Editorial: Paranoia and rudeness

OUR photographer was at Rizal Park, waiting for photographable human interest scenes. There was a rally going on staged by leftist groups. Arjoy Ceniza, photographer of Mindanao Daily Mirror, was taking photos, our photographer wasn't.

Apparently, this mob of rallyists resent anyone with a camera as about ten of them accosted Ceniza and our photographer Macky Lim, demanding for their identification cards. Yes, even when Lim wasn't taking photos of them, they demanded his ID. We later learned that Lean Daval, photographer of Edge Davao, was likewise accosted.

According to our photographer, the woman who was with the group was not rude when she asked who they were. But the men with her, around ten of them, surrounded the photographers in a menacing way. Our photographer refused to show his identification card since he was not even photographing them, but they started a ruckus, and so he just did to cool them down.

This is Davao, where people are given all access to public places to stage their protests in. There is even the Freedom Park where no permission is needed for any mobilization. What they were holding was a protest that was obviously intended to draw public attention. That it was held in Rizal Park makes the activity obviously not a private affair. But no, the rallyists wouldn't have that. They want anyone with cameras to show them their identification cards, like they owned the place, like it was an invitation-only soiree.

It would have been a different scene had there just be a couple of protest organizers who would politely ask the persons who they were and why they were at the park, even if that is already being too presumptuous since it's a public park. But still, that's okay. It's just like a curious stranger picking up a conversation, there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. But for more than ten to surround the photographers and start hustling them for their identification cards? That is pure and simple harassment, and we are condemning that act.

They raise security issues as their concern, we raise security issues as our concern. We are as concerned about the safety of our personnel on the field as they are of their rallyists on the streets. But unlike them, we are here to inform, get stories and photographs, not to agitate, protest, and shout their demands. There are a million concerns and issues that plague our nation, there will never be a lack of story to cover.

We've covered the left consistently through the years recognizing the validity of some of their issues and in living up to our vow to give voice to the voiceless. But when our people are harassed just because the left are holding a rally in a public place, then that's when we draw the line. Harassment is harassment, there is no excuse for that. Anyway, there are many more voiceless who are in greater need of attention and have more valid and actionable concerns, we will just steer clear of leftist rallies.

Just a word of advice, though: Next time, please, book SMX Convention Center for your protest rallies, there you can require the guards to ensure that only those with identification cards, invitations, and accreditations can enter and take photographs.


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