Thoughts to consider:

Do we spend tourist dollars regardless of the local political situation or do some of us have a social conscious and even though it doesn't directly effect our "fun" do we consider the fact a government may be corrupt in our decision where we spend "fun" money?  That is for each individual to decide for themselves. Do we pay attention to the pleadings of the PI people who are hurt the most by government corruption, bribes etc?

A Filipino's view from a PI newsgroup 7/25/99
Subject: "A sad day in RP history" where the closing of the Manila Times was discussed:
(Note: ignore spelling errors English is his 2nd language) By nabi:

"What's the point of US spending over $ 800 million dollars per year if the US cictizens have no say whatsoevr about how your money is being spent in Philippines by Estrada administration. I don't think it's the intention of Americans in general to give that much money to Philippine government each year only to be used for personal or political purposes. What about our orphanages? What about our poor people who truly needs your help. They medical care such as TB vaccines, polio vaccines, hepatitis vaccines, eyeglasses, tools, computers, schools, libararies and books et cetera.

Remember, we were there in the field of Bataan, Korea, KSA, Laos, Vietnam, Eastern Europe and Combodia. We're there anytime, anywhere for you. Now, we need you. Pls help our people get rid of corrupt Estrada regime"

The Manila Times "The Nation's Most Trusted Newspaper"
CLOSED July 23, 1999
Cops, men in civilian clothes seize copies of The Manila Times

COPIES of The Manila Times' final issue yesterday were either confiscated from newsstands or put on hold by plainclothesmen and men in uniform in different parts of Metro Manila and nearby provinces. Vendors said that as early as 5:30 to 6 a.m., burlymen, with guns tucked on their waists, either seized or bought all the available copies of The Times. Times editor in chief Malou Mangahas in a statement cited the Bill of Rights which states that: "No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of speech, of expression, or of the press, or the right of the people peaceably to assemble and petition the Government for redress of grievances."

She continued: "The confiscations are clearly an abridgement of this right and we decry these attempts to curtail the freedom of the press."

According to agent Rudy Ricafrente, most of the 20 vendors he was supplying with newspapers in the Kalentong area told him that their copies were confiscated by policemen right after they'd displayed them.

Ferdie, a newspaper vendor, said a heavily tinted L300 van pulled up in front of his stall at the EDSA Central commercial complex in Mandaluyong City at around 10 a.m. Ferdie said he noticed a gun tucked on the man's waist and that "I'm pretty sure he was a policeman." He said he heard of his fellow vendors in Cubao complaining about armed men who confiscated their copies of The Times.

In Muñoz, several plainclothes men carrying two-way radios were reportedly seen in the area around 9 a.m., confiscating copies of The Manila Times' final issue. A bystander said the men looked like members of the Presidential Security Group.

The bystander said the "PSG" men scolded vendors who asked them why they were seizing the copies of the newspaper.

A vendor who sells newspapers near the Biñan near town hall in Laguna said two burly men led her away from her stall at around 5:30 a.m. The men reportedly asked her if she had copies of The Manila Times. Thinking they were buyers, the vendor said yes. The men then confiscated all the copies without offering an explanation.

FINAL ISSUE Editorial Highlights:

The lines are drawn NOT all our bags are packed but we're all ready to go. With this, our final issue, we, the 180 employees of The Manila Times, offer you our last but most treasured gift--ourselves, our story. We have in our midst a death in the family. In fact a murder, because it's a premeditated act. Silenced presses and a muted newsroom are all that the killers think make up the corpus delicti.

A newspaper, like a living thing, breathes and speaks through the people that make up its management and staff. We thought--or hoped--for the longest while that we had a great relationship going. Wealth and pen coming together to produce a fair, balanced, credible and independent newspaper. For six years, it worked, under an administration that demonstrated a firmer and fuller understanding of the role of a free press in a democracy.

A new man has since come to power, with a bevy of beavers for friends who see it their duty to defang critical newspapers as proof of fealty. They so scorn so much muck in the news, so many nosy reporters, so many nasty editorials that they've seen fit to buy into or buy out the noisemakers. In their twisted logic, they see The Times as one such noisemaker that must be silenced. A noisemaker that could be silenced by dangling a "name your price" offer to whoever could be coaxed to sell.

More Details on the closing: The paper may reappear in September under new ownership controlled by the government.

The staff of The Times mourned the demise of the paper which had been critical of the Estrada administration. Many clad in black, they posted in the newsroom banners that said "Defend Press Freedom."

Editor in chief Malou Mangahas said the purchase was part of an effort to stifle newspapers that are critical of the government.

The closure follows a year of rocky relations between Estrada and the freewheeling Philippine press and comes amid allegations that he is orchestrating efforts to financially pressure another newspaper, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, also critical of his government.

There is conflict between Estrada and the press, the move to amend the constitution and the reported rise in the "cronyism" practiced under the late dictator Ferdinand Marcos.

Secret deals, public exploits of Mr. MJ By Marites Vitug, Special to The Times WITHIN a year after Mark Jimenez' quiet return to the Philippines from the US--after an absence of more than 10 years--he has become an indispensable adviser of President Estrada and an effective broker of huge business deals.

This member of the President's inner circle--wanted in the US for tax evasion, wire and mail fraud, and illegal campaign contributions-- is believed to have financed the purchase of The Manila Times.

In April, when the story broke alleging Estrada to be an "unwitting godfather" to a questionable power plant deal, Jimenez paid a visit to John Gokongwei. He wanted to buy The Times but wanted to remain an undisclosed partner.

Since that time, no one has been heard to have made an offer to buy the newspaper--until this week.

Estrada and Jimenez get along well, can last till the wee hours, are fond of women, dabble in casino gambling, and share a taste for bawdy jokes.

When Jimenez was asked what, among his assets, would he give up if he were extradited, he jokingly replied, "My wife." Estrada loves to put down women as well.

The two men have become friends and, in this administration, that counts for much, if not everything.

Investors say cronyism is back
 By Connie D. Vercasion, Reporter
MOST local and foreign investors are afraid to do business in the Philippines mainly for two reasons: cronyism has returned and influence peddling is rampant under the Estrada administration.

This was the result of the bi-annual survey conducted by the Makati Buisness Club (MBC), where 43.3 percent of respondents identified the return of cronyism as the most critical issue during Estrada's first year in office.

Graft and corruption, on the other hand, were considered a major issue by 18.3 percent of respondents.


The Philippine Daily Inquirer  7/25/99
"Balanced News, Fearless News"
This other major paper is also under attack - here is its editorial view:

The issue is freedom THE CENTRAL issue in the conflict between President Estrada and the Philippine Daily Inquirer is not the loss of advertising revenue or the right of advertisers and the administration's friends to choose where to place their advertisements. The issue is freedom. To reduce the conflict to a fight over money is not only to trivialize it. More importantly, it ignores the evidence and the context in which the independent sectors of the Philippine press are defending the freedom to publish what the public has a right to know against the most dangerous crackdown launched by the government since the fall of the Marcos dictatorship.

The overwhelming majority of the public reaction to the closure of The Manila Times, the concerted withdrawal of ads by Mr. Estrada's friends in the movie industry and in business, the exclusion of Inquirer reporters from presidential press conferences and the relentless public attacks by the President on this paper perceive these actions as unmistakable signs of assaults on the freedom of the press. It is comforting to note that their perception coincides with ours. That is sufficient enough to consider the threat seriously.

The Inquirer and the other targets of these extra-constitutional attacks on press freedom are not crying wolf over an imagined danger. The collusion between Mr. Estrada and his allies in the movie industry and businessmen who have benefited from presidential patronage underlines a related, but no less important issue. The collusion speaks of abuse of presidential powers to destroy the press as a critical institution in the system of checks and balances in a democratic system. The mass withdrawal of ads is not an exercise of the advertisers' right to choose where to place their ads. It is a political decision aimed at destroying the financial basis of an independent newspaper.

True Mr. Estrada has not closed independent newspapers and jailed journalists like President Marcos did during martial law. But there are other ways to destroy press freedom, and Mr. Estrada has used a variety of economic weapons to retaliate against the critical sections of the press. He has not answered criticisms with facts even though the presidency has untrammeled access to the press. He has answered criticisms with sweeping denunciations that do not serve informed public debate and has curbed the flow of information by banning Inquirer reporters from his briefings.

Mr. Estrada's response to criticism can best be described in the words of William Ralph Inge, an eminent British churchman: ''The enemies of freedom do not argue; they shout and they shoot.''

Shoot to death is what the administration did to The Manila Times. The administration shot it to death and did not even allow it to have a decent burial. Some minions of the state seized copies of the final edition of the Times, recalling memories of Nazi thugs burning books and breaking up opposition rallies.

Plunge to barbarism IN HIS punitive attacks on the press, Mr. Estrada has recklessly used the enormous powers of the presidency not to initiate policies and programs to rebuild this country from the devastation of the Asian crisis but to engage perceived enemies in unequal combat, apparently to show he is the most powerful man in this country. In our constitutional system, there are restraints to the abuse of presidential powers embedded in the system of checks and balances, and the press is an integral part of this system. But if Mr. Estrada uses his power to stifle dissent and makes it his priority to enjoy the perks of office rather than to initiate policies, the result is bankruptcy in governance. In the President's exercise of power, the delicate balance of democratic compromise is dislocated.

But what alarms us most in this abuse of power is not that Mr. Estrada is wasting so much of his time in waging war on the press and other groups tagged as enemies of the state, instead of battling criminal organizations. What is alarming is the method he employs. In his effort to crush the Inquirer, he has broken the unwritten rules of democratic fair play. In attacking the economic basis of an independent press, he has changed the rules.

In boxing, a brutal sport, the rules inhibit fighters from kicking the groin, biting the ears or gouging the eyes of opponents. But in the politics of Mr. Estrada, there are no rules.

Democracy can't survive from this plunge to political barbarism and the brutalization of politics.


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