CCPC slams radio anchors’ response, calls it ‘disturbing’

CCPC slams radio anchors’ response, calls it ‘disturbing’

THE Cebu Citizens-Press Council (CCPC) has criticized the response of two radio anchormen from Brigada News FM Cebu to public criticisms of their graphic interview with a four-year-old sexual abuse victim as “no valid excuse” and “disturbing.”

In a statement released on Saturday, March 16, 2024, lawyer Pachico Seares, CCPC executive director and SunStar Cebu’s editor-in-chief emeritus, said the “mother’s request for a live interview with sexually abused four-year-old child” was not a valid excuse to justify how they handled the interview which was aired live.

Moreover, the two radio anchormen’s statements about “why they were being criticized when they are in fact helping people” were also disturbing.

Obligation

Seares, in the statement, said despite requests or permissions from families, media practitioners are obligated to adhere to codes of conduct when dealing with children as news sources.

Seares said yielding to parental appeals does not justify unethical behavior, saying broadcasters hold responsibility.

He added that assisting vulnerable populations does not excuse media from protecting children as mandated by law and industry standards, saying giving voice to marginalized groups does not justify disregarding children’s rights.

Radiomen Juril Patiño, who is a lawyer, and Dennes Tabar, in a live broadcast on Saturday, March 16, acknowledged their accountability for the interview broadcast on March 13.

The two anchormen made the four-year-old victim of sexual abuse recall the abuse in detail.

Patiño also expressed willingness to accept all consequences.

However, Seares said they seemed unaware of why the broadcast was considered offensive. “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 advice from Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP), Integrated Bar of the Philippines (IBP), Department of Social Welfare and Development (DSWD), Council for the Welfare of Children, Children’s Legal Bureau (CLB) and similar organizations,” reads a portion of the CCPC statement.

“Taken down”

“That must explain why, when he apologized on air, Patiño qualified it thus: ‘Kon sala man gyud… (if it was a mistake),” it added.

As of Friday, March 15, the live broadcast gathered 7,500 views, 144 shares and 120 comments.

However, as of Sunday, the live broadcast can no longer be viewed on the Facebook page of Brigada.

The KBP has a set of rules that broadcasters must adhere to, as outlined in the KBP Broadcast Code of 2007.

Section 3 emphasizes the protection of children involved in legal proceedings, ensuring they are shielded from emotional distress or trauma.

Interviews require consent from a parent or guardian, except when they are the accused, and must be conducted under the supervision of qualified professionals.

Additionally, Section 4 prohibits explicit or graphic descriptions of sexual organs and other sensitive body parts, or acts generally deemed indecent or offensive, also categorized as a grave offense.

Article 27, Section 1 of the KBP Code also addresses on-air language, prohibiting the use of vulgar, obscene, or indecent language, which is also classified as a grave offense.

Call out statements

Various sectors on Friday, March 15, released statements on the issue, condemning the actions of the two radiomen as unethical. These sectors include the KBP, Cebu Federation Beat of Journalists, CLB and the IBP.

Likewise, the DSWD 7 and Stet Women in Cebu Media, on Saturday, March 16, released their statements, deeming the report “inappropriate, insensitive and unnecessary.”

On Sunday, March 17, Cebu City Anti-Indecency Board head Lucelle Mercado, in a text message, said they have invited the radio station to appear in a show cause hearing on Tuesday, March 19.

A student’s perspective

Meanwhile, Krystal Joy Pepito, a BA Communication student at Cebu Normal University and president of their department’s flagship broadcasting organization, shared with SunStar Cebu how their department equipped them to be responsible broadcasters.

“CNU’s Department of Communication and Media Studies ensures that their students are harnessed with media ethics to the extent of integrating a course to the curriculum that is solely about teaching aspiring journalists proper etiquettes in journalism,” Pepito said.

She said the Code of Ethics in Journalism aids media professionals and journalists in understanding their work, helping them stay grounded and reaffirming the fundamental role of media in society.

“If and only if all journalists respect and conform to these sets of rules, there might be too little chance that people would view the media as some entity that’s untrustworthy and inequitable,” she said. / AML with CDF

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