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[UPDATE] As of 2 a.m. this early morning, Ces and the rest of the kidnapped victims have been freed from captivity, after a 24-hr ultimatum set by PNP Chief Avelino Razon.  No ransom was reportedly given to the kidnappers.  Then again, that’s what they say.

Known for being a feisty broadcast journalist (both in practice and, as we’ve seen in the Manila Pen seige, fashion), Ces Drilon is currently a captive of the famed Abu Sayyaf rebel group down in the islands of Sulu. As of today, the kidnappers have extended their deadline for the ransom money indefinitely. Which says a lot of things about the motives of her kidnappers.

Many have been said about the Drilon’s current situation. Some say she deserved it for pursuing a very dangerous scoop (motives of which are still undetermined). Some say the ransom should be paid, albeit running the risk of encouraging such terroristic acts. Others have criticized the news blackout called by ABS-CBN, crying Right to Information as their defense. Some others like me, who have seen and read one too many conspiracy theory stories, are cynical about the situation.

But for the benefit of Ms. Drilon’s person, may I suggest that we suspend all judgments about her, her actuations and her network’s responses until this case is resolved? Quite frankly, with all the speculations running around the rumor mill, it is not doing any good for the case of Ms. Drilon and her (hopeful) rescue from the hands of her captors.

I want to shed a light on the bigger picture in this incident, which has, for many years, haunted us, stared us in the face yet we chose to dismiss it, telling media people like Ms. Drilon that they deserve what happened to them. The Warrior Lawyer best puts it when he says:

That someone as notable and respected as Ms. Drilon would be abducted underscores the danger being a journalist in the Philippines. It’s a well-known fact that the Philippines is one of the most hazardous places to practice this sometimes deadly profession. The country has the shameful distinction of having the fifth-highest number of journalists murdered (beating out war zones like Afghanistan), based on the 1992-2008 figures of the New York based Committee to Protect Journalists, which likewise condemned the Drilon kidnapping.

Truly, even if our perception of mainstream media has been churned and influenced by the many violations of law and human ethics to date, it is but quite unfortunate for us to know that the profession is becoming more and more dangerous to practice each day. And that is because of all the forces who are bent on silencing the media, all because of its unending power to influence and shape public opinion.

Whatever brought Ms. Drilon to Sulu–whether it be for a follow-up story or a scoop–her situation now only echoes the many perils one is most likely to experience in the practice of the journalism profession. True, some prefer the easy road and commit minute acts of unethical behavior to elbow their way to a good story, but there are still those remaining few who are brave not to toe the line (albeit at the pressure of colleagues and finances). How will the situation be for them, when, at a most unfortunate time, this happens to them? Surely we can’t go on blabbering that they had it coming, anyway.

Let us not forget that the times are calling for vigilance against the many repressive tools that outside forces are using to further implicate danger into the media profession. Whatever our perceptions of media may be, it still plays an important role in society, and to ensure the safety of its practitioners should be one of our utmost concerns.

After all, we’re all just doing our jobs.  How would you like to be condemned doing yours?

————

Anyway, have you thought of watching the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo?  NFR Tickets are very, rare though.  But I heard it was fun.  =)


2 Responses to “The Case for Ces and the Philippine Media”
  1. yoshke says:

    wow. very well said, JM. haha. i’m with you sa bawat word mo sa post na ‘to.

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