GONZALEZ: "PLEASE BE REMINDED THAT YOUR RESPECTIVE COMPANIES, NETWORKS OR ORGANIZATIONS MAY INCUR CRIMINAL LIABILITIES UNDER THE LAW, IF ANYONE OF YOUR FIELD REPORTERS, NEWS GATHERERS, PHOTOGRAPHERS, CAMERAMEN AND OTHER MEDIA PRACTITIONERS WILL DISOBEY LAWFUL ORDERS FROM DULY AUTHORIZED GOVERNMENT OFFICERS AND PERSONNEL DURING EMERGENCIES WHICH MAY LEAD TO COLLATERAL DAMAGE TO PROPERTIES AND CIVILIAN CASUALTIES IN CASE OF AUTHORIZED POLICE OR MILITARY OPERATIONS."
On closer scrutiny, Sec. Gonzalez is doing a very clever thing. He is putting the responsibility on the Management and Owners of the newspapers, tv and radio stations for what happens when their employees get in the way of police and military operations. He wantss the Mass Media to police its own ranks and threatens to hold them accountable legally when they don't and bad things happen as a result of their insistence upon a right to be in harms way.
This ought to remind everybody that Journalism is not done for free by crusading free lancers, but is a major organized commercial enterprise that buys and sells information as news, opinion, entertainment, sports, obits, business. Satisfying the allegedly insatiable Right of the Public to Know comes with a reasonable fee for the service. The kind of journalism Sec. Gonzalez is addressing is distinctly private enterprise journalism.
Indeed, Mass Media is Big Business. The Right to Know cannot be exercised without the right to buy and sell advertising in newspapers, magazines, billboards, tv and radio. The Public's Right to Know cannot exist without the Mass Media having the Right to Find Out Stuff and tell the rest of us about it. But real journalism is always done in the context of a commercial exercise and a major area of livelihoood. In the case of broadcast journalism, we have a regulated industry in which franchises are basically licenses to make money by using the public airwaves as the medium of transmission. But in all cases, Private Sector journalism finances the servicing of the public's right to know by selling advertising, which is really a way for the Public to pay for the service. Of course, even advertising is covered by the right to Know and Freedom of Speech.
The DOJ Secretary seems to have a particular hard-on out for the Broadcast Media (TV and Radio) probably because he knows the Government actually has a lot more legal clout over them with that Franchise Law hanging over their heads, unlike newspapers, which don't require a legislative franchise. In the very real sense that every tv or radio franchisee has given the government the right to take over its facilities upon command of the President, as well as a number of other conditions imposed by the Franchise Law, we could say that broadcasters have less Press Freedom than newspapers! But this of course applies only at the level of the institutions and corporations, not the individual reporters and journalists.
In a recent published essay, Founding Father Joaquin Bernas SJ opined that in relation to the Freedom of Expression, journalists do not have more rights than ordinary civilians or citizens. If one reads the ALLCAPS Media advisory above and applies it to ordinary citizens, it would seem to be eminently reasonable. Therefore the point of Bernas becomes decisive: ALLCAPS applies equally to journalists, who ought not to have some kind of exulted or superior privilege in matters of public order and security, just because they are in the business of satisfying the Public's Right to Know.
WHY ISN'T THIS THE HEADLINE?: In 2005, the Social Weather Stations found that 60% of Filipinos support the National ID. (And you can bet 99% support the National ID to fight Red Tape, graft and fraud and promote government efficiency and accountability.)
SWS: 60% of Filipinos Support National ID Three out of five (60%) Filipinos agree with the use of National Identification card (ID) to help in the fight against terrorism, while about half are confident that the government can be trusted to protect the personal information contained in the ID card, according to the First Quarter 2005 Social Weather Survey, conducted on February 25 to March 10, 2005.STRANGE that newspapers like the Philippine Daily Innuendo ("Biased News, Fearful Views") don't headline the Social Weather Stations survey on public support for a National ID system. Even stranger, the Social Weather Stations isn't saying much either, even if they have the relevant DATA that ought to be publicized, including a whole series of surveys done since the 1990s in which majorities as high as 77% support the National ID idea.
Had SWS asked, they might have measured an even greater majority who support a National ID to promote efficiency and coverage of basic government sevices.
No doubt, any major data gathering operation by the government represents a potential opportunity to practice a lil fascism or totalitarianism, but this danger is far outweighed, in my opinion, by the practical benefits to the public, the government and law enforcers.