By KATHLEEN T. OKUBO
Baguio media cannot be apologists or even describe themselves as such. If they do stand for Press Freedom may they stand straight and courageous without an inch of doubt or bargain to budge. I commend them though, in the same breath, (that for the sake of humanity) for trying to bridge the patch-up of human relations and thereby facilitating the breakdown of communication blocks in the search for Truth.
I condemn in the strongest terms that act of the La Trinidad councilors against the freedom of the press to impart information of public concern thru conveyances as newspapers and broadcast media. Using their positions as elected representatives of the town, to collectively declare one newsman a persona non grata for doing his job of gathering the news and putting it on paper for the public to read and know.
Even if they qualified that it is applicable only in the halls (note: public halls) of the municipal building. As public officials, what they did by any written or unwritten laws respected by good citizens of the land (and even rules of good manners and right conduct or work ethics) was simply wrong.
I also am disappointed that some members of Baguio media still believe this act by any one (specially honorable elected leaders of the town using their power drawn from the people’s mandate to condemn a journalist simply because he tweeked their (imagined) ego in the conduct of his journalist work,) a ‘persona non grata’ as something negotiable. Even if these said officials were “your best friends” that act is wrong and if they were your “best friends” you would tell them at their face it was a mistake and if they respected your friendship they would have rectified the situation immediately instead of what I see as the hardheaded flaunting of (being-in-power?) pride.
More so that the issue was the bringing to light of a proposed mall project on government land with the objective of servicing the consumer or the public, for mainly private profit or the bigger slice of the pie. The question raised was basically on the need for public consultation, remember? And, not the personality or character of any of the players in this fault against that inherent and basic right to freedom of expression or Freedom of the Press.
Was the mayor, Attorney Greg Abalos around to at least give an unsolicited legal view before it was put into action? (Ayu, kababain!)
If it was a matter of Journalist ethics, there are the press clubs, the press council and the letter to the editor to vent the complaint, if it was libelous there are the courts, if it is a smut against human relations there is the tongtongan over a cup of coffee. Even royalty would invite enemies to peace talks like Malacañang offering negotiation on the table against the world’s longest running revolution.
In reaction to the act of refusing an invite for a friendly talk over a cup of coffee with members of media to facilitate, the councilors and the target of the councilors’ ire, I recommend, to be done by members of media, or civil society; an investigative report that would lay all sides and issues behind this project to public scrutiny in the interest of public knowledge, transparency, good governance and a free, prior, informed public opinion.
Make the people win, give them a chance to know and intelligently decide if they need another mall to spend money on or not. This is not a contest of media vs. anyone. It is a responsible press delivering the hard data and facts that would help make a wholesome and educated vote from and by the people. In serving our community, we sure have a lot of growing up to do. # nordis.net