DEAD AIR: Media murders in Mindanao

Just received this on my e-mail. Read on.

DEAD AIR: Media murders in Mindanao an I-Witness documentary by Howie Severino and his team tonight, after Saksi, Feb. 28, 2005 GMA7

Even in the age of television, radio is still king in many places in the Philippines. That is why provincial broadcasters–the princes of the airwaves who can influence millions–are getting killed. Threatened and insulted, those with power and guns retaliate, sometimes with deadly consequences.

The growing number of journalists murdered in the Philippines shows that while repressive government censorship may be history, censorship by the gun proliferates.

Howie Severino and his team investigate Pagadian City in Mindanao, where several hard-hitting broadcasters have been killed in recent years. Most recently, the vital witness of one of these murders was himself shot to death in broad daylight in front of his students.

The effect has been a deafening silence of criticism in Pagadian and journalists arming themselves for self-defense. They train at night in a military firing range, igniting a debate about whether media’s watchdogs should have weapons other than free speech.

Howie’s team ‘moves on to Cagayan de Oro City, where broadcasters are as noisy and provocative as ever, insulting officials, calling people names, even verbally attacking priests. These traditional commentators make it easier to understand why some of their targets are driven to kill.

In Manila, in contrast, radio has evolved in tandem with TV, with broadcasters becoming celebrities rather than corpses. Howie and his team profile Arnold Clavio, the prototype of the modern broadcaster — who uses humor and charm, rather than bombast, to attack society’s villains. Rooted in Tondo, Arnold is as much a man of the masses as any politician, but looks just as comfortable in his designer suits.

I-Witness presents these two faces of the Filipino broadcaster — one that pushes the boundaries of tolerance and the other demonstrating a way to thrive, and not just survive, in an age when growing numbers of people want to see and not just hear the news.

Executive Producer: Ella C. Evangelista

Cinematography: Egay Navarro

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