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ROUGH CUTS | Journalism with specific agenda   




Vic N. Sumalinog

WE read yesterday our friend journalist Serafin Ledesma Jr.’s column carried nationally through the facilities of the Philippine News Agency (PNA). It was about the interview by Pia Ranada who works for Rappler Philippines, with an executive from Pulse Asia, a well-known research institution that conducts studies on social, corporate or political organizations and people working with it.

     According to Ledesma’s column, Ranada’s line of questioning was covertly laced with opinion with which if carelessly answered, could draw an opinionated answer. However, according to Ledesma’s column, the same scheme of framing the question also betrayed Ranada’s real intention. That is, to draw answers that could transcend into the interviewee’s opinion on a particular subject or person.

     Personally we are no alien to Ranada’s line of questioning in order to get an opinionated answer. Some time back in early 2017, we were interviewed by the same journalist. And her first question already was intended to lead us into making an answer that would picture the President as a man prone to making threats to silence his critics. Her initial question to us was, “We’ve heard that you were threatened by then mayor Duterte to ‘I can have you fixed’ if you’ll continue to be rough with me?”

     Easily, if any other person had experienced an unpleasant reaction from an angry person was asked with that question and not discerning the context with which the query was raised, he or she would probably be baited to answer a direct ‘Yes.’ But knowing her media firm and her being a non-Davao media practitioner, her apparent efforts to discover who among the local media practitioners came roughshod with the then Davao City mayor, it was already clear that she was assigned to come up a story that is something bombastic for Duterte. Hence, we answered in the context of the literal meaning of the phrase “I can have you fixed” which is dependent on how one interprets the same. ”Fixing” can be interpreted in many ways. It is totally different from saying “I’ll have you killed, or throw you down the drain.” But still in the whole length of her interview with us, the succeeding questions were to have led us into making answers that she can interpret us as admitting what she was asking earlier. Nonetheless, we held our ground as we continued providing answers that only told about the unusual interaction in the presence of several other Davao media personalities.

     How Ranada wrote the article based on her interview with us, or whether she wrote it at all, we have no idea. But one thing is clear, based on Jun Ledesma’s account in his column, and on the transcripts of Rappler CEO Maria Ressa’s interview by the BBC, the agenda of the news agency is too clear for anyone to decipher. 


     Now it can be told. During the past one month or so, the various local governments in the Davao Region and the health authorities working in this part of the country, were unable to come up with an effective strategy of curbing the rise in new CoViD 19 infections. It may be recalled that a month ago not the entire Southern Mindanao was put in the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine (MECQ) category. Some LGUs were still at GCQ or MGCQ. If our memory serves us right, it was only Davao City that was placed under MECQ. Every Davao City resident then was hoping that by the entry of July the city would be in a much more relaxed GCQ or MGCQ. But to the chagrin of many, we are stuck to the same MECQ that the city had been into for the last month of June. And worst, per recommendation of the Inter-Agency Task Force (IATF) the President has declared that starting the 1st of July until the 15th the whole of the Davao Region is to be under the MECQ. Adding to the misfortune, Davao City had produced the most number of new CoViD 19 cases in only just the other day. There were over 400 new infections as per a report of the Department of Health.

     Waaaaa! What happened? How come we have become this more vulnerable? Will the lack of discipline of the people in the region still apply as the most cogent of reasons? Or, is it the failure of the LGU and health officials to come up with more implementable and convincingly doable health protocols in the region?

     We are tempted to believe it is the latter that is causing the still uncurbed rise in new CoViD cases in this Mindanao area.. Take the QR Code strategy as an example. Yes the scheme can certainly help in the contact tracing of people who happened to be in the same place on the day and time that a carrier or carriers of the virus were also in the same place.  But will it help a potentially infected person from going to the place, or knowing him or her as a carrier before getting inside? We’d say no, because the QR Code can be acquired by any one from any of the LGUs even without the applicant getting swab-tested first. It can even be acquired through on-line without the person having a face-to-face interaction with the issuing persons. In other words the QR Code will only be effective in the contact tracing process and not in the prevention of infections.

     What about swab-testing and quarantine protocols? From what we learned lately, there were families with members who tested positive for the virus. The result was known five days after the swabbing. And during the interregnum, the concerned tested positive persons were just inside their home exposed to other members of the family especially with those who were directly taking care of them. And after getting informed of the positive result, it took another four or five days before they were fetched and brought to the quarantine facility. So, in-between what could have been the possibilities? There definitely were Inter-family member infections, of course. Then, in the cases of those positive with the virus that we know, their quarantine did not reach 14 days. They were told they can already go home. And they were not administered confirmatory swab testing to determine if they were really already negative of the virus.

     So, what else can be expected? God bless the Davao Region.



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