DAVAO CITY (MindaNews/11 April) — That’s always the question Presidential Management Staff (PMS) personnel ask journalists during Presidential sorties in Mindanao.
Even media handlers of some high ranking government officials who visi the provinces, also ask the same question.
Why? The answer is simple: you get special treatment if you’re “national.”
You get to interview longer, have more photo opportunities or be given the priority in asking questions during press conferences.
A day before Presidential visits here, the Philippine Information Agency and PMS personnel brief reporters about the purpose of the visit and the President’s itinerary.
The PIA then hands over to the journalist his/her accreditation card or sticker for that specific event. Without accreditation, the Presidential Security Group (PSG) won’t allow you in.
But on the day of the event, you’d hear people from Manila classifying
journalists into “local” and national.” Oftentimes, what has been relayed during the briefing is not followed. *Nag*briefing* pa!*
Aside from the Radio-TV Malacañang (RTVM) crew, the President is also
accompanied by members of the Palace press corps, mostly coming from giant TV networks, wire agencies and major daily broadsheets.
In most cases, PMS people would draw the line: no local photojournalist and videographer allowed beyond their designated area because that is exclusive for the “national media.”
Oh, the PSG or PMS has never and will never draw the line for the “national media.”
This is unfair to us, members of the community media or what they refer to as “local media.”
We understand that it’s part of their job to secure the President but they should also understand that we have a job to do, too, like our counterparts in the national media.
The Presidential visits
In one of the Presidential visits here, a PMS personnel ordered the local photographers and videographers out of the area where they had set up their equipment because that was supposedly for the “national media.”
We had positioned ourselves and had actually started taking pictures and videographers’ cameras were already rolling. But the PMS personnel still drove us out to give way to the “national media.”
Why? Are local media practitioners second class journalists? Don’t we
deserve the same treatment?
Our communities deserve to see a better angle of our photos and videos, too.
They deserve to listen very clearly to what the President is saying. They also deserve to know what questions the community journalists are asking .
The most disappointing, however, is when members of “national media” would bluntly tell us: “D’yan lang kayo mga locals ha; dito kami mga national.”
Well, most of the “locals” are paid per piece of story or photograph? And that before they get paid, especially the photographers, they need to produce a good and clear shot of the President?
On April 9, Liberal Party presidential bet Sen. Noynoy Aquino and running mate Sen. Mar Roxas were in Davao City for the proclamation rally with Mayor Rodrigo Duterte.
Minutes before Aquino and party touched down at the Davao International Airport, I inquired if there was a vehicle that would shuttle the local photographers and videographers who would cover the motorcade from the airport to the city proper.
I was told that somebody had volunteered his pick-up and that this would be the vehicle that would be ahead of the truck that would carry Aquino, Roxas, and the Dutertes.
But right after the press conference at the Civilian Air Authority of the Philippines (CAAP), several Manila-based cameramen from major TV networks rushed to our assigned vehicle and positioned themselves there, without the courtesy of asking if the vehicle was for them.
They simply assumed the vehicle was assigned to them.
So I explained that the vehicle was assigned to Davao-based journalists.
One of them insisted that they should be the ones there since they were from “national media.”
Oh. So they could easily dislodge us from the vehicle because they are from the “national media?”
Bing Gonzales of Mindanao Daily Mirror, myself and two other personnel from the City Information Office, stood our ground.
Again, I explained to the “national media” that the vehicle was for
Then came Jay Morales, Aquino’s close in photographer, who shouted to us that they should be in our vehicle along with the “national media.”
And then another videographer of Aquino also shouted, “Kami dapat dyan! Sige lang, masisingitan din namin kayo.”
He could have asked us where to find a vehicle for them since only seven people were allowed in the pick-up.
Sure, it was not their fault for not having a vehicle. But somebody from their group could have arranged a vehicle for them prior to the event.
Besides, their networks have budgets for transportation so they didn’t need to hitch a ride.
Suddenly, one of Roxas’ security escorts approached us in the vehicle,
ordering us to disembark because the “national media” should be next to the candidates’ vehicle.
In Cebuano, I explained again that the vehicle was for Davao-based
journalists. He kept on talking. I didn’t know that he could not understand me. I thought he was a member of the airport security.
Still, we stood our ground.
The vehicle moved but Morales and his partner kept insisting that they
should be the ones in our stead.
Yes, we understand how important their role is as close in photographers and videographers. We also understand that members of the TV crew from Manila stations should also take good footage.
But please spare us your arrogance as if we are second class journalists here.
The point is not just simply who gets the good angle first or gets the clear shot. All of us should have equal opportunities to cover the event without dislodging our fellow journalists.
Most of those in the “national media” need not worry about angling the
photos because even if their pictures don’t get published the next day, they’re assured of their monthly salary and airconditioned hotel rooms.
We both have deadlines to beat, we both have responsibilities to deliver the message of the President or whoever, to the public. And most importantly, we both have families to feed.
(MindaViews is the opinion section of MindaNews. Davao City-based Keith KP Bacongco or Kitoy, says he’s proud to be a “lokal” journalist).