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Former Chief Justice Sereno Has a Chilling Message to the Media

"The present situation needs a most urgent response."
IMAGE SUPREME COURT OF THE PHILIPPINES
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Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes “Meilou” Sereno  is the first woman Chief Justice of the Philippines and also the second-youngest to become Chief Justice at 52. She was ousted from her post by her co-magistrates in an allegedly "unconstitutional" quo warranto petition that "nullified" her appointment as Chief Justice. 

With first-hand experience in defending the truth against bashers and trolls, Sereno has shared chilling insights for the members of the media. 

In a lengthy post on Facebook on October 22, Sereno issued a warning and reminder to mainstream media, implying that its members and practitioners may not be aware that they are losing a war for truth.

Below is the full transcript of Sereno’s post, translated into English. 

Steps Forward: Attention, Media: 

Many among media’s critics are saying that you are paid bribes to write slanted articles, that you are “dilawan,” but they have no idea how difficult it is to get news footage (audio-video), to research backgrounds for your stories, and to conduct interviews on both sides (usually, you need to have an insider contact to get an interview.)

They also don’t know that whatever you say or write has to be approved by your news head or section chief. 

They also don’t know that writeups in broadsheets or digital news platforms are just as difficult to produce as content that are broadcast. 

They also don’t know how easy it is for you to be charged and imprisoned if you violate the laws. 

For decades, you’ve worked hard to establish your names. Your professors in Journalism and Communications also spent decades inculcating in you the Code of Ethics of Journalism. 

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But the biggest threat to you now are fly-by-night video producers with clear intentions: To destroy the institutions of truth.  

Ang kalaban lang pala ng katotohanan ngayon ay isang script at isang video 

You may have ignored the YouTube and TikTok videos that have gone viral, but I will tell you what I’ve been hearing from the ground, from ordinary Filipinos. Some of these may be troll accounts, but there are also genuine accounts. 

  1. If there is no video (regardless of category or anonymity of the creator), a story is not true;
  1. If there are more videos, then it is more true; 
  1. Even spliced, collaged, or voiced-over content showing gold bars, for example, are featured in a video, it must be true;
  1. Media has been paid off by “dilawan” and “oligarchs” and are uniting to discredit the Marcoses (This is a massive hate campaign against mainstream media); 
  1. The influence of the oligarchs has reached foreign countries, and one proof of this is the Nobel Peace Prize of Maria Ressa (Unbelievable, isn’t it?)

The media’s very standards of excellence and your tendency to not provide coverage on fake videos have allowed people to take advantage of that “unchallenged” position in order to rewrite history for a prominent presidential campaign. My guess is you have a mistakenly presumed level of understanding of our countrymen. You probably thought that the correct historical narrative is self-evident and that the organization can carry this, unchallenged. No. 

The correct way of telling the history of the Philippines has severely eroded. The media as the Fourth Estate and guardian of democracy and truth is now being doubted by the people. How many who actually think that way, I cannot tell. 

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Ang kalaban lang  pala ng katotohanan ngayon ay isang script at isang video na in-upload sa Youtube at Tiktok, ipa-viral lang at lahat ng involved ay walang accountability. Repeat by several dozens such videos, repeat and repeat the modus. Over time, anumang haligi ng demokrasya ay maaaring gumuho - mga unibersidad, works of scholars, accountability and ethics in government, at responsible media.

Dahil po specialty niyo ang komunikasyon, tingin ko, you should treat the present situation as needing a most urgent response. Mukhang bagong paraan ng pag-approach sa sitwasyon ang kailangan.

Salamat po.

Former Chief Justice Maria Lourdes Sereno’s Original Message in Filipino

STEPS FORWARD: Attention po sa MEDIA

Marami po doon sa tumutuligsa sa media na sinasabing bayaran daw kayo ng mga “dilawan” ay walang realisasyon kung gaano kahirap kumuha ng isang news footage (audio-video), mag-research sa background ng istorya niyo, at gaano kahirap makakuha ng interviews sa magkabilang panig (madalas kailangan pang may contact kang insider ng team ng interviewee niyo).

Hindi rin nila alam na iyung mga sasabihin niyo ay may mag-aapruba pang news head o section chief.

Hindi rin nila alam na yung write-up sa physical na dyaryo niyo o sa digital news format niyo sa internet ay sing-bigat din ng preparasyon sa mga audio-visual materials niyo na nabo-broadcast.

Hindi rin nila alam na napakadali kayong maihabla at maaaring makulong o may mahal na damages na ipababayad sa inyo ng korte, kung lumabag kayo ng batas.

Dekada niyong pinaghirapan na itayo ang mga pangalan niyo. Yung mga Journalism at Communications professors niyo, dekada ding idinidiin sa inyo ang Code of Ethics ng Journalism.

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Ngunit ang pinakamalaking banta sa inyo, ay mga fly-by-night video producers na malinaw ang pakay: sirain ang mga institusyon ng katotohanan. Maaaring hindi niyo pinansin ang mga Youtube at Tiktok videos na naglipana, ngunit sasabihin ko sa inyo ang mga naririnig ko mula sa ground, mula sa  bahagi ng pangkaraniwang Pilipino. Maaaring iba sa kanila ay troll accounts, pero meron pong mga genuine accounts din:

  1. Kung walang video (no category ito ha, sa minds ng ibang viewers, ke anonymous o attributable), hindi totoo;
  2. Mas maraming video, mas totoo;
  3. Kahit spliced, collage, na voice-over, o props lang, halimbawa, ng goldbars, ang nasa video, ito ay totoo;
  4. Nabayaran na ng “dilawan” at “oligarchs” ang media, at nagkakampi-kampi para siraan ang mga Marcos, kinawawa sila (massive hate campaign against mainstream media ito)
  5. Ang galamay ng oligarchs ay nakakaabot pati sa ibang bansa, patunay dito ay ang Nobel Peace Prize ni Maria Ressa na dahil sa impluwensya ng oligarchs (unbelievable, ano po?)

Iyong mismong standards of excellence ng media, at ang tendency niyo na huwag pumatol sa mga fake videos, ay na-take advantage para maging “unchallenged” ang pagbaligtad ng kasaysayan ng kilalang presidential campaign. Hula ko, meron kayong na-presume na lebel ng pagkaunawa sa ating mga kababayan na mali pala. Inakala niyo siguro na self-evident ang correct historical narrative at ang organisasyon ay kayang bitbitin ito unchallenged. Hindi po.

Ang tamang pagsasalaysay ng kasaysayan ng Pilipinas ay pinahina na nang husto. Ang media bilang fourth estate at guardian ng demokrasya at katotohanan ay pinagduduhanan na ng mga tao. Kung gaano kadami ang may ganung paniwala, hindi ko pa matantsa.

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Ang kalaban lang  pala ng katotohanan ngayon ay isang script, at  isang video, then upload sa Youtube at Tiktok, ipa-viral lang at lahat ng involved ay walang accountability. Repeat by several dozens such videos, repeat and repeat the modus. Over time, anumang haligi ng demokrasya ay maaaring gumuho - mga unibersidad, works of scholars, accountability and ethics in government, at responsible media.

Dahil po specialty niyo ang komunikasyon, tingin ko, you should treat the present situation as needing a most urgent response. Mukhang bagong paraan ng pag-approach sa sitwasyon ang kailangan.

Salamat po.

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Mario Alvaro Limos
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