Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Personal Security Measures for Marinduque Media

(PNP Marinduque main headquarters named after the Battle of Pulang Lupa hero)

Yesterday, as grieving families of that evil tragedy revisited the massacre site in Bry. Salman, Ampatuan, Maguindanao, where a total of 58 victims that included 32 journalists were slaughtered, and while journalists, students and militants with a single voice angrily shouted “Justice for Journalists” as they marched from Espana to Mendiola near Malacanang , some 12 media personnel and PNP officials in Marinduque were exchanging views on the need to adopt security measures for local media practitioners here.

(Provincial Director, PSSupt. Edwin C. Roque, CEO VI, also a lawyer)

Maguindanao is where a political clan ruled with almost absolute power for 25 years, apparently by shifting alliances through convenience with the ruling party. Yet a wife of one of the Ampatuan victims had put it more succinctly in a statement aired last night in “The World Tonight: ”… dahil lamang sa pagiging ganid sa posisyon at sa kapangyarihan ng mga miyembro ng Ampatuan!”.

That meant having to keep an iron grip on their enormous wealth, (‘ill-gotten’, Mangundadatu maintains as billions of pesos from national funds have been given to that province), a firm hold over their constituents to keep the status quo of the province undisturbed and unchanged as the third poorest in the country. That’s the only way the fiefdom could be preserved intact so that its rulers may reign forever and ever. But that also could mean woe and horror to whoever would put up a challenge and start talk about change. That’s exactly what mayor Esmael Mangundadatu did when he decided to run against the governor.

(Map showing Marinduque's poverty incidence)

Marinduque with just six municipalities has been ruled by a political clan for 32 years. Political alliance with the ruling party has also been the name of the game. Marinduque as the poorest province in the entire Southern Tagalog region has been borne by statistical data. (And by the way, just to show that Marinduque shouldn’t be so poverty-stricken, the biggest mining concern in Asia-Pacific region operated here for over two decades, wreaked havoc on the environment and despite claims to the contrary got away with non-payment of property taxes to the province, now estimated to be a whopping one billion pesos, but that’s another Marcopper story). Yet the hornet’s nest has been stirred.

(Marinduque PNP has kept the island-province one of the most peaceful in the country)

That may or may not be the real reason, but the Philippine National Police (PNP) Marinduque Police Provincial Office decided to conduct yesterday a seminar-workshop on Personal Security Measures for Media Practitioners of Marinduque. Provincial Director, PSSupt. Edwin C. Roque, CEO VI, said that the seminar was aimed to “protect the integrity of the Truth and also protect local media in their exercise of the right to free expression”

Participants were told that in the course of their job to expose anomalies in government and to report common crimes, they could also be potential targets of enemies that they create in so doing. Thus the need to apply the many do’s and don’ts in threat detection and assessment and in surveillance detection. The question is whether media practitioners in Marinduque have real concerns about their security during non-election years like the present but just maybe threats and surveillances also come like thieves in the night.

Susong Dalaga Hill

Susong Dalaga Hill
Susong Dalaga Hill from Bagtasan isthmus

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