Backfire
TO THE QUICK - Jerry Tundag (The Freeman) - April 29, 2019 - 12:00am

A report by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism on the supposed wealth of the Duterte family was quickly, and expectedly, seized upon by critics of the Duterte administration. So quick was the response one would think that they had been waiting all along for the report to come out.

It was as if they had been tipped off of its coming. And if that is the suspicion, it is one that is easy to pardon. The PCIJ is not exactly the paragon of anything. The “investigative journalism” in its name is just a big fat excuse for its being. True, there was a time when legitimate news organizations would snap up its "investigative" products.

Today, only very few remain enthusiastic takers of PCIJ stories even at a discount. My paper has virtually stopped buying years ago. And it is easy to see why the numbers are dwindling. One does not even have to go far to see what I mean. Let us just take the Duterte wealth story itself.

In the story, PCIJ said the wealth of the Dutertes rose from this figure to that figure. You can Google the figures because I will not dignify superfluousity by citing it. It itemized everything, including that of youngest daughter Kitty, who is not even out of her teens. PCIJ leaned on the money and its rise but quite suspiciously, and very irresponsibly, stopped short of explaining why.

How can PCIJ claim its story is a product of "investigative reporting" when it exhibited neither effort nor the willingness to explain the wealth when at the very core of the story is the premise of expansive wealth? I now suspect there was never any effort nor willingness to explain.

I suspect the purpose of the story is just to focus on the wealth and never mind any explanation. In fact, it might suit the agenda of whoever if the wealth just got exposed and there left to fester in the open, leaving the responsibility of explaining to the Dutertes, that is if any of them would care to, as a PCIJ report obligates no one to do so.

But what is truly funny about the report, infirmities and holes notwithstanding, is that it unintentionally shot down one of the critics’ most consistent accusations against the Dutertes --involvement in illegal drugs.

In the desire to pin down the Dutertes on drugs, two critical mistakes were made. The increasing wealth of the Dutertes was left unexplained. All the Dutertes had to do was fill in the blanks and laugh off the insinuations. But the most ridiculous mistake was making the wealth too small. With money that paltry, they could not be into drugs. Somebody just shot himself in the foot.

PHILIPPINE CENTER FOR INVESTIGATIVE JOURNALISM
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