WHY JOURNALISTS SHOULD SUPPORT ALAB NG MAMAMAHAYAG (ALAM)?
By BERTENI “TOTO” CATALUÑA CAUSING
President, Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM)
This has to be written for the peace of mind of all the journalists.
This author, as president of Alab ng Mamamahayag (ALAM) partylist bidding to register as a minority political party and to take part in the partylist system of elections in order to win seats in the Congress, is kneeling to all journalists to help this group instead of demeaning the principles it stands for, fights for, and dies for.
First, this author is kneeling to all journalists whose sentiments go against some or many of the journalists bonding together to register and join the partylist elections in order to have a voice in the Congress, to keep their cool for the group cannot afford to lose their support.
Second, there is NO LAW THAT PROHIBITS THE MEDIAMEN from forming own partylist.
Third, the Journalists Code of Ethics is not even a law but just a guide to those who practices journalism.
Fourth, even if the group’s members who are journalists are compelled to obey the Journalists Code of Ethics, there is NOTHING there specifically saying that journalists cannot campaign or cannot vote for any candidate or cannot run for any political post.
Fifth, to follow the line of thinking that journalists must be apolitical is to say that NOLI DE CASTRO and LOREN LEGARDA are prohibited from becoming senators or vice-president.
Sixth, this author, as the president of the group DOES NOT HAVE ANY ILL MOTIVE and can assure all of his passion.
Seventh, THE GROUP IS NOT COMPOSED ONLY OF JOURNALISTS BUT ALSO UNDERPRIVILEGED, UNDERREPRESENTED AND UNREPRESENTED SECTORS SUCH AS THE TRIBESMEN, FISHERMEN, DRIVERS, LABORERS, URBAN POOR RESIDENTS and other groups that do not have any influence but in fact the oppressed and the discriminated against in the society. In fact, media men here are the minority in the group of ALAB NG MAMAMAHAYAG (ALAM).
Eighth, please be clarified that while the group is started by media men, it is NOT A GROUP WHOSE PURPOSE IS TO BECOME A NEWS ENTITY WHILE AT THE SAME TIME A POLITICAL FIGURE. Rather, it is a group merely driven by the PRINCIPLES OF PRESS FREEDOM and JUSTICE.
One of its purposes is to FIGHT FOR THE ESTABLISHMENT OF TRUE & GENUINE PRESS FREEDOM FOR ALL JOURNALISTS TO ENJOY.
Another purpose is to seek the establishment of PEOPLE’S JUSTICE SYSTEM where the people instead of the judges or fiscals are the ones exercising the power to judge factual issues, a mechanism that is similar to the Grand Jury and Trial Jury system of the United States of America: THIS IS SO NECESSARY TO PROTECT PRESS FREEDOM AND THE GAINS THAT MAY BE ACHIEVED.
Ninth, IT DOES NOT CONVERT THE GROUP AS THE MYTHICAL FOURTH ESTATE THAT EXISTS ONLY IN THE MIND OF JOURNALISTS.
Tenth, the purposes are so limited to these two action plans and limited to partylist representation in the crafting of laws and it does not seek to win executive or judicial positions.
Eleventh, the fact that the group applies with a name NOT KNOWN as a press organization actively involved in the gathering and delivery of news signifies there is a clear line that separates the practice of journalism from the exercise of the right of suffrage.
Twelfth, the right to exercise press freedom is NOT THE EXCLUSIVE PROVINCE OF THE JOURNALISTS. It is a RIGHT GIVEN BY THE CONSTITUTION TO ALL FILIPINOS WITHOUT DISCRIMINATION.
As such, even the politicians or the President or the Senators or the Congressmen or the Governors or the Mayors or the Sanggunian Members can be a journalist. Section 4 of Article III of the Constitution says, “No law shall be passed abridging the freedom of expression, of speech, and of the press…”
Thirteenth, if we get the sum total of all journalists in the entire Philippines we will end up with less than 5,000 persons only and not even enough to win a councilor's seat.
Fourteenth, to say that the group BECOMES A PART OF A CONCERT OF THE ADMINISTRATION OR THE EXECUTIVE IS TOTALLY UNFAIR.
This is so because to say so is also to say of the same to all oppositionists and to all sectors of labor and others so named in the Constitution to be represented in the national policy making.
Fifteenth, IF IT WINS A SEAT, that position is only in the Congress and not in any other areas of the government. One representative of the party has to contend with more than 250 others to sway to its agenda.
Sixteenth, if we follow the line of thought that journalists should remain apolitical forever is for them NOT TO COMPLAIN EVEN IF THEY ARE CONTINUOUSLY MURDERED, in installments or in a package deal like the Ampatuan massacre.
Seventeenth, unlike any other partylist, this early the "pork barrel" or the Priority Development Assistance Fund (PDAF) of Php70 million a year for each seat is already earmarked as follows: (a) trust fund for bail for journalists charged in court with libel; (b) trust fund for lawyers of all journalists; (c) fund to pay the premiums for the insurance of all members-journalists; (d) trust fund for life-and-death emergency hospitalization of all members; (e) trust fund for scholarships for all children of journalists and other members of ALAM.
Eighteenth, no other persons better understand the plight of journalists but the journalists themselves. Thus, journalists themselves are the best persons to articulate before the Congress the concerns of Press Freedom.
Thus, I am pleading to all fellow journalists to be pro-active now and help us find reasons to justify the existence of a partylist that works for the journalists.