Journalistic sycophancy

Journalistic sycophancy Featured

MY June 2 column, "Sinicization of PH: On becoming China's 24th province," has elicited comments from readers on both sides of the political divide from the Yellows and the diehard Duterte supporters (DDS) and from the many who are neither.

But critiquing Duterte's contradictory remarks on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) issue and the "arbitral award," particularly my rhetorical question "So, what's wrong with being subsumed by China? - suggesting that the Philippines could become the 24th province of China, has provoked virulent verbal assaults, mostly from a veteran journalist. His defense of the "most respected thinking broadsheet" where we both write columns, turning into "a dirty wall... where angry, brainless slogans are painted in the guise of headlines for inane opinion columns...echoing a crude a cheap rabble-rousing means to fool the masses."

If this experienced journalist were professional and diligent enough, he would have discovered that I was echoing the pronouncements, albeit purportedly a joke, of Duterte in a Feb. 18, 2018 forum with the Chinese ambassador in attendance: "...kung gusto ninyo gawain n'yo nalang kaming province of China, 'di wala na tayong problema."

What is really boorish is his use of inelegant language, employed as insults, tempting the recipient to go down to his gutter level of vulgarity. This barrage of personal insults, ad hominem resorting to name calling; "inane," "idiot," "ignorant," "dwindling mental capacities," "asshole" etc. - simply reflects a paucity of imagination and absence of class, fatal for one claiming journalistic excellence.


I couldn't quite fathom his vehemence until it occurred to me that this is expected of one who must rise to the occasion defending his patron, President Duterte from threats as a dog must - displaying canine devotion. The louder the bark, the better to receive a pat on the head and a nice chewy bone from the master to earn his keep. Such sycophancy is shameless and impacts negatively on journalistic integrity.

Writing four columns a week for years at a clip of 1,500 words must have exhausted not only the quality of his prose but also the variety of topics, becoming careless and irresponsible about facts. When one's writing has become stale, take a sabbatical to renew vigor. His columns on the West Philippine Sea (WPS) are like a broken record, repetitively riding only on a few points ad nauseam. Verbally defecating about how PNoy sold us down the river; that the PNoy administration's incompetence lost us our islands in the WPS; that the Americans were the puppet masters in this debacle, blah, blah, blah! - are extraneous. PNoy is no longer president. He is gone. The Deegong is!

I can cite a litany of presidential faux pas for this journalist's education but decided to write another angle to this sordid affair hinting perhaps, with reason, that "...with the President's personal bias against America or perhaps intimidated by China - all these could signal the beginning of the final chapter of the Sinification of our country, China's possible slow but inevitable takeover of the Philippines as its 24th province."

And he has the impudence to ask for proof? What? Please review Duterte's statements from our newspaper; from inviting China to take us in as her province (a joke kuno) to "talo tayo kung magkagiyera" etc. This journalist totally did not get it, failing to extract the nuances of my column. If Duterte says his statements are a joke - then take my statement as a parody!

Higher plane

To put things in proper perspective, my columns are a valid critique of President Duterte's inanities and contradictions regarding the WPS and other Chinese-related issues. Nothing personal. That the arbitral award is just a scrap of paper to be thrown to the wastebasket; his refusal to negotiate with the Chinese for fear of conflict - "we will lose the war"; inviting and allowing hordes of Chinese in the POGO industry to come work in the Philippines; taking away jobs from the locals; allowing Chinese gamblers and the attendant crime; etc. And many more irresponsible and absurd statements. Let the President's official spokesman respond.

Purportedly showing his love of country by shamelessly playing to the crowd himself, he articulates: "How can any Filipino with a shred of self-respect claim that we are becoming 'China's 24th province,' yet does nothing to organize an armed rebellion to topple the government for agreeing to such a thing? He is insulting Filipinos by making such a claim." This is an idiotic and ridiculous declaration by an ex-communist kuno who failed in fomenting a revolution in the 1960s.

But I want to elevate this conversation to a higher plane. We have barely a year before the next administration. Will the President just wash his hands and irresponsibly pass these unresolved Chinese issues on to the next administration? Perhaps to the next president, with him as the VP? God forbid! This journalist's arguments are valid but debatable. I don't have a quarrel with these. My beef is with puerile presidential responses and declarations - and the sycophantic defense of such absurdities. Let me just quote a reader's comment on my column:

"I cannot believe u would even articulate, even if only to provoke, that we might be better off with China. Perhaps they may have significantly eradicated poverty in their own country but at what cost to their own individual freedoms.

No Sir, to exchange Spanish and American colonialism with a Chinese dictatorship is no choice at all."

This is one aspect of my column this journalist was unable to discern with his retort, "If you don't get this man's argumentation, I don't either, after reading his piece several times," subsequently labeling me anti-Chinese racist where comments of some readers make me pro-Chinese. This is one of the noble jobs of a columnist - to provoke critical thinking and shape the public debate - one that this journalist is unable to comprehend.

Where do we go from here

But the WPS questions are still unresolved. How do we help our country work things out? It is not enough to just attack whoever criticizes his patron; vilifying retired Chief Justice Carpio who was challenged to a debate by Duterte - who then backed out; marking anyone who disagrees as "unthinking Yellows" - all ad hominem.

But I will follow this journalist's wise counsel "...not to write some crap that would stain this newspaper's prestige." Good advice from one who has been crapping along in his past newspaper columns and still does. I refuse to go into a pissing contest as angry words don't win arguments, just feeding egos but sometimes it is the only way to confront a bully.

And lastly, I wrote this column not over a carafe of my favorite Argentinian Malbec. I was having a snifter of Remy Martin similar to the one I shared with this journalist when he came to visit me in Davao ages ago - or was that a Hennessy?

In any case, I raise a glass to this clueless one, hoping kind words turn enemies into friends again. Salud!

Read 540 times Last modified on Wednesday, 16 June 2021 13:46
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