Just as the last piece on Harry Roque being victimized by the arrogance and self-proclaimed infallibility of the President’s unofficial communications team on social media, Asec Mocha Uson published a video purportedly apologizing to mainstream media.
But of course the notion of an “apology” could only really be smoke and mirrors for what was nothing more than multiple statements that reflect the Asec’s misplaced notions about, and thoughtless skewed opinions on, the function of media, the fact of freedom of the press, and her responsibility as government official for social media.
Mocha’s strategy is clear: in a little more than five minutes, she sought to conquer the media by dividing the sector between those she considers as allies, and those that remain as enemies. It’s classic divide and conquer: make media organizations (and the public, and Duterte supporters) believe that she is not generalizing her hate against mainstream media. Never mind that in the course of 17 months she has consistently called them “fake news” or “fake news media,” and has (with violent rhetoric) discredited the work of journalists, photographers, media practitioners, and columnists for their biases, while using big words she doesn’t understand (credibility, responsibility, biases, freedom).
One can see right through this strategy. And it reveals more about Mocha as a government official, as she paints herself as a major liability of Duterte’s comms team, and the biggest enemy of freedom.
Mocha handpicks CNN Philippines, GMA 7, and TV 5 as her chosen “allies.” She “humbly” asks for forgiveness if she has hurt any of these media networks’ reporters, and invokes what she presumes is the same love for nation that these organizations have as a point of unity with them. She then frames these organizations as *her* allies, who actually believe in Duterte the way she does:
I know deep inside of you naniniwala kayo na si Pangulong Duterte ay tunay na may malasakit at kakayanan na ayusin ang Pilipinas.
This is absolutely irresponsible, not to mention unfair to these media entities. CNNph, GMA News, and News TV 5 are being framed by the Asec as organizations that are like her, which can mean everything from fanatic in their love for Duterte, to unthinking in their belief in him. By putting herself on the same level as these groups, these three organizations are being tainted by government propaganda, and being spun as allies.
But she’s not done yet. For an Asec of social media, Mocha feels that she can tell CNN, GMA, and TV5 what to do. Here are her guidelines <translation mine>:
(1) Support the President, because whether we like it or not, his downfall will be the country’s downfall.
(2) Be fair in your reportage and get both sides in order to report the truth.
(3) Ask yourselves: if I report this, or say it, will it help the country, or will it ruin the country.
(4) Criticize some corrupt officials, not just to destroy them, but to encourage them to change.
Teaching media how to do its job in this manner, right after she apologized to them, during which she portrayed them as “allies,” is nothing more than an unprecedented display of Mocha’s arrogance. It’s a bloated ego that allows her to imagine that she even has the credibility to tell media — or anyone for that matter — what to do, how to think, and what fairness and justice mean.
This is unbridled egotism from a government official. It is also a way to control media, by pretending to extend an olive branch, but in the next breath giving them rules to abide by, because look! she will talk to the Duterte diehard supporters (DDS) and tell them to “work with” CNN, GMA, and TV5. This is of course an underhanded way of reminding them (us) what it could mean if she tells the DDS to consider these orgs as enemies.
And in case it’s not clear what could happen, Mocha calls Rappler, Inquirer, and ABSCBN “garbage” media in this same video, blaming them for the global perception about the Philippines. Saying that our OFWs are having a hard time explaining to foreigners that the Philippines is okay, as they are embarrassed because of the “kawalanghiyaan” of these media orgs against the President and nation. Mocha says they (the ka-DDS) will not allow this to continue.
“We will do all legal ways to stop you from destroying our country. Galit na galit na ang tuaumbayan sa inyo, Inquirer, ABSCBN, at Rappler. Mahiya naman kayo.”
In Mocha’s world, because she has zeroed in on these three media orgs, and has drawn a distinction between them and the three who are allies, things can now change in terms of this government’s relationship with media. In Mocha’s world, this video is her trying to do better, and it will mean Duterte’s government will be treated the way she wants by media, because like her, CNN, GMA, ang TV5 love nation and believe in Duterte.
She is wrong. In the real world, where people are critical and analytical, where people cannot be divided between DDS or Dilawan and certainly don’t think in simplistic dichotomies, where we actually know that our fundamental right to free speech have been trampled upon by the discourse of hate and violence that the Asec has encouraged the past 17 months, where media organizations, private citizens, opinion columnists, cultural workers can see suppression and repression from a mile away, in this real world, we can see this video of Mocha for what it is: a display of false humility, unsophisticated double-speak, and the absolute abuse of power.
She is also a catastrophe for this government, as she is for our democracy and freedoms.
Ah, but when did Duterte ever care for the latter?
Tagged: #DutertesMen, #mediacrisis #mediaph, #StandWithMedia, Duterte, Duterte's People, free speech, media, media freedom, Mocha, Mocha Uson, Mocha Uson Blog, PCOO, Presidential Communications, Presidential Communications Operations Office, repression