Journalists strike back | Inquirer Opinion
Human Face

Journalists strike back

/ 05:05 AM February 10, 2022

How about journalists striking back instead of just getting struck? How about journalists suing instead of getting sued? For the likes of us, it cannot be turning the other cheek all the time.

Mainstream media practitioners, considered reliable sources of news and information because they have a code of ethics to abide by, because they have undergone training in academe, the trenches or in both, and have years of experience in their profession, are not pushovers or punching bags who always take blows on the chin and say, “It goes with the profession.”


There is a time to strike back. Or, to say it softly, there is a time to talk back. Or go to court. We had done these in the past when we had to. With guns blazing, so to speak.


Of late, journalists were incensed when presidential candidate Ferdinand Marcos Jr., son and namesake of the late dictator, said in so many words that broadcast journalist Jessica Soho of GMA-7 was biased, in other words, not pro-Marcos, the reason why he did not show up in her interview-format show where other presidential candidates showed up. The show turned out to be a blockbuster.

Citing a previous appointment, Marcos Jr. also did not show up at last week’s Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas forum. He was, it turned out, playing cook in a TV show around that time. It was becoming habitual, this not showing up for some reason or other.


You cannot feign distrust when you are, in reality, afraid that the hidden might be laid bare. Ilonggos have a word for that—cobarde (Spanish for faint of heart), euphemized as talawit (accent on last syllable). Will Marcos Jr. show up in the forthcoming Commission on Elections-sponsored mandatory debates?

Media has excoriated Marcos Jr. for his alibis and no-shows, for casting doubts on mainstream media invites and for what observers perceive as his preference for his diehard followers on social media. Media groups and individual journalists issued a couple of days ago “Philippine Media Statement Urging Candidates to Participate in Election Debates and Forums.” Here it is in full, for those who shun media because…

“Freedom for Media Freedom for All, a coalition of press freedom advocates, calls on aspirants to elective positions to help the public make informed decisions when they vote on May 9, 2022 by appearing at forums and debates organized by the media.

“As partners in protecting democracy, the media does not organize these events to demolish one candidate or highlight another but to help give a broader audience access to aspirants’ plans and platforms as well as potential blind spots and problem areas that bets would do well to address.

“Recognizing that elections are a reckoning for democracy, more than 300 newsrooms, individual practitioners and members of the academe pledged last year to put voters first in their coverage of the elections and the campaign. These debates and forums are part of that effort and are as much an opportunity for the candidates as they are for the audience.

“While FMFA recognizes that candidates have the right to refuse to appear in forums and interviews, such refusal is a disservice to voters who want fuller discussions on how candidates plan to address issues and crises like the pandemic, the West Philippine Sea dispute and the economy.

“The coalition is concerned as well that candidates’ hesitation to appear before the press while still seeking election indicates the attitude towards the media that they might adopt when already in power.

“Media has, in the past six years, faced officials who kept them at arm’s length and hope that the next administration will have better appreciation for the press as a watchdog on government but also as an avenue for public criticism, conversation, and compromise.”

Cheers to South China Morning Post correspondent and veteran journalist Raissa Robles for filing libel, cyberlibel and violation of the Safe Spaces Act cases against suspended lawyer and senatorial candidate (running under Marcos Jr.’s ticket) Larry Gadon at the Quezon City Prosecutor’s Office on Feb. 4. Gadon, in a video recording, maligned Robles in such an execrable manner, with graphic sexual suggestions and all. He attacked Robles for her article on Marcos Jr. But as I said in a previous column (“Rant from hell,” 12/23/2021), Gadon cannot invoke demonic possession or insanity to save his skin.

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“Is that the mouth he kisses his mother with?” quipped Robles in an interview.

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READ: Rant from hell

TAGS: Human Face, journalists, Larry Gadon, Ma. Ceres P. Doyo

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