By Argyll Geducos
Malacañang said that Rappler CEO Maria Ressa continued to be out of touch with reality after she said in an opinion piece that “lies laced with anger and hate have systematically torn the Philippines’ democracy apart.”
Communications Secretary Martin Andanar made the statement following the publication of Ressa’s September 25, 2019 opinion piece at The Los Angeles Times entitled, “Opinion: Americans, look to the Philippines to see a dystopian future created by social media.”
In a statement Saturday, Andanar said it was tragic that Ressa still could not accept the fact that Duterte was chosen by the people to be the country’s President, and that he won the 2016 elections fair and square with the “largest electoral margin in Philippine history.”
“It is tragic that Ms. Ressa remains out of touch with the political realities on the ground as she continues to insinuate that President Rodrigo Roa Duterte won through lies and fake propaganda as she claims that ‘lies laced with anger and hate began to systematically tear our democracy apart in the Philippines,’ and that ‘Like a virus, this disease spread fast. With the help of social media, President Rodrigo Duterte was elected in May 2016,'” he said.
“Simply put, the CEO of Rappler refuses to accept that the President is what the people truly wanted and needed. The people hoped for an action man who can bring positive change to their lives and the Filipino people got what they wanted and truly wanted,” he added.
“His style of governance, albeit unorthodox, resonates with the people. This is not democracy being torn apart but rather democracy naturally playing out,” he continued.
Andanar also cited survey results from independent pollsters which showed that 80 percent of Filipinos remain satisfied with his performance, and 85 percent approve of and trust him despite all the black propaganda and loud political noise waged against Duterte and his Administration.
He also slammed Ressa for continuously citing a baseless figure of “27,000” drug addicts killed under Duterte’s drug war. Andanar said that according to authorities, the number of unfortunate deaths from legitimate police operations was only 5,526.
“The government reiterates that this anti-illegal drug campaign is backed by the public. In the second quarter, 82 percent of adult Filipinos are satisfied with this campaign according to another Social Weather Stations survey,” Andanar said.
Meanwhile, Andanar reassured that the government was not employing “disinformation tactics” as this was not the policy and the practice of the Duterte administration.
“Our office at the Presidential Communications Operations Office (PCOO) is at the forefront to combat disinformation not only to clear out matters that concern the government but also to empower individuals to be responsible and vigilant consumers of media, especially in the digital space, through our ‘Dismiss Disinformation’ campaign and other of our many programs,” he said.
He also called as baseless and absurd Ressa’s allegations that activists and news organizations face “top-down persecution by the government.”
“Despite hurling criticisms against news organizations that carry fake news about his administration, the Chief Executive still signed his very first administrative order as Chief Executive creating an inter-agency body tasked to protect members of the press,” Andanar said.
“The President also recently signed Republic Act 11458, which expands the coverage of exemptions from revealing the source of published news or information obtained in confidence,” he added.
The Palace official then stressed that the Duterte government was making sure that justice was served, regardless of any political leaning.
“It is not the policy and practice of the current government to ‘harass’ dissenters, as we only present our side of the story. The national government will keep on telling the truth, and we remain confident the people themselves will tell President Duterte’s true legacy,” Andanar said.