With all due respect to my colleagues in the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), I don’t think their reaction to the one-day jailing of their executive vice president Carlo Dugaduga sent the correct message to the public. It could stymie efforts to urge those with grievance against media people to avail of legal and proper remedies
We in the media should learn to respond with prudence to any perceived assault on our ranks, like the filing of libel cases or, in this case, the issuance of a warrant of arrest against Dugaduga. Prudence means objectively assessing every case and coming up with an appropriate response. That pooled broadcast last Thursday was, I say, knee jerk.
While I am a journalist, I am also a radio listener. I am therefore familiar with this long-running animosity between Vice Gov. Gregorio Sanchez and some Bantay Radyo commentators on one side and broadcasters Gilbert Wagas and Tony Avila on the other. Dugaduga, manager of the station where Wagas broadcasts, was caught in the crossfire.
By the way, I don’t know why KBP, which is being run by managers of media outlets, and even the National Telecommunications Commission failed to act on the verbal exchange that often turned virulent. Clamping down on objectionable practices of media people makes filing of libel cases less appealing, except if it is meant to harass.
Filing of libel cases is not necessarily objectionable or our justice system would not have allowed it. What responsible media groups are wary of are libel cases meant to make the lives of practitioners hard. Not all of us are ethical in much the same way that not all those who file libel cases are schemers. That’s why every case should be assessed.
The danger with us media practitioners being perceived by the public as untouchable even by our laws is that people might resort to objectionable means to get even.
(I wrote this for my March 13, 2008 Candid Thoughts column in Sun.Star Cebu)