Are there ethics and protocols for radio and TV commentators?
WHAT MATTERS MOST - Atty. Josephus B. Jimenez (The Freeman) - November 13, 2019 - 12:00am

If we listen to, and believe in, the avalanche of attacks against the president in particular and the government in general, we would perhaps conclude that our head of state and head of government is the worst in the world, and our government is the most incompetent, inept, and corrupt in the universe. That is not the truth. But that is what many radio and TV commentators are saying.

The problem in this country is that there’s too much freedom and too little sense of responsibility. Anybody with a microphone is like a loose cannon attacking extemporaneously, without studying the facts, and without hearing the other side of the story. For gain or for malice, some of our media practitioners don’t seem to have basic respect for the office of the chief executive. If they hate the incumbent president for whatever reason, they should at least respect his office. While the chief executive is a public servant, he is the personification of every Filipino as head of state. He is also the symbol of the whole machinery of governance. If we malign him, we malign the whole nation before the eyes of the world.

I lived in three Asian countries for at least three years each. I never heard any of their nationals put their king or prime minister in bad light, especially when interviewed by the foreign press. In Malaysia, the people there don’t live in a perfect country with perfect leaders. But they never say a bad word against the king or prime minister. In Kuwait, they put the king on a high pedestal and hold their head of government in high esteem. In Taiwan, there are also a lot of problems, but Taiwanese respect their leaders so much, even if they voted for someone else. Here, in the Philippines, any idiot can curse or say expletives against our national leader.

If we listen to the radio or view the TV political and opinion programs, it seems many commentators and hosts are superior to the president in competence, common sense, and moral integrity. These people who have power of the airwaves at their command speak as if they are experts in all things at all times. They haven’t even experienced managing a small community or being a barangay chairman, and yet they ridicule decisions and actions done by the administration, and make the president look like a nincompoop. They do this even if there are foreign dignitaries visiting and they insult the president before the eyes of the world.

Many people glorify writers and commentators who attack the president relentlessly like mad dogs. They honor those who cast aspersions on our president, even if they haven’t studied the facts or heard the side of the administration. There is nothing wrong with freedom of speech, freedom of the press, and freedom of expression. But these freedoms have corresponding responsibilities. They need to have balance in their perspectives and they need to study their facts well. They must also give an opportunity to the administration, or whoever is the target of their relentless attacks.

The president is also a human being with honor and human dignity. He is leading a nation of 110 million people, millions of whom are jobless, homeless, and hopeless, and is facing too many crises, calamities, disasters, crimes, drugs, poverty, graft, and threats to national security, both external and internal. The least commentators could do is to be kinder, and more balanced in their relentless attacks. This is our nation, we are in the same boat. In case of crisis, we sink or swim together.

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