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Friday, March 1, 2024

The war that is now a joke

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I came across a report on the psychological effects of TV news. It talked about how the news affects our health, mood and experiences, and many other aspects of our thinking and behavior.

If the TV program generates negative moods like sadness, anxiety, anger, and disgust, then these experiences will affect how we interpret events in our own life, what memories we recall, and how much we worry about the present and the future.

There is a good reason to believe that negative sensationalism in the news has been gradually increasing over the past 20-30 years.

According to the report, there are many bad things happening in the world, and this is why negative sensationalism has become so prevalent.

These bad things include crime, famine, war, violence, political unrest, and injustice, to name a few. As a result, there has been increasing tendency for broadcasters to “emotionalize” their reporting. They do so by emphasizing potential negative outcomes of a story—no matter what the risks of those outcomes might be.

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The report says it is scaremongering.

Because we now have a 24-hour news coverage, gone are the days when the journalist’s role was to describe, and impartially, what is happening. Because of technology we now have an almost-immediate visual record of what is happening throughout the world.

The journalist’s job then becomes one of “evaluating” the story. And there is a thin line between evaluating and sensationalizing a report.

There is also the aspect of TV news competing with entertainment programs. To do this, broadcasters emphasize emotionally relevant material.

This is also true for the rest of mainstream media. Reporting has evolved from objective to subjective. The days of the five Ws (who, what, when, where and why) are over.

And indeed, all these affect the psychological state of the viewer or reader.

For instance, if the viewer or reader falls under the “A Type,” one who is anxious and who worries about everything, he or she could be prone to depression. This can even lead to suicide.

Thus, the news we see on TV is likely to exacerbate our personal worries and anxieties.

By bombarding people with sensationalized news, broadcasters tend to “catastrophize” the negativity in a person.


Santa Banana, it is sad that many sectors are now describing President Duterte’s war against government corruption as selective and given to double standards.

For example, President Duterte’s allies and supporters who are involved in graft and corruption seem to be able to get away with murder. Those who are not on the right political side, however, are thrown under the bus.

Even allies who have been dismissed for having a whiff of corruption about them are just getting recycled into other agencies.

I remember commending President Duterte for having the political will to really wage a war on corruption.

But now I am not so sure. Take the case of Solicitor General Jose Calida, who has a clear conflict of interest with his job, He remains the majority shareholder in a security company, which has snagged juicy contracts with various government agencies.

Calida is also accused of getting allowances in excess of what is lawful. The Commission on Audit found that Calida, like his predecessor Florin Hilbay, got allowances in excess of 50 percent of their annual salary.

And yet, the President says Calida will stay on because he is good.

By contrast, President Duterte fired former Dangerous Drugs Board chairman Dionisio Santiago for criticizing the plan for a giant rehabilitation center in Nueva Ecija. Santiago said that rehabilitation centers should be community based.

The President was supportive of former Tourism Secretary Wanda Teo and Justice Secretary Vitalino Aguirre III as well.

And yet he fired Rudolf Phillip Jurado just because the former government corporate counsel issued two opinions involving him that the President did not like.

Rudolf, by the way, is my nephew. He is the son of my brother, the late Court of Appeals Justice and pre-Bar lecturer in civil law, Desiderio Jurado.

The talk in coffee shops and boardrooms is that nothing will happen to the President’s war on corruption because he lacks the sincerity to implement it evenly. In fact, it has become a big joke.


Is the Duterte administration serious in protecting our reefs and shoals, which China has already occupied and militarized?

I ask this question in the wake of reports that Filipino fishermen in Scarborough Shoal are being harassed by the Chinese Coast Guard. The Chinese also reportedly seized their catch.

Despite all these, the President has adopted the policy of passive consent, or acquiescence, to anything China does in the South China Sea.

The biggest joke is the statement of Foreign Affairs Secretary Alan Peter Cayetano that the administration is taking diplomatic action against all these incursions by China.

But what action?

I support the suggestion of Acting Supreme Court Chief Justice Antonio Carpio that the Duterte administration should now file a case before the Permanent Court of Arbitration since all of China’s actions defy a prior ruling. That decision, handed down by the PCA in 2016, said that China’s so-called nine-dash line claim has no basis in law.

This is the least the Duterte administration could do.

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