It was all too easy to lose sight of the bigger picture last Friday when President Benigno Aquino III again went into a whine and bash routine against his favorite whipping boy, the media.
Even the media saw only Mr. Aquino’s personal tirade against Noli de Castro at the silver anniversary of TV Patrol.
We therefore owe Sec. Sonny Coloma and Palace spokesman Edwin Lacierda a debt of gratitude for pointing out what should have been obvious — that the presidential broadside against De Castro was not only personal, it was a message to the Philippine media as a whole, the same message, they noted, that Mr. Aquino delivered at another silver anniversary that same day, that of BusinessWorld.
We shall not dwell on the propriety or correctness of Mr. Aquino’s personal attack on De Castro for switching from media to politics and back again and seemingly mixing up the two.
But we shall not remain silent when he accuses us, not just of “negativity and sensationalism,” but of actually robbing our people of “the chance and the capacity to dream.”
And we certainly shall not take it sitting down when he deigns to tell us how to go about our work and what to put into it.
Mr. Aquino asked the press to couch commentary in “properly contextualized facts” and, as he has before, to “also look at the crimes being solved and not at crime rates as he noted that the government is doing everything to address the problem,” as the Philippine News Agency reported on his speech at BusinessWorld.
Such gall given how he cavalierly passed off old crime solution figures as current accomplishments in his SONA at the same time the PNP was reporting a crime surge in Metro Manila.
As for his insistence that we highlight the robust economy, how can we do that and ignore our people’s voice in survey after survey attesting to growing poorer and experiencing hunger more often, something we journalists are not immune to, by the way?
And pray do tell us, Mr. Aquino, of a better way to rob people of the “chance and capacity to dream” than to continue depriving them of the justice for the extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, media murders and all other human rights violations under your watch alone?
Or, dare we say, for boasting of completing agrarian reform under your watch when the farmers of Luisita continue to be deprived?
Instead of demanding that we tell it the way he sees it, why doesn’t Mr. Aquino take off his rose-tinted glasses and descend from the heights to walk through the muck and the grime that the people he professes to serve live in?
Call it what you will, Mr. Aquino, but we, the truly independent Philippine press, will not acquiesce to your wish that we sugarcoat the reality that we not only see and witness but also live in.
That would be, in the very words you use, albeit misguidedly, truly negativism.
Rowena Paraan, NUJP secretary-general
Nestor Burgos, NUJP chair