Tuesday, May 12, 2009
There are at least two local radio stations in our area that are airing infomercials produced and financed by the Intex Resources, the prime mover of the Mindoro Nickel Project (MNP) in the whole island of Mindoro. I first heard of the infomercial last Sunday while the world celebrates Mothers Day. It was a point blank insult aimed at Mother Earth. Sad.
The infomercials carry a catchphrase to this effect : “Ang kailangan lamang ay ang inyong pagsang-ayon. Ikaw at ang Intex, magkabalikat sa pagpapaunlad ng Mindoro” (“All we need is your approval. Intex, your partner in development”.) They are mini-drama presentations of alleged job opportunities and other promises for the progress for Mindorenyos to be brought by said mining company here in our province. I just hope that the materials will be pulled out of the air the soonest possible time.
In a paper presented by Eunice C. Novio, my cousin (ehem..), in her Master of Arts in Women and Development at University of the Philippines (UP) in Diliman, Quezon City, entitled “Women and Mining : A Struggle to Defend Our Land” on Intex she stated that, “With the company’s vision of “responsible mining and development in focus”, Intex claimed that theirs is the most environmentally safe type of mining.” Indeed MNP is listed as of the Philippine Government’s priority mineral project. The author even stated further that, “As of January 2008, there were 92 mining applications in Mindoro according to Deparment of Environment and Natural Resources’ (DENRs) Mines and Geosciences Bureau or MGB. This includes exploration on petroleum and natural gas. From 1995, six Financial or Technical Assistance Agreements (FTAA) covering a total of 474,336 hectares or 33% of the whole Mindoro Island.”
In the infomercials that are now invading the air like the dreaded A(H1N1) pandemic, certain techniques called Suggestion and Autosuggestion and Persuasion were employed. The first technique is the implanting of a psychological, spontaneous reaction where the listener is moved by an idea that is almost hypnotic in character. Persuasion is a persistent reaching out of the feelings of a person that are attacked by a series of effective motivations sometimes conscious, but which do carry little logic even when presented as reasons. It is a persistent appeal to feelings of listeners. Thus, infomercials like these consist of pseudo-development messages that lead to development aggression where the pursuit of economic development of rural communities and environment are hindered.
Please note that there are local politicians who control our local media institutions and personalities. These personalities became instruments of power that mirror our power structure and of course, to primarily safeguard the interests of their bosses and patrons.
Indeed, the lifeblood of media is advertising. Hence apart from media owners,- advertisers such as Intex Resources, exert a powerful influence on its content and bias. To give you some figures on how much are spent in radio advertising,in 1997,if I may add,- PhP 20 billion were allotted to media advertising and 16.5% of which are for radio, the most cost efficient medium. But another major determinant of media content is media’s commercial orientation. They prefer revenue over ecological concerns.
History has proven that information has the ability to democratize power and wealth. Once power is distributed, the rich and the powerful few are less likely to get the opportunity to take whatever they want from the masses. Including our young and talented local media practitioners. Moreover, information can liberate people from poverty and social injustice. Thus, it can emasculate “powers-that-be” and it can surely empower the grassroots.
How? In my humble opinion, the answer lies in the establishment of non-aligned community owned Community Based Radio or CBR. This CBR must capture and represent the stand point communities as against those of a few vested interest groups, or rich or influential families or even eering media practitioners. It would contribute to the redistribution of power and the dismantling of structural imbalances. According to the book entitled “Taking Hold of the Rural Radio”(pp. 27) Fr. Francis Lucas hast this to emphasize, “Access to media is access only to information. But access to the power of media is access to life.”
With this, our CBR would uphold culture of life, therefore will stand against the Mindoro Nickel Project!...
(SSC File Photo taken by Reynaldo D. San Jose)