Suicidal broadcast journalism

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In this report, radio announcer Allan Sison of Dagupan City was attacked and wounded during an attempt made on his life.

The police quickly ruled out the attempt on him as related to his work as broadcast journalist. Allan host a program which deals with radio counseling. He is known as “Dr. Heart”.

Until the police are not able to establish by way of thorough investigation who are responsible for the attempt on his life, Allan should have been given adequate protection and assistance. The police’ duty should have been to investigate, identify and help prosecute those responsible. This however did not adequately takes place.

Their premature pronouncement that the attempt on Allan’s life is more likely not related to his work, does not help. Whether or not the attempt was related to his work, it doesn’t proved anything, nor justify that less priority should be given to his case. It instead classify him as second class citizen if it is so.

To deny Allan and even other persons, adequate investigation and assistance they require, for mere reasons that their case are not likely part of the unabated attacks against journalist in recent times, deprives them equal protection by the law.

This illustrates though the gravity of the problem and insecurity journalist in the country had long been facing–for instance in this case, even journalist not involve in political or critical issues, are being targeted, not only once but twice so far this year. But no action have so far been taken to ensure his safety though.

The trouble with community broadcast journalism in the Philippines is that they are forced to take matters regarding security upon themselves. Seeking protection and escort for journalist facing threats or been attacked is either impossible or nonexistent.

A number of journalist are already arming themselves and have had security escorts. But even those who already have arms, like Jun Pala of Davao City, were never spared. To live a life rife with fear and threats is no longer normal, yet Pala, and other journalists there continues to do so.

That is even more worst for idealistic and committed journalist who are critical of wrongdoings by the government officials, police and military yet could not afford to have security arrangement. Like what had happened to a friend of mine, Ely Benoya. This condition have so far been proven fatal.

What is sad is while community journalists speaks critical of the wrongdoings, they are in fact putting their own selves to greater danger of being attack. Yet, despite this condition they could not even obtain any security arrangement or assistance from the authorities–even on case where attempts are already made.

I knew few friends working in local radio only earning about Php7,000 (USD 160) a month. His was even bigger because he’s employed by an established company. Other radio announcers don’t even have their fixed monthly salary. Their income depends on the commission depending on the amount of commercial placement they could generate into their own radio stations. Others even work as volunteers and are getting only small allowances. Obviously, they are even struggling to support their own more so of ensuring their own safety.

The police’ dealing on cases involving journalist if this is allowed to continue, at it has been going on, would have irreversible consequences for the community journalism in the country. It is a sad reality that community journalist are targeted by attacks; yet the authorities who are to protect them are refusing to take full responsibility. The journalist are left on their own. It’s suicidal journalism. It’s a fact of life.

Photo by NUJP – blogger

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Filed under Human Rights, Journalism, Police

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