Press Freedom and Commander Bravo

When ABS-CBN aired the exclusive interview of ABS-CBN reporter, George Carino to MILF Commander Bravo, I felt so sorry and dismayed.

On the light side, I don’t wonder why ABS-CBN reporters are prone to kidnapping by rebels. What if the Bravo group changed their mind and never allowed the reporter to go back? Will ABS-CBN seek help from the government? Will ABS-CBN blame the reporter for violating its security protocol? That will be another story.

I am a staunch advocate of press freedom but this time I say that limitations of such freedom must be intelligently discerned by journalist as to not put the nation and democracy at risk.

In the exclusive interview, renegade MILF Commander Bravo appeared so arrogant. He felt so powerful.

And why not? He was given the privilege by ABS-CBN.

Commander Bravo has a P20-million bounty on his head for going on a rampage and killing and burning houses in several communities in Mindanao following the order of the Supreme Court (SC) to stop the August 5 signing of the memorandum of agreement on ancestral domain (MOA-AD) with the MILF for the creation of the Bangsamoro Juridical Entity (BJE).

I hope we have not forgotten that. But in the exclusive interview, Commander Bravo twisted everything as if it was the fault of the government that’s why they terrorized the poor civilians.

Maria Ressa, head of ABS-CBN news and public affairs keeps on justifying that the exclusive interview was within the realms of press freedom and the right of the people to know.

Of course she needs to be re-oriented that there are certain limitations (that’s why the Congress is granting franchise to broadcast entity), such as airing subversive and rebellious statements that can incite people to rebel, and giving aid and comfort to enemies of state.

MILF Commander Bravo is obviously an enemy of state and ABS-CBN aired his subversive and rebellious statements!

That was indeed a violation of ABS-CBN’s franchise agreement with National Telecommunications Commission (NTC).

Jun Nicdao of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) found nothing wrong with the interview. While Nonoy Espina, National Union of Journalists in the Philippines (NUJP) deputy secretary-general insist that ABS-CBN did not violate its franchise agreement with the NTC by airing an exclusive interview with a wanted separatist leader in Mindanao.

For Representative Abdullah “Bobby” Dimaporo, ABC-CBN betrayed its pursuit of money by sensationalizing the news, in place of the search for truth.

For me, Justice Secretary Raul Gonzalez is doing right to ask for an investigation for ABS-CBN’s possible violation of its franchise.

I am reminded with the famous line of Salvador P. Lopez: Freedom without responsibility will lead to anarchy but responsibility without freedom will lead tyranny.