Statement of Indignation
Cagayan de Oro Press Club, Inc.
14 February 2016
Respect the local press community
We, members of the Cagayan de Oro Press Club Inc., express our serious concerns over what appears to be an attempt to bar the provincial press from covering the first Presidential debate scheduled at the Capitol University on February 21, Sunday. We see this to be a clear case of discrimination towards the province-based media.
There have been many instances in the past when Manila-based media organizations have condescended on the provincial press. The Presidential debate in the city is no exemption.
Organizers (Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas, GMA7, and the Philippine Daily Inquirer) of the event have made it clear in a letter to the Philippine Press Institute (PPI) that they have allotted only five slots for local editors/publishers as debate audience and five slots for newspaper reporters. In the same letter, it was also made clear that five newspaper reporters will only be allowed access to the event’s media center–a separate venue where a video monitor will broadcast feeds of the debate.
It is our position that the Presidential debate is far too important, and should be beyond corporate media’s quest for higher ratings and wider readership.
Further, it is an affront to the local press community to limit the number of newspaper reporters to only five slots, and for the rest to be stifled into covering the event from a widescreen monitor. Why hold the debates here in the first place when the organizers can just as easily broadcast the debate from their studios in Manila?
The organizers further stated that they are allowing PPI to choose who to shortlist so as to ensure that “only legit local press” are allowed to cover the event. But who would know better than the press community of the host city?
Manila-based media entities should realize that they do not have the monopoly of serving public interest. The people’s right to know must weigh far heavier than any media entity’s “exclusive rights” to an event that is clearly of national interest. We are talking about the next possible President of the Republic. We are all stakeholders.
We ask that Manila-based organizers lift this “exclusivity clause” in the coverage of the presidential debate to be held in our city. This early, there have been suggestions for a Cagayan de Oro media boycott of the debate but we still trust that, in the end, reason will prevail, and that the organizers would reconsider their position and right this wrong.
Stop this discriminatory and condescending attitude towards the local press community.
MSGR. ELMER ABACAHIN
HUGO ‘KA JERRY’ ORCULLO
Immediate Past President