WE ARE NOT MAKING a big deal out of it. However, we are not letting it go until we make it a deal. We do not wish to rub the salt on the scar. However, before everything just turns into an unnoticed mark, we want to point out how there was even a wound in the first place.
Last week, a PNP-Dumaguete offcer scolded one of our photojournalists, threatening him with words like “…dad-on ka namo sa prisohan” (We will bring
you to jail). On that afternoon, our staffer was assigned to take photos capturing
how the city is implementing the half-received, half-criticized helmet policy.
Unfortunately, when he was about to do his work while the PNP monitored the passing drivers at Hibbard Avenue, the said offcer called our staffer’s attention and scolded him. The offcer also made accusations while questioning the right of our photojournalist to take photos in that particular area. He said that our staffer was violating his privacy.
In the end, for the good sake of not calling more attention from passers-by and respecting the words of our elders, our photojournalist apologized.
The Weekly Sillimanian may not be made up of law students who are well versed with all the edicts in this land. We may just be novice journalists in the eyes of others. However, no matter how budding we still are, we are not ignorant.
Yes, we do know that in a public place, one does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Hence, we can take a photo of whatever a certain person is doing in a public place. Privacy is a word that does not exist on the streets.
We are not generalizing all the PNP offcers in our city. Of course, there are good tomatoes and bad ones in a basket. But it’s quite alarming how that offcer does not know when the media is violating other’s rights. It’s more alarming how he does not know when he is violating the media’s right. Are there others like him? What else don’t they know?
Ignorance is worse than neglect. If the offcer does know that our staffer was not
“violating his privacy”, intimidating him points us to another issue: abuse of power.
Threatening a 20-year old student of “bringing him to jail” just because he was armed with a camera and wanted to shot the unfolding news before him is just way beyond the line. We do not mind being asked. Our photojournalist can explain thoroughly why he was there in the first place. Questions, we can take. But being treated like a mindless idiot? We use this paper to motivate minds. Surely, we have some in our own. We do not allow it. We cannot take it.
Because if we do, we allow others – especially those are not privileged to go to
school, those who are not aware of their own rights and those who instantly fear
blank threats – to be treated the same way (or worse) our photojournalist was
tWS has moved on from the incident. We hope that the offcer did too.
Ms. Celia Acedo, a Mass Com teacher once said: “Be careful with power. At
first, you may feel like riding a tiger. But if you let the feeling get into your head,
you might end up in the tiger’s stomach.”
Our photojournalist has apologized in front of the PNP offcer last week. But the apology was not for the offcer. It was an apology for himself – for compromising the right that he has and for living in a society wherein the powerful are almost inside the tiger’s stomach. We are sorry that you live in that society too. But we have the power to change things. Let’s make the tiger puke them alive.