The 4th of June Nest of Pigs Ouster
The following article is an attempt to fulfill this blog’s purpose at providing news analysis. However, news must be transmitted in a timely and expedient fashion, something that is beyond this writer’s capacity at the moment. Therefore, this is being published before interest on the issue wanes.
Toe the Mainstream Media Party Line
If you follow the mainstream media (MSM), you will already be familiar with scandal that occurred this week, when the Philippine Daily Inquirer published the following controversial comic strip (PDI filename “pug130406.jpg”) by veteran cartoonist Apolonio “Pol” Medina, Jr.
At first glance, the matter seems cut and dried:
- On Tuesday, 4 June 2013, Mr. Medina authors a tasteless comic storyline in which “Bop”, a generic gay character accuses Christians of being hypocrites in their dealing with homosexuals.
- The punch line actually names St. Scholastica’s College as a haven for lesbian activity and accuses the staff, the Missionary Benedictine Sisters of Tutzing of deliberately encouraging such activities.
- In essence, impugning the reputation of a century-plus-old academic institution as well as slander against the parents, currently enrolled students, and about eight generations of very wealthy and politically powerful alumni.
- Naturally, there is considerable anger as the extended St. Scholastica family spreads the news of this “singular” insult throughout the social media.
- In response, the Board of Trustees of St. Scholastica’s College threatens legal action against the Philippine Daily Inquirer “unless an inquiry is launched”.
- On Wednesday, 5 June 2013, the Philippine Daily Inquirer suspends Mr. Medina who then chooses to fall on his sword when he realizes the shame and loss of political capital he has his patron, Mrs. Letty Magsanoc.
- On Friday, 7 June 2013, the Philippine Daily Inquirer tearfully, but reluctantly accepts Mr. Medina’s letter of resignation .
Having arrived at the “facts” presented, the reading public is now encouraged by the MSM to express outrage against in order to perhaps defend freedom of speech, or freedom of the press or simply “show support” of the artwork of Mr. Medina which has garnered a quarter century of fans across the Philippines, now portrayed as yet another plucky journalist who has been silenced by powerful interests.
Already, a number of communities on the Internet are using the controversy to further their own political agendas.
However, upon closer inspection, a number of details seem to have been lost in the MSM whitewash, causing the Filipino libertarian community to express reasonable doubt on the entire chain of events presented.
Questions We are Not Supposed to Ask:
- Why was Mr. Medina the only person to be suspended by the Philippine Daily Inquirer?
- Mr. Medina is no stranger to editorial censorship and has had his work refused by the PDI before, (See Medina, A. Ink & Politics 1.) so why is there no mention of any disciplinary action against the editor of the Entertainment section who had the editorial authority to allow or disallow the printing of “pug130406.jpg”?
- Was Tuesday, 4 June 2013, the first time “pug130406.jpg” was published in the PDI?
- What was the Pugad Baboy story arc that began on Monday, 3 June 2013 and how did “pug130406.jpg” fit into it?
- Finally, who benefits from the controversy?
Analysis of PDI Internal File Numbering
On Monday, 3 June 2013, the Philippine Daily Inquirer published the first of the week’s series of Pugad Baboy comic strips featuring commentary by Adagulfo “Mang Dagul” Sungcal Jr. on the seeming resurgence of Kilusang Bagong Lipunan loyalists on the Internet. It is marked in the PDI Archive as “pug130603.jpg”.
The Philippine Daily Inquirer serializes filenames in it’s directory using a simple “pugYYMMDD” format, where “pug” represents “Pugad Baboy” accompanied by a six figure numbered date. YY = year, MM = month, and DD = day. This is to represent the date of publication. The other two remaining comics strips sharing the same storyline are, as expected, also internally serialized in the same manner.
However, the comic strip identified as “pug130604.png” and originally intended for Tuesday, 4 June 2013 is mysteriously delayed until Thursday, 6 June 2013 and replaced by the now-infamous “pug130406.jpg”.
When one reads the story arc in its intended order, (“pug130603.jpg” followed by “pug130604.png”), you can get a sense of continuity of the narrative.
In “pug130603.jpg”, Mang Dugal is at his laptop, commenting on a number of pro-KBL posts on Facebook. Next to him is Polgas on a second laptop. The scene in “pug130604.png” remains the same. Two characters sitting side-by-side with laptops, talking about pro-KBL posts on Facebook. Even the clothing of the characters is the same, which gives one the idea that these two comic strips were drawn one after the other in rapid succession. In “pug130603.jpg”, Mang Dugal mentions posts, which could anywhere on the Internet, however, in in “pug130604.png”, Facebook is mentioned telling the reader that the previously mentioned posts were actually Facebook status updates. Again, a sense of continuity in the narrative.
Thus, “pug130605.jpg” also gives a sense of time, with Mang Dagul and Polgas conversing later in the day, but continuing the same narrative.
If we were to follow the PDI’s actual publication order, Mang Dagul begins a rant about pro-KBL in “pug130603.jpg” then the anti-Marcos story-arc suddenly shifts perspective to “pug130406.jpg”, after which the anti-Marcos arc returns with Mang Dagul in the kitchen, and finishes up with “pug130604.png” showing Mang Dagul having changed back into the same shirt as in “pug130603.jpg”.
The following chart shows this story arc discrepancy quite clearly.
Intended Publication Order
Actual Date of Publication
|pug130603.jpg||Monday, 3 June 2013||Monday, 3 June 2013|
|pug130406.jpg||Saturday, 6 April 2013||Tuesday, 4 June 2013|
|pug130605.jpg||Wednesday, 5 June 2013||Wednesday, 5 June 2013|
|pug130604.png||Tuesday, 4 June 2013||Thursday, 6 June 2013|
|(missing)||Friday, 7 June 2013||–|
|(missing)||Saturday, 8 June 2013||–|
A glance at the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Pugad Baboy Archive confirms the anomalous placement of “pug130406.jpg” in the publication order.
What can be concluded from the evidence is that publication of “pug130406.jpg” required editorial authority, which Mr. Medina, as a contributor did not. A quick glance at the Management Team page of the PDI shows a certain Emy Velarde as the Editor for the Entertainment section.
As of this writing, there has been no mention of any censure or disciplinary action against her.
Origins of “pug130406.jpg”
On Thursday, 6 June 2013 at 9:32 am, Mr. Medina posted his version of events on his Facebook page:
“if you zoom in on that particular strip that got me fired, you’ll see that the strip first appeared in MARCH. no reaction then. it was reissued after i made a series of anti-marcos strips, then BOOM! nag-trending sa twitter. interesting. i smell a consPIGracy….”
A close-up on panel 2 of “pug130406.jpg” shows Mr. Medina’s own production code, “PMJR-MM-YY”, where “PMJR” are his initials accompanied by a four figure numbered date. MM = month and YY = year. This is to represent the date the comic strip was created.
This more or less gives credence to the theory that publication of “pug130406.jpg” on Tuesday, 4 June 2013 was an approved editorial decision, out of the hands of Mr. Medina.
However, a close-up on panel 1 of “pug130406.jpg” shows a second production code, marked as “PMJR0413”.
N.B.: As of this writing, this comic strip has been removed from the PDI Archive and Mr. Medina has not yet shown the original.
This second production code “PMJR0413” tallies somewhat with the PDI’s archive code “pug130406”. Comic strips “pug130603.jpg”, “pug130605.jpg” and “pug130604.png” all bear the production code “PMJR0613”.
N.B.: Without further information available, we speculate that Mr. Medina’s code not only acts as a batch production date, but also as an “editorial check” granting the PDI Entertainment Editor, Emy Velarde, express permission to reprint an old comic strip.
Another look at the Philippine Daily Inquirer’s Pugad Baboy Archive shows that the comic slated for Saturday, 6 April 2013 is actually missing. Further evidence of editorial involvement.
There seems to be some discrepancy towards the employment status of Mr. Medina’s employment with the PDI as of Wednesday, 5 June 2013.
Diola, C. (2013, 6 June). Pugad Baboy creator claims ‘conPIGracy’ over suspended strip. Philippine Star. Retrieved from http://www.philstar.com/news-feature/2013/06/06/950848/pugad-baboy-creator-claims-conpigracy-over-suspended-strip
At this point in time, the official statement of the PDI says that Mr. Medina is “under suspension” but Mr. Medina claims to have been fired. He does retract his comments lightly later on.
“What? wait … Hindi pa pala ako fired. suspended lang hanggang magkaroon ng consensus na sipain ako. pero. Doon din siguro ang punta no’n. Sigh,”
This attitude is susprisingly in contrast to Mr. Medina’s resignation letter on Friday, 7 June 2013.
Questions We are Not Supposed to Ask:
- If what Mr. Medina says is accurate and that this code does in fact denote production date, (and what we speculate to be author consent), then why does “pug130406.jpg” not show a third production code “PMJR0613”?
- Is it possible that Mr. Medina did not choose to resign over the furor caused by “pug130406.jpg”, but was asked to quietly resign (was fired) over his Facebook postings?
[To be continued]