFather Jason Brooks, LC
After John had been arrested, Jesus came to Galilee proclaiming the Gospel of God: "This is the time of fulfillment. The kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the Gospel." As he passed by the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea; they were fishermen. Jesus said to them, "Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men." Then they abandoned their nets and followed him. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John. They too were in a boat mending their nets. Then he called them. So they left their father Zebedee in the boat along with the hired men and followed him.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I adore you. You alone are the Holy One, you alone are the Lord, you alone are the Most High, Jesus Christ, with the Holy Spirit in the Glory of God the Father. Lord, I love you and wish to know you more intimately, since you are goodness and mercy itself.
Petition: Lord, grant that I may follow you faithfully all the days of my life.
1. Repent and Believe in the Good News: There is no time to waste. We have one life to live and only one chance to live it. Jesus is trying to tell us that we have to make the most of it. We have heard about Jesus before. Perhaps we have been going to church and listening to his word for decades. However, have we allowed Christ’s message of love and mercy to penetrate our heart? Have we turned away from all attachment to sin in our life and really followed the Gospel?
2. Follow Me and I Will Make You Fishers of Men: We can’t forget that the essence of Christianity is following Jesus, the Son of God. As his mother Mary told the waiters at the wedding at Cana, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:5). Jesus is the real protagonist in our lives. He takes the initiative to call us to himself and to follow him more closely. He invites us to follow him in proclaiming the Good News to the whole world. It is not enough to know Christ. We have to share our faith with others and let the Gospel direct our decision-making process.
3. Leaving Their Father in the Boat, They Followed Him: We naturally want to be comfortable and do things familiar to us. In fact, most ads we see appeal to our desire to rest and be secure. However, Jesus breaks the mold and commands us to leave our comfort zone. Unless we first change ourselves, we cannot expect to change the world. Until we first dedicate ourselves to knowing Christ better and more intimately, we will not be ardent apostles of his kingdom. Only after we have had a personal encounter with Christ can we experience the bliss of loving him more and cooperating in his saving mission. As Pope Saint John Paul II so often encouraged us, echoing the words of Christ himself, “Be not afraid!” Don’t be afraid to leave your comfort zone to serve Christ in love.
Conversation with Christ: Jesus, I want to follow you more closely. Help me to know you as you are so that I can love you as you deserve to be loved. Eternal Father, grant me the fullness of your grace, which consumes all weakness, so that my heart will be lifted up with an indescribable enthusiasm to embrace my cross and follow faithfully in the footsteps of your Son.
Resolution: Today I will perform an act of charity that I have neglected or been afraid to do for some time.
The game is up for Maria Ressa. As CEO of embattled “social news network” Rappler, she should have been on top of her company’s risk exposure to the business environment — including the regulatory framework in the country within which her business operates. She and her cheering squad used the argument that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is penalising her for something that they could have cited over the last several years Rappler has been in operation. But the fact that the regulation Rappler is being penalised for — accepting foreign funding — was not invoked in previous years does not make that compliance risk go away.
Maria Ressa is, in short, solely at fault for the troubles Rappler suffers today. But rather than take accountability for her executive lapse in judgement, Ressa has instead chosen the path of, wasting even more of Filipinos’ time and attention span. As I had written some time ago, the Philippine Opposition already suffers from a glaring lack of strategic direction thanks to all the rabbit holes the screeching lot of the Liberal Party stalwarts that presume to lead it have led it down. The whole notion that “fighting for Rappler” equates to “fighting for press freedom” is another such rabbit hole the Opposition have stuck their pointed heads into thanks to their Yellowtard leaders.
To begin with, Rappler is no different to the other big corporate media organisations that make up the inbred oligopoly that is the Philippines’ media industry. It is no more “independent” of the influence of the powers-that-be than any of the others. The way certain “activists” are fashioning Rappler into God’s Gift to Philippine Press Freedom, it is as if this “freedom” all emanates from Maria Ressa. This is evidence that Yellowtard “activists” don’t actually understand the real essence of free speech.
The truth is, no one person or media entity is truly “unbiased”. Everyone has a bias — even (shockingly) Maria Ressa herself! It takes a vibrant ecosystem of biased people articulating, exchanging, and, most important of all, debating views for a “free market of ideas” to produce a balanced collective thesis. In plain English, this is just the old turn-of-the-century vintage principle of “wisdom of the crowds” (or, going even further back to the mid-1980s political jargon, the so-called “will of the people”). It is on this principle that the idea that “democracy” progressively yields the best results for the majority is founded. The Darwinian dynamic of said “free market of ideas” kills weak ideas and propagates strong ideas. Or so the thinking goes.
Whether or not this “free market of ideas” system actually yields good results for the majority has become debatable. But the fact that it may or may not does not mean that a monopoly on truth is a better situation to have. And herein lies the irony that sails way above the pointed heads of the screeching Philippine Opposition. By putting Rappler and its czarina Maria Ressa up as a single rallying point for a so-called “fight” for “press freedom”, these bozos are suggesting that Rappler — and Ressa — hold a monopoly on truth. Perhaps this is the reason Ressa had exhibited the sort of recklessness and impunity that she is now being punished for — because such an idea, through the sheer pounding of her own cheerleaders, got so deeply-embedded in her own pointed head that she had lost all sight of her role as the most accountable person in her organisation.
Rather than externalising Rappler‘s problems as an issue of “press freedom”, Ressa should woman-up and acknowledge that she is responsible for failing to mitigate the compliance risk she sat on for years that led to the debacle she and her organisation is in the midst of today. Ultimately, Rappler‘s problem is internal in nature. The organisation suffers from the internal problem of being led by a CEO who has utterly failed to do her job. And that is the truth Filipinos should be fighting for.
Indeed, Filipinos have long been criticised as a people who never take personal accountability for failure. Rather than correct that detestable cultural character, Ressa is proving to be a model of that dysfunctional way of thinking. Rather than celebrate Ressa for being an exemplar of “truth” she should be put up as a model of what not to be. And that is the TRUTH.