Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Sun Myung Moon's Not-So-Invisible Hand

By Dan Mariano
Manila Times
July 29, 2009

THE Washington Times editorial last Sunday, which drew an unflattering picture of Gloria Arroyo on the eve of her State of the Nation Address and visit to the American capital, was as much an attack on US President Barack Obama as it was a smack on the Philippine president.

The Washington Times—reportedly Ronald Reagan’s favorite reading material when he was still in the White House—does not conceal its rabidly conservative agenda, which is diametrically opposed to Obama’s liberal platform.

MalacaƱang mouthpieces who took umbrage at The Washington Times commentary, titled “Obama the sanitizer” should perhaps have taken a cue from the White House’s own reaction—which was, to borrow a term from local swardspeak, dedma.

Either the Obama administration has learned to take such editorial smacks from its right-wing detractors in stride or it does not give a hoot about what Washington’s “second paper” has to say.

Online sources show that from October 2008 to March 2009 The Washington Times had an average daily circulation of 83,511—about an eighth of the audited circulation of The Washington Post, the number one paper in the District of Columbia.

The Sunday circulation of The Washington Times for the same period was 43,889—roughly one-twenty second that of The Washington Post.

Given the limited reach of The Washington Times, some coffee-shop wags in Manila have ventured that perhaps more Filipinos read or got to know of its “Obama the sanitizer” editorial than the D.C. residents targeted by the paper.

In fact, “Obama the sanitizer” was at the bottom of a lineup of three editorials published in last Sunday’s edition of The Washington Times.

As of 2:30 p.m. Monday (Manila) time, The Washington Times website showed that the first editorial, “Americans’ right to carry,” generated 14 online comments and the second editorial “No profit motive” seven.

The third editorial “Obama the sanitizer” drew 19 comments from online readers, many of whom by their apparent familiarity with the Philippine situation and, in a couple of cases, by their grammatical lapses were probably Filipinos.

In response to the editorial, a Palace spokesperson did offer a clue as to where The Washington Times was coming from.

Brett M. Decker is the managing editor for opinion pages of The Washington Times. He is the likely author of “Obama the santizer.” However, even if he did not actually pen the piece, he must have given it the once over and then caused its publication.

Decker is also the author the life-story of former Speaker Jose de Venecia Jr.—with the kilometric title Global Filipino: The Authorized Biography of Jose de Venecia Jr., the Visionary Five-Time Speaker of the House of Representatives of the Philippines. Whew!

Decker’s position in the ideological spectrum can be reckoned even from the titles of a sampling of his articles: “Frustration in the Desert” (March 15, 2004); “The Vatican II Sham” (December 9, 2003); “The Jihad Menace to the West” (October 16, 2003); and “Islam: A Religion of Conquest” (September 24, 2003).

But Decker’s involvement in the publication of “Obama the sanitizer” is not the only tell-tale sign linking one of Mrs. Arroyo’s fiercest critics to the editorial.

Again online sources point out that The Washington Times was founded under the direction of Unification Church founder Sun Myung Moon in 1982.

During the paper’s 20th anniversary party in 2002, Reverend Moon was reported to have said, “The Washington Times will become the instrument in spreading the truth about God to the world.”

By 2002, sources added, the Unification Church—whose members some quarters call “Moonies”—had spent about $1.7 billion in subsidies for The Washington Times. The paper has lost money every year that it has been in business. By 2003, The New Yorker magazine reported, the owners of The Washington Times had spent a billion dollars since its inception.

In 2008 Thomas F. Roeser of the Chicago Daily Observer mentioned that Moon had “announced he will spend as many future billions as is needed to keep the paper competitive.”

Where does JdV figure in all this?

In 1999 Unification Church officials in Manila invited several Manila newsmen to South Korea to attend a conference of the Universal Peace Foundation in Seoul. To their surprise, they found out that a speaker in one of the workshops was de Venecia.

Through the years the Pangasinan lawmaker has evidently cultivated his Moonie ties.

An article in the website of Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, another Moonie organization, spoke of a gathering held in June at the COEX Convention Center in Seoul where “nearly two hundred dignitaries from overseas [came] to celebrate the successful publication of the surprising new best-seller, Becoming a Global Citizen of Peace, the Reverend Dr. Sun Myung Moon’s autobiographical memoir.”

The article added: “Current and former political leaders both from Korea and from abroad participated in this event, which coincided with a conference of world political leaders organized by the Universal Peace Federation. Attendees included . . . Alfred Moisu, a former president of Albania; Rahim Huseynov, a former prime minister of Azerbaijan; Hassan Muratovic, former prime minister of Bosnia; Hamilton Green, former prime minister of the Republic of Guyana; Kessai Note, former president of the Republic of the Marshall Islands; Jose de Venecia Jr., former speaker of the house in the Philippines; Sir James Richard Mancham, first president of the Republic of Seychelles; Gabriel Mesan Agibeyome Kodjo, former prime minister of the Republic of Togo; and Malimba Nathaniel Masheke, former prime minister of Zambia,”

Enough said.

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