Opposition senators seek probe into PTV’s planned airing of Chinese shows

Camille Elemia
Opposition senators seek probe into PTV’s planned airing of Chinese shows
'Airing Chinese shows on our state-run network poses a danger of spreading Chinese propaganda sanctioned by our government,' minority senators say in filing Senate Resolution No. 780

MANILA, Philippines – The Senate minority bloc sought an immediate investigation into the Duterte administration’s plan to air Filipino-dubbed Chinese shows and movies on state-run People’s Television Network (PTV) starting this August.

Opposition senators filed Senate Resolution No. 780, urging the committee on public information and mass media to look into the government’s plan, as it could be “an insidious agenda” to advance propaganda of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). Senator Grace Poe heads the committee.

“Airing Chinese shows on our state-run network poses a danger of spreading Chinese propaganda sanctioned by our government through our official media stations,” the senators said in their resolution.

“The continued tolerance and leniency of our government to Chinese intervention in our political and economic life… now to be reinforced with the airing of Chinese government propaganda in our government-owned media, signifies the clear and present danger of Chinese domination in the Philippines, short of an invasion,” they added.

The minority bloc is composed of Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon and senators Leila de Lima, Paolo Benigno Aquino IV, Risa Hontiveros, Francis Pangilinan, and Antonio Trillanes IV.

On June 13, Chinese Ambassador Zhao Jianhua announced the agreement between Manila and Beijing. Zhao said these Chinese shows may inspire Filipino viewers to learn how China attained “steady economic growth, improved their people’s lives, and have secured regional peace and security.”

The opposition, however, pointed out that the airing of these shows may subtly inculcate among Filipinos the authoritarian, one-party state, anti-democratic, and atheist ideology and principles of the CCP. (READ: Alejano tags airing of Chinese shows in PTV as PH ‘surrender’ to China)

“It is incumbent upon the government to shield the broadcast industry from any form of intrusive and invasive foreign agenda of domination, control, and brainwashing of the Filipino people, be it subtle or explicit,” the minority senators said.

PTV, they added, is mandated to prioritize television programs that foster patriotism and nationalism in every Filipino citizen, and not to spread propaganda of a foreign government like the communist China.

Under Republic Act No. 7306, also known as the Charter of the People’s Television Network, PTV is mandated to “develop the broadcasting industry as a medium for development, promotion and advancement of Filipino nationalism, culture and values that serve as an instrument in the struggle for Filipino sovereignty, identity, national unity and integration.”

This is not the first partnership between Philippine and Chinese state media. In February 2017, the Philippines’ Presidential Communications Operations Office and China Radio International signed an agreement to hold training sessions and to share content.

The planned airing of Chinese shows comes as Manila and Beijing remain embroiled in a dispute over the West Philippine Sea, with the China Coast Guard taking fish caught by Filipino fishermen in Panatag Shoal (Scarborough Shoal). (READ: Senate inaction on China: No inquiry amid militarization– Rappler.com

Camille Elemia

Camille Elemia is Rappler's lead reporter for media, disinformation issues, and democracy. She won an ILO award in 2017. She received the prestigious Fulbright-Hubert Humphrey fellowship in 2019, allowing her to further study media and politics in the US. Email camille.elemia@rappler.com