Included in the long list of violence that happened during this year’s Election Day is the shooting incident in Manila’s Rosauro Almario Elementary School. Police officers promptly arrived in the scene of the crime to arrest armed men that may have links to the fatal shooting. Check this article from Vera files for more details on the crime.
Doris Bigornia, a returning journalist for ABS-CBN, repeatedly stressed in her report (aired during that night’s broadcast ofTV Patrol) that the 14 supposedly armed men arrested were Muslims. She added that they have ties to the Moro National Liberation Front (MNLF). Watch the video on this link, as shared by Abdur Rashid Santos via Facebook.
“Nasawata ng mga pulis ang 14 na Muslim at sinasabi (ng mga pulis) mga MNLF sila. Hindi natin alam kung ang insidenteng ito ng panghuhuli sa 14 na mga Muslim na sinasabing kailangan daw nila ng proteksyon (clip ends here-TFS),” the ‘Mutya ng Masa’ said in her report.
Santos, radio program host and president of the Caloocan City-based Islamic Guidance and Student Center, pointed out Bigornia’s insensitive reporting through a series of posts on his Facebook page. The posts have been shared a total of 5,000 times as of writing time.
Santos dared reporters to show their fairness by also highlighting the religion of other law offenders, like if they are Christians. ”Bakit napakadali para sa inyo na ilakip ang pagiging ‘Muslim’ ng suspek sa isang krimen samantalang kapag ‘Kristiyano’ ang nakagawa ito, pangalan lamang ang binabanggit ninyo?” Santos asked.
Bigornia’s mishandling of her report is glaring. As Santos stressed in his posts, there is absolutely no need for her to emphasize the religion of the apprehended men during the coverage. Saying that the 15 men are allegedly MNLF members would have sufficed.
To be fair, Bigornia is not the first (and certainly won’t be the last) reporter to commit this mistake. Media persons have to be mindful that whenever they unnecessarily use “Muslim” in their reporting (as in the case with Bigornia), they are reinforcing the negative stereotype of Filipino Muslims as violent people, etc.
In this case, Bigornia is in clear violation of existing media industry guidelines. According to the Society of Professional Journalists’ Code of ethics, reporters should “avoid stereotyping by race, gender, age, religion, ethnicity, geography, sexual orientation, disability, physical appearance, or social status.”
Bigornia’s offensive reportage also goes against Article 22 of the Kapisanan ng mga Brodkaster sa Pilipinas’ Broadcast Code (2011 version). It says that “a person’s race, religion, color, ethnicity, gender, and physical or mental disability shall not be used in a way that would embarrass, denigrate, or ridicule him/her.”
*Read this 2006 article from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility about Bigornia’s firing from ABS-CBN at that time.