China's PH tourism blacklist fiasco | Inquirer Opinion
Sharp Edges

China’s PH tourism blacklist fiasco

/ 09:51 AM October 18, 2022

Last week, Filipinos were shocked to hear Senate President Juan Miguel “Migz” Zubiri’s surprise announcement that China had blacklisted the Philippines as a tourist destination due to the alleged proliferation of Philippine Offshore Gaming Operators (POGO) in the country.

In a brief appearance via video teleconference during a hearing of the Senate ways and means committee, Zubiri shared that Chinese Ambassador Huang Xilian told him about the supposed blacklisting during the diplomat’s courtesy call to the Upper Chamber a day prior.

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The news immediately spread like wildfire. But a few hours later, the Chinese Embassy made a cryptic clarification: it labeled news of the blacklisting as ‘misinformation’ or ‘kuryente’ (bumsteer) in journalistic parlance.

A fuming Zubiri immediately issued a statement lambasting the Chinese ambassador for making him look like a purveyor of fake news. He maintained that Ambassador Huang really mentioned the word ‘blacklisted’ although his fellow senators like Sen. Win Gatchalian couldn’t recall hearing it.

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The senate president has every reason to be mad. Ever since the Chinese Embassy called his announcement ‘misinformation’, he has become the target of derision including mean and sometimes funny memes chiding him for speaking on behalf of the Chinese Embassy.

Zubiri’s predicament was largely his own making. As Senate president, it’s not his job to speak on behalf of a foreign government. He should have waited for the Chinese envoy to make the proper announcement instead of him acting like the Embassy spokesman, critics point out.

Worse, Zubiri stole the thunder from the Senate hearing discussing the fate of at least 23,000 Pinoys who are bound to lose their jobs if POGOs are banned. It also took the spotlight away from the economic benefits that legitimate POGOs bring to the country in terms of taxes, license fees, including billions of pesos in contributions to the real estate and retail sectors.

While there are ‘bad actors’ in the POGO industry, the same is true in almost all other business sectors. But the fake or wrong news about China’s supposed blacklisting of the Philippines caused greater damage as it made the country appear as an ‘undesirable’ investment and tourist destination just because it legalized offshore gaming. Never mind that the few criminal incidents involving Chinese criminal gangs could be resolved with proper police work.

It’s also perplexing that so many senators seem to have bleeding hearts for the Chinese who gamble in online casinos, but are eerily silent on the fate of Pinoy fishermen driven away like poachers by the Chinese Coast Guard in the West Philippine Sea.

They ask why the Philippines is abetting online gaming when it is illegal in China. Perhaps they should ask instead, why is government – the Senate included – allowing China to trample on our sovereignty in our own seas when it violates our territorial integrity enshrined in the Constitution? Enough of the charade and pandering to China. Respect begets respect.

Mainstream TV, radio, and journalists are sources of ‘fake news’ — survey

The Latest PULSE ASIA report on FAKE NEWS about Government and Politics should be an eye opener to us, who are still active in radio and television news business. Previously, it is accepted proposition that most fake news come from the internet or social media by trolls, bloggers or vloggers, and influencers.

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However, the most recent Pulse Asia survey, says mainstream TV and Radio are also big sources of fake news. In its September 17-21 nationwide polling with 1,200 respondents, the question was: Among the following, where did you read, hear, or watch misinformation or fake news about government and politics?

Almost tied in first and second place were social media at 68 percent and Television at 67 percent. Television fake news was highest in Visayas (85 percent) even beating by a large margin internet fake news (60 percent). Metro Manila was at (77 percent), Balance Luzon (66) and Mindanao (47 percent).

Radio’s delivery of fake news was 32 percent nationwide with the highest recorded in Visayas (63 percent), Mindanao (38 percent), Balance Luzon (23 percent) and Metro Manila (11 percent). Newspapers was in seventh with just 3 percent.

The survey also asked respondents which people or groups are spreading false information or fake news. Social media influencers, Bloggers, Vloggers again topped the list with 58 percent, but mainstream Journalists were close in second place at 40 percent. percent) and Mindanao at 47 percent.

Social media influencers, Bloggers/Vloggers are highest in Metro Manila (69 percent), Balance Luzon (67 percent), Visayas (47 percent) and Mindanao (43 percent). On the other hand, Journalists spreading fake news are highest in Metro Manila (49 percent) while Balance Luzon and Mindanao are tied at 41 percent and Visayas at only 30 percent.

These numbers are shocking to all of us broadcast practitioners. No wonder, television news ratings are dropping and quite sadly, current affairs TV programs are almost irrelevant.

I believe that this new Pulse Asia survey is indicative of a “simmering dislike” and “biased accusations” against some leading Radio-TV journalists. This was popular talk of the town during the campaign homestretch amid conflicting rally numbers, and when disagreeing voters were frowned and ridiculed in their social accounts. But that was May, and this survey was last month, are we still in election hangover, people?

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