08 November 2009

A lethal combination of media and politics

The Kris and Noynoy show on ABS-CBN
By Carmen N. Pedrosa
(The Philippine Star)
Updated November 07, 2009 12:00 AM

For some background. In the 70s I wrote a book The Untold Story of Imelda Marcos. It was a straightforward narration of Imelda’s life before she became the First Lady. Marcos and Imelda tried to suppress the book and I had to decide whether I would go on with the book or give it up in the face of extreme pressure and harassment. It became a question of freedom. I chose to go on with the book and began a journey that would lead me from housewife to politics to exile and back at the end of the Marcos years.

While in exile in London, we joined the opposition’s fight to regain democracy. Democrats partnered with vested interests and formed a community to oppose the Marcos dictatorship. At the center of that movement was Senator Benigno “Ninoy” Aquino whose journey turned him from an ambitious politician to become a martyr when he was assassinated in 1983. It was serious stuff. When his widow, Cory Aquino took up the mantle after his assassination, the expectation was she would lead the movement towards reforms not only in the Filipino body politic but in society as well. Alas she was not up to it. She was, they said, a victim of her own class and despite her good intentions, unable to lead the political reform and moral regeneration among Filipinos inspired by the struggle against a dictatorship. Her powerful supporters were amply rewarded and we returned to the pre-martial law status quo.

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(With this background in mind, it) is easy to dismiss the whole she-bang (of the Kris and Noynoy show on ABS-CBN) as showbiz and regarded as just another movie script. The story begins with Cory’s well-attended funeral and its transformation into a political cause for Noynoy’s candidacy and his election as president. It has its appeal and none more strident than ABS-CBN’s Boto Mo, Ipatrol Mo, Ako ang Simula.

Fine. By all means, guard the votes but who and what are we voting for? Those questions seem to have been left out. If it were for someone who would lead us, truly lead us, then it is a meaningful advocacy. But the sorry truth is the guarding of votes only means we are being made pawns of a determined onslaught by oligarchies who do not want change and yet want us to believe that they are campaigning for change.

According to ABS-CBN “we have one year to change traditional politics in our country and we are empowering them through this multimedia campaign.” Only one year? We have been at it for generations.

It will of course be condemned if media were to proclaim their candidate and that this advocacy is part of the grand scheme to get Noynoy elected as President because he will protect vested interests.

The Lopez owned media boasts of its multiplatform structure — television, radio, cable TV, the Internet, and mobile technology. I can bet you it would never be used if it were in support of a strong state capable of regulating the power of monopolies. But for a long time now, it has been clear that the marriage of powerful media and political partisanship is a lethal combination. It has not helped the country move forward. It isn’t about change but about protecting the status quo.