The kidnap for ransom incident involving the ABS-CBN news team marks yet another chapter in the annals of violence shared by the struggles for media freedom and genuine peace in Mindanao, Philippines.
While news coverage is often subjected to issues of media ownership and market competition, media’s capacity to intelligently inform the public; offer alternative perspectives; galvanise solidarities; and even prompt affirmative actions cannot be denied. Sadly, it is the more empowering potentials of news coverage which were unwittingly curtailed by armed opportunists.
Ms. Ces Drilon has been among the more conscientious reporters documenting military processes and operations, especially in the South. She often attempted to highlight the impact of militarisation and armed conflicts on ordinary civilians, including the United States’ participation in so-called “military exercises.”
The news team’s polite refusal for official escorts was necessary to surface the stories of women, children and communities who have been forced to live in undemocratic and volatile environments. Many of these stories have hitherto remained exclusive, if not altogether silenced.
The news team’s prerogative was a resistance against censorship. Such was inevitable in exposing inconvenient truths --- crucial in understanding and working towards people-centred peace.