Posted by: theboyfromsmallville | December 13, 2007

Mother knows best

This is so nobody gets lost in all the legal gobbledygook and technical mumbo-jumbo being tossed around back and forth in the Senate hearing that hopes to peel off the layers of deception and get to the bottom of what really went wrong during the mishandling of members of the media during the Trillanes Tragedy.

(And I use tragedy here loosely, without limiting its definition within the fences of Trillanes’ failed mutiny)

Let’s put it perspective, using the wisdom of my mother.

I was in sixth grade and studying furiously for a final exam in math, wondering how I could cram all those algebraic principles in a brain that stubbornly refused to absorb any mathematical equation beyond addition and subtraction when my younger brother approached me with his own problem.

After several failed attempts at trying to whip up a memorandum of agreement that would placate warring subjects and verbs, he decided to seek sibling intervention.

In our household, we are bound by rules that we have to obey, among which includes a law that bars anybody from disturbing anybody who is in furiously-studying mode. Then again, it has been a time-honored code that those older should extend all sorts of help to the younger members of the family.

So now you understand the dilemma in the situation. That was why in the middle of me attempting to pull out my kid brother’s molars while he was desperately trying to uproots strands of my hair in the middle of girlish shrieks (he will tell you a different version of this story if you ask him, so when he does give him a sympathetic nod, pat his head and tell him you understand him completely), my mother decided to butt in.

“When you are both in your right to perform an act, never invoke the law that sides with you unless you can take the law that sides with the person your arguing with, put yourself in that person’s shoes and invoke his law,” she said, although I’m pretty much sure she used different words because otherwise, my brother and I would’ve spent the rest of the evening trying to pick our jaws off the floor.

Actually, I think she said something like: “Try seeing things from the other person’s point of view.”

How is this relevant?

Somewhere in the mish-mash of legalese that makes up our constitution is a law that says when a person in obvious authority issues an order to civilians and it is disobeyed, then that person in authority can order the arrest of those who disobey the direct order.

That, basically, is why the police ordered the arrest of media people at the Manila Peninsula. They gave an order to clear out the premises but the media refused to because it was the job is its members to make sure the public would be informed of what happened.

Forget the police yarn spun by pr-trained spokespersons that there might be Magdalo soldiers posing as journalists because we all know there is no reason to arrest people to weed out fake members of the press. All you need is check their IDs, which believe me media people love flaunting anyway, and you can tell the real deal from the pirated ones.

(Although Chiz Escudero, the senator who makes sense, pointed out any citizen who covers an event as a freelancer with the intent of selling his article or photos for publishing is still considered a member of the press)

The heart of those arrests was simple. The police, who love flaunting their authority, issued an order and those journalists disobeyed the direct order. And in the oftentimes sociopathic philosophy of the police, we can disobey blatantly the 10 commandments, brandish our firearms at journalists seeking interviews, wantonly shoot and arrest people simply because we don’t like the way they look, rape women and threaten to arrest them for prostitution if they raise a peep, but by god when we tell you to stay out of the way, you will do so or we will cuff you and take you to Camp Bagong Diwa for processing.

Ladies and gentlemen, your Philippine National Police.

Which brings us to why the media didn’t budge an inch when they were given evacuation orders.

See, that same constitution that allows law enforcers to arrest civilians for disobeying a direct order? That also protects the journalists’ freedom of speech. It protects the people’s right to information. And so as long as you are performing your job as a journalist without any intention of committing a crime or abetting the commission of one, you are constitutionally protected from anybody who attempts to curtail that right.

Do you see now where my mother comes in?

Both the police and the media have the constitution behind them. But the media did nothing drastic to enforce their constitutionally-protected right. The police, on the other hand, arrested the journalists and booked them in Bicutan. Puzzling?

Put it this way, the way my mother did.

What if, during Trillanes’ arrest, photographers snapping his pictures as he was being dragged away like a common criminal asked the police to “kindly step aside because we want to show the whole world how our friend Tony’s hair stays in place even amid rough treatment?”

Naturally, the police would refuse.

Now what if we whip out plastic cuffs, slap them on the wrists of the policemen, bussed them cops over to the Inquirer office and booked them for getting in the way of the photojournalists’ job (under the guise of finding out if they were really cops or pseudo security officers who will again do nothing if Trillanes decides to walk out on them anew) before letting them go?

How would they feel?

My mother rests her case, just as she did several years back when she pacified a petty sibling argument.

Oh. PS. There’s this joke that I received via SMS a few days back. I don’t know why but while I was hammering out this piece, I suddenly remembered it. What’s the difference between a shrinking, pipsqueak-voiced, ball-less, ignorant coward and a policeman? The policeman’s got a gun.


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