MALAYBALAY CITY (MindaNews/13 September) — President Aquino again railed at the media for supposedly portraying the Philippines as a “dangerous and lawless country”. He must have been pissed off by news on policemen who were implicated in major crimes.
Let’s clarify a few things. First, it’s not the fault of media that policemen have been involved in crimes. Blame the loopholes in the recruitment process and training. Blame the erring cops for using the weapons entrusted to them for nefarious ends. Blame anything and anybody but the media whose duty is to report and comment on wrongdoings committed by people in government, including law enforcers.
Second, it’s not the business of government to tell the media to not highlight sensational crimes (read crimes committed by policemen). Editors may do the nation a service by burying sensational crimes bordering on voyeurism. It’s a different story however when law enforcers are the ones involved. Crime is a crime regardless of who the criminal is. But it becomes worse when the perpetrators are peopled clothed, armed and paid with taxpayers’ money.
Maybe this is not a lawless country as lawless can be. Nonetheless, recent reports on police involvement in crimes — in addition to previous cases that have faded from public memory – should be cause for alarm. The decadence that has crept into the police force cannot be solved by empty assurances and ranting against the media which is only doing its job.
Why not order the police higher-ups and his favorite Cabinet member, Interior and Local Government Secretary Mar Roxas to cleanse the police force instead of castigate the media? It may be a herculean task, but when shall we start cleaning our own Aegean stable? Who knows, it might even boost Roxas’ presidential bid, which appears hopeless at the moment.
But frankly, I wasn’t surprised by Aquino’s latest anti-media antics. He has always been averse to criticism and anything that contradicts his way of getting things done. Recall how he threatened the Supreme Court after it declared the controversial Disbursement Acceleration Program as unconstitutional, and how his allies in the House of Representatives seconded his blow by filing a bill that would deny the judiciary effective control of the Judicial Development Fund.
No wonder that the Freedom of Information Bill, which he promised to make a priority upon assuming office, has remained in the doldrums. And if, by miracle, the Congress happens to enact one, expect it to be watered down to the level of inefficacy. For even if Aquino is being portrayed as one who has nothing to hide in as far as the use of public funds is concerned, he seems not keen on allowing full disclosure of government transactions to the public.
We have a dictator clothed as a reformer. (MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at email@example.com)