The Philippines falls behind modern international standards in many fields, from pollution to health care to human rights.
Today I'd like to focus on one that really fries my bacon. Toasts my frenchies, so to speak.
The government believes, in its grand faux democratic tradition, that freedom of expression means giving media corporations complete freedom to do what they like.
Uh, yo official dudes and dudettes. That is not what free expression OUGHT to mean, that any oligarch with his hands on a television station or newspaper can publish whatever he wants.
I awoke this morning and was very interested in how the nation is dealing with the second of two huge typhoons drowning Luzon this past week. I flipped from channel to channel to find updates. What do I get on the two main Philippine stations, ABS-CBN and the GMA Network? Sunday morning mass. Yesterday evening, nothing. Sappy dramas and lots of commercials. NOTHING about the typhoon. I have to go to international news (CNN) and Australia (ABC) to find reports about the havoc being wreaked the Philippines. There is no broadcast of where emergency shelters can be found, or warnings not to drink the water, or what the forecast is for rainfall or dam breaks. There is nothing but money-making greed. Lazy, self-interested bloated stupid money making greed.
And the mind-numbing prayers, pretending a goodness of heart that isn't really there.
While millions wade and worry and suffer and lose their homes.
The oligarchs who own these stations have no public service conscience. They are free to make money while the nation washes away.
Indeed, I researched media regulation in the Philippines, and THERE IS NONE. The airwaves are considered private property, except the string of under-funded amateurish stations owned by the state and managed by the national press unit. There is absolutely no legal imperative that the two big stations operate their valued franchises in the public interest, for the safety and welfare of the public.
They can ignore it. Ignore public safety. Ignore public welfare.
Oh, there was an uptick of congressional indignation after the botched bus massacre that was aided and abetted by live television coverage a while back. The media moguls were hauled before congressional committees. The humbled giants promised they would do a better job at self regulation.
But evidently that was just another untrustworthy Filipino statement. And after the SHOW of concern by congress, the matter was forgotten.
Trust in this place is hard to develop, you know? All the Ego-bound dickheads who have no interest in anyone but themselves. The elected officials who preen and posture for effect, then walk away . . .
Put the media oligarchs at the top of this pile. The "purchased" legislators right under them.
The media owners are the un-classy barons who raise the volume of commercials and, when they have a hot show like a Pacquiao fight, fill an hour with 40 minutes of commercial and 20 minutes of boxing.
They are the un-classy barons who hype the news with bloody bodies and mothers weeping over their dead sons. They evidently can't distinguish between the tension of fictional drama and the tastelessness of using real sorrow to hype ratings. "Nothing too salacious to broadcast.".
And because the oligarchs own everything, including the electability of government officials, there is no interest among legislative yahoos or the President of this fine nation to do anything to advance the PUBLIC's well-being. Never mind that oath of office they swore or the Constitutional mandate that they serve the public TRUST.
And being informed is impossible.
Why do you citizens stand for this? Why do you accept this?
I can do nothing as a non-citizen, other than report on the absurd situation I see before me.
What part of the concept of television and radio frequencies as a precious part of the PUBLIC domain do you blind opinion leaders and lackadaisical public not grasp?
What part of being an integral part of the nation's effort to fend off natural disasters do you overstuffed shirts fail to comprehend?
If President Aquino were serious about the goal of "Zero fatalities" from typhoons he would make sure the two national television networks - - - the only channels of television many receive - - - are an integral part of the response plan, broadcasting event news commercial free 24 hours per day before, during and immediately after impending disasters.
From his failure to do this, I conclude that he is merely blowing smoke with this "zero fatality" goal.
The hope that he would also do something about the greedy manipulations that characterize television ethics hereabouts is also somewhere between nil and really really slim.