CCPC says the mother’s request for live interview with sexually abused 4-year-old child was no valid excuse. Also disturbing: The broadcasters wonder why they’re being criticized when they’re ‘in fact’ helping people.

CCPC says the mother’s request for live interview with sexually abused 4-year-old child was no valid excuse. Also disturbing: The broadcasters wonder why they’re being criticized when they’re  ‘in fact’  helping people.

THE Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) had withheld its comment on the controversy over the live interview of a child victim of sexual abuse until the radio station and the two broadcasters responsible for it would give their side. They did so today, Saturday (March 16, 2024).

Also, under agreed rules of procedure, KBP (Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas) handles complaints against broadcasters and radio stations. (CCPC helps on fact-finding or research when asked.) KBP Cebu has just taken cognizance of the controversy.

[1] APPRECIATION OF ACCOUNTABILITY. Both Atty. Juril B. Patiño and Dennes R. Tabar, program hosts, acknowledged accountability for the interview. Patiño repeatedly said he’d “accept all consequences” of their March 13, 2024 broadcast. Patiño, as station manager, apparently also spoke for 90.7 Brigada News FM, which carries the program.

[2] WHAT MUST BE DISTURBING is that Patiño said he didn’t know why it was a broadcast offense -- “Lord, unsa may among sala?” -- and why the criticisms are disproportionate to the offense. That would mean the broadcasters hadn’t read all the caution and advise from Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas, Integrated Bar of the Philippines, Department of Social Welfare and Development, Council for the Welfare of Children, Children’s Bureau and similar organizations.

That must explain why, when he apologized on air, Patiño qualified it thus: “Kon sala man gyud…”

[3] WRONG TARGET, Patiño said in effect. He said they did the interview because they wanted the suspect to be arrested and prosecuted. It should be the girl’s uncle, the alleged pedophile, who should be condemned, the argument ran.

Criticisms of the broadcast though dwelt on the handling of the interview, the graphic questions on sex organs and sex acts, the needlessness of the “journalistic” exercise, the leading questions that scandalized, the squeezing out of details of the abuse. Yet, the broadcasters said the outrage should be on the sexual abuser, not they.

Not that the interview was done -- if absolutely necessary and it was not -- but the way it was done.

[4] REQUEST OR PERMISSION FROM THE FAMILY, particularly the mother, wouldn’t do away with the obligation of media and practitioners to follow the code of behavior in dealing with children as a news source. Yielding to the appeal of the mother doesn’t make the wrong right. Ultimate decision belongs to the broadcast people.

[5] HELPING PEOPLE, THE VOICELESS DOESN’T EXEMPT MEDIA from the basic obligation to protect children, which the law -- including local ordinances -- mandates and media industry rules occasionally remind practitioners.

Distributing aid in food, clothing and cash to disaster victims and other needy people or giving the voiceless sector a chance to speak out doesn’t justify the broadcasters and their station running roughshod over rights of children. That mitigates the penalty; it doesn’t make the widely condemned interview less offensive.

[6] OTHER DEFENSES -- such as envy of colleagues, moral superiority of critics (“holier-than-thou” air), ignorance of facts, misunderstanding of intent -- may shed some light if true in some instances. Yet the issue is principally whether the broadcast violated the law or media profession and industry rules. Unlike in libel, absence of malice wouldn’t matter. Proof of the offense is the interview itself.

Scantily talked about was the suspicion, if not accusation, of media sensationalism in order to engage with more listeners. How much would almost pornographic details about the abuse contribute to public insight?

[7] CCPC HOPES MEDIA PRACTIONERS, involved or supporting a side in the debate, will keep their cool and most of media emerge from it better instructed on how to do their job.

Patiño conceded the mistake when he said, “Pagtabang ra gyud among focus.” And forget most everything else on broadcast standards? As one mayor loves to say aloud, “The road to hell is paved with good intentions.”

Atty. Pachico A. Seares

CCPC Executive Director


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