Senator blames RP media for exposing government incompetence to world
MANILA, Philippines ? Senator Joker Arroyo is blaming the broadcast media?s blow-by-blow coverage of the August 23 hostage crisis for sullying the country?s image abroad.
``We suddenly have an image that we cannot handle a hostage-taking and we got that because of television. Why did they have to show our dirty linen to other countries? What is the benefit of showing our stupidity??? asked Senator Joker Arroyo in an interview with dzBB radio.
Arroyo said that media contributed to the fiasco by allowing the hostage taker to watch all of the police movements on a television inside the tourist bus he hijacked and conduct a live interview with him when the negotiations broke down.
``It is right to show these things but we also should have limits,?? said Arroyo who asked why broadcast stations did not impose in life and death situations, the same cautiousness it would usually apply in showing nudity on TV.
He said the broadcast stations should not have waited for orders from the police on what to do during the crisis because they had guidelines for crisis situations under their franchise agreement granted by Congress. He said the police was hesitant to order the media around during the hostage crisis because it would sully its image.
``They should show some self-restraint. They are under the continuing supervision of Congress, we can even take over their facilities,?? said Arroyo.
Arroyo said the Senate would continue its probe of the hostage crisis but would focus only on the media?s role in the incident while the Department of Justice?s parallel probe was still on-going.`
`This is a wake up call to media to remind us that what happened to us, what we are suffering now is because of TV coverage. This is not fault finding, this a review, a reminder to broadcast media that their freedom is not absolute. We cannot just show these things in the name of national interest. We have to care,?? said Arroyo.
The senator added that the network war has become so intense that a broadcast network would have to show the worst of any situation to win.
Senator Vicente Sotto III agreed that media review its behavior during the hostage crisis and assess whether it has contributed to the failure of the rescue attempt.
``I watched the coverage of international news media like CNN and BBC and I was impressed how they treated it. Our local coverage was sensationalized compared to theirs,?? said Sotto.
But Senator Loren Legarda, a former broadcast journalist, said the government should not use the media as a scapegoat because it did not violate any rules in its coverage.
``The authorities apparently allowed the media to have their way in covering the hostage crisis. The media has the freedom to cover a situation the way it deems appropriate. You can?t blame media because they will explore all areas that they feel must be explored,?? said Legarda.
Legarda said that Malacanang?s Communications Group should have taken over in managing the media coverage of the hostage crisis as early as 10 a.m. that day because it had all the facts on the gravity of the situation.