‘It was human actions that saved Mary Jane’
This refers to “Four deans: partisanship, not journalism” (Opinion, 5/12/15), where columnist John Nery singled me out and “confess[ed] bewilderment over [my] decision to sign the statement.” He chided me by saying that “she should have known better” and followed it up with “but miracles happen even in UP.”
My brief reply to this is that it had to be said. Philippine media, especially the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI), is so powerful that it can create so much harm if it publishes inaccuracies, half-truths, exaggerations, or spins the facts to suit the interpretation or understanding of complex issues which it wants to propagate. PDI could have exercised more caution before it published a headline like “Death came before dawn,” which does not suggest an ounce of uncertainty about it on the day of the scheduled execution. It featured a photo of President Aquino talking to Indonesian President Joko Widodo, so the reporters must have known that he was persistently appealing for Mary Jane Veloso’s temporary reprieve, and apparently he succeeded in staying the execution.
PDI eventually followed that headline with “A miracle happened.” What we are objecting to was the implication that the noninclusion of Mary Jane Veloso happened just like that when precisely it was human actions and intervention which saved Mary Jane—the intervention of President Aquino, using not only diplomatic channels at the highest level but personal face-to-face appeals to President Widodo and the efforts of NGOs like Migrante, the National Union of People’s Lawyers headed by Edre Olalia who was doing the work on this case, Migrant Care Indonesia, Manny Pacquiao as well as of other citizens who posted messages on Facebook and Twitter.
On May 11, you proudly cited the results of the 2015 First Quarter Consumer and Media Survey by the Nielsen Co. showing that you are the top choice of ABC1 readers and have a commanding lead over other broadsheets. Shouldn’t this mean that the reading public should be able to expect stricter adherence to professional and journalistic standards from PDI and open-minded attitude to critics as well as willingness to engage in self-criticism?
The point is that PDI’s choice of words such as “miracle” is not correct, and that credit should be given where credit is due. In this particular story, it should go to the President who until the last minute tried to negotiate for a stay of the execution, and all other NGOs who exerted painstaking efforts to find the evidence that could save Mary Jane. PDI could have provided a fuller account of how the temporary reprieve was obtained.
—GEORGINA R. ENCANTO
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