Have a listen to Ellen Tordesillas and Maria Ressa talking to Cheche Lazaro about the Manila Pen incident in Part One of Media in Focus Thursday evening.
In Part Two, professional polemicists Luis Teodoro and Vergel Oh Santos took turns tag team wrestling Col. Nicanor Bartolome of the Philippine National Police, who surprisingly held his own and scored some good points by just saying it like it is.
I think Ms. Lazaro asked all the tough questions with a feather touch that elicited responses from her guests deserving to be Internet Archived. (Also the Senate hearings on the matter).
JOURNALISM AND THE UNCERTAINTY PRINCIPLE Here is one of the most basic facts of Nature that Man discovered in the 20th Century. In the material world, we cannot make physical observations of even a single atom without somehow perturbing and thus confounding its position and motion. The gravity of our mere presence, or the photons by which we can see it, or sound waves to communicate with it, all have some unavoidable physical effect. The mathematical description is called the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle, but it's simple physical gist is that there is literally and physically no truly unobtrusive act of observation. No one can stand outside of Reality and have an omniscient view that affects nothing else. The Observer cannot avoid having a physical effect on the Observed. This is a Law of Nature that has passed every known physical test designed by the smartest people in the world to disprove it. Strangely enough, it actually agrees with "common sense."
But of course we don't need Quantum Mechanics to tell us that the same thing probably applies to Cops and Robbers, Reporters and Rebels, Photographers and Celebrity Senators, broadcast journalists and the real, physical events they cover, like standoffs at luxury hotels and attempted coup d'etats.
OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE The important question here is whether or not Manila Pen had become a CRIME SCENE, over which most reasonable citizens would insist that the Police have lawful and moral authority and ought to be obeyed even by Journalists. Lost in all the covering fire of the last few weeks however, is the simple fact that the Police were trying to serve ARREST WARRANTS for Contempt of Court on Sonny Trillanes and Danilo Lim for brazenly walking out of their scheduled hearing that day. They happened to be escorted by their armed guards and a troupe of journalists, photographers and reporters, as well as several civilian supporters. Trillanes sensed that he could pull off a Publicity Stunt and did, with the willing compliance of the media, who in varying degrees played along with him.
WHY DID THE JOURNALISTS BECOME THE STORY? I believe that once the Police had given even the first "ultimatum" for everyone to vacate the scene because they wanted to serve the Warrants, anyone left there after a reasonable period of time, would have to be treated either as SUSPECTS or MATERIAL WITNESSES, whether they were the rebels, the media employees or the waiters and hotel employees. I think the Mass Media unethically made themselves a part of the story when they decided to disobey lawful authorities who were practically begging them to leave because the Armored Personnel Carrier was coming with its 50 caliber machine gun!
It is the height of intellectual dishonesty to claim that Mass Media did not get in the way of the police on that day. They did, and they know it, but they can't admit it because that would reveal how wrong they were to stay. How guilty they were of OBSTRUCTION OF JUSTICE!
It was entirely moral and legal and reasonable, in my opinion for the police to detain everyone and conduct a thorough investigation of all there present. Last I checked they could be detained with no charges for 36 hours. They should've been, the spoilt brats! The melodramatic description of their arrest that night is belied by video of the media men casually smoking while mugging for photo ops of their upraised wrists tied in plastic restraints. Also a fresh crime occurred at the Manila Pen, aside from criminal contempt. It was the very real flight from Justice of Nick Faeldon, possibly aided and abetted by a "lady reporter," Dana Batnag of Jiji Press.
THE PRIORITY OF LIBERTIES Vergel O. Santos does not recognize the lexical ordering of our basic rights to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness. Like Ellen Tordesillas, he seems no longer to recognize the basic government authorities and their right to maintain public order.
While Freedom of Speech is sacred, Organized Journalism's Right to Sell Telecomm Load is not higher than the Right to Life of the police, the waiters, and other innocent bystanders, or the reasonable expectation of the Public that they will maintain public order and security.
The Blog of Ellen Tordesillas is a good place to hang out and watch the fallout while getting a good dose of scream therapy. It's Bedlam over there! My pitiks: one, two, three.