By Uriel C. Quilinguing
Contributing Editor .
JOURNALISTS in Cagayan de Oro and elsewhere in Mindanao share something in common: they believe their obligation is to tell the truth yet they also say there are perceived threats that make them feel they are not totally free to do so.
This, even as media community members begin today their commemoration of the 37th year of Press Freedom Week declaration in Cagayan de Oro City, and ninth year in Misamis Oriental.
Rightly so, the PFW organizing executive committee, composed of heads of media groups, chose “A United Media in the Face of Threats” as this year’s theme.
On Friday night, Gold Star Daily asked several radio, television and print journalists—including three persons who frequently engage themselves with the media—of their personal views and opinions on press freedom.
Here are some of their responses:
“Anaa na, apan kulang pa (It’s there, yet lacking),” said veteran broadcaster Joe Felicilda, referring to press freedom which media practitioners exercise to perform their day-to-day tasks of reporting to their respective audiences facts and information gathered from the field in their media coverages.
Felicilda said that inspite of the advances in information and communication technologies, still one could not easily see the threats within the ranks.
“Dili ikalimud nga adunay ginsakpan ‘kuno’ sa media nga nagtuong hingpit nang gawasnon (It cannot be denied that there are those who claimed to be with the media and are totally free),” said the veteran broadcaster, who now and then organizes radio broadcasting trainings for campus journalists and industry newcomers.
He said these are the ones who are careless in the words they use broadcasting as well as in writing, unmindful of the sensibilities of their listeners and readers.
Another senior journalist in print, Diomedes “Brady” Eviota, who still writes an opinion column with Mindanews, said press freedom is to be able to publish without being censored, or limiting oneself because of the feeling censored.
Eviota said censorship could be from the outside, coming from a repressive government, and from inside, when one limits himself because of the feeling of being restricted.
Meanwhile, two-time Department of Agriculture’s Bright Leaf awardee in agriculture photo, Erwin Mascariñas, said gathering of information and reporting of news should be free from controls from government as well as from threats and harassment.
Mascariñas said there are organizations and individuals who may be out to silence media and their ability to relay relevant information to the public.
For his part, ABS-CBN North Mindanao news reporter Cris Angelo Andrade said journalists must be able to report news without being controlled by anyone, including the government.
“Pero sama sa gahum, ang kagaasan sa prensa dakong responsibilidad alang kanato (But like power, press freedom is a huge responsibility for us),” Andrade said.
Radio reporters and news anchors Menzie Montes of Magnum Radio and Charmaigne Tamsi of Bombo Radyo consider press freedom as a privilege granted to media practitioners like them, hence they have to be truthful and fair.
“Kinahanglan dili kita maulipon ni kinsa man nga politician (We should not become servants of any politician),” said Montes.
Tamsi said: “Kamatuoran nga walay gidapigan (It should be truth without taking sides.”
El Salvador City-based Saviour Radio station manager Ercel Maandig said the general public must know only truthful information and must packaged responsibly, all based on facts.
Iligan City-based Philippine Broadcasting System-Radyo Pilipinas news anchor Dandee Macarambon, for her part, believes press freedom as “courageously and responsibly writing or speaking the truth, with profound circumspection.”
This paper also sought the views of those, who now and then, either become sources of news or facilitate media interations.
One of them is National Movement of Free Elections local chapter chairman Nestor Banuag who, when asked for his views, said press freedom can only be exercised if one if free from personal interests.
“Dayag nga paghatud sa mga panghitabo… nga walay pagdapig sa mga mapahimuslanon kundili sa kamatuoran lamang (Transparent reporting of events, without taking sides in favor of those who wish to capitalize of the situation but only for truth),” Banuag said.
Philippine Press Institute executive director Ariel Cervantes Sebellino, for his part, view press freedom as the anatomy and soul of democracy since it extends to other basic freedoms which are enshrined in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights.
Lastly, here’s a line from Bukidnon Bishop Jose Cabantan, D.D.: “Gawasnon ug responsabling pagpadayag sa kamatuoran nga nakatumong sa kaayohan sa tanan (Free and responsible reporting of truth that is intended for the benefit of all). ”