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Saturday, September 28, 2019

Statement of PCOO Sec. Andanar on Maria Ressa's opinion piece at The Los Angeles Times

We have read Maria Ressa's 25 September 2019 opinion piece at The Los Angeles Times, entitled "Opinion: Americans, look to the Philippines to see a dystopian future created by social media."

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.”

The President won fair and square and trashed his nearest political rival with the largest electoral margin in Philippine history. 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. His style of governance, albeit unorthodox, resonates with the people. This is not democracy being torn apart but rather democracy naturally playing out.

The results speak for themselves. Three years into President Duterte’s term, he maintained a high satisfaction rating where 80% of Filipinos are satisfied with his performance, and 85% approve of and trust the President according to two independent pollsters, notwithstanding all the black propaganda and loud political noise waged against the President and his Administration.

To debunk the "destruction of democracy" (in the words of Ms. Ressa), a non-commissioned survey conducted in the third quarter of 2018, disclosed that 84% of Filipinos are satisfied with the way democracy works in the country. Ironically, the latter was even reported by Ms. Ressa's own news website.

Again, Ms. Ressa continues to cite the baseless number of “27,000” drug addicts that were allegedly killed, which is actually the total homicide cases including cases not related to the drug war. Sticking to the hard facts that came from our law enforcement agencies, the number of unfortunate deaths from legitimate police operations are only 5,526.

The government reiterates that this anti-illegal drug campaign is backed by the public. In the second quarter, 82% of adult Filipinos are satisfied with this campaign according to another Social Weather Stations survey.

Moreover, the government assures that it does not employ “disinformation tactics." This is 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.

The allegations of Ms. Ressa that activists and news organizations face “top-down persecution by the government” are baseless and absurd. In fact, 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. 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.

Nevertheless, the Duterte government makes sure that justice is 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. (PCOO)