Thursday, November 24, 2011

The Maguindanao Massacre, Two Years After

I've come to know two people in broadcast journalism who died needlessly. 

One was Ralph Runez, a camera man of RPN9, and another is Hazel Recheta, a reporter of ABC5.

Ralph died fighting people who were robbing him of a video camera he had invested in and Hazel died in a car crash on her way home from a coverage of Mayon Volcanoe.

I attended both funerals.  In both, it seemed the entire broadcast industry showed up and it's really a small community. 

Almost everyone knows everyone, if not directly, then through at atleast one other person.

For some reason, i associate the deaths of Hazel and Ralph with the deaths of the people killed in Ampatuan, Maguindanao.  They were all needless, meaningless deaths.

Reporters, TV cameramen, and news photographers share a common bond.  Those that have gone through most of the beats (yes, there are still beats) and have had their bylines or names on TV or Radio for a few years will probably find it easy to establish rapport with one another - without having to delve into their family histories or college year books.  The rapport is almost instant because you're certain you share a common interest (news) and have a common frame of reference (news).

The killing of so many journalists two years ago sent a shock wave through the community of reporters, cameramen, and photographers.

Some reporters here in Manila actually knew some of the reporters who were killed there.  Some Manila Reporters actually covered stories with the reporters who were killed and some reporters in Manila actually came frok that area.

People outside the community of reporters, cameramen and photogs will probably raise an eyebrow at the fuss being made over the Maguindanao Massacre.  Why are their lives so much more important than the thousands who die every year because of one accident or another, one catastrophe or another?

Well, their lives aren't so much more important than yours or mine. Really.

But then again, come to think of it, your relatives aren't more important than my relatives either or your friends aren't more important than my friends.  If a cataclysm were to happen, would you be alright if your relatives or friends died and not mine?

Thing is, and this was a real possibility for me back then, what if my wife (a reporter back then) had been assigned to cover the Mangudadatus on that fateful day?  What if it were any of the people I knew?

I can't even think about it.

So, from where I am looking at things, I say, it's quite all right to over emphasize the death of journalists on November 23, 2009.  Because, they were all someone's relative, friend, wife, husband, son, daughter . . . .  More so, if journalists can't be safe, neither can ordinary citizens like you and me.

Good night.

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