Transcript for something I will probably never get to write

Dumping here a transcript from a May 15, 2020 webinar hosted by the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines on the legal troubles faced by ABS-CBN over its lapsed franchise.

Incidentally, that was exactly a month ago. Today, a Manila court will announce the verdict on a cyber libel case against Rappler CEO Maria Ressa and former Rappler reporter Reynaldo Santos Jr.

In this transcript, veteran journalists Manny Mogato and Ed Lingao, both of whom I look up to, are discussing the ABS-CBN issue, but the sentiments are just as appropriate for the verdict later today.

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We don’t do stories on suicide

This photo that a source for a story sent in shows cruise ships steaming into Manila Bay in May. They had been waiting for weeks to be told how to proceed and the crew aboard faced weeks more of quarantine and waiting to be cleared to go home

Earlier in the months-long quarantine, our editor-in-chief* decided to remove all stories on suicide in the discarded drafts pile of our CMS.

She said that seeing the drafts might not be good for our mental health especially when we are all cooped up at home and have to write about this new disease that has killed thousands already.

Why we have them in a discard pile at all is another story altogether, although mostly for the same reason that the drafts were eventually deleted.

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To write is to choose

“They foist the bogey that the contemplated law was crafted for no other purpose than to zip the lips of critics and human rights activists, and to intimidate them into sepulchral silence by the specter of a prolonged detention,” Chief Presidential Legal Counsel Salvador Panelo says of mounting opposition to the anti-terrorist bill, and that is it for me.

It is past seven on a Sunday night and I’m only supposed to be on duty until six. The office has stopped paying overtime because of the pandemic and I am not going to subject my brain to the bludgeoning of a Panelo statement on my own time.

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Same rights, inequal might

Many things on the internet do not make sense. Like this dog, whose owner “accidentally” hit her on the head with a handbag as a prank.

Cebu Gov. Gwendolyn Garcia, responding to concern raised by the Commission on Human Rights over her recent habit of basically looking up her critics online and bashing them on her Facebook broadcasts, said Thursday that the commission should also be concerned about “libelous” posts against her.

I mean, public official or netizen, we’re both humans, right?

Shouldn’t we both be entitled to the same human rights that the Commission on Human Rights has vowed to protect?

she says in a statement carried by The Freeman in Cebu.

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The shape of the world

Although certainly an odd belief if it is one that she really actually holds, ABS-CBN reporter Ina Reformina’s alleged thoughts on the flatness of the Earth should not necessarily mean she is not a credible journalist.

At least not about things that have nothing to do with the shape of the planet that we live in.

In the first place, she isn’t assigned to the Shape of the Earth beat.

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Andami Kong Alam: Medyo cheatsheet on the Rappler cyber libel case

The National Press Club of the Philippines, the largest and oldest group of press clubs in the country, on Thursday acknowledged that the arrest of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa on a cyber libel case after office hours earlier in the week was an inconvenience for her — she could not post bail until the next day — and “smacks of bad taste.”*

It asserted though, that the arrest was not an attack on press freedom or a form of political harassment. “Ms. Ressa’s experience has been the experience of many in the media profession. It can be a great ‘inconvenience’ but, not something that should relegate someone to the altar of press freedom for ‘martyrdom’,” it says in a press statement.

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The Sagay killings don’t make sense as a plot to discredit government

Hacienda Nene in Sagay City, Negros Occidental. Handout photo from National Fact-Finding Mission

By now, everyone whom the Philippine National Police has accused of being behind the killing of nine sugar workers in Sagay City in Negros Occidental two Saturdays ago as part of a communist campaign to discredit the government has denied it.

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The plot chickens

It is easy, almost reflexive even, to equate questions about the government’s claim of a “Red October” plot hatched by communist rebels — depending on who’s making the claim, with the optional participation of the pro-military Magdalo group and the Liberal Party — with unwitting or even intentional support for Communist Party of the Philippines propaganda.

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