A Calling of Sorts

I have been eagerly anticipating the ­developments on the abduction of ABS-CBN news anchor Ces Oreña-Drilon. Her cameraman Jimmy Encarnacion, their driver Angelo Valderama, and Mindanao State University professor Octavio Dinampo by the Abu Sayyaf in Sulu since June 05.

Being a journalism student, I have always been both awed and frightened by the exploits of journalists sent to perilous assignments. I have always imagined myself being sent to war-stricken places to cover the news just like them. I have always been thrilled by the rush of things in the course of a journalist’s work on the filed, and at the same time scared of the possible things which might come.

At the outset, ABS-CBN News Head Maria Ressa requested editors fro the print and broadcasting industry to temporarily hold their news stories about the plight of Drilon and company, saying that their premature disclosure might put the captives’ lives in great danger. But as soon as some media outfits began letting out stories in the public, news of yet another journalist held in captivity by rebel groups occupied the front pages of newspapers in the succeeding days. It was all over the Internet, as well as in news programs in the radio and television. It became the talk of the town in a snap.

Drilon’s kidnapping has proven the true value of media in the society. It opened our eyes to almost everything – violence, poverty, politics, and many others. It struck our awareness of the harsh reality lurking out there which we won’t be able to evade no matter what we do. It highlighted the great danger and risks involved in the media people’s profession; the extents they go and the limits they defy just to give us a clear picture of how the world really looks like.

If not for the media’s persistence, we would not have known about the minor the Abu Sayyaf rebels are employing in their group. Children as young as 12 years old, or probably younger, have not been spared from engaging themselves in armed insurrection for whatever cause their elders have been fighting for. Instead of going to school to enrich their minds and hone their skills, these children are educated about aggression and violence at a very young age. Instead of learning how to read and write, they are taught how to load rounds of ammos and fire guns and rifles. Their spirits should be nurtured with love and loyalty to the country, not hatred and division, for these are what will contribute to their well-beings.

If not for the media’s vigilance, we would not have known of the poverty that prompted these rebels to revolt. We would not have known of the lack of livelihood projects and sufficient industries in the far south that has been driving these people to resort to armed rebellion. We would not have realized how grim their situations are.

If not for the media’s constant reminders, journalists themselves would not even realize the holes in the practice of their profession that have been left gaping. They would not have paid attention to addressing solutions to the gray areas in the course of their works’ completion.

Undoubtedly, one cannot prove, or even justify, that there is still objectivity in the practice of journalism here ion the country today. The mere fact that the so-called “news management” carried out by ABS-CBN in requesting for a news blackout with regard to the kidnapping of Drilon and company already emphasizes a particular news organization’s primary concern. Does the public ultimately deserve their right to information in cases like this, despite possibly putting the abductees’ life in great danger?

The peaceful release of Drilon’s group does not guarantee a closure on this incident, or to some other similar cases. The negotiations have not been entirely successful in the first place. The media have been there as the public’s eyes and ears, shedding light on what concerns the welfare of the majority. In my opinion, the media served its purpose with all sincerity and dignity.

Those in power should set their eyes on more important matters other than planning way ahead of time for their 2010 election bids. There is still much work to accomplish, and the time to start fulfilling their jobs “efficiently” is now.

A sense of urgency in answering the needs of our ailing society is greatly needed. Nothing will be better for them than to be remembered as leaders who championed the cause of the masses, rather than as politicians who lost steam at the height of the country’s battle.


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