Possible tough times ahead for media under Marcos Jr. presidency, UP prof says

Jasmin Romero, ABS-CBN News

Posted at May 16 2022 12:36 AM

Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. addresses the crowd during the “UniTeam” grand rally held at the WES Arena in Punturin, Valenzuela City on February 10, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/FILE
Presidential aspirant Ferdinand “Bongbong” Marcos Jr. addresses the crowd during the “UniTeam” grand rally held at the WES Arena in Punturin, Valenzuela City on February 10, 2022. George Calvelo, ABS-CBN News/FILE

MANILA — The media will have to prepare for possible tough times ahead under a second Marcos presidency, Kontra Daya Convenor and University of the Philippines (UP) journalism professor Danilo Arao said Sunday.

In a virtual Balitaan Sa Maynila media forum, Arao warned that under the rule of presumptive president Ferdinand "Bongbong" Marcos Jr., disinformation may become more widespread.

“Ang nakikita po natin under a Marcos administration, baka mas maging institutionalized na iyong disinformation,” Arao said.

(Under a Marcos administration, we see that disinformation may become more institutionalized.)

“Kasi nariyan na ang government media at his disposal... troll army at kanyang disinformation network through social media na talagang di magde-deactivate eh. In fact, baka mas ma-reconfigure pa yan para ang disinformation army niya ay ma-integrate sa gobyerno,” he explained.

(The government media is already at his disposal, as well as a troll army and disinformation network through social media that won't deactivate. In fact, it may even be reconfigured so that that his disinformation army may be integrated into the government.)

The “chilling effect” on the media may still be felt as another Duterte, presumptive vice-president Sara, is expected to occupy the country's second top post.

“Baka kasi makita natin ang continuity especially in the situation na si Sara Duterte… malaki ang pressure. Alam naman natin na may chilling effect sa media kapag iyong ibang news media organizations under attack like ABS-CBN, Rappler, to some extent the Philippine Daily Inquirer,” Arao said.

(We might see a continuity especially in Sara Duterte's situation... the pressure is huge. We saw the chilling effect to the media when other news organizations like ABS-CBN and Rappler were attacked, and to some extent the Philippine Daily Inquirer.)

While it is too early to say whether media closures or press freedom curtailment will happen under the new administration, the journalism professor said it has to “brace for the worst," as Marcos Jr. looks up to his father.

It is also possible that Marcos Jr. may use government resources against the media, Arao said.

“Posible na si Marcos di mag-i-impose formally ng martial law, pero iwe- weaponize niya yung bureaucracy at batas sa media— libel.. tax audit,” he said.

(It's possible that Marcos may not necessarily impose martial Law, but he might weaponize the bureaucracy and laws on the media—libel suits, tax audits...)

The media will then have to work harder to counter the possible negative effects.

“Sana huwag matakot iyong media sa kanyang saligang tungkulin na maging boses ng walang boses,” Arao said.

(I hope the media doesn't get scared to do its duty of being the voice to the voiceless.)

He also urged the media to strengthen the culture of fact-checking, as well as to "make sure that the Marcoses would not abuse any of their powers to suppress the media."

Marcos, Jr. earlier denied the existence of alleged troll farms in his campaign, as well as their influence to revise history.

"Find me one [troll farm]. Hanapan mo ako kahit isa," he said in television interview last February.  

"Show me. Show me where is the revisionism," he said, adding that the allegations against his family are just "propaganda". 

Lawyer Vic Rodriguez, Marcos Jr.'s chief of staff and spokesperson, told ABS-CBN News last month that their camp only has "true-blooded supporters" who believe in the presidential aspirant.

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