AT the presscon in Club Filipino after the Liberal Party had voted to seek the resignation of then President Gloria Macapagal Arroyo, I asked Sen. Franklin Drilon:
“Sir, about a week ago, in Iloilo City, you said Ilonggos love GMA and invited her to transfer Malacañang to Iloilo City. What made you change your mind in so short a time?”
At the presscon of then senator TG Guingona where he described the testimony of Ruby Tuason against Senators Juan Ponce Enrile and Jinggoy Estrada as “a three-point shot,” I asked him how he made that conclusion without even inquiring from her how much was contained in the moneybags she allegedly gave them. I also asked Guingona how come he had never invited COA and DBM officials to the Senate inquiry on the “pork barrel” mess.
When actress Susan Roces, widow of 2004 presidential candidate Fernando Poe Jr. held a presscon at Club Filipino calling for Arroyo to resign, I asked her these successive questions:
“President Arroyo refuses to resign. What will you do to force her resignation? Will you encourage the public, the police and the military to hold another EDSA? What will be the role of a Susan Roces in a post-Arroyo regime?”
I’m recounting these incidents to stress the fact that those in media shouldn’t hesitate to ask clarificatory, even embarrassing questions to get the public properly informed on issues. Now, under President Duterte, media’s asking difficult questions is a rarity. Well, perhaps press people are cowed by Duterte followers, and there are at least 16 million of them, who would curse any reporter who would dare ask difficult questions to the popular president or any columnist who would question his pronouncements, especially on the extrajudicial killing of suspected drug pushers.
Or, could it be that some press people aren’t properly schooled for their job? Several years back, a new reporter assigned to the House wrote about the approval of a bill on FIRST READING. Worse, his editor who should have known better let this report see print.
Then, there was the new reporter who arrived late for a presscon at the House media center. He asked a veteran reporter what had just happened. The veteran didn’t want to be disturbed so he lent the newbie his tape recorder.
The new reporter transcribed the recording, then asked the veteran who was speaking.
“Mitra” came the answer.
“Who is Mitra?” asked the newbie.
Those incidents took place years ago but sadly, I still see reporters going to their assignments without the needed basic knowledge on officials and workings in their beat
These shortcomings notwithstanding, media as a whole don’t deserve the lashing from Duterte supporters. These supporters have become so suspicious, so riled up against traditional media that they have put up what they call “Duterte media” thru FB.
The fact is, they can never supplant traditional media. They’re merely parroting official pronouncements of the administration, no questions asked. A Fourth Estate can’t possibly emanate from such a quarter.
Sure, they have the right to defend Duterte but they must do so in a civilized manner, without name-calling. Describing themselves as “Duterte media” doesn’t give them the right to malign those with contrary views.