Out of Order: Binay and Rappler

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Photo Source: Rappler

Let me drop this blog in while the issues are burning.

The Philippines is dealing with a troublesome uprising of Muslim rebels in Zamboanga to the southwest of Mindanao. It started with a confrontation at sea then moved onto land as the large force of rebels captured a substantial number of hostages. People have been killed, homes burned, and it is tense.

Into the fray flew two self-proclaimed white knights, mouths and typewriters blazing and considerable hubris grinding.

Well, it ground on me. Some believe they are indeed bent on doing good. I question that.

One of the knights is Vice President Jejomar Binay, the other Rappler reporters and editors, as a collective.

The Vice President

VP Binay declared a cease-fire on the morning of Sunday September 14. Well, he declared that it had been agreed to between Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin and MNLF founder and the apparent leader of the troublesome rebels, Nur Misuari. This was denied a couple of hours later by Defense Secretary Gazmin.

What in God’s great green earth is Binay doing, operating outside the chain of command, announcing a cease fire to the press?

We learn that he is classmates with Misuari, so there was a comfort level for conversation. Who contacted whom is a mystery. He must also have had a conversation with Gazmin, but there clearly was a misunderstanding.

This smacks of a crass political ploy by Binay. The same kind of grandstanding that occurred prior to the election when he, Estrada and Enrile rallied around the accused criminal, Governor Garcia of Cebu, and held a prayer meeting with her.

Never mind that lives are at risk or that his move gives Misuari some credibility of righteousness to back the criminal gang of murderers and mauraders now holed up with a large number of innocents.

Battle is chaotic enough without the Vice President inserting his personal self-interest directly into the dealings at such a high level.

To prove that I am an equal-opportunity condemner, I also think VP Roxas is playing too much to the limelight, both here and at the prior incident in Cagayen de Oro. The only way he would have any credibility with me is to state categorically that he will not run for President in 2016.

This matter of playing politics with the people’s business is the SAME mentality that leads to stealing pork. The activities of government in a life-and-death situation – the people and the innocents – are a mere platform for self-enhancement.

Rappler: “We Stick by Our Story”

In my opinion, Rappler, too, stuck its large nose into places where it deserved to get punched.

Rappler declared that the rebels had surrendered and released a number of hostages. Then wrote a story demanding to know why the the situation was not being wrapped up quickly.

Authorities subsequently denied that a surrender had occurred. And President Aquino denied it.

And Rappler “stuck by our story”.

Again, we have a case of someone trying to BE the news, when they ought not. It appears that the rebels conveyed to a Rappler reporter that they were prepared to surrender. But it turns out they were WAITING FOR THE MEDIA TO SHOW UP before surrendering.

The media did not show up, or were not allowed to show up, and Rappler – who on staff exactly, I don’t know – was incensed.

What? Incensed that the authorities on the ground CORRECTLY . . .

  • Were not about to be given terms by the rebels?
  • Were not willing to make this a media show for Rappler and others to splash onto the headlines for the crass reason of “scoop” and circulation?
  • Were not about to give gangsters one iota of credibility in this horrible capturing and using of innocents?

What kind of reportorial arrogance is it that permits a news agency to insert itself into negotiations, and then speak as if its editors know better than law enforcement people how to deal with a crisis? Showing photos of the action and inserting harsh opinions in the middle of a crisis add to the chaos. They do not help.

Rappler has no accountability for lives lost now, or in the future. They can be lost in the future if rebels are given credibility. If given a righteous platform from which to speak. If given one iota of respect.

Rappler concludes its report with the following line:  “Rappler stands by its story and prays for a peaceful resolution of this crisis.”

It is not a matter of prayer. It is a matter of judicious acts, respectful of authority.

Conclusion

Both the Vice President and Rappler are NOT parties to the confrontation and make a huge mistake by inserting themselves into it. They presume their reading of the situation is better, more authoritative, than the people in charge. Sorry. Even if the people in charge screw it up, that is THEIR legitimate accountability. And they can be held to account by the people.

VP Binay and Rappler have no accountability in this situation, and cannot be held to account.

Well, Binay can probably be held to account in 2016. I hope so.

Comments
54 Responses to “Out of Order: Binay and Rappler”
  1. andrew lim says:

    Fog of war? Daang madilim (dark road)? Where in heavens name did Binay get his information? Through his classmate Nur?

  2. djac says:

    I’m very disappointed with Rappler. Would it hurt their credibility to apologise and admit they made a mistake?

    • Joe America says:

      I think that is unlikely in view of how loudly they have said “we stick by our story”. But it is not a matter of the truth of the story, it is a matter of interfering with the order of command which does not flow from rebels and hostages to reporters. It is a matter of having different motives and perspectives than the law enforcement officials who MUST make sure the rebels are not given legitimacy.

      I agree that it is disappointing, but perhaps it is instructional. I think the “new media”, such as Rappler, need to develop some ethical policies. They cannot be investigative reporters who insert themselves as principals in an event, and interfere with the people who are accountable for enforcing law . . . and order.

  3. Abe says:

    Under normal condition, only the Commander-in-Chief which is the President has the authority to declare a cease fire. Binay is not the Comander-in-Chief and if I am the Commander-in-Chief I will have Binay arrested by the Military Police.

    Under abnormal condition, anyone only in the Phl including a news organization could do it and the Commander-in-Chief is persona non grata with the issue. What is going on?

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, very much out of line unless he had the tacit approval by Mr. Aquino to try to strike a deal. I’m guessing he did not, because he provided no such background in announcing the cease fire. And it was denied by Gazmin. Really ugly scene.

      Can you imagine Joe Biden announcing a cease fire somewhere without Obama’s blessing? Incredible thought beyond my imagination.

      • Abe says:

        Yeah, I could imagine what will happen to Joe Biden if he does what Binay did. He is as good as a canned Joe Biden shipped to the wonderland and POTUS will be busy appointing a new VP and the US press would be merciless.

  4. Joe America says:

    Rappler editor Maria Ressa provided the following comment to JoeAm’s grousing about Rappler’s hands on engagement in the hostage situation:
    ________________

    “Joe, as always, we thank you for your thoughts. I think you’re reading too much into a description of how the question was handled: “brushed aside.” While I agree with you that he is busy, he is there answering questions, and it’s a good one. Politics can get in the way of resolving the crisis. How? Well, the standard way of handling this would’ve been to have the crisis managers in each of the barangays. However, since you have the President and VP there, all the crisis managers were in Zamboanga. Does that affect the decision-making?

    On the surrender: Rappler did not insert itself into the story. We reported the story, and saw inconsistencies with what happened on the ground, how it was relayed up the chain of command, and how officials handled it. (Think of it more like the reporting of torture on Abu Ghraib – things happened on the ground that just didn’t get reported up and that affected big decisions about how it was handled – or what happened in Iraq, except in a completely different context).

    On a set of ethics: our team uses the same traditional media ethics that has ruled our professional lives for the past 3 decades or so (those of us who are that old).

    This is a complex situation full of vested interests, which, unfortunately, may have gotten in the way of a speedier resolution. We have long reported on the rivalry between the military and the police in Mindanao. Was the surrender ignored because they surrendered to the police instead of the military? Or were law enforcement forces bent on making the rebels pay for what they did that they felt it was right to ignore an inconvenient surrender? Or was it politics? Or was it a combination? We just ask the questions.

    As we know, decision-makers are people. Our jobs as journalists is to help hold them accountable for the decisions they make.”
    ____________________

    The link to the article and discussion is here: http://www.rappler.com/nation/38906-zambo-evacuees-number-at-least-62,000. My response is on the Rappler dialogue thread.

    • ella says:

      Well, Binay just showed what kind of creature he is. He is an animal who is playing politics without consideration who is getting hurt, be it the people caught in the crossfire, be it the soldiers who are fighting for the country or be it the rebels who are fighting for Nur. Binay does not care, he is only thinking of playing politics so media can print and say his name over and over.

      I really hope that the Filipino voters will use their minds when voting in 2016 and not vote for Binay, the animal who does not care for them but only cares for himself and his cohorts.

      Rappler is another story, I hope they will stick to the facts and hopefully their in depth reporting, which are not really in depth will improve.

      • ella says:

        Oh I might add, I really hope Rappler will stick to the facts and improve on its in depth analysis, because to be so bluntly honest, Rappler is the only media in the Philippines that I find tolerable. Most of the time I go to inquirer to read the articles of their very opinionated columns whose columns I so enjoy reading and gives me different perspective of what is happening. I wish Rappler will have those too.

        • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

          @Ella, all PHilippine Media are entertaining. I only read them to be entertained not to be informed, Rappler is one of them. Remember what ever Filipnos touches do not turn into gold but turn into controversy. Filipinos wanted to embed to get that 15-minute fame because Filipinos has been culturally and internationally been ignored. If Filipinos are not ignored is when there is proportionally big time corruption. Even corruption has been ignored by international wires because when foreigners hear “Philippines” it means “corruption”.

      • Joe America says:

        “creature” hahaha, made my morning.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        @Ella, please …. the soldiers are not fighting for the country …. they became soldiers because it is the only job of last resort after they failed to get jobs abroad …. Hoping for Filipino voters to use their minds when voting in 2016 is a dream that will never ever come true that has persisted for the past 500 years …. Rappler cannot stick to the facts because Rappler is run by Filipinos and Filipinos cannot know and facts get confused with gossips and suggestive innuendoes ….

        • ella says:

          Common MRP, please do not give up on the Filipino race as long as we keep talking and there are some ears listening … there is hope. We might not see it in our lifetime, but we should not forget, Filipinos came up with humanoids likes Jose Rizal and Andres Bonifacio and all the other heroes that we have.

          • Abe says:

            Yeah, that is right Ella and I am glad you said so. MRP needs some respect to the men and women in uniform who are valiantly defending our freedom and his freedom too, if not fighting for our country. Afterall some of them graduated from PMA and mostly of them are college graduates.

            I salute and thank these men and women in uniform in the AFP and the vets.

  5. andrew lim says:

    FIVE EXCUSES FROM BINAY ABOUT THIS FAUX PAS

    I am predicting that Binay will come up with any of the ff excuses:

    1. I was misquoted. (despite the direct statements he made)

    2. I just wanted to help. (never mind if he was not a designated negotiator, and outside the chain)

    3. There are houses burning in Zambo, and as housing czar, I am in charge of rebuilding them. (har har)

    4. I want Zambo to be like Makati. ( he will increase taxes and implement color coding, and give out vegan cakes to elderly Muslims on their bdays)

    5. I wanted to make sure that the pork I gave up under the office of the VP would not go to Zambo as they do not eat pork.

    • Joe America says:

      I know it has suddenly grown very quiet from the VP’s office. I wonder what he and President Aquino discussed. I have a feeling it is a bit of a strained relationship. I rather prefer it when the President and the VP are on the same page. These guys are in totally different books.

      • andrew lim says:

        Im writing a sequel to my previous essay, (It continues to get attention, based on the Facebook shares) hope to finish it within the coming week.

        This time it focuses on socio-cultural/religious theories why corruption is so hard to reduce or temper here.

      • andrew lim says:

        I actually think he is anxious to score points since the Napoles scandal will inevitably damage his 2016 run, as his major partners are the ones involved. There is speculation that some of those funds may have been earmarked for his election spending.

    • I prefer no.3 to be Binay’s excuse. With due respect, I prefer corny jokes HAHAHA. I’m hoping this trend continues– Binay loses popularity and credibility. On the 2016 LP bet, I think it’s going to be Chiz Escudero. IMO, Roxas doesn’t have the ballsy persona, and like what Joe always says, he has the loser tag all over him.

  6. On Binay:

    Nothing is left to be said. I just hope that the indigent people, his potential voters, will see the frailty of Binay. Ganito ang Ma-kati (In English : This is me, itching to be President)

    On Rappler:

    I give them the benefit of the doubt for now. This is the same outlet which broke the Napoles properties and lavish lifestyle. I smell something fishy when the barangay councilor was taken to the military base.

    I’m no expert on military tactics, but if there are some who wanted to surrender why not explore the possibility so that the hostages will be saved too? If Rappler is telling the truth, I guess there are some MNLF rebels who have lost morale and trust in Misuari– BTW, where the f*** is he, the bellicose “liberator” of Mindanao? I understand PNoy has a no-negotiation, hardline approach, but think about the plight of the hostages.

    • Joe America says:

      That’s fair, to give Rappler the benefit of the doubt. Without question, their heart and intellect is in the right place.

      Binay seems to me to display bad judgment. Praying with Garcia, announcing a cease fire outside the chain of command. What would he have done in the Taiwan setting? or the Sultan? I’m afraid we’d be at war, north or south. Rash judgment.

      Hostage situations are among the toughest there are. Pay the ransom or not? Meet the demands or not? Rather binary. I don’t know enough about the specifics to understand what went on, or is going on, but grant a LOT of latitude to the people in charge to deal with it. They are the last people I’d easily criticize from the comfort of my desk and keyboard.

      • After reading some nasty anecdotes about Ressa’s management style at ABS-CBN, I’m starting to form a negative opinion towards Rappler especially relating to this case. Anyway, I don’t hold Philippine journalism in high regard; those outlets are reflective of the declining journ standards all over the world especially in the internet age. Journalism has turned into a mere cash cow from the Fourth Estate.

        And Binay really annoys me to death.

  7. andrew lim says:

    HE KEPT RE-INSERTING HIMSELF IN THE NEGOTIATIONS

    There’s a Binay interview in Rappler right now and he narrates what happened. In the comments section, I identified the point where kept inserting himself into the negotiations, even after the rejection of his proposal by Gazmin. He called Misuari a second time, even without seeking clearance from Gazmin first. Then he comes up with the proposal which he claims led to a ceasefire agreement between the two sides.

    That’s unauthorized interference and dangerous to a combat mission.

    • Joe America says:

      For sure. Thanks for the update and reference to the interview.

    • ella says:

      @ Mr. Lim you said: “That is unauthorized interference and dangerous to a combat mission.” , see Binay blatantly proclaimed to the world that he has no regard for human life as long as his name is being mentioned in the media, so he could attain his goal on 2016. He does not care about the life of the soldiers, the civilians and anybody else as long as he is placed in the limelight by media.

      Please NO TO BINAY IN 2016!

  8. manuel buencamino says:

    You got Binay and Rappler. I don’t agree with your assessment that Mar Roxas is playing too much to the limelight. First of all he is the secretary of the interior. Second, Mar Roxas is not freelancing. He takes his orders from the president. If he has been in the limelight because of the Napoles surrender and the violence in Zamboanga it is because the president made the call.

    Media in general do not know where to draw the line between reporting and involvement in a news event. Remember the idiot grandstanding radio reporter by the name of Tulfo who appointed himself negotiator in the Luneta hostage incident? The incident involving Rappler is not the first nor will it be the last. And speaking of our converstion regarding exceptionalism, I think media considers itself so.

    • Joe America says:

      Ah, very good, on media exceptionalism. And I understand your point on Roxas. I hope the President isn’t trying too hard to position him as a candidate in 2016.

      • manuel buencamino says:

        It’s okay to use all available resources to give your running mate the chance to prove he is a worthy successor. The only thing that matters is whether it is effective or not. Politically speaking, that is.

    • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

      We havee Mar Roxas, Binay, Rappler, Radio announcers, tsismis, gossips …. There are too many kooks that spoiled the brute ….

      The “rebels” clearly knows what they want. The Philippine Media. And the government side knows they want The Philippine Media in the dark. Both protagonists clearly are aware the Philippine Media has very very low ethical standards considering them veterans of Ces Drilon Kidnapping News blackout because they are afraid Al Qaeda might get angry of the publicity and kill Ces Drilon in the process. What looney kooky bunch.

  9. The Mouse says:

    I was indeed buffled too by their 80 rebels surrender report; but being skeptical, I tried cross-checking sources and it does not appear on other online media websites.. The disappointing thing here is that Maria Ressa even defended the false report over at her twitter.

    And Binay just damn think he is the President. How, oh, how did that idiot become the Vice President.

    Being impartial to Aquino, I think he has handled this situation pretty well without giving in to the terrorists’ demands..especially if you compare it to how Arroyo (or perhaps how Binay would have handled this) handled the 2001 siege (gave the bandits free pass and dropped the charges against Misuari). For such an intense situation, I’m pretty surprised that military and police as well as civilians casualties are kept low. This could have easily been a bloodbath

  10. cha says:

    “In the end, the discipline of verification is what separates journalism from entertainment, propaganda, fiction, or art”. (Kovach and Rosenstiel, The Elements of Journalism)

    Rappler based their report “About 80 Rebels Surrender in Zambo” on the accounts of “police intelligence sources and residents in Barangay Sta Barbara” who told Rappler that the rebels “surrendered to a team of the Philippine National Police, the Presidential Anti-Organized Crime Commission and the Philippine Center for Transnational Crime.”

    They (Rappler) have not spoken to any of the supposed surrenderees nor did they have anyone from the PNP, PAOC, and PCTC going on record to confirm the surrender. Neither did they get confirmation from the military chain of command that the surrender has indeed been accepted. 

    A few hours after, we come upon an editorial piece asking “Why delay resolving the Zamboanga crisis?” wherein is implied another story – that the surrender did not materialize because Roxas was “reportedly upset that he had not been informed, and that our sources allowed us to break the story”. We are not informed as to who actually “reported” this piece of information to Rappler. But one would surmise that it would have come from someone who was in those meetings with Roxas. And yet at the end of the piece the writer asks, “What exactly is being discussed?” So their source told them about Roxas’ supposed tantrum but couldn’t tell them what exactly the conversations were about?

    Then there was the interview with the reporter/councillor who was requested by the rebels to broker their surrender. Finally, Rappler had someone telling their side of the story for the record. Even then, it is still just the one side. 

    Perhaps in the ensuing days, Rappler will find more verifiable sources to confirm the rest of the story they have been standing by. But really so far, what we have seen here is the journalism of assertion instead of verification. 

    Who knows, maybe in the end, they might actually be proven right. But in so far as excellence in journalism is concerned, this is probably not one of their best moments. At the very least, it is not what young aspiring journalists like their interns ought to emulate. 

    • Joe America says:

      Yes, thanks for putting some meat on my bones of complaint. I suggested to Maria Ressa that Rappler develop a code of ethics to deal with conflict situations and she basically said “we follow common journalistic ethics”. Hmmmmmmmmmm . . . then Philippine journalistic ethics of sensationalism and “he said she said” is sure to aggravate conflicts rather than report on them. Rappler seems to stretch to create conflict. Shame.

      • Joe America says:

        I also read today that the number of hostages is down to something like seven as the others either fled or were released.

        • cha says:

          That’s really good news. Was out all day so just starting to catch up. Maybe , hopefully, it’s nearing resolution. Fingers crossed.

      • Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

        Maria Ressa is a Filipino like that Harvard U graduate Filipino that plagiarized Swiss slogan “It is Fun in the PHilippines” the very reason the Filipinos picked “It is Fun in the PHilippines” slogan because it was copied by a Filipno graduate from Harvard U. That is all.

        Investigation is not in the blood of Filipino journalists. Commission on Audit Report on PDAF went out but Rappler cannot make sense out of it because it was full of numbers. It took a whistleblower to unravel it then Rappler came on board then make dal-dal analytics.

      • The Mouse says:

        Rappler has descended into a gossip site. Worse is, Lolit Solis blind items seem more accurate in information than Rappler’s. LOL

        • Joe America says:

          I agree partially, but also find good information there that does not run elsewhere. For instance, they reported that the Philippines has readied a huge shipment of bananas for Los Angeles, where it will arrive on the shelves in a couple of weeks. THAT should make you happy. They also let you ask Margie about sex.

  11. Mariano Renato Pacifico says:

    “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth” – Mathew 6:3 (King James Version)

    What is happening right now in Zamboanga is what is happening in the Philippines in larger scale. It is like what happened to the run-up of Chinese tourist Massacre. Everyone wants to have that fame in TFC. The fame that Filipinos are wanting by claiming Jessica Sanchez is a Filipino, Miley Cyrus and all famous Americans with a drop of Filipino blood because Filipinos as Filipinos have not contributed anything to the world. They even claimed Moon Buggy was invented by a Filipino.

    Zamboanga massacre is a race who gets the credit first and putting words in somebody else’s mouth. Honest, Gazmin said it, Binay has whistleblowers, witnesses with affidavit to show it, pictures and everything.

  12. bebot says:

    Rappler’s report on ” 80 rebels surrendered” should have been fact checked if the information was reliable / accurate. Is their source/s willing to go on the record and stand behind their story publicly? I still give Rappler the benefit of the doubt. Even American and British journalists make mistakes in reporting their stories but when they do, they acknowledge their mistakes, apologize and clarify their stories. That’s what they do. There are times Rappler has to eat the humble pie.

    Binay’s faux pas in meddling / interfering with the MNLF attack in Zambo while PNoy is right in the thick of it, has shown he is a man without highest respectability. He demeaned / humiliated himself, enveloped himself with indignity for playing the political card. He deserved it, more of faux pas, Binay, because you’re making us bloody pleased with your stupidity, you do anything even stepping on the toes of PNoy as president just for the sake of politics.

    Mar Roxas, in actuality, has more power and in the position than you to be with PNoy in the Zambo attack as he is the Secretary of DILG. I wonder if Binay is aware of the responsibilities of the Sec of DILG, or should he attend reading lessons in the classroom.

    • Joe America says:

      You know, I scratched my heat when President Aquino went south. And I don’t really consider Roxas a battlefield commander, but he does have certain authority for the police side of things. You have made up my mind for me. (1) The Philippines does not have any battlefield commanders of stature, and (2) coordination between ego-bound police and agencies and the military is likely prickly.

  13. JM says:

    It is so obvious that most of his actions are to further his career. I don’t understand why this guy was voted in the first place. It was the ayalas and the business community who built Makati. How hard is it to run a rich city? Some of his commercials made it look like he was the one responsible for making Makati what it is. Then he lets his ignorant daughter run to create his dynasty. When Nancy won, I wanted to scream so hard out of frustration, how can my people be so stupid?

    Well as for the people of Mindanao, I wish they would wake up. It’s time for them to stand up and eradicate those rebels. They shouldn’t wait for our inept military/police. They should arm themselves and hunt those rebels. If someone burns my house or kidnap/kill my friends, I would make them pay.

    • Joe America says:

      Yes. There is a great divide across the poverty line. It is cultural as well as money, a failure among the masses to see how bad choices come back to hurt. Current need is so pressing that long-term welfare is not in the cards. Senator Binay, the Marcoses, a boxer writing laws, a legislature stuffed with TV personalities . . . and it becomes a struggle to do anything crisp and constructive and not irrational.

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