Page 1 of The New York Times on Dec. 8, 2016.
I’m going to share with you my thoughts and observations on the Dec. 8, 2016 issue of The New York Times (NYT) where the anti-drug campaign of President Rodrigo Duterte was prominently featured.
On front page, it used 5 of its 6 columns and two full pages inside (pages 10 and 11), with oversized photos, which the author himself took in the back alleys in Manila, of the much criticized anti-drug campaign of the Duterte-Bato partnership.
Since June 30, some 6,000 suspected drug users and traffickers had been reported killed as a result of the campaign, either by the police or by so-called vigilantes in tandem riding on motorcycles.
The latter, being unknown and unidentified, help in lessening the number of victims killed and reported periodically by the police.
But, there were reports, the killers, riding on motorcycles, were also policemen.
There were also claims that because of the Duterte campaign, drug lords are killing their own drug carriers or sellers.
The NYT titled its story “They Are Slaughtering Us Like Animals.”
The NYT photojournalist who stayed in Manila for 35 days covering and validating his story remarked in part, “...What I experienced in the Philippines felt like a new level of ruthlessness...”
The New York Times is 165 years old.
It was founded in 1851.
It has been regarded as the most respected and most influential newspaper in the world.
It has won 117 Pulitzer Prizes, more than any news organization.
It has the largest circulation among the metropolitan newspapers in the U.S.
Like the Filipino Reporter with a motto of “Fair, Fearless, Factual,” the Times’ motto is “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”
In view of all the above, it makes me dizzy to read comments coming from the rag bag army of Duterte followers in Facebook.
Comments such as biased, ban it, paid, co-owned by Inquirer (of Manila).
These are the usual comments coming from that gang whenever their idol is criticized.
In our view having the same nature of work, the only vested interest of The NYT as it publishes news is to preserve its reputation as the most respected newspaper.
So, when its Dec. 8 issue prominently exposed the barbaric and inhuman killings in Manila under the Duterte regime as its main approach in its anti-drug campaign, it was done professionally.
The NYT photojournalist, Daniel Berehulak, stayed right where the story he wrote about happened.
He was in Manila for over 35 days, covering and validating his story, first hand.
In its statement about the published article, the Office of the Communications of the Duterte government tried to defend and sanitize the published story to lessen or minimize its negative impact that presumably led to increased indignation around the world against President Duterte’s administration.
A Filipina posted in her Facebook she was taken aback when even a homeless person in the sidewalk of New York City, holding a copy of the Dec. 8 NYT told her in effect, that President Duterte and the situation in Manila were very bad.
Frankly, I believe the NYT story is indefensible.
I told myself when I first read it, “How can they defend this?”
To make matters worse, Apostle Andanar, if he was the author of the statement, stated that all the killings were not the work of the police.
I mentioned that to our lady dog at home.
Such claim by Mr. Andanar made me make a counterclaim.
Like I told Ethel C. Constantino, of Facebook video program “I am Proud, Pinoy Ako” and informal spokesperson of President Duterte in New York, that, maybe, the victims committed mass suicide since the police did not commit the killings!
They just agreed to do it at different times unlike the 1978 mass suicide at Jonestown under the cult leader Jim Jones.
Ethel wished that was what happened.
Obviously, to spare her idol from any possible untoward consequences in the future and to spare her the difficult task of painfully interpreting the obvious.
I also told the lady program host and I’m telling our readers now, that the issue against President Duterte by the world are respect for life, human rights and extrajudicial killings rolled into one.
To us, injecting any other issues at this point, after 6,000 hapless poor lives were lost, is irrelevant.
Evidently, some people in Manila, don’t believe that every human being, suspected addict or not, has rights.
That life is sacred.
That a life lost to killing is a life lost too many.
May the coming of Jesus this Christmas change the heart of some Filipino leaders in the native country.
And may the change of heart be followed by change of behavior.