It’s just like a scene in a cartoon where the characters stumble on one another in a comic display of ineptness. After bungling the handling of the investigation of the Glorietta 2 explosion, and the siege of the Manila Peninsula during the Trillanes-Lim standoff, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has once again showed its programmed ineptness when it accused, albeit indirectly, a ‘lady reporter’ of aiding in the escape of fugitive Capt. Nicanor Faeldon. The programmed ineptness of the PNP is not funny anymore.
BY BENJIE OLIVEROS
Vol. VII, No. 50, January 27-February 2, 2008
It’s just like a scene in a cartoon where the characters stumble on one another in a comic display of ineptness. After bungling the handling of the investigation of the Glorietta 2 explosion, and the siege of the Manila Peninsula during the Trillanes-Lim standoff, the Philippine National Police (PNP) has once again showed its programmed ineptness when it accused, albeit indirectly, a ‘lady reporter’ of aiding in the escape of fugitive Capt. Nicanor Faeldon. And the ‘lady reporter’ who the PNP has consistently but coyly referred to was later identified by two PNP officials to the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI) as Dana Batnag of Jiji Press, a Tokyo-based news agency.
The two PNP officials explained to the PDI that Batnag was caught on video giving a press card to Faeldon to enable him to escape. As it turned out, the video footage the PNP was referring to was provided by the government-sequestered RPN 9. Marigold Haber-Dunca, RPN 9 News and Current Affairs director, explained that the video footage was taken “accidentally” and that it was turned over to the PNP after the latter asked all media agencies that covered the Manila Peninsula standoff to turn over their raw footages to the police. Dunca added that they are not taking sides in the controversy between the media and the PNP. But it makes one wonder why Dunca used the adverb “accidentally” when it is but natural for journalists to take photos and video footages of protagonists in a news event. Was she stating a fact or was it meant to insinuate that they stumbled upon something important and controversial?
The video clip was shown on TV by major broadcast networks and posted by their online counterparts. But what was shown by the video was Batnag interviewing Faeldon. There was nothing in the video clip that indicates that a conspiracy to let Faeldon escape was in the offing. How the hell did the PNP arrive at its conclusion that Batnag aided Faeldon to escape using that video clip as evidence?
Four things are apparent in this rebel soldier-journalist conspiracy brouhaha.
First, the PNP is trying to put the blame on the media for its bungling of the Manila Peninsula siege. Because despite the overkill of using hundreds of troops against a handful of rebel soldiers, ramming an armed personnel carrier through the doors of the hotel, and arresting everyone on sight including journalists, rebel Capt. Nicanor Faeldon was able to elude arrest.
Second, it is meant to justify the controversial and crazy memo of (in)Justice Sec. Raul Gonzalez threatening journalists covering such events as the Manila Peninsula standoff that they would be charged in court if they refuse to obey ‘lawful orders’ for them to vacate the premises. Likewise is the PNP warning that they would forcibly eject journalists from such events.
Third, this PNP witch-hunt is meant to send a chilling effect on journalists who the Arroyo government is blaming for providing “destabilizers” and “terrorists” the venue to air their “inflammatory calls and statements.” It also accuses media of being too critical of the government. In other words, the Arroyo government’s message to
journalists is not to cover such events and not to interview those who the government deems as “terrorists” and “destabilizers;” and for media not to broadcast or publish news and analysis critical of the government and instead to focus on what former first lady Imelda Marcos calls “the good and the beautiful.”
Fourth, the PNP and Justice Department may be looking at a test case in its unrelenting efforts to silence the media. Seemingly, the cue for the PNP came when (in)Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez declared that the “lady reporter” should be identified so that appropriate charges could be filed.
The extent to which the Justice Department, the PNP, and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) would go to attack its perceived enemies and all those critical to the Arroyo government could not be underestimated. State prosecutors are wont to bend laws and court procedures, fabricate evidences, and manufacture witnesses just to go after the government’s critics. What happened to Bayan Muna (People First) Representatives Satur Ocampo, Teddy Casino, and Joel Virador, Anakpawis (Toiling Masses) Representatives Crispin Beltran and Rafael Mariano, and Gabriela Women’s Party Rep. Liza Largoza-Maza and other personalities from legal mass organizations is a perfect example of what the government could and would do. State prosecutors forcibly and insidiously held inquest proceedings in Camp Crame against Beltran who was then informed that he was merely being taken for a medical check up. They presented witnesses whom the accused never met. As it turned out, the witnesses were either military agents or forcibly disappeared persons who were later surfaced by the AFP and used as state witnesses in exchange for their lives. State prosecutors allowed the submission of obviously perjured affidavits.