Uriel C. Quilinguing .
Dyed-in-the-wool journalists know the phrase “the medium is the message” and what it means. And the name of Canadian philosopher Marshall McLuhan would come to mind, whose communication theory, in his book Understanding Media in 1964, has outlived generations of communicators.
Simply put, what McLuhan meant was the messenger is more important than the message. And this is a fitting reminder for all whose day-to-day lives are influenced, or perhaps subtly dictated upon, by social media and other mass media platforms, let alone by “fake” news.
Every media practitioner, who goes to the field to gather information, in whatever manner it may be, be it in news conference or in one-on-one interviews, one must always be conscious that one is not in a hook-line-and-sinker situation. That’s what nose-for-news instinct for.
For instance, in Thursday’s Talakayan forum at SM City Uptown mall, it was difficult for the attendees to buy the contention that the Cagayan de Oro City Police Office should be given a 90 to 95 percent performance rating when it comes to police community relations. This was what Cocpo spokesperson Lt. Col. Mardi Hortillosa claimed, when asked by the forum host from the Philippine Information Agency on to what extent has the city police achieved it’s community relations targets.
This, despite his admission Cagayan de Oro City police director Police Col. Henry Dampal reminded all police precinct commanders to maximum their presence in communities they are in; that there were instances where some—not all—police precincts were closed; and that some—not all— police officers need to be reminded of police courtesies.
Hortillosa assured Magnum Radio reporter Menzie Montes, who raised the concerns, and all those present that these are being addressed, much more under the no-nonsense leadership of the new police city director.
Annually, the country’s entire police organization— in all organizational levels—observes community relations for the entire month of July since 1996, with activities where law-enforcers closely interact with those whose lives and properties they are mandated to secure, defend and protect.
So the Philippine National Police and the National Police Commission regional offices in Northern Mindanao were also represented in the forum; Lt. Col. Elias Hampac, the officer-in-charge of PRO 10’s Regional Community Affairs and Development Division, and Atty. Robert Lou Elango, Napolcom 10’s spokesperson and appellate board chairperson.
Being new to his post, Hampac did not react as much as the other two forum guests, except for sharing his Gingoog experiences with upland residents, including kids who idolize Kardo in ABS-CBN’s Ang Probinsiyano. He said he and his men were warmly welcomed, even by those who may have experienced government’s neglect. However, he said there were violent episodes that must be toned down.
Hortillosa was quick to reinforce what Hampac pointed out, that the episodes where Kardo and the chief of police took the law into their own hands should have not been included. ABS-CBN management has a disclaimer though that the scenes and episodes, including names of people and places, were imaginary and creations of the mind and these do not reflect real life situations.
Elango, who is the Regional Association of Government Communicators’ vice president, said one of the indicators that the current police organization has high trust and confidence ratings, at least in the region, is the volume of complaints Napolcom 10 has been receiving. He said that although citizens complaints are on a downtrend, those classified as breach of internal discipline that includes dereliction or neglect of duty are on the rise.
The Napolcom 10 spokesperson, however, declined to divulge the number of complaints lodged in his office in the past six months this year, even those filed in 2018. Perhaps, these information are among those the public must not know.
Mediakonek, however, is thankful Elango was kind enough to disclose that in 2018 Napolcom recommended the dismissal from the police service of some 30 police officers—all under PRO 10 and found to have been involved in prohibited drugs.
McLuhan’s “the medium is the message” could be perceived as an enigmatic paradox since it could be puzzling to some and apparent contradictions may be cited. Be that as it may, those present may consider the three Talakayan forum guests collectively as the medium and they themselves were message in achieving police community relations, not necessarily on what they said.
As spokespersons, they have the obligation to project a positive image of the agencies they represent. And such, whatever they declare publicly must fundamentally be based on truthful facts, that there was no hushing up of misdemeanors some police officers were accused of. The same goes to the Philippine Information Agency, it being a medium by itself, that nobody should be tempted to think Talakayan forum is a smokescreen for government’s ineptness.
(Erratum: In July 5, 2019 MediaKonek’s “Paradigm Shift,” the last sentence should have been: All these in perspective, Mindanao Gold Star Daily’s day to day publishing business and operations are being managed in a “bureaucratic way” while editorial standards are adhered to in the past three decades.)
(Uriel C. Quilinguing is a past president of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club and former editor in chief of this paper. Currently, he is engaged in campus journalism trainings.)