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Media is government’s favorite whipping boy — Sun Star Cebu’s Pachico Seares

Dammam, Saudi Arabia — We have been pricking on those involved, directly or indirectly, in the botched rescue operations. We have written much about it, and most of our write-ups have touched on who to blame and why to blame them. Can we instead write about what we can do to prevent this from happening again and how we can help keep the good relations of Hong Kong and the Philippines?

After the incident, we are building fences, instead of bridging the gap. This will, I am certain, continue until we stop pointing fingers.

We must (learn to) be responsible.

When Pachico Seares, of Sun Star Cebu (a local newspaper in the Philippines), wrote, in his August 31 column, that “media is always the favorite whipping boy when government fumbles,” he was impliedly telling us that media is not also willing to own up responsibility for the botched operations. Hasn’t he realized this?

With the information I culled from different media outlets, including the Internet, the Aquino government, the crisis managers, the SWAT Team, and, yes, media have contributed to — and must be held responsible for – the failed rescue attempt.

I think this is not difficult to understand.

With Seares frantically saying, in the same column, that “with rules of engagement with media, police were not bothered (simply for not seeing the need) to use the power and means to stop news coverage during the crisis,” I expect we will face the same situation should there be another hostage-taking.

Media is truth-seeker. While it is media’s responsibility to inform the public of the standoff, the truth is, in the act of seeking the truth, it didn’t bother to consider its effect in the rescue operations. With the live coverage, killer Rolando Mendoza, a policeman sacked for robbery and extortion, was able to monitor what was going on outside the bus he had hijacked. This made the job of the neophyte SWAT Team difficult.

According to John HarrisonJohn Harrison, security analyst at the Nanyang University in Singapore, live video (coverage during the crisis) is mistake number one and there should have been a media blackout.

I am not sure if media will agree with him.

If, for the sake of argument, media will insist police were at fault for not curbing news coverage, then it is as if to say that media itself needs to be reminded of the rules of engagement with media, which, according to Sun Star Cebu’s editor-in-chief, were adopted after the Peninsula Hotel incident in 2007. Will Atty. Seares instead say the government is the favorite scapegoat when media fails?

I don’t think he will. By hook or by crook, he will stand by media in the guise of press freedom.

I think there are limits to press freedom. To seek the truth is not as important as to save the lives of the innocent hostages. Like other Filipinos, I do not necessarily need to know what the hostage-taker was doing with the hostages inside the bus; I need to know whether the hostages were saved or killed and, if killed, why they were not saved.


About Danilo Tao-tuan Naraja

I am an expatriate based in Jubail, Saudi Arabia and work in the Admin and HR Division of an oil and gas company. I am an HR practitioner for more than a decade. I used to work for a Cebu-based local newspaper. I love to write human interest stories and started writing when I was still in high school.


One thought on “Media is government’s favorite whipping boy — Sun Star Cebu’s Pachico Seares

  1. Nice investigative work!


    Posted by cyleodonnell | March 30, 2012, 10:48 pm

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