The latest piece of propaganda out of the presidential palace relates a supposed Oust Duterte plot and the plotters are – gasp! – a group of female journalists.
I know almost all of the supposed plotters and what I know is that none of them are insane. They are not rebels of some underground movement. They are just serious journalists who report the news fairly, and this is something that the Palace cannot stand.
The alleged plot first came out in the Manila Times, a newspaper where I was formerly managing editor. I know the owner, of course. His name is Dante Ang and he is a fulltime public relations practitioner.
He was formerly with the Cabinet of former President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, and somehow found his way to the Duterte Cabinet as well.
Is he a good PR man? I would have to say yes. The only problem is that DAA as he likes to be called sees nothing wrong with owning a newspaper and being a PR man at the same time. He does not believe there is a conflict of interest.
What I also know is that this Oust Duterte plot is sheer nonsense. There is not an iota of truth in it. Its purpose is clear – to muzzle the free and independent media, allowing only a friendly or bought press to exist.
When Ferdinand Marcos declared martial law, the very first thing he did was to padlock all media organizations, only allowing those who adopted a policy of treating Marcos, his family, and his cronies as saviours of the Philippines to exist.
They were saving us from those big, bad communists, of course.
The Duterte regime is taking a similar tack, with a few notable differences.
While reporting anything negative about anyone named Duterte is not allowed, some degree of criticism about government agencies and institutions is occasionally welcomed.
And while any and all steps must be taken to insure that Mr. Duterte remains in office and will be succeeded by a handpicked president, there is no guarantee that the officers of the Armed Forces of the Philippines will stick with him if he commits any act considered unacceptable.
This is why there have been “brave” statements coming out of the administration saying that the Chinese may not attempt to grab Philippine territory, or else.
This is negated by the fact that more than 300,000 Chinese workers are now in the country, taking jobs from Filipinos and not paying any taxes. They are here upon the invitation of Mr. Duterte himself.
In Manila and in Boracay, among other places, there are now restaurants that do not allow non-Chinese to enter. They have no signs in English or Filipino.
All these indications of a de facto Chinese invasion of the Philippines does not sit well with a good number of our soldiers. And it is for this reason that the Duterte regime must create enemies who are easily beaten. Such as the free and independent press.
And just to be doubly sure that the media is properly muzzled, the regime has targeted mostly women practitioners in the mistaken belief that they are easier to browbeat.
Note that Mr. Duterte is by his own admission a misogynist. He believes that women are inferior. Like Marcos before him, he believes a woman’s place is in the kitchen or the bedroom.
Unfortunately, he has been emboldened by his crippling some women in government, from deposed Supreme Court Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno to Vice President Leni Robredo to Senator Leila de Lima.
He has been bullying Rappler’s Maria Ressa and has now set his eyes on the likes of Ellen Tordesillas, Sheila Coronel and Malou Mangahas.
I have a message for Mr. Duterte: you may have bitten off more than you can chew. Like I said, I know most of these women to varying degrees, and from what I know the president is about to reap the whirlwind.