COMMENTARY: Letter to Mr. Docena on media and Sulu

Reading your well crafted analysis, it disturbs me or the most closest to that feeling, is that it hurts me being labeled as drum war beater. Well that is your opinion, and I respect your opinion.
  
First, I would like to inform you that I am not a Manila-based reporter of the Philippine Daily Inquirer. I am a correspondent based here in Mindanao and my areas of coverage are Basilan, Sulu and Zamboanga. Hence, being a native of two places (Siasi and Zamboanga City) I don't see myself as parachuting, not even an armchair journalist.
  
I don't know you but reading the article, I already have an idea what kind of person I may be dealing with as I am writing down my reactions.
  
I am an ordinary journalist (maybe with limited background in journalism as I am trained more in documenting human rights cases) but nothing compares to your prowess in writing analysis of the situation.
  
But reading and understanding your analysis gave me the impression that you tagged me as one of those "urging the military to drop more bombs into the MNLF camps."
  
What a pity Mr. Docena, because the way you wrote down your premise, it also gave me the impression that you are no different from any other war oriented journalists that thrived here in Mindanao.
  
You know why, because you as a researcher could have took pains in asking the editors in Manila or maybe Davao Bureau how I did my write-ups before submitting it to my immediate bosses in Ma-a Road, Davao City before they turned it over to Manila editors.
  
Like any other war-oriented journalists devouring what has been published or written statement, you just noted down what is published and never bothered to check whose articles, phrases, paragraphs or columns belonged to any writers that contributed and ultimately landed on front pages as one story.
  
In my behalf, I have been complaining about butchering my articles and most of my hang-ups were submitted to the Newsbreak magazine (putting every angle in a right perspective). (my own definition of "butchering" (journo lingo) is the way editors' editing our works where parts or portions of the story are taken, not the entire article and merged it to other reporters' stories, in the end whole context is sacrificed)
One of my editors advised me to ignore your intelligent analysis or research, but I cannot stomach the label you put on my head thru your item.
  
Because what you have done is also my concern since my life is already in danger and  you add more salt to what has been becoming sore after some irresponsible wire "war- oriented" reporter managed a space in one of our ear columns.
  
Mind you, Ustadz Habier Malik and Chairman Khaid Adjibun and other commanders like Bitting Jalaidi, Al Mujahid Biao, Julhambrie Misuari etc of the MNLF in Sulu are my friends, and I can frequent their camps as much as I want to and they have never harmed me in anyway nor accused me of anything.
 
My experience with the AFP is contrary to what I enjoy with the MNLF or even with the ASG before in Basilan.
 
AFP labeled me as sympathizer and very cautious in sharing information to me because of my background. They call me red, not objective, very bias.
 
Yes, I am very bias, but never objective and I am aware of it. I know where I stand and I know what is moral and immoral and I know who are those telling the truth and the liars.
  
With my situation, if I wanted to join the wave of war oriented journalists, I don't need to visit camps and talk to the commanders if the AFP's statement is good enough for me, and I don't to spend my own resources even my life for a story.
  
Better ask Major General Reuben Rafael or the American soldiers if they are happy with the way I dealt with their statement or call the Tabang Mindanaw in Sulu or maybe the Peace Advocates Zamboanga.
  
Associated Press reports linking Malik to beheading almost caused my life down here in Sulu as it was published on the Inquirer, the group believed that it was my product.
 
Now with your analysis based on published reports aggravated my situation here, its no longer the AFP running against me, with AP reports, the MNLF may no longer trust me and with your research, everyone is now looking at me as the one killing those innocent civilians suffering at the evacuation centers.
  
Why don't you try to find out if this war in Sulu has something to do with the election, why probe deeper so you will know that AFP is trying to decimate the remaining frontier of Nur Misuari, the camp of Malik and the camp of Adjibun.
  
Why not study deeper how much has the Loong and the AFP are spending to this war to ensure that Misuari could no longer return to his turf or one day Misuari will return to his hometown without any followers?
  
I am sorry but your research work has also been logged to my diary in case something happened to me, your work and the AFP should be blamed.
  
You are a researcher, you know better than I do because you are based somewhere not here in my hometown.
  
I am also willing to bring you to Malik or to Adjibun if you wish, so that you can also get their sides and ask them why for almost four decades they prefer to stay in the jungle than believe (like you do) to what Lt. General Hermogenes Esperon Jr. is saying. Shall we? (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Julie S. Alipala is a correspondent of the Philippine Daily Inquirer in Mindanao, covering Zamboanga, Basilan and Sulu. She wrote this piece in response to Herbert Docena’s commentary, “Banging the Drums of War: mainstream print media's coverage of recent events in Mindanao”).

 

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