The Philippine Daily Inquirer has long had problems with integrity, hypocrisy, demagoguery, plain shoddiness, and serious distortions.
But sometimes it also just makes no fucking sense.
It’s recent editorial on the potential impact that the Mess in Marawi could have on foreign tourist arrivals was puzzling, to say the least.
To be sure, the tourism impact is a very legitimate concern. And it would be very unfortunate for international perceptions regarding Marawi to affect travel to the country’s many safer destinations.
But PDI went careening off the deep end with stupid statements like “Foreign media have made much about the issue, linking the Marawi crisis to the international terrorist group Islamic State. This is something that the government and the private sector should counter” to minimize the impact on tourism.
Well, first of all, there are plenty of indications that the Marawi militants are indeed linked to the Islamic State, and at the very least are attempting to emulate that group and win its approval and support.
Secondly, it’s obviously not just “foreign media” that have “made much about the issue.”
The PH military, President I-don’t-give-a-fuck, independent analysts, virtually all PH media, and certainly PDI itself have “made much about the issue” and drawn links to IS virtually every day since the crisis began.
In fact, just hours after publishing the editorial, PDI published a story stating that “Hundreds of gunmen flying the black flag of the Islamic State (IS) group occupied parts of Marawi on May 23, triggering bloody fighting that has claimed nearly 400 lives according to an official count.”
And even the editorial itself ended with the quite reasonable assertion that “The crisis in Marawi has to end soon and martial law lifted if the Philippines’ tourism sector is to recover. No amount of public relations can paper over the protracted fighting between the Philippine military and the Maute extremists.”
But before getting there, the editorial made the admonishment that “The government cannot let the international media portray the Philippines as another Syria or Iraq or Afghanistan where extremists hold sway.”
Well, the PH government is not in any position to “let,” or not “let,” the international media do much of anything regarding its portrayals of an ongoing military and humanitarian crisis that has cost hundreds of lives, resulted in the imposition of marital law, turned thousands of residents into refugees, and left Marawi in ruins.
Rebels, bandits, separatists, and extremists do indeed “hold sway” in portions of the country, and have done so for many, many years. And that’s not the fault of the nasty foreign media.
PDI is infamous for sanctimoniously cloaking itself in the mantle of journalistic righteousness when it gets criticized or called out for its many transgressions. It’s also notorious for its childish habit of playing the “bad foreigner” card during controversies.
How ironic that it does so this time in the context of pleading for action to ensure the continued arrival of foreigners and their tourism dollars.
The really sad part is that the editorial had a legitimate point, and could have made that point quite effectively without trying to recklessly scapegoat the “foreign media” for the nation’s serious problems with safety, stability, and international perceptions.
PDI obviously still has a lot of growing up to do.