The seminar which
brought selected journalists together last March 25 and 26, addressed
the issues and challenges in covering the
first Automated National and Local Elections. The media along side
with the NGO leaders, and the Commission on Elections discussed
several issues on the coverage of the elections.
The Embassy expressed
their concern on the coverage of the elections in terms of the safety
of the journalists especially those covering areas of the country that
have experienced recent violence and unrest.
publisher of Cebu Daily News said that many of the journalists in the
country have not been able to see the PCOS machine that will be used
in the coming elections neither was able to tried a mock elections
using the said machine and a new designed ballot. Comelec does not
conduct a briefing or some sort of a kind exclusively for media
practitioners who will be, among others, front liners come May 10.
Mangubat presented the “then and now” scenarios of the elections. She
advised the media to take precautionary measures because “no story is
worth a life of a journalist”, according to her.
It will be recalled
that the country have been tagged as one of the most dangerous country
for journalist considering the high incident of media killings, the
recent was the Ampatuan Massacre.
MindaNews headed by
Carolyn Arguillas, editor, cited some incidents that happened in
Autonomous Region of Muslim Mindanao when it first implemented
automated elections in 2008. “Automated elections does not guarantee
peaceful and honest election”, she said. “In ARMM for the 2008
elections, young voters, meaning those that are not qualified to vote
yet because of age limits can be seen casting their votes”, she
added. Vote buying were rampant, lose fire arms at hand, and “hakot
system” among others, according to Arguillas.
Sighs and deep breaths
were the obvious response of the media participants as they gather
strength from each other knowing how difficult it is to work in a
country especially at the provinces to pursue story that leads to a
possible anomalous actions from the different political groups and
later on could cost a life of a journalist.
It is a sad note
according to Ms. Thompson but nevertheless with this kind of seminar
we will be able to equipped Filipino journalists with added
information and actions for a safe coverage especially those that are
coming from the remote provinces of the country. “Its good to see
that journalists and its partners in non-government organizations as
well as the Comelec and others, were able to exchange views about the
role of media in an electoral process, the environment of this year’s
elections, relevant laws governing the automated polls, voters
education, polls and surveys and experiences of other countries with
automated elections, I know this will be able to help them in a lot of
ways as they perform their duties”, Thompson said.
In an interview,
the press attaché personally expressed gratitude to the Eastern
Visayas media who were able to attend the seminar. Samar media
participants were Samar News.com publisher Engr. Ray Gaspay and
Freelance Journalist Myra Tambor, with a lone Leyte broadcast
journalist Louie Quebec of DYVL. Ms. Thompson was in Samar early last
year to attend to a Balikatan Medical Mission held in Calbayog City.