“The Philippine press has always been under siege. There is not a single day in the Philippines when there would not be an irate police or military officer, politician, government official, crime boss, or big businessman making a threat to a particular journalist or newspaper for writing an article they deem to be “unfair” to them. Filipino journalists have accepted these dangers as hazards to the trade.” – Val Abelgas.
Some members of the Baguio media may beg to differ from their national correspondent colleagues. Maybe they have grown complacent or dare not challenge the establishment or they are too much part of the fiber of Baguio and will not take things lying down.
One press elder said of Baguio media, “If you have not been sued for libel as a journalist you are not worth your salt.” Then one Cebu personality sued at one time 26 members of the Baguio media for libel. So far most libel cases in this city have been used more to suppress local journalists, where gifts and pay-offs do not especially work.
This is not to dare or challenge or even attempt to raise courage much more heroism among the local journalists or media practitioners but just to allow the local press, the readers or listeners re-examine their role as journalists, media practitioners and media consumers, respectively.
Very recently, one student government official and local city government official enrolled in a local university became “the man” in the use of identified student funds for building a university infrastructure. Students did not think that was right. They raised their views and the local press picked it up and brought it to public light. Some sectors of the public responded responsibly.
“The man” lost his cool and tried to stop the sale of local papers that carried the story in some news stands. He gave a rosary to the whistle blower with a bit of advice. His friends called up friends to deliver some word to the writers. His mother, a government employee called the attention of the writers and gave them a piece of her mind. A member of the university administration visited one editorial office. “The man” even refused to speak to the press who called to take his side.
The freedom of the press, the most revered democratic institution has brought dictators of the world down. In our country, the La Solidaridad and the press that followed to this day played vital roles in exposing, opposing and unseating corrupt regimes – martial law, EDSA 1, 2 etc – and upholding our freedom as a people. This case of the student funds and the attempts to cover-up the alleged fraud can be puny compared to the NBN-ZTE case, and minuscule to the amount from Panagbenga fund COA report.
Yet, this case could not go unnoticed considering that it has been done in the school, the institution we trust would teach our youth the basics of good leadership and good governance, Christian values, morality, honor, trust and things like that. The entrusted P400,000 student fund cannot just leave without the supervising eyes of the administration.
Like all of us, journalists, the local press, have a role to play, a goal to fulfill and a people to be responsible to.
Seek the Truth and the Truth shall set you free. #