Thursday, June 11, 2009
Former Vice-Governor turned- broadcaster Atty. Crispin P. Perez, Jr. will be laid to rest come Saturday. In case you are not familiar with his case, please find it in the “Snap News of the Week” section of this blog in its left side bar. When the news on the killing erupted, various national media organizations immediately reported the incident, including the New York-based Committee to Protect Journalists or CPJ, an independent, nonprofit organization founded in 1981. CPJ promotes press freedom worldwide by defending the rights of journalists to report the news without fear of reprisal. You may click here for the specific report. Perez worked as a PR man of a politician, former politician himself and was a lawyer by profession.
Until now, police authorities and other investigating agencies are still clueless on the motive of the attack. The assailant is still at-large and unidentified. Only one thing is certain. Perez co-anchored a radio program over DWDO entitled “Sa Totoo Lang” (In Truthful Words) together with two other anchors who had been lambasting their former boss almost every morning since last week of May.
And the very vital question is this: “Was he killed because of his recent commentaries over the radio including other things related to the content or his manner of speaking in his radio program?” Let us give proper authorities an elbow room to do their job. It is mainly their job and not ours. We are just bystanders in the case. Temporarily, let us forget the Perez Case. What you will read below is in no way connected with it. So far…
I had been reading a book since Wednesday published by the Philippine Center for Investigative Journalism (PCIJ) and Freedom Fund for Filipino Journalists entitled “Staying Alive: A Safety Manual for Journalists” and published in 2006. These words (was it slogan?) caught my attention : “ Journalism is a dangerous profession. Responsibility can be our best protection.” The first catch word is “Dangerous”. Indeed it is a dangerous profession, especially if you are a media practitioner in the province. In May 2005, CPJ called the Philippines “the most murderous country” for journalists after analyzing more than 5 years of death records worldwide.
Now let us go to the second key word of the phrase: “Responsibility”. A responsible media practitioner observes media ethics. An American media scholar named Edmund Lambeth defines the ethical journalist as a “humane truth-seeker who seeks justice and protects freedom as a faithful steward of his craft”. His definition lists five guiding principles for ethical conduct in journalism. These are: Truth telling: Balance, collaboration; Justice: Fairness; Freedom : Autonomy of journalists from pressure; Humaneness : Compassion; Stewardship : We are caretakers of trust in the press.
From p. 13 of said book is written: “The emotional and heated language that is often used in the radio commentaries… makes broadcasters … prone to attack. What has been broadcast is passed on by word of mouth, and the reality is often exaggerated in the telling and retelling. Those who offended by the broadcasts react emotionally. They want to hit back.” But the mere act of being unethical cannot give anybody a license to harm or silence them. “But silencing a broadcaster is a crime against free speech. The murder of a journalist creates a climate of fear and intimidation. If journalists are intimidated and no one speaks out against abuse of power, communities become powerless against such abuses. Communities suffer even long after a journalist is slain.” Amen.
In parting allow me to quote the 11 point Code of Ethics put out in 1988 by the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), the Philippine Press Institute and the National Press Club or NPC : “I shall conduct myself in public or while performing my duties as journalist in such manner as to maintain the dignity of my profession. When in doubt, decency should be my watchword.”
But how can our local journalists (I mean those journalistic practice are their bread and butter) maintain the dignity of their profession and decency if they are working for a politician or a political group and serving their ends? Indeed they are journalists, but for whom? …
(SSC File Photo. Me and my "Pintig.." co-anchors in action.)