Don’t shoot the messenger, renew ABS-CBN license

Cavite 7th District Rep. Jesus Crispin Remulla said ABS-CBN “played up” his blunder during the July 1 hearing on the media giant’s bid for another 25-year franchise where TV cameras caught him writing a note while the Philippine National Anthem was being played.

“As usual, the ABS-CBN people are the ones playing it up now on social media,” he said.

Days later, also during the ABS-CBN franchise hearing, Remulla complained about the “cyber bullying” that he suffered that prompted him to lodge a complaint with the National Bureau of Investigation.

“I thought this wise because we are doing our job for this country, we are not doing this job for personal reason. This matter of scrutinizing a constitutional franchise, this franchise of ABS-CBN, is a constitutional duty. Ito ay aming tungkulin sa ilalim ng Saligang Batas na tingnan ang bagay na ito,” he said.

Remulla was not the only among members of House of Representatives who complained about what they perceived as unfair treatment by media, and in those hearings, they focused on the “sins” of ABS-CBN against that they felt put them in a bad light.

The congressmen’s complaints revealed their ignorance how media operates.

Politicians should be told that it’s not the job of media to make them look good to the public. They have their own public relations team to do that.

Media’s job is to inform the public of what is happening in the country accurately and fairly in order that they can make decisions based on the given facts.

In doing his job, a journalist is guided by the values of truthfulness, fairness, independence, humaneness, and accountability.

Remulla insinuated malice when he said that ABS-CBN “played up” his blunder.

He did not deny he committed a mistake which was a violation of the law, Republic Act No. 8491 specifies that, “ As a sign of respect, all persons shall stand at attention and face the Philippine flag, if there is one displayed, and if there is none, they shall face the band or the conductor. At the first note, all persons shall execute a salute by placing their right palms over their left chests. Those in military, scouting, citizen’s military training and security guard uniforms shall give the salute prescribed by their regulations. The salute shall be completed upon the last note of the anthem.”

One element of news which reporters memorize is novelty or oddity. Something unusual and out of the ordinary.

A lawmaker following the law is not news. But when a lawmaker does something that violates the law, that’s news. What Remulla did that afternoon of July 1was legitimate news.

Remulla explained that he remembered something while the National Anthem was being played and lest he forgets it, he had to write it down. Media carried his explanation.

ABS-CBN did not tamper with the video. It just showed what happened.

If Remulla was criticized for it, it was not the fault of ABS-CBN. It just aired the video as it was.

It was his act- his disrespect of the National Anthem - and not the broadcasting of the video that put him in a bad light.

We say to Remulla: “Don’t shoot the messenger. Clean up your act. Vote to renew the license of ABS-CBN.”

The views in this commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of VERA Files.


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Founded in March 2008, VERA Files is published by veteran Filipino journalists taking a deeper look into current Philippine issues. Vera is Latin for “true.”

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