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Davao City, Philippines

How some Manila media are spiting Mayor Digong

May 22, 2020 - Friday 4:05 AM by Jimmy Laking

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At the outset, allow me as the most senior columnist in the Daily Mirror to welcome former Presidential Spokesperson Ernesto “Ernie” Abella who is on board this week as the paper’s newest columnist.

Abella is an old hand in the trade and needs no further introduction especially in Davao City. Suffice it to say that he is joining an illustrious list of opinion makers, past and present, that helped make this paper an institution in Davao City since it was founded in 1950 by the couple Dean Demetrio Flaviano and Anita Jacela Flaviano.

Abella also brings with him fresh insights derived from previous experiences and from his continuing stint with the Duterte administration. Welcome, sir.

Meantime, I would like to clarify that majority of the the Manila-based media establishments (both print and broadcast) have so far been giving the Duterte administration a fair deal. 

Most are run by professionals who have the interest of their readers and listeners (and viewers) at hand, regardless as to who sits as top honcho of Malacañang.

Yet not a few had been taking on Mayor Digong since his assumption as Philippine President in 2016 in a one-sided fashion that reeks of toxicity, hatred, and spite. Perhaps this is with the expressed approval of their owners or their managers. Whatsoever and whysoever, it has not stopped to this day.

One of the most notorious in vilifying the Duterte administration is a tabloid “masquerading as a broadsheet” that is easily recognizable by its one-sided accounts of events that tend to always put Mayor Digong in a bad light. All writing should be based on assertion and evidence or on facts. The age-old principles of fair play, accuracy, and balance also require that the journalist strive to get both sides if it involves conflict or divergent positions.

But this Manila-based newspaper alas has thrown caution to the winds by dumping fair play and accuracy out of the window. The result is that a good percentage of its coverages, especially during the pandemic, were slanted in such a way as to paint a bad picture of the administration. Even human interest has long been thrown out of the window. Or for that matter, the good practices that evolved during the duration of the pandemic as this country struggles to defeat the virus.

Another practice of this paper is to assign to the “Malacañang beat” reporters still green behind the ears. During my time and even to this day, well-meaning media outfits would always assign their best reporters to Malacañang, not greenhorns who have no qualms about distorting the news as Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque complained of earlier this week. What this says is obvious: that paper has no respect for what Malacañang stood for. Ergo, Roque can always bar the reporter and insist on someone better if he wants to.

Majority of its commentaries also reek of venom and spite. While most of its opinion-writers certainly can write, their inability to see beyond Metro Manila has blurred their perspectives and limited their hold on readers. I believe this has not been lost on Mayor Digong. But unlike during the time of Marcos when editors and writers critical to “Macoy” were blacklisted or outrightly jailed, Digong has done no such thing except to voice his objections time and again.

He loves a free press all right but would not countenance when dolts, tanga-Maynila, paid hacks, and communists are added to the mix.