[PHOTO AT LEFT - President Aquino salutes after a wreath-laying ceremony at the heroes monument in observance of National Heroes’ Day at the Libingan ng mga Bayani in Taguig City yesterday. MANNY MARCELO]

MANILA, AUGUST 30, 2010 (STAR) By Delon Porcalla - Heroism is in the blood of every Filipino, President Aquino said yesterday.

“I believe the blood that runs in our veins is the blood of heroes. We’re a nation of heroes. There are many ways to heroism in the present times, and there’s no need for guns or spears, no need to shed blood,” said the only son and namesake of the late senator Benigno Aquino Jr., who is regarded by many as a modern day hero for his struggle against authoritarian rule.

“What is required of us is to help one another, to serve the country without asking for anything in return. In fact, it’s enough that we do our duties as responsible Filipinos,” he said in his National Heroes’ Day message at the Libingan ng Bayani at Fort Bonifacio yesterday.

“I believe that for many of us, the fight is not against an enemy but against one’s self. They’ve chosen to stay behind the bars of greed and every-man-for-himself. They’re still chained to the culture of apathy, of blame tossing,” he said.

Mr. Aquino again enjoined Filipinos to join him in his crusade to weed out corruption in government, which he called the main stumbling block to progress.

“Putting personal interest ahead of the majority’s is no doubt the biggest obstacle to the path to change,” he said.

“If we remain indifferent, we will remain trapped in a situation that we want changed. We will not progress and our countrymen will still be mired in extreme poverty,” he said.

“Let’s put away the hindrance to a bright future. Let’s not hesitate to stand up and leave the situation that is holding us down,” he said.

With the President during the Heroes Day rites were Defense Secretary Voltaire Gazmin, AFP chief of staff Lt. Gen. Ricardo David Jr., Taguig Mayor Laarni Cayetano and National Historical Commission chairman Ambeth Ocampo, among others.

Mr. Aquino, commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces of the Philippines, also laid a wreath at the tomb of the Unknown Soldier.

Mr. Aquino also said that many Filipinos have not realized yet the significance of the sacrifices of the country’s heroes like Jose Rizal, Andres Bonifacio and Apolinario Mabini.

“Let’s aspire for a better life and let’s not stop until we reach this goal. And for the future of our children and the next generations, I’m challenging everyone to help spread the true message of heroism,” he said.

Palace wants media to have own guidelines on hostage crisis coverage By Aurea Calica (The Philippine Star) Updated August 27, 2010 12:00 AM Comments (24) View comments

MANILA, Philippines - Malacañang wants media to lay down their own guidelines on covering hostage crises instead of having the government impose prior restraint.

Presidential Communications Operations Office Secretary Herminio Coloma said media should know how to avoid endangering the safety of hostages.

“Our stand is that we should not restrain freedom of expression,” he said.

“We should keep in mind that we fought for freedom for us to express what’s on our minds in this country.”

Coloma said media practitioners should evaluate their coverage during Monday’s hostage crisis at Rizal Park in Manila where eight Hong Kong tourists were killed.

“Are we ready to follow instructions as professional media practitioners and consider the lives and safety of the hostages and those involved in the crisis situation?” he said.

Coloma said the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility came out with guidelines on media coverage after children were taken hostage in a school bus near Manila City Hall in 2007.

“It was stated there that there should be no live coverage of such events and media practitioners should not interfere, they should not be interviewing those involved in the hostage taking. Only those who have professional abilities and training must be allowed (to be involved),” he said.

Coloma said investigators would look into the possibility that some media practitioners could be held liable for the bungled hostage crisis last Monday.

“We should evaluate concrete evidence and we will follow the law. Those who are responsible must be held responsible,” he said.

Coloma said President Aquino was willing to meet with media groups like the National Press Club, the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster ng Pilipinas and the National Union of Journalists regarding rules on coverage of hostage crises.

“You should be the ones to make the initiative of asking yourselves what the proper regulations should be,” he said.

Coloma said the government would support whatever regulations that media would come up with after talks.

“We can discuss on how we can help each other,” he said.

“We do not want to appear like, because of what happened, we are angry and we will discipline and punish you.”

Authorities chided for blaming media

The chairman of the House of Representatives committee on public information chided yesterday authorities for blaming the media in the bungled hostage crisis last Monday.

Eastern Samar Rep. Ben Evardone said media were just doing their job and it was not their fault if police failed to cordon off the area and deprive hostage taker Rolando Mendoza access to news reports.

“The police authorities in trying to explain away their bungling of the hostage crisis are looking for scapegoats,” he said.

“This is the kind of attitude that would not help resolve the situation or the ongoing investigations.

“This is the kind of attitude in the PNP hierarchy that would ensure that another deadly fiasco would happen in the future in police operations.” – With Paolo Romero, Cesar Ramirez

'Media, not gov't, should set coverage guidelines' By Aleta Nieva Nishimori, abs-cbnNEWS.com Posted at 08/27/2010 1:35 AM | Updated as of 08/27/2010 1:35 AM

MANILA, Philippines – It is the media, not the government or the police, which should establish the guidelines on coverage of life-threatening incidents such as hostage-taking, an expert has advised.

“You never want to interfere with covering. But when you come up with voluntary guidelines that people agreed to and try honestly to adhere to, it's much better than having a government say these are the guidelines, this is how you behave, this is what you do--that really becomes quite onerous,” said Bob Dietz, Program Coordinator for Asia of the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), told ANC's Top Story on Thursday.

The hostage drama started when dismissed police officer Rolando Mendoza hijacked a bus full of tourists in Manila in an attempt to get his job back.

Local and foreign journalists flocked to the Quirino Grandstand to cover the incident. Some were criticized for delivering the critical moments of the crisis.

“When we're in a middle of a news coverage situation, we're really going for the best that we can get, especially the people on the street--the cameramen, the producers, the soundmen at that level,” Dietz said.

Dietz, however, pointed out that people back in the newsroom should be the one to decide when to call the shots.

“What has to happen is back here, where there are cooler heads in the newsroom, sort of saying ‘that's too much’, ‘let's pull this back’, ‘get these people out of that position’,” Dietz said.

Broadcast media covered the almost 12-hour hostage incident, which reported developments on the ground, including what many called the mishandling of the crisis by the local police.

Mendoza, the suspect, monitored police movements on the television inside the bus. He also saw the media coverage of how his brother, SPO2 Gregorio Mendoza, was forcibly arrested. This was said to have triggered the suspect to use his weapons.

Dietz said it’s the newsrooms, not the police, who should make the decisions if their coverage is already compromising the safety of people.

“It might be a decision that you and the 4 other newsrooms that you're competing in. ‘Wait a second, this is getting bad. This guy is watching the situation on television. We’re doing nothing but jeopardizing the safety of these people. We’re gonna hold back a wide shot of this bus and have a commentary run underneath. We’re going to take this off air to stop driving this maniac and feeding his need for publicity. That should be your decision and the decision of your colleagues, not the cops,” he explained.

“Don’t give that power to the government or the police in a crisis situation. Spread it out amongst yourselves, make a reasoned judgment based on experience,” he said.

Good practice in Pakistan

He likened the media competition in Pakistan during the siege of a mosque in Islamabad.

“Their broadcast came together voluntarily. It was about a 2-week process. They hammered out guidelines and everything from whether or not to show a bloody body, to whether you broadcast a hostage taker's demands--a whole range of issues,” he said.

The media there set a network, a way for news directors to talk to each other, he said.

“They talked with each other and worked with each other during these situations to make sure that even though it’s competitive, they weren’t stepping over the bounds of really risking lives,” he said.

The Aquino administration was criticized for not ordering a news blackout during the incident.

After the incident, Cebu Rep. Luis Quisumbing was prompted to file House Bill No. 2737 proposing a news blackout during hostage crisis.

NUJP against legislated restrictions

Meanwhile, the National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) said it is not supporting the legislated restriction being pushed in Congress. It instead called for self-examination among media organizations, and for an agreement on coverage protocols during hostage crises.

The Kapisanan ng Brodkaster ng Pilipinas (KBP) also does not support a news blackout.

Meantime, ABS-CBN also released its statement on the August 23 hostage crisis and maintained that it exercised self-restraint.

It added that if the government had called for a news blackout, the network would have supported it.

Dietz said it is not the police’s decision to call for a news blackout.

“That becomes an issue and all of a sudden people are saying ‘no, you can't cover that’. You are inflaming the situation. When in fact, you can say this is considered judgment what we’re doing. And it's not just one person being driven by profit mode or some competitive urge. In fact, it's people trying best to serve the rights of the viewing audience and their need to know what's going on,” explained Dietz.

“If there were errors made. the best thing to do is to step up and say, yes, we made errors, and to figure out which errors they were. Explain to your viewers the reasons for making those errors, and prevent them from happening again,” Dietz said.

Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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