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Journalists as superheroes

By CHAY FLORENTINO-HOFILEÑA

When you’re in trouble, call a reporter. When something doesn’t work, call the press. When you’re in need of protection, call the media. When you’re being taken advantage of, report it to a journalist. When you’ve tried everything to no avail, call for a press conference.

Because the public depends on them a whole lot for a whole range of needs — from recovering a confiscated license from the Metro Manila Development Authority to easing out an abusive public official, many members of the media feel they are superheroes. Many times, they have to project themselves as such to attract a loyal following of readers, listeners, and viewers. Think of the Tulfo brothers, GMA-7’s “Imbestigador” and Mike Enriquez, and the “XXX” brand of ABS-CBN, among others.

You’ve got to be tough, you’ve got to be brave, you’ve got to be aggressive, you’ve got to be fearless. You must be willing to take on anyone and anything, and be able to demolish all representations of evil and injustice. You’ve got to be invincible.

This whole context partly explains why there is a clamor for media coverage of the Ampatuan massacre trials. There has been sustained interest in the case even after a year because 57 individuals were mercilessly killed, 32 of them media workers. If the media were themselves victims in this gruesome murder allegedly perpetrated by a powerful political clan, how dare this clan get away? And what of ordinary folks in Sharif Aguak in Maguindanao, who will stand by them?

The clamor for live coverage of the Ampatuan trial increases. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/bulatlat.com)

The clamor for live coverage of the Ampatuan trial increases. (Photo by Ronalyn V. Olea/bulatlat.com)

Tragic as it may seem, for the ordinary folks, there is something still to be thankful about journalists being among those killed with their relatives. Without the media’s presence, they know there is little to no guarantee that government will keep an eye on the case, or that the public will not forget. Given the litany of unsolved and unsettled murders in this country, it is easy for this massacre to be swept under the rug of forgetfulness.

Most of the time, the power of the media is inversely proportional to the strength of the state. During a forum a month or two ago, Butch Zialcita of the Socio-Anthropology Department of the Ateneo said that the disastrous hostage-taking incident where the media was taken to task last August, mirrors the weakness of the state.

Because nobody from government was in visible control of the situation, the media behaved the way it wished and saw fit. For sure, there were misjudgments and lapses, even abuses. But these could have been minimized had somebody from government taken charge early on.

In the Ampatuan murder trial, there is a clamor for live coverage because distrust of government—or in this specific case, the courts—is high. Dilatory tactics and questionable rulings are common, bribery and intimidation are often part of the behind-the-scenes maneuverings especially where influential and powerful people are involved.

If the judicial system were more trustworthy, there would likely be no need for live coverage because results of the trial would be predictable and even acceptable. It’s been a year since the horrifying massacre took place and the case is still pending in the courts. The relatives of those who were slain want superhero intervention to counter the natural tendencies of the courts and the judicial system as a whole.

To them, the presence of cameras in the courtroom will bring about greater transparency, which is uncharacteristic of the courts. But with the close scrutiny of the cameras, the cast of characters in this court case could behave differently. If they know that the media and the general public are watching and monitoring proceedings, justice could be handed down in a speedier fashion, and with greater efficiency.

Given the magnitude of the loss and the track record of the courts, it’s really not much to ask, is it? Newsbreak, independent journalism from the Philippines

CATEGORY: Blogs, Chay Florentino-Hofileña, Justice & Human Rights, Media, Sectors
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  1. This is all the more reason that journalists must be beyond reproach, and all the nore shameful when they become as corrupt as those they cover.

  2. Rodrigo C. Ramos, Jr. says:

    Mam, at the Sulu Hall of Justice known as Arabani Hall of Justice because The Father Benasaudi Arabani, Sr. (RTC Judge, and former54 OIC Sharia District Judge)his wife was employed Illuminada was employed at the 3rd then transferred to the first sharia circuit, the son, Arabani, Jr. was also employed as Legal Researcher and according to former judge Astih, his endorsement was anti dated because he was no longer the judge when made the endorement of the son, the wife of Arabani,Jr. who can’t even talk any dialect in Sulu fluently was even promoted to Interpreter, the son, the Bro. of Arabani, Sr. and the son in law are all employed in the Judiciary, we filed a complaint against the son for grave abuse of authority, sexual harrassment, (the drawing he made of the vigina and penis trying to show it to our lady employee) in return this judge HID our Daily Time Record, bring their bodyguards around to threaten us and from Oct. 2010 to this day I am not receiving any salary. This judge did submit (fabricated)complaints against me and the court En Banc twice required me to explain without the attached complaint! many more abuses, such as employees doing carpentry repairing their house, sll of them reporting between 8:30 and 10:30 everyday to work and many absecses made without records. They are said to be influencial at the SC. WE JUST NEED HELP! I DON’T CARE IF I GET KILLED, AS LONG AS I TOLD THE TRUTH. NEPOTISM IN THE SC, ARE THEY EXEMPTED? two of us are now without salary and allowances

  3. Rodrigo C. Ramos, Jr. says:

    Mam, at the Sulu Hall of Justice known as Arabani Hall of Justice because The Father Benasaudi Arabani, Sr. (RTC Judge, and former54 OIC Sharia District Judge)his wife was employed Illuminada was employed at the 3rd then transferred to the first sharia circuit, the son, Arabani, Jr. was also employed as Legal Researcher and according to former judge Astih, his endorsement was anti dated because he was no longer the judge when made the endorement of the son, the wife of Arabani,Jr. who can’t even talk any dialect in Sulu fluently was even promoted to Interpreter, the son, the Bro. of Arabani, Sr. and the son in law are all employed in the Judiciary, we filed a complaint against the son for grave abuse of authority, sexual harrassment, (the drawing he made of the vigina and penis trying to show it to our lady employee) in return this judge HID our Daily Time Record, bring their bodyguards around to threaten us and from Oct. 2010 to this day I am not receiving any salary. This judge did submit (fabricated)complaints against me and the court En Banc twice required me to explain without the attached complaint! many more abuses, such as employees doing carpentry repairing their house, sll of them reporting between 8:30 and 10:30 everyday to work and many absecses made without records. They are said to be influencial at the SC. WE JUST NEED HELP! I DON’T CARE IF I GET KILLED, AS LONG AS I TOLD THE TRUTH. NEPOTISM IN THE SC, ARE THEY EXEMPTED? two of us are now without salary and allowances. Needed someone to help us!just imagine 7 of their bodyguards staring at you and going in and out of your offce. I just smile. Hehehe!

  4. Rodrigo C. Ramos, Jr. says:

    Regarding my integrity, and how I work pls. refer to Dra. Fahra A. Tan-Omar, Provincial Health Officer-II (09177111300) or Mohara A. Concepcion 09167174465)(, Administrative Officer-III or Mrs. Cecilia Lim, Accountant-II. I am a former employee of the Integrated Provincial Health office (IPHO), Sulu an awardee of the Most Outstanding Employee, and I don’t make friends with corrupt, pervert, arrogant gov’t employees. So there are just but a few who hated me. Or Mam, at least find someone who is willing to help us. not death but money is now our problem.

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