The Perils of a Journalist – Manila Standard

“My plea has always been that media owners and editors pay media people enough to avoid a lot of corruption in the media”

As I write this column, President Marcos Jr. has yet to appoint a new Secretary of the Department of Health, which is urgently needed right now with the rise in cases of the COVID subvariant. -19 Omicron XBB.

Health experts say this is more transmissible than the Omicron variant.

BBM’s failure to appoint a DOH Permanent Secretary has sparked much speculation that has not been favorable to the new administration, especially as we are nearing the end of the year, with prospects for recovery. economy already in sight.

There is also the fact that the president did not appoint his press secretary soon enough.

Santa Banana, I wonder why when there is Mike Toledo, who far exceeds the credentials and qualities of the other names mentioned as future press secretaries in terms of respectability and credibility, having been a former secretary of press of former President Erap Estrada.

As a journalist, I know that Toledo is accepted by members of the Malacanang Press Corps since Mike has a background in journalism. What are you waiting for, Mr. President?

We also need a permanent secretary for agriculture.

Considering that BBM has been in office for more than six months as the Acting Secretary of the Ministry of Agriculture, it is time for him to step down as Secretary of the DA and focus on the many problems of the country, after having laid the foundations of a good Ministry of Agriculture.

Especially with continued inflation and the high prices that go with inflation when it comes to food security, my gulay.

But since President Marcos Jr. is still DA Secretary, he would do well to listen to his older sister, Senator Imee Marcos, and not tolerate the continued smuggling of sugar, vegetables, fruits, onions and meat and fish products which also continue to increase prices in public markets.

Since the President has appointed a Senior Under Secretary of Agriculture, BBM would do well to resign and appoint him Secretary of Agriculture. The earliest would be best.

• • •

Recently, during the “President’s Night” of the Manila Overseas Press Club (MOPC) of which I am the president emeritus, although I could not attend because in my case, my doctor advised me not to attend due to my age and vulnerability to COVID-19, the President stressed that the media and journalists are his “partners” in nation building.

But, it would be good if the president also takes care of the personal problems of journalists like me, a journalist for more than 75 years now, still unable to retire because I have no retirement allowance or pension plan.

Among the personal problems that journalists like me face are meager salaries because journalism as a livelihood is not as profitable as others.

Media workers are not treated as regular employees like those in the public and private sector, Santa Banana, who are considered regular employees entitled to overtime pay, and many other employee perks and benefits regular!

I no longer speak for myself, now in my twilight years, but I worry about other media workers in the print and broadcast media (radio and television), who come after me who I believe must be dealt with, Santa Banana, like regular employees and laborers.

It is for this reason that I now call on President Marcos Jr., in light of his statement that journalists are partners with government for the common good, to go the extra mile and also meet with owners and print and broadcast media editors to listen to their woes since, more often than not, media workers are not considered regular employees and workers.

There is now a decision by some benevolent members of the House of Representatives to enact a “Media Welfare Act” treating all media workers as regular employees entitled to all perks and benefits, such as pay overtime and other benefits to which regular employees in government and the private sector are entitled to paid holidays, retirement pay and pension schemes so that media workers can expect to raise a well balanced family and may still be productive in their old age.

It doesn’t look good for Congress to enact legislation offering benefits to media workers since the media is the government’s watchdog.

I believe that is more the business, my gulay, of media owners and publishers than of government.

• • •

The perils and dangers of a pure-blooded journalist came to the fore with the recent murder of a well-known broadcaster.

Indeed, in the pursuit of facts and truth, a pureblood journalist can be killed as Percy Lapid was.

For so many years, Santa Banana, there have been so many murders of journalists that I can no longer count them.

Remember the tragedy of no less than 49, if I am correct, who were killed somewhere in Maguindanao for simply accompanying political leaders and their supporters in a caravan covered by the media.

This is the highest number of journalists ever killed in the long history of the press! (Editor’s note: The now identified massacre of Ampatuan – named after the town in the then undivided province of Maguindanao – on November 23, 2009 killed 58 people including 32 journalists).

Hundreds of other members of the media, especially in the provinces, had also been killed and murdered to such an extent that I lost count.

Many were killed not only because of work-related activities, but also others for personal and family reasons.

What I am trying to say is that while the life of a journalist, which I have chosen for myself, is sometimes exciting, its perils and dangers are innumerable in the pursuit of facts and accountability.

Santa Banana, speaking of me in my more than seven decades as a journalist, who had come full circle not only in print but also in broadcast (radio and television), I was sued for defamation so many times that I can’t count them anymore.

I apologized for some of them because I was reckless. To sum up, the perils and dangers of being a journalist are many.

I still remember that time when I denounced the members of the Central Monetary Council for breaking the law at the time when it was necessary to allocate quotas to business and industry due to the scarcity of foreign exchange foreigners, and I was told that they were playing the stock market and using their quota allocation for other purposes, not for the reason given to them, my gulay!

I was then kidnapped by a notorious gangster from Cavite, apparently because he was a friend of one of those I exposed.

Thank goodness it was only for one night.

What upset me the most was that the late President Magsaysay gave me five military men and women in uniform to ensure not only my safety, but also that of my wife and three children who were then in school age.

Santa Banana, I had to feed the five security guards, which was a big deal considering my meager salary as a reporter.

As I said, the perils and dangers of being a journalist are not commensurate with the meager salary of an uncorrupted journalist.

Speaking of corruption, the reason it is easy to bribe media people is because of the meager pay they receive from media owners and editors.

It is for this reason that my plea has always been that media owners and publishers pay media people enough to avoid a lot of corruption in the media.

At the same time, I think when President Marcos Jr. said the media and journalists were his partners in government, he would do well to remind media owners and publishers to treat their media workers as regular employees, entitled to all benefits and advantages.

• • •

I will not have a column on October 28, November 1 and November 8.