It pains me to hear Cabinet Secretary Ricardo Saludo press the case for 1017, especially its intrusion into journalistic territory. He was a respected journalist himself, and I have always found him to be one of the Arroyo administration’s best, most lucid spokesmen. But his argument for an expanded government role in media is, fundamentally, beside the point.
The point is not that the raid on the Tribune and the posting of soldiers to ABS-CBN and GMA have failed to cool the usually aggressive Philippine media; the point is that, had journalists not raised a howl, the administration’s many agents would have, in all certainty, launched more incursions. There would have been a second raid, and then a third.
Saludo’s argument can be summed up simply enough: What chilling effect? The media continues to operate, and even to criticize the President and her men. But this is like telling a man using an umbrella: Rain, you say? You’re not even wet.
Exactly. The media outrage after 1017 went into full effect (complete with ominous anti-media Whereas clause) was the profession’s way of raising the umbrella. We may not be soaked, but that doesn’t mean the rain isn’t pounding.
PS. Incidentally, Dan Mariano is right. It is the Arroyo administration, not the Arroyo government.