MALAYBALAY CITY – The MindaNews editors’ shared mailbox has become a combat arena in cyberspace for the 10th Infantry Division and the Southern Mindanao Regional Operations Command of the New People’s Army. Their press statements and repartees accusing each other of violations as combatants give one an idea of how brutal both parties can become in actual armed hostilities judging from the impassioned texts. If only such passion were limited to textual exchanges.
Of late, I’ve been following their tit for tat on who’s really guilty of employing child soldiers in their ranks. The military once cited a United Nations report which identified the NPA as among the armed groups engaged in recruiting minors as combatants. Weeks before that, they highlighted the case of captured rebel leader Ka Jinggoy, who reportedly became a guerrilla when he was still 13.
A few days after, the top leadership of the National Democratic Front questioned the veracity of the report. Yesterday (July 4) it was the turn of the NPA in Southern Mindanao to present proof the 10th Infantry Division is using minors in its counterinsurgency campaign. Exhibit A: a 17-year-old militiaman (militia boy?) who was captured somewhere in Monkayo, Compostela Valley on June 19.
NPA leader Rigoberto Sanchez named the boy and the alleged circumstances surrounding his recruitment to the Citizen Armed Force Geographical Unit. But we’re not divulging his identity here. In most cases, though, mails coming from either side go unopened, if at all noticed by the day’s editor who would try saving every precious second by quickly scrolling the inbox for the reporters’ and columnists’ articles. Everyday is a rat race for editors they hardly find time to open and read messages that serve as the subliminal substitutes of fired ammos. Take cover.
The same misfortune would befall on the pesky “praise releases” from politicians, a rule of thumb which this editor has had observed like an Article of Faith especially during elections. Not a few were banished to a virtual province called spam, which is perhaps a most gratifying way to get back at our “honorables”. That should make their media desks think twice before sending another of those self-serving releases. How about starting an advocacy on reducing cyber garbage?
Politicians, however, are just among the many sources of virtual clutter. Other political groups also tend to be self-absorbed and thus sound annoying in their press statements. If one bothers to sift substance from slogans, s/he would find a bigger percentage of the latter. Talk about placard texts disguised as news items. Plenty of experts around who can give a crash course on how to be more circumspect in choosing the right mix of words in articles meant for media consumption.
If the advice above goes unheeded, better hold a rally out there where the message fits the medium better. Keep in mind that the newsroom, actual or virtual, is no extension of Mendiola or whatever its equivalent is in a given locality even if a report, column or editorial may appear sympathetic to a cause or advocacy.
Other groups make it a point to lend their predictable views on major issues. They know what they’re going to say would just be a rehash of what’s been said and reported in the media. They just want to announce they’re still around, although all they’ve been doing is litter the newsroom with run-of-the-mill statements and analyses of events hoping to catch editorial attention.
Editors of all countries, unite!
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. H. Marcos C. Mordeno can be reached at email@example.com)