MANILA, Philippines — A journalists’ organization on Thursday took exception to President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s appeal for media to help her in the last three years of her term, saying media’s “sole responsibility is to the people.”
Arroyo made her appeal Wednesday to executives of selected media outfits she invited to Malacañang.
“The media can help the government and the country reach a new plane of development, stability and reform by balanced reporting based on verified facts, constructive commentary on public issues, and editorial focus on news that matters to the lives and livelihood of ordinary Filipinos,” Arroyo told the media executives.
However, while saying it found nothing wrong with Arroyo’s asking the media’s help “in pursuing a better future for our country and people,” the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines said there was “something amiss in Ms. Arroyo’s attempt to suggest how media should choose, present and deliver the news.”
In a statement, the NUJP reminded Arroyo that media’s duty “is to report events, good or bad, as they happen and not to spin the news to suit anyone’s agenda, much less conform to anyone’s concept of what balanced reporting, balanced commentary and editorial focus should be.”
“Our sole responsibility is to the people, and their right to free access to the information they need to decide how to shape their future as individuals and as a nation,” it added.
However, it pointed out that since she came to power in 2001, Arroyo’s administration “has, time and again, worked to suppress that information and, worse, even attempted to muzzle the media or blame us when reportage does not conform to the image it wishes to project.”
“Neither,” the group added, “has Ms. Arroyo acted decisively to stem the most extreme form of censorship — the murder of journalists — that has claimed the lives of 52 since she came to power, the highest tally under any sitting president. And she has three more years to go.”
The NUJP said that instead of seeking media’s help “to paint a better image of her administration,” all Arroyo “has to do is exercise genuine good governance and be transparent.”
“Whether she does so or not, the media will do its part, as always, by performing its duty of reporting events as they happen,” it said.