My classmate in Ateneo and Sarangani provincial governor Miguel Rene Dominguez is asking for trouble. Not a few eyebrows will surely be raised after he reportedly blamed the Mindanao media for “always highlighting all the bad things that are happening in Mindanao.” Same goes with Lt. Colonel Edgardo de Leon, commander of the 73rd Infantry Battalion, who also blamed the media.
Dominguez said that the “insurgency and other conflicts in Mindanao is actually just a game of perception. And I blame the media for that!” He reportedly then said that the culture of the media today, except for a few who are practicing peace journalism, is not very commendable.
De Leon, on the other hand, said that the rest of the country’s and the world’s perception of Mindanao at present is also the work of the media. “The image of Mindanao can be blamed on the media,” he said. De Leon even went on to claim that his battalion had once invited the media to cover the peace rally the 73rd IB had organized but none covered it. Instead, he got a very disheartening news from the media: “Pa-pogi lang yan. Huwag n’yo
nang puntahan yan.” (I would really, really love to know who said this, if ever this is true!)
“Most my battalion members is not from Mindanao and we are doing everything to improve the image of Mindanao, but media personalities, media workers from Mindanao hindi man lang naisip to improve the image of Mindanao,” he lamented.
As a Mindanawan peace advocate and journalist, De Leon’s last statement really burned my ears. Hindi man lang naisip, he says! Colonel, please, don’t generalize!
Truth be told, there are just so many things to say about this news item. In fact, there have been so many debates over this. Officials tend to blame the media because it’s easy for them to do so.
While it’s true and unfortunate that there are fellow Mindanao media practitioners who do need to be more cautious in their reports about Mindanao, I think there’s no need to put the entire blame on us. Dominguez’s claim may be correct at some level but to put the blame entirely on the hands of the media is unnecessary.
Truth be told, I think Mindanao-based media practitioners would love to report the good, the beautiful and the exciting side of Mindanao. Who wouldn’t want to do that? Who wouldn’t want to tell the rest of the world just how fascinating Mindanao is and just how warm and friendly the people here are?
BUT…it wouldn’t be fair to sugarcoat things. As much as we all want to project the image that Mindanao is a peaceful place to live in, the truth of the matter is Mindanao has its problems, just as Luzon and Visayas have their own. Just as Honduras, Iran and North Korea have their own. And yes, Mindanao’s problems aren’t caused by just one thing. Mindanao’s problems are deep and long-standing.
It’s true that the media plays a critical role in the peace efforts of the country, not just Mindanao. The media has the responsibility to show the world that Mindanao and its people value peace and harmony.
However, let’s do away with the finger pointing. Putting the blame on the Mindanao media will only discourage media practitioners…and will only show the world that indeed there are conflicts, even between officials and the media.