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A twist in the Maria Ressa affair

Nora Soriño . 

ILIGAN City — One evening in the line up of standard news which as usual, many began with… “patay ang…” came a breaking news. It did not begin with those two words but it told of the National Bureau of Investigation arresting Maria Ressa of Rappler.

Even when the news was already not related to the arrest, the view on one side of the screen still featured a blow-by-blow account of the incident. One could see Ressa as the NBI went through the process of doing their job —  collected, cool, sometimes smiling, even defiant. A true chief executive ifficer indeed of a respected online medium.

The progressive groups after that then made noises of  “assault on freedom of the press.” In a rally of some militant students of the University of the Philippines, with them shouting “no more freedom of the press now,” one anchor then of a national radio station said, “How can they shout ‘no freedom of the press’ if there were no freedom of the press here in this country?!”

What? He does not agree with that thinking? I had even turned louder the volume  of the radio as I began to doubt whether I heard that one right. Frankly, I had accepted the “assault on freedom of the press” version hook, line and sinker.

Maybe, I really heard that one right as the next day I heard the same tune from Ric, a good friend, over a cup of coffee and more.

“The woman is planted by the CIA,” Ric said this with a straight face. He was, of course, referring to Maria Ressa as it was hot topic here the day after.

  “What?” I exclaimed. “Unbelievable.”

“And this Duterte government is planting too someone to spy on her, I think.”

“A spy to spy on a spy… oh, no!”

“Oh, yes!” I bet his  “I think” now has grown to “I believe” as he seemed sure of himself now. Well, almost.

“The theory is that she is planted to spy and destabilize this government because US does not like Du30’s face, especially the mouth. And  much less his actions.”

“That’s a heavy accusation there you’ve got,” I said.

“You only hear one side, the ‘assault of the freedom of the press’ side.”

Maybe he was right so I did not comment on that one immediately.

“The freedom of the press being alleged by Maria Ressa and supporters is a cover-up for the real issue here. And that is freedom of the Philippines from the colonization of America.”

“How’s that again?” I asked, growing more incredible each minute.

“Have you read ‘The Afghan’ by Frederick Forsyth?”

“No.”

“It’s much like that. The US planting some American and mingled with the Abu Sayaff so that it can get first hand info and  know what a country is up to. So that it can foil some plans. Or follow its own agenda for some country especially if its leader is not toeing its line.”  

“You are talking in riddles,” I said. “That’s the trouble with one who reads too many spy books. Just give me the details.”

“There are no details. Just some speculations. Like shouting ‘assault on freedom of the press and or human rights’ and Rappler giving bloated figures as to how many were the cases of EJK. So as to destabilize the country by subtle means and maybe in the long haul, get rid of Du30.”

My head suddenly was in a turmoil. The idea  seemed absurd even as it sounded  logical too.  At the same time, it was also funny but we just looked at each other because we knew this was no laughing matter either.

Later though I thought I saw a shadow of a smile on my friend’s face.

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