MAGANES: Media’s sad encounter with VP Robredo

April 9, 2017 at 11:20 am Leave a comment


vir
 Media practitioners in Pangasinan showed frustration last March 25 when they were not able to interview Vice President Leni Robredo. She was in  Dagupan City that day being the guest speaker during the graduation of Mary Help of Christians Seminary at the St. John Cathedral upon the invitation of Lingayen-Dagupan Archbishop Socrates Villegas. Villegas is the current President of the Catholic Bishops Conference of the Philippines (CBCP).
Media men went to the Cathedral expecting to get news from Robredo and to interview her on different issues. Many of them were expecting her to grant an interview since they said they were invited to cover the affair. However, some friends in the media said they did not even get the chance to be near her. She was fully guarded by police officers including her security from the Presidential Security Group (PSG).
Robredo, being the second highest official of the country, is a news material. Whether she likes it or not, she has to contend with the media men. Instead of extending courtesies to them to at least answered some issues, she avoided the media practitioners of Pangasinan. It would have been her chance to clarify her controversial video sent to the United Nations where she lambasted the Duterte administration on extrajudicial killings and the war against the illegal drugs. Of course, she smiled at length but such smiles were not the ones needed by the media but news and information for the consumption of  Filipinos, the Pangasinenses in particular.
What for that she’s in Pangasinan especially Dagupan City? Does she have media handlers in Pangasinan? How about Archbishop Villegas? Didn’t his staff let media men approach her? Frustrated as they were, her visit in Dagupan City did not land in local newspapers as well as in radio programs.

It was quite surprising that for the first time, seminarians’ graduation has a politician as the guest speaker. Robredo for all we know belongs to the Liberal Party, a political party of then Presidents Cory Aquino and his son PNoy. Archbishop Villegas is also known as close to the Aquinos.
Getting Robredo as the guest speaker during a church-sponsored graduation had been tainted with politics. After all, the graduation was held inside the Cathedral, the clergymen’s domain. In the past, politicians were not usually invited to speak before graduates of seminary because they are not supposed to talk about politics. This is also to show the separation of the Church and the State.
Archbishop Emeritus Oscar Cruz, who once led the faithful of Lingayen-Dagupan Archdiocese, had never used the pulpit to lambast the government. He endeared himself to media men. He fought the illegal jueteng outside the Church. He never invited politicians to be the guest speakers in secular schools much more on seminaries. But Villegas has defied the tradition- the reason or reasons of which is known to him alone.
Going back to VP Robredo, the dismayed media practitioners said that they will wait again until election comes. They said that during the election period, Robredo was the one looking for media people and now that she’s in the position, media practitioners are no longer that important to her. When she comes back in the future to Pangasinan and Dagupan City, will media practitioners still lend their ears and cover her activities? I hope they will still do.
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In this times of advanced information technology, the power of media could not be undermined. Every government official- elected or appointed, should be aware that news and information are wanted in every nook of the society. The mainstream media has already been overtaken by the social media where “fake websites” as well as ” fake news” have proliferated. If the mainstream media could not fulfill its mandate to provide better news to the people, social media through the internet will continue to dominate as the first source of news and information, not minding whether those posted are true or “fake”.
This reality is in the offing. President Duterte has lambasted lately the Philippine Daily Inquirer and ABS-CBN as oligarchs media companies.  He resented  the coming out of “slanted” news stories allegedly perpetrated by news reporters of the said media outlets.
News slants are common in media industry as long as the messages conveyed by the source are true- not filtered or covered up. This is the problem President Duterte is facing among media men. There were some instances that his messages were not clear maybe because of his proficiency in Cebuano dialect than Tagalog. What he wishes to convey are sometimes misunderstood.
While President Duterte has some misgivings among media practitioners in the country, it is a well known fact that it’s only during his presidency that he issued an Executive Order on the “freedom of information”. In addition to that, for the protection of media men he issued Administrative Order No. 1 creating the Presidential Task Force on Media Security (PTFoMS). These Orders for all we know show his concern about information, news as well as in protecting the lives of news men.
His harsh words against the media practitioners will soon pass. His media bureau has a lot of work to do particularly in issuing factual data and information to the Filipino people. “Slanted news” may come in if news reporters could not fully grasp the messages of the President and the lack of data and information at hand.
(For comments and suggestions, email me at emperorvirgil@yahoo.com. Visit my blog “The Roving Pen” at www.virgilmaganes.wordpress.com.)
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Entry filed under: News.

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