TONYPET ALBANO’S RACIAL SLUR, ADEL TAMANO and THE ROLE OF MEDIA

In yesterday’s Kapihan sa Senado, the spokesmen of the rival coalitions – Genuine Opposition (GO) and Team Unity (TU) – were at each other’s throats again. TU spokesman Tonypet Albano boasted that Maguindanao turned out a 12-0 vote for TU. GO spokesman Adel Tamano said that for a Christian and a non-Mindanaoan to top the vote in Muslim Mindanao is highly irregular.

 

Tonypet immediately called Adel a racist for saying such thing.

 

I only saw the news report so I did not get Adel’s rebuttal.

 

This is MY rebuttal:

 

First and foremost, Tonypet’s assertion that Adel was racist simply reflected his own racist thinking. The Muslim Filipinos and the Christian Filipinos – except for the Chinese and other naturalized citizens – belong to the same race, the Malay race.

 

Race was far from the mind of Adel, especially since he said Christian and non-Mindanaoan.

 

Mindanaoan is a new term invented by the Christian Filipino settlers in Mindanao. This is their way of staking a claim on Mindanao. Adel was saying therefore that a Mindanaoan like Zubiri or Pimentel can top the votes in Mindanao but not somebody from Ilocos like Chavit Singson. So, race or even religion could not possibly be involved here because Mindanaoans like Pimentel or Zubiri are also Filipinos and Christians.

 

Besides, Adel is married to a Christian. Also, Adel’s maternal great-great grandfather was an Ilocano – Don Mariano Peralta of Pasukin, Ilocos Norte and Davao del Sur. I know that because I am Adel’s uncle. And we have legions of Christian relatives. So obviously, race was never a factor in Adel’s statement.

 

What Adel wanted to say was that the fact that a non-Mindanaoan and non-Muslim would top the senatorial votes in Muslim Mindanao shows that it was illogical, irregular, unnatural and could only happen if there was massive fraud done like vote-buying on a massive scale or outright “manufacture” of votes.

 

It is obvious to discerning people that Tonypet is the racist one because his brain immediately took it for granted that Adel, being a Moro, was only talking about Moros and not Mindanaoans; and, in Tonypet’s mind, (Moros) Muslim Filipinos and Christian Filipinos do not belong to the same race.

 

Tonypet cannot use the argument that a Christian can win in Muslim places and vice versa. Because unless there are peculiar conditions involved, historical experience says it does not happen.

 

Traditionally, Bicolanos vote for Bicolanos, Cebuanos for Cebuanos, Ilonggos for Ilonggos. The Bicolanos voted heavily for Roco in all elections except for 2004 elections because in 2004, something happened to Roco. So-called experts said after 2004 that there are no more ethnic votes because of the Roco non-vote in Bicol. But that is not true. In the 2004 elections, the exception happened because Rocco went to the US and admitted he had cancer. Had he stayed in the country and not said anything, the Bicolanos would have voted all-out for him.

 

In the case of the Moros, the official senatorial votes would not reflect the votes for Moro candidates because since the 1992 elections, voting in Moro regions have always been suspended such that when elections were held afterwards, the votes become crucial to the senatorial candidates battling for the last two slots. And so the votes would be auctioned off to the highest bidders.

 

In the early NAMFREL count in Marawi City, Sultan Kiram is leading the race with 8 GO candidates in the Magic 12. But as the NAMFREL chair for Lanao del Sur said on TV, there were indications that COMELEC would again do what it did the last time around.

 

INVESTIGATIVE ROLE OF MEDIA

 

In all journalism books and journalism schools abroad, Journalistic Reporting IS Investigative Reporting.

 

It is unfortunate that journalism schools here do not teach that, although some teachers do. I did.

 

I remember a few years ago when a UP journalism professor wrote what he designated as an Investigative Report for the College’s so-called academic journal. Some journalism teachers rejected the designation of the article as an investigative report. But the Dean at that time, Dr, Nicanor Tiongson, and all the department chairs of the college (save one) approved of the article and insisted that it be considered as complying with the requirement for being tenured. Fortunately, the Chair of the Journalism Department at that time disagreed. She took her M.Sc. in Journalism in France. Later, the dean refused to renew the term of the Journalism chair.

 

It is truly disheartening to note that the UP College of mass Communication, the breeding ground for today’s journalists, has faculty members who could not even tell a feature story from an investigative report. Academically, it is also interesting to note that an investigative report can be considered in lieu of an academic article for tenure purposes.

 

Modern-day Journalism

 

With the Industrial Revolution came print periodicals. And modern-day journalism was born in the 17th century. Yes, it is that old and even at that time the journalists “saw their role as investigatory” (Kovach and Rosentiel: 2001, p.112). In The Elements of Journalism (New York: Three Rivers Press), Kovach and Rosentiel wrote:

 

The Parliament Scout, which began publication in 1643, “suggested something new in journalism – the necessity of making an effort to search out and discover the news.” The next year, the publication calling itself The Spie promised readers that it planned on “discovering the usuall cheats in the great game of the Kingdome. For that we have to go undercover.”

These early efforts at investigative work became part of the reason the press was granted its constitutional freedom…In the process, they established investigative reporting as one of the earliest principles that would set journalism apart from other means of communication with the public.

 

Four hundred years ago, journalists already considered their job as investigatory. Yet in the Philippines, journalists think that reporting merely means accurately informing the public what Mr. So-and so said and what Ms. What-not said.

 

In the case of the Maguindano voting scenario, Filipino reporters would simply say: “Maguindanao delivered a 12-0 vote in favor of Team Unity. Mr. So-and-so said this while Ms. What-not said that.” The whys and wherefores are completely ignored.

 

A good reporter would immediately ask the question Why? – Why did the Moros vote for Team Unity and why was the Moro candidate only at number 12?

 

The next question would be – How? – How was this vote delivered? Was it delivered through coercion, vote-buying, cheating or simply by pure and clean election?

 

I think Adel was trying to point out that if these questions will be asked, then the answers would be obvious – there was massive fraud either through vote-buying or simple “manufacture” of votes which do not reflect the people’s will.

 

A good reporter faced with the Maguindanao scenario would immediately ask Why? Why was the vote like that? Who? – Who were the voters? Who are the candidates? Who was responsible for the counting? What? What is the demographic of the voters? What is the political situation in the province? How? How were the votes “delivered”? How accurate was the counting? And so on. And so forth.

 

If we had good reporters, then the whys and wherefores of the Maguindanao vote could have been reported. And this could have been done all over the country.

 

Only if our media reporters start their reports by asking the right questions and looking for the truthful answers can we preserve our hard fought freedoms. For these freedoms, the Filipinos fought the Spaniards, the Americans, the Japanese and the Marcos dictatorship.

 

Some media people are already congratulating themselves for a job supposedly well done. This happens every time after Election Day only to be surprised later on that indeed massive cheating was done. After Election Day 2004, the Media people congratulated themselves and they all celebrated the “relatively clean and peaceful 2004 elections.” And then the “Garci tapes” came along. Wake up, people!

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