Philippine media – a convenient scapegoatPhilippine media have their ample share of problems, one of them irresponsible reporting, but on the report on alleged support of Singapore for the Philippine position in the West Philippine Sea, they correctly reported what was officially conveyed to them.
The statement released by the Singapore Ministry of Foreign Affairs last Sept. 10 insulted Philippine media.
“MFA has received media queries referring to articles in the Philippine Star and Manila Bulletin published on 9 September 2012, reporting that Singapore supported the Philippines’ position in the South China Sea dispute during Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s meeting with Philippine President Benigno Aquino on the sidelines of the 20thAPEC Economic Leaders’ Meeting in Vladivostok on 8 September 2012. When asked whether this represents a change in Singapore’s policy on the South China Sea, the MFA Spokesman said:
“We have seen the reports in question.
You all know how free the Filipino media is; they can even be very free with the facts.
There has been no change to Singapore’s position.
“When PM Lee met President Aquino on 8 September 2012, he reiterated Singapore’s consistent position, namely that we do not take sides on the merits or otherwise of the various specific disputes in the South China Sea. PM Lee called on all claimants to exercise restraint and for disputes to be resolved peacefully and in accordance with international law.
“We had made this clear after the 8 September meeting.
“ Unlike the Filipino media reports you refer to, we deal with facts not fiction.”
I was only able to retrieve online the Manila Bulletin article by Madel R. Sabater referred to in the statement. The head was “Singapore Backs PH Stand In South China Sea Dispute.”
Dated Sept. 8, the dateline was Vladivostok, where the leaders of the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation were meeting. The story was based on the briefing of Foreign Secretary Albert del Rosario on the meeting of President Aquino and Singapore Prime Minister Lee.
The lead was “Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Saturday expressed support to the Philippines’ efforts for a peaceful resolution of the dispute in the West Philippine Sea (SouthChina Sea).
The quote supporting the head, was the fifth paragraph which said: “He (del Rosario) said Aquino thanked Lee ‘for the very strong support that Singapore has given the Philippines in terms of its position in the West Philippine Sea.’”
GMA News had the same story . It said, “On Saturday, del Rosario said Aquino thanked Lee for Singapore’s support for the Philippines’ position on the West Philippine Sea. “ It used the same quote in the Manila Bulletin story.
The President also said more or less the same thing in his arrival statement: “Nagpaabot naman ng mainit na suporta ang mga pinuno ng mga bansang Singapore, Malaysia, at Vietnam ukol sa mga paksang may malawak na epekto’t implikasyon sa ating rehiyon, partikular na sa usapin sa West Philippine Sea.”
We understand that it would have serious diplomatic repercussions if the Singapore MFA insulted Del Rosario but must they insult Philippine media?
Without admitting the Del Rosario’s mistake, the Department of Foreign Affairs issued the following statement: “”It is correct to say that Singapore is not taking sides in the territorial disputes in the WPS. Singapore supports the same principled position of the Phil. in pursuing a resolution of disputes through peaceful means in accordance with international law. It moreover encourages the exercise of restraint and is against the use of force. Finally, it also shares with us the desire to have an early conclusion of the ASEAN – China Code of Conduct of Parties in the SCS.”
Moral of the story: please be careful in issuing statements.
A disturbing incident:
Julie Alipala, Inquirer’s Mindanao correspondent posted this in her Facebook wall yesterday: “Few minutes ago 2men riding in tandem wearing full face helmets stopped at the gate where my son and nephews playing.
“The backrider alighted and asked my son about my whereabouts. Kenjo said am inside the house. The backrider removed his helmet and requested my son to call me.
“ I was about to get out of the house but I noticed their motorbike has no plate number. At the doorstep (4 meters to the gate), I asked the clean looking guy in white shirt (mukhang galing sa training) what do they want. Also noticed motorbike’s engine in ready mode (ready to run). I asked again about their intention in a loud tone. The guy said they just want to know if i am selling the wrangler. I said No and about to ask why, they left hastily.”