ME, MEDIA, and the LAWS

(re-blogged/original article was posted in Friendster blog)

It is not the barrel of the gun that extinguishes us from this profession but it is our empty stomach that could force us to leave from media.

I said it and I said it again and i’m going to say it again.

I said it sometime 2006 before a gathering in Manila of some Southeast Asian journalists, who were part of the Konrad Adenauer Center for Journalism, when killings of journalists were discussed.

I had emphasized then that no amount of threats could coward our fate to deliver the truth in the exercise of our journalism practice.

On Friday, December 7, 2007–I have reiterated that frank statement of mine before the attendees of the Marshal Mcluhan Forum Series on Responsible Media at the Audio-Visual Room of the University of San Jose Recoletos in Cebu City, Philippines.

The forum, dubbed “Lives in Conflict: Human Rights and the Media” had Philippine Graphics editor Maria Salvacion “Inday” Varona as main speaker.

I was one of the three reactors from the media. I repeated the statement in reaction to Ma’am Inday’s talk on the spate of journalists killings in the country.

I told the attendees in the forum, mostly students of mass communications from various universities, that if I was among the journalists inside Manila Peninsula on the afternoon of November 29, 2007, i wouldn’t hesitate to stay inside even if the threats of our lives had becoming intense.

About 50 journalists were inside the Manila Peninsula tagging with the group of Senator Antonio Trillanes IV when the combat-packed Special Action Force from the Philippine National Police fired tear gas in preparation for the evident attack against some 30 armed supporters of Senator Trillanes and Brig. Gen. Danilo Lim.

Media always opt to get the news “by hook or by crook” and even crossing the police lines at the crime scene has always been a natural thing in news coverage.

While it is not appropriate to cross the lines but journalists oftentimes brandish his media pass to get in for the pursuit of his commitment to get the news right from the horse’s mouth.

I recalled my experience while covering the Mindanao War in 1999 between the Armed Forces of the Philippines and the Moro Islamic Liberation Front as a proof that i am not afraid of the exchanges of gun shots while in the middle of a coverage.

While, it is true that journalists have also their families to feed and have children to raise–that journalistic instinct to cover the event prevailed over and above anything else even losing the opportunity to reunite with their families.

“No retreat, No Surrender” and  “Walang atrasan” are always the choices for the media.

Obstruction of justice may be a case against the journalists who remained at the Manila Peninsula. On the other hand, journalists leaned on the freedom of the press as guaranteed by our constitution to be their defense of the case.

Lastly, everyone in the forum agrees that the arrest of about 30 journalists at the Manila Peninsula was illegal.

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