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A thousand lies

Arguing that since no broadcast outfit has taken the clearly one-sided documentary “A Thousand Cuts” which was supposed to be a documentary about press freedom, the United States’ Public Broadcast System’s Frontline program is funding the airing of the film on the social media platform YouTube for free.

The intention of the production, which already circulated in the United States and many European countries, has been exposed to target the Filipino audience to degrade the high public support for President Rodrigo Duterte that has remained impenetrable for his detractors.

The expensive production accompanied by the well-funded tour of the film globally was meant to drum up international indignation and at the same time saturate the Philippines to create a demand for its airing.

It never came to fruition since the public has a good appreciation of what was really behind the Rappler story.

In February 2019, Rappler founder Maria Ressa was arrested on cyber-libel charges over an article which businessman Wilfredo Keng said maligned his name over an incident during the impeachment trial of ousted Supreme Court Chief Justice Renato Corona.

Ressa has been convicted and is now appealing a six-year prison sentence.

“A Thousand Cuts” was a spin of the incident based on the yellow perspective that it was meant to silence news outfits critical of the Duterte administration.

The conservative Washington Post (WaPo) reported that “Ressa’s arrest and the legal campaign against her and Rappler is captured in a chilling new documentary from Frontline that looks behind the scenes at the repression of journalism and growing disinformation under Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, a populist strongman”.

It was a line that appeared to have been fed by those behind the PBS-backed film.

The Rappler documentary even premiered in the independent film mecca Sundance and was seen in nearly every European nation.

None in the country is willing to buy “A Thousand Cuts” as most in the country knows the reality in which libel, the hazard of those in the news business, is all too common in the industry and each does not involve those in the highest places of government.

So, the usual detractors which now has an added incentive with an election year coming, intend to force the unwanted film down the gullet of the public.

For the first time in its four-decade history, Frontline has bought out a documentary’s distribution rights to make it directly available in the country. Thus, “A Thousand Cuts” will be available free online and on the Frontline website.

WaPo then linked the Rappler ordeal to the government targeting critical journalism and even to the signature war on drugs of the President. “Reporters cry as they recount being targeted by the government, or seeing mothers find their dead sons in the street after police raids. In one scene, pro-Duterte demonstrators live-stream a protest outside of Rappler’s office, and the online comments fill with death threats. An unflappable Ressa, who has received nearly a dozen arrest warrants since 2018, dons a bulletproof vest to go about her day”, according to the report.

News outfits pushing back allegedly find themselves being subjected to a flurry of legal complaints which is an unfair assessment in the film since the problem is not exclusive to certain critical media.

For instance, Daily Tribune which stands for critical but fair reporting just recently was slapped numerous counts of cyberlibel by a factotum of former Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano for exposes on his involvement in questionable contracts in the country’s hosting of the 30th Southeast Asian Games in 2019.

The film bombed-out locally not due to any political pressure but the general knowledge that it peddles a bundle of lies.

Credit belongs to : www.pna.gov.ph


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