LETTERS FROM DAVAO
By Jun Ledesma, Columnist, Philippines News Agency
IN my recent article “Nitpicking” I pointed out the dubious if not diabolic agenda of opposition quarters at discrediting and demonizing Pres. Rodrigo Duterte in every turn, creating mountains out of molehills and deliberately ignoring the achievements that this administration had achieved.
Little did I know that Philippine Star had, in its corral, writers who rely mainly on questionable sources which are obviously paid mainly to churn out black propaganda and disinformation against countries that are perceived to be inimical to the interest of their patrons. Rightly the writers of Philstar and the source of their story blasted China but committed a big mistake when they dragged the Philippines and Finance Sec. Carlos “Sonny” Dominguez in cursing China by claiming that China’s projects in the Philippines are riddled with secretive issues.
Secretary Dominguez pointed out that the three projects funded by China’s ODA were the Chico River Pump Irrigation Project for the National Irrigation Administration, the Kaliwa Dam for MWSS, and the Philippine National Railway Long Haul Project. Sonny asserts that there was nothing secretive about the loan negotiations as all the nitty-gritty features of the contracts were published on the Website of the Department of Finance. In short, everything was transparent from the beginning. It is elementary in journalism to countercheck information gathered from unusual sources if one has to come out with a balanced story. What Sonny is saying, they could have just clicked on the DOF Website where all the data are available at their fingertips.
Dominguez is even more investigative than the Philstar reporters as he revealed that the authors of the article just borrowed the data from a ‘think tank’ called AidData which is under the auspices of William and Mary Global Research Institute. Kiel Institute of World Economy, Center for Global Development and Peterson Institute of International Economics. Obviously, the author of the article had wanted to denigrate China and Dominguez in the process made it appear that the Chinese-funded contract was done in secrecy and was only divulged in 2019 at the prodding of lawmakers when, in fact, the details of the deal were immediately posted on the DOF Website. There were other unfair innuendos in the article which Secretary Dominguez dissected and proven to be figments, inaccurate and speculative.
Well, call it the hazards of the trade. Now and then publishers and editors are victims of fraudulent stories. The prestigious Washington Post and Pulitzer Prize were victims of literary fraud. A coveted Pulitzer Prize was awarded to Janet Cooke, who wrote an article about a boy who was embroiled in drugs. The story later turned out to be a fairytale fabricated by the writer. Her story ended her journalistic career and besmirched the reputation of the Washington Post. But that is Post, Philstar is another story.