The embargo

Only regained DSL last night, hence the hiatus (further delayed by the downpour and intermittent brownouts this afternoon!).

20080611_ces.jpgAs you can imagine, I’m one of those quite worried over the fate of Ces Drilon, who I personally like very much indeed. She’s a gutsy lady.

But the story of her kidnapping has become hopelessly intertwined with that of the news embargo, upon ABS-CBN’s request, that took place for much of Monday.

The self-censorship among media outfits actually stretched from Sunday to nearly all of Monday. According to Ding G. Gagelonia (blogging on June 10),

This running story first broke on the news wires of the Associated Press and is being carried both by the International Herald Tribune, with at least two local broadsheets bannering the report despite a news blackout clamped by police authorities and, in journalistic parlance, a story embargo requested by ABS-CBN, a practice normally honored by all journalists.

The embargo no longer being tenable, he briskly provided the details as they initially emerged:

However, with the AP having broken the embargo first and both Tribune and SunStar Daily Cebu running it, along with IHT, this writer is sharing these details, apart from having confirmed the same from my own sources in the mainstream working press in Manila:

Ces Drilon and her two-member news crew went missing Saturday, June 7 but our sources confirmed they had actually been “abducted” after ABS-CBN network receIved the ransom demand. The story was also broken to media by the ARMM police chief Joel Goltiao. A text message is making the rounds quoting a ransom price considerably higher than that being reported by the Daily Tribune.

It remains unclear but it is reported that a certain Mindanao State University Professor Octavio Dinampo was in touch or was travelling with the ABS-CBN team of Ces. My sources tell me Ces herself decuded last Saturday to go on the coverage based on the tip that an unnamed ASG personality was “going to surrender.”

From the media reports now emerging, on Sunday morning Dinampo picked them up from the Mindanao State University hostel, and armed men identified as being under a certain ASG commander Albader Parad intercepted them as their vehicle passed through Kulasi village, ARMM police chief Joel Goltiao said.

My own understanding is that is that it was the government station, NBN-4, and not the wire services that broke the story. It was the government that forced an end to the embargo by reporting the kidnapping of Ces Drilon and Co. on its Monday evening news program. Since news on a government station has an official nature to it, it’s logical to assume that it was then that the wire services, which I understand had been unable to obtain a statement from ABS-CBN up to that point, could run with the story.

So let me say first of all that government appeals for “restraint” are pure, unadulterated bullshit. You have a rare instance where media exercised prudence (not altogether altruistically, as I’ll explore in a bit) but government, always eager to appeal for “restraint,” jumped the gun… The reasons for this could range from malicious glee (no love lost either for the network or Drilon on the part of officialdom) to a general interest in beating the war drums in Mindanao to provide a distraction for economic issues and expand the President’s political and military (one and the same) options.

Still, for a time, an embargo was asked for, and respected, while ABS-CBN tried to downplay the story. This explains the befuddlement experienced by bloggers like AlternNation101 whose hackles were immediately raised by the network’s (uncharacteristic) discretion:

So is this true? If it is, then why is it not on the headlines? If it is not, then why is abs-cbnnews.com not denying it?

I may be wrong but if asked to bet, I will bet on this NOT being true. I suspect that ABS-CBN is doing some story on the Abu-sayyaf and would like to use some opportunity to sensationalize it. Perhaps even the Abu-sayyaf is in on it to have some publicity too..

Well, wrong. There was a kidnapping, but I don’t know if I entirely agree with Gagelonia (in a subsequent, and thorough, roundup on emerging details on the kidnapping) who says it’s this sort of speculation that discredits citizen journalism. I’m not so sure. It only points to media having to once again confront the insistence in some quarters that media not get any brownie points for the hazards that accompany the job for those in the field. That, and and the general confusion surrounding kidnappings. This inevitably fosters speculation which will be rife when news embargoes are in place. And it’s also true that confusion was fostered by the embargo.

I’ve been looking at various blogger’s reaction to the kidnapping of Ces Drilon, and considering how antagonistic non-media bloggers tend to be, I’m surprised they haven’t seized on the embargo issue more ferociously.

Splice and Dice raises three issues raised by the kidnapping: personal culpability; the fragility of the peace process; and media’s handling of the kidnapping of one of its own:

For one, Drilon resisted the security offered by the military before entering the den of the terrorists. There’s a reason there that, perhaps, only Drilon knows and can explain better, although it’s tempting to say that it may have something to do with lack of trust, or with the very reason why she had to trouble herself of venturing into hostile land. She perfectly knew the harm that could most probably come their way, and I suspect she could easily see that with half an eye, but she continued physically unprotected. Which is ironic because she’s been with the military and the Abu Sayyaf in separate occasions for a number of times already, which is enough to compel her to call upon the hand of God or of man to stand by her side half of the way.

But some say the circumstance that the “missing” folks now have is a win-win plot: they get to have an insider scoop into the heart of the renegades while the renegades get free publicity. There’s even a theory linking the government with the abduction. But I leave the reader’s imagination to go into those depths.

Two is that Octavio Dinampo, a professor and MNLF senior Shura member who convenes the Bantay Ceasefire, was also kidnapped, which is ironic in the sense that he’s been entangled in the mesh and mess he’s been trying to mediate. It may not be a sufficient premise to say that even the messenger gets to be shoved into dire circumstances at some point, but Dinampo would have expected the day that he will soon be skimmed and fried in his own fat long before somebody else could tell him. That is so especially in a country where mitigation through mediation has rarely succeeded entirely.

And three, the media which has sworn to protect the public by informing us in many ways is now the same media, or a portion of it, which has sought to withhold information about Ces Drilon and others while the rest of us grope in the darkness. It’s the same issue that has stirred a mild storm among the members of the media themselves, which is patent enough in a democracy divided in both flesh and substance. Some say it’s a matter of balancing public interest with private interest – public interest being the public as it is, and private interest being the family, corporate and genetic, of Drilon and her crew – in cases where the delicate balance between life and death or harm is as thin as impoverished limbs.

But of these, it’s the last that concerns us, here. As smoke noticed,

I was also struck by this unintended but no less blatant exercise of power to control what the public knows.

Both echo, ironically, what journalist Vergel Santos said was objectionable about the embargo: it was an effort by ABS-CBN to “manage” the news. It could only do so, by means of a fraternal appeal to rival news organizations.

Here’s the network’s party line: ABS-CBN explains news blackout on Ces Drilon. And here’s Why Inquirer didn’t run big story:

Ressa phoned the Inquirer on Monday to appeal for a news blackout until 6 a.m. Tuesday while negotiations for the release of the ABS-CBN team were ongoing.

She told Magsanoc that reporting the abduction would pose a danger to the lives of Drilon, Jimmy Encarnacion and Angelo Valderama.

Ressa said the news blackout was important because the network was afraid that other extremist groups in the area might take advantage of the situation.

In response to Magsanoc’s reservations about the news blackout, Ressa said she had also appealed to other newspapers, ABS-CBN’s rival network GMA 7, the wire service agencies and the Foreign Correspondents Association of the Philippines to observe a news blackout.

The Inquirer editor in chief initially suggested that the blackout last only until midnight of Monday, but Ressa appealed for up to 6 a.m. of the next day. She said one of the network’s news executives would be flying to Sulu to help in the negotiations.

So is the issue the actual embargo? To me, the issues are:

1. Why did government intervene to break it?

2. Whether the partially successful embargo provides a precedent for future embargoes.

3. Why were media outfits, none of whom have any love for each other, willing to accede to ABS-CBN’s appeal?

Regarding the first: having been in some crisis situations myself, I can appreciate how difficult it is to balance the public interest with the need to safeguard your own, and this is particularly so when you’re trying to figure out how to keep the Abu Sayyaf from going berserk, while at the same time not adding fuel to the fire: an AFP and PNP humiliated by the recent bombings in Mindanao might be tempted to substitute blundering about for real sleuthing, and cause more harm than good.

After all, from the point of view of the military and the Abu, journalists are expendable.

Still, a reflection on when a personal tragedy involves a public crime: the embargo is ultimately only justifiable, in this instance, if it sets a precedent for all media to impose a news blackout in the first, say, 24-48 hours of a kidnapping –any kidnapping. That is, unless the family of a victim or the institution the victim is associated with (preferably, both) specifically authorizes the media to report on the case. There may be a justification for an abduction being reported from the get-go: to prevent the kidnap victim from being liquidated (for example, Lozada) but in other cases, where the kidnappers are well known and have a track record, reticence may be in order. This is what one journalist (who happens to be President of NUJP) has suggested.

Which makes the illogical behavior of the government logical only if you assume (as I do) that there are hawks in the administration happy over any mayhem in Mindanao.

Concerning the second issue, see Arlene dela Cruz’s They kept asking about ransom, TV journalist recalls which points to the debate that must have taken place in many a newsroom in the country, and where dela Cruz’s views must have been echoed time and again as editors pondered on whether to go for the story or respect Maria Ressa’s appeal:

A journalist following his or her instinct would file that story right away. But remembering what had happened to me, my unsolicited advice at this stage is to keep pertinent details of the negotiation confidential – if indeed there’s already one – to ensure the safety of Ces and her crew.

Institutionally, I’m assuming media won’t let the hunt for a story extend to actually jeopardizing the safety of hostages: as the Peninsula caper proved, it would not only be condemned by the authorities, and the victims’ families, but the public, too (And an individual, and not just institutional level, there’s also the sobering “there, but for the grace of God, go I,” moment experienced by Julie Alipapa, see her How Inquirer correspondent eluded abduction).

And as for the third, was it just a matter of journalists being clubby?

More of a case of solidarity in adversity, methinks. For one thing, they know what it’s like to have one of their own kidnapped by the Abu Sayyaf, who are not, shall we say, cuddly people. For a taste of things to come for Drilon, let’s return to what Arlene dela Cruz recounted:

One day, they blindfolded and interrogated me regarding the text messages I was still getting on my mobile phone. Later in the night they pushed me into a shallow pit – and then someone pissed on me.

In the next few days, they kept asking me about the ransom. The torment only subsided when they turned me over to another group around the first week of February.

The uneasy calm allowed for some conversation between me and a man named Lakandula, one of their leaders.

“When will you, reporters, stop writing stories about the fighting in Sulu? Is that all what you reporters are after?” Lakandula then wondered aloud. “You write your report and that’s it. It’s all just work for you. Is that it? Just another ‘scoop’ from Sulu?”

I remember the two of us having this exchange inside a hut, and outside we could see a group of women passing by.

“Do you see those women, their children? Every day they have to walk for several kilometers to draw water from the river. Why? Because they don’t have a source of water near their homes.”

(Revision to my original comment re: Philippine Commentary: he denies he thinks Drilon had it coming.)

I hope Ces will be OK. But there are many who would want things to turn out otherwise.

Postscript: Coffee With Amee points out,

One does not venture out into uncharted territory without knowing full well the risks involved. It wasn’t like the previous coverage of the Peninsula takeover incident where we saw Drilon running around in heels wearing a headband to get to interview Trillanes et al. That one was unplanned supposedly. This one, they knowingly went to the territory where it is known that kidnappings do happen.

Having said this, the conundrum is, you know what you’re getting into and now you’re faced with the worst case scenario. What to do? There’s no simple black or white answer (Like the New York cookie. Okay, bad insert, but I saw it on “Ugly Betty” last night and I realized how much I missed it even if it’s a hit-or-miss depending on where you buy it.) It’s a bit of a gray area.

Even what ABS CBN did on their behalf regarding the news blackout request is strictly off the textbooks and one where a journ professor will most probably tell his students that it depends on the situation.

If I were the editor, if I chose to honor the news blackout request, it would be for the reason that I personally know the journalists being held captive and that I’m personally concerned. But c’mon, given a nameless, faceless person in their stead, I would highly doubt that media would hold on to the news knowing full well the important value of the story.

On the other hand, if I were ABS CBN and there were indeed ongoing negotiations, would I have asked for a news blackout from colleagues? It would be hard to say. But most probably, no. Rather than have another news outlet report the incident with inaccurate information, I believe it would be best to release a statement from the network involved. That is, if it is indeed true that they will not be paying ransom to give in to the demands of the kidnappers.

A brief addendum, based on a conversation I had with a colleague yesterday.

1. Coming at the heels of the Peninsula Caper, the embargo will inspire the network’s critics to reassert their resentments and antipathy against journalists.

2. Having asked for a favor, ABS-CBN now owes the other networks and media outfits. Not a good situation, pragmatically to say the least.

3. The embargo as I said above, is only acceptable if it is taken, industry-wide, as laying down a precedent for all future coverage of all future kidnappings. Otherwise, it will simply reinforce the contempt of the network’s critics.

And, as The Warrior Lawyer asks, the dilemma now is, to pay or not to pay ransom? The government’s hands, in this case, are tied: it established giving in to ransom and other demands as government policy in the case of Iraq. Since it’s government that serves as the best deterrent to the natural instincts of private entities to ransom hostages, there isn’t any incentive for ABS-CBN to do otherwise.

133 comments

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    • mlq3 on June 12, 2008 at 8:49 am
      Author

    d0d0ng, i think muslim mindanao has gotten heaps of attention -it’s just, the wrong kind, they bet on the warlords and an ex-mnlf faction and they haven’t delivered. just as ramos bet on misuari. and the peace process was not given the priority attention it required because there’s the camp of the hawks in the cabinet.

    supremo, i’ve never heard of kidnap insurance.

    • mlq3 on June 12, 2008 at 8:53 am
      Author

    djb, again, if we ever get to the point of a next government, i hope the first thing it does is repeal the human security act. and then brings the penal code up to date.

    this is a kidnapping. it ought to fall and be attended to according to pre-existing laws.

  1. Anger the terrorists if you reported the kidnapping? Wah? They are terrorists.

    I agree with Brianb

    Only the kidnappers in uniform would warn the family of the victims not to tell the media about the kidnapping. Mabubuking sila. So when one very prominent business tycoon was kidnapped, it was only published as a blind item by one respected columnist.

    Terrorists would own their crime especially if it will impress to the public how they can evade security and military.

    Yon ngang karamihan vinivideo pa.

    In the book of the survivor of the kidnapping of Abu S group, she narrated how these people contacted certain authorities just so they can bring to the media, their demand. They’re not afraid to be caught because they keep on moving i.e. not staying more than 24 hours in one place.

    She belied the media’s report that there was no ransom paid. She said that the first payment did not reach the group. May mga dumuhapang na mga nakauniporme.

    • anthony scalia on June 12, 2008 at 9:22 am

    when ABS CBN declared a news blackout on the Ces incident, what they’re really saying is this – to the rest of the media, you can’t make money covering one of our staff

    no-payment-of-ransom-policy? as someone said earlier, ‘reimbursement’ for ‘board and lodging’ na lang

    siyempre, ABS CBN has the sole exclusive rights to “The Ces Drilon Story” movie

    (may Ces and co. be safe and rescued asap. as for their kidnappers, tamaan sana sila ng cancer ni Rudy Fernandez)

    • anthony scalia on June 12, 2008 at 9:29 am

    The Ca t,

    She belied the media’s report that there was no ransom paid. She said that the first payment did not reach the group. May mga dumuhapang na mga nakauniporme.

    so there must be some truth to the joke that one of the negotiators named robert is also called robot

    • supremo on June 12, 2008 at 9:32 am

    mlq3,

    ‘i’ve never heard of kidnap insurance.’

    That’s something to think about during contract signing. It’s expensive but available.

    • Jeg on June 12, 2008 at 9:43 am

    [cue Twilight Zone music]

    I see the future… I see… presidentiables… theyre… theyre offering to talk to the kidnappers to negotiate for Drilon’s release… ahhhhhhh.

    [comes out of trance]

    Where am I?

    • hvrds on June 12, 2008 at 9:49 am

    To draw an analogy to recent historical events where state power is almost non-existent.

    There are certain areas in Mindanao that resemble Beirut in the good old days. You had battle royales between warlords plus Islamic fundamentalism thrown in.

    That is when the famous or infamous arms for hostages caper knwon as Iran-Contra was instigated and accomplished by men at the highest levels of the Reagan administration to relase American hostages held by Hezbollah.

    The ABS-CBN crew must know that they were in a no man’s land. Even to define it as a war zone is problematical. It is similar to the wild tribal areas in Pakistan and areas of Afghanistan where it is believe Usama resides.

    Do you simply wipe out every living thing there as the Americans used to do a century ago, (as the American jihadist would love), or look for other means which can be also lenghty and filled with bumps.

    There is no basic fundamental model that one can use to solve these seemingly endless events that seem to repeat themselves.

    Maria Ressa herself has put out writings and programs concerning her take on the Islamic insurgency in our neck of the woods.

    These guys whoever they are seem to operate from the seat of their pants.

    That makes it all the more difficult for anyone to put a handle to them.

    This is truly a difficult position for the families who are invovled.

    The folks at ABS-CBN should be reminded that their press cards do not entitle them to a pass or talisman when they involve themselves in an area where conflict is ill defined.

    • Silent Waters on June 12, 2008 at 9:54 am

    Malapit na kasi election, so its time to gather the financial resources na…..

  2. Journalists need to be reminded that this information that they presume to be “entitled” to is RE-SOLD AT A PROFIT by their employers.

    This whole “duty-to-uphold-freedom-of-information” crap is so 1980’s.

    Any outcome good or bad, ABS-CBN shareholders are laughing all the way to the bank.

    …any material, content, or information in any form, video, digital, print, or any medium that can be reproduced or transmitted electronically that is created whilst under the EMPLOYMENT of ABS-CBN becomes the property of ABS-CBN, blah blah blah… – or something to that effect

    Time to tell your brokers to start buying you-know-who’s shares.

    – 😀

    • Bencard on June 12, 2008 at 10:08 am

    benigno, and these sad sacks at abs-cbn think and insist that they are doing “public service”. in a way, they do – for a price, as you rightly pointed out.

    • mlq3 on June 12, 2008 at 10:31 am
      Author

    supremo, decent wages first. health insurance next. more exotic insurance later.

    • Liam Tinio on June 12, 2008 at 10:33 am

    but to insinuate blame on the government for such a heinous act, or construing its call for “restraint” as an exhortation for self-censorship, is definitely a stretch. the suggestion that the administration is jumping out with glee over the incident is unmitigated bull, stemming from rabid partisanship if not downright irresponsibility.

    quoted for truth

  3. The worst brainless comment to come out on Ces’ kidnapping is that one from Ermita who blamed her for not coordinating with the security forces. Military escorts for an interview with the Abu Sayyaf? Of course she wouldn’t be kidnapped. Who would kidnap a journalist who just died in a crossfire? This moron is a disgrace to all the stupid people!

    • Liam Tinio on June 12, 2008 at 11:10 am

    1. Why did government intervene to break it?

    2. Whether the partially successful embargo provides a precedent for future embargoes.

    3. Why were media outfits, none of whom have any love for each other, willing to accede to ABS-CBN’s appeal?

    1. gantihan lang

    2. a precedent for “news management”?! haha. but inquirer is making it a precedent as per http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080611-141989/Why-Inquirer-didnt-run-big-story and http://newsinfo.inquirer.net/inquirerheadlines/nation/view/20080611-141989/Why-Inquirer-didnt-run-big-story

    3. interests, an opportunity for an I-Owe-You. they may not have love for each other, but they are, of course, solid for the interests of MEDIA per se

  4. KG,
    Was that the GMA takeover incident led by Col. Rey Cabauatan? I have inside info on that one, it’s a fake.

    • anthony scalia on June 12, 2008 at 11:18 am

    [cue Twilight Zone music]

    I see the future… I see… presidentiables… theyre… theyre offering to talk to the kidnappers to negotiate for Drilon’s release… ahhhhhhh.

    [comes out of trance]

    Where am I?

    who would it be? Loren or Kabayan?

    • anthony scalia on June 12, 2008 at 11:22 am

    Tongue-Twisted,

    ‘coordinating with the security forces’ doesn’t necessarily mean ‘having military escorts’

    • Liam Tinio on June 12, 2008 at 11:27 am

    who would it be? Loren or Kabayan?

    Mar Roxas hahahah

  5. mlq3:
    …and the peace process was not given the priority attention it required because there’s the camp of the hawks in the cabinet.

    How would ABS-CBN react if they hear Gloria ordering new Peace Adviser Esperon to coordinate Ces’ release? Forget the no-ransom policy and double it. ASAP!

  6. anthony,

    Not necessarily “visible” human military escorts. Could be GPS gadgets. Could be bounty hunters. Could be invisible (to Drilon) surveillance teams.

    Sahiron carries a $5 million reward and any info of a journalist meeting with Sahiron would definitely send these guys (including active military officers) into a surveillance frenzy. Drilon could just end up as a statistic under the column Collateral Damage once Sahiron’s presence is positively identified.

  7. MLQ3,
    I entirely agree with repealing the Terrorist Bill of Rights, though for reasons other than yours. But no law enforcer would dare touch the Human Security Act — for fear of 44 provisions that contain jail time and fines for THEM, not the terrorists.

    As for “uang” the coward with not even the originality to use his or her own name, living in your skull is punishment enough for your ad hominem arguments. You must be a leftist, hiding in the usual hole of anonymity. Why? Are you ashamed of your own ideas, if any?

  8. MLQ3,
    I am curious how you would “update” the penal code, which by the way is all the law enforcers have to rely on today anyway since HSA is so radioactive against them.

    I aver that there are ordinary kidnappings and there are terrorist kidnappings. The difference being that in the former it is only the family and friends of those kidnapped that are really affected. But this thing with Ces holds the entire country hostage to the politics of the Islamists. The Star I believe thinks these guys are Jemaah Islamiya, which of course is also Al Qaeda.

    Surely there is no comparison between political kidnappings and ordinary kidnappings, which hardly ever target such well known personalities. This was done primarily for the propaganda value.

    Judging by some of the comments, dhimmitude has already set in among the mentally susceptible.

  9. Tongue,
    It was for the sake of the “peace process” that Dolorfino-Dureza-Garcia saved the self-confessed ambushers and beheaders of those Marines last year from the arrest warrants issued by the Basilan RTC. It is for the sake of the “peace process” that GMA has been dangling a 1000-barangay homeland and vacation area for the long-beards of Waziristan in the Pulangi River area. Besides, if we treat the MILF now to such a thing, it is most likely that the MNLF or the NMLF (Next Moro Liberation Front) will then go on the warpath, since they hate each other as much as they hate the Christians, the Americans and their Filipino “running dogs”.

    Journalistic exceptionalism notwithstanding, we are all in grave peril, as much from them as from the dhimmis.

    • UP n student on June 12, 2008 at 12:29 pm

    to d0d0ng : I know you have already reached your conclusion about Pinas military spending, but other bloggers can do their own research about what percent of the budget is spent for the military. Just look at the percent-numbers for Cuba, Venezuela, Pinas, Thailand, Indonesia.

    • Mike on June 12, 2008 at 12:55 pm

    You’re too quick to dismiss the embargo as an issue and turn the guns back at the government again. The Philippine media is so quick to use phrases like “the people have a right to know”, yet here they are trying to withhold information from the public.

    And calling the embargo even a “partial success” is a bit of a stretch seeing how silly it has ABS-CBN looking, with other news outfits reporting the story at full blast yet ABS-CBN continues to give out little more than succinct official statements.

    Whether or not it was right for them to call for a news blackout, they better recognize that this should set a precedent and not simply be a case of ABS-CBN trying to cover their own ass.

  10. Okay. a news blackout which is not really a news blackout.
    A not so clear ransom.

    What’s next?

    The problem with Mindanao is not about terrorists or extremists or even leftists.

    The problem with Mindanao is the kind of Government which holds it and is continually resisting.

    I guess thats’ just the bottom of it all.

    Makes one answer why the government wants to justify its immediate refusal to heed the black out.

    Makes one answer why the government continues to fail to achieve peace in Mindanao.

    Makes one answer why even its own people are not safe in Mindanao.

    So there/

    • UP n student on June 12, 2008 at 1:10 pm

    Kidnap insurance does not insure one against being kidnapped but to purchase serves in case one gets kidnapped. If her employer had bought a policy (and had included Drilon among those covered) then “benefits” to Drilon should include loss of income while one is held hostage and medical/psychiatric care after one has been freed. If the employer had bought the feature, then all or most of ransom payments get reimbursed (whether it is paid by the employer or by the kidnap-victim’s family).

    Click here for one of the definitions:

    http://www.miller-insurance.com/Specialist_areas/Programmes_and_facilities–04Kidnap_and_ransom.aspx

    • lurker on June 12, 2008 at 1:44 pm

    Blaming the government again, huh. Every single detail so long as the government would be in the picture, people really force to point a finger. Was it the government channel that first reported the story on Monday night? I didn’t know about that as I failed to catch up with late news that time. Anyways, this embargo and the subsequent news reports about this incident are all part of history already. ABS-CBN thought it could downplay the incident but it did not realize that media people are well connected even if they differ most of the time. So no matter what hiding they do, news will always come out, truth will always come out as they say.

    They thing is, while efforts are underway to rescue Ces and her crew, news has it that some ABS-CBN personalities have direct contact with the ASG. A former governor in Mincadao said this was a bad idea. So if I were ABS-CBN, I’d listen to the unsolicited advice of the folks in Sulu. They know better. The Lopezes’ money will not do Ces any good.

    I hope Ces and her crew return home safely, with their complete set of body parts still intact.

  11. Dean,
    With that distinction between an ordinary kidnapping and a terrorist kidnapping, I guess keeping the media noise level to a minimum could have thwarted the desired political mileage better than allowing full coverage in all forms. After all, widespread fear is the ultimate motivation of any genuine terrorist.

    I also view this kidnapping in a perspective similar to yours and not via the peephole anti-media advocates want to look at it through.

    As you noted, dhimmis seem to have given up on protecting its own and instead remain within personal comfort zones. With a huge number of OFWs working under towelheads, I can understand that. What makes me unsettled is when officers like Esperon (now a Datu) and Dolorfino are tasked with protecting every citizen of any creed especially in areas such as in the south actually bungle their jobs at the expense and lives of their own men.

    I may be tolerant of dhimmis but not of quislings.

    • leytenian on June 12, 2008 at 2:34 pm

    The kidnapping and detention of hostage for mainly financial reasons is usually the responsibility of the kidnapped victims company or the family of the kidnapped victim, depending on circumtances.

    Embargo or a news blackout may be the best strategy for the insuring company while negotiation of ransom is in process. Too much publicity may likely result that the victim will suffer violent, disorienting and dehumanizing experience. ( i hope not)

    the truth about kidnapping is that paying ransom will only result in more kidnappings in the future. ( i’m not being cold , harsh as it may sound or being mean)…

    What do you think our government should do to prevent more kidnappings from happening in the future?

    Philippine SEO has a good point. what’s the very bottom of this. It’s not about blaming. It’s about, who has the ultimate responsibility for our safety?

    • leytenian on June 12, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    This is very disturbing. Let’s hope and pray that Ces and the others will be returned home safely.

  12. MLQ3,
    I cannot imagine anything more foolish and silly than “kidnap insurance” because it contemplates paying ransom. Those suggesting it seriously ought to have their heads examined. I mean, it’s like saying we ought to put up a public fund for drug addicts to get fund their daily score from.

    On the other hand, the news blackout idea ought to be carried out to its logical conclusion, which is the policy Britain had for years of denying the IRA access to media. If I remember right, the BBC never allowed the airing of the voices of the IRA’s leaders, preferring to have their own broadcasters read excerpts from statements by them. (Maybe someone can recall the most famous of the Irish leaders whose voice was not allowed to be aired at all until a real peace deal was done.)

    My rationale here is that the ransom is only the secondary objective. The primary objective is really propaganda.

    I must congratulate ABSCBN actually for declaring that it will NOT pay ransom to the terrorists. They won’t give into extortion and blackmail that is the essence of kidnapping.

    This is very unlike your own newspaper, whose modus operandi IS political extortion and blackmail via journalistic innuendo and tabloid journalism.

    That is why ABSCBN News is an institution, while PDI is just an ideological mass organization masquerading as a newspaper, with the Tulfo brothers and a few on national and regional desks being their own lil Abu Sayyaf Groups of ink-flinging terrorists.

  13. Scanning through the comments, I think you all take it for granted that Ces Drilon will make it out of this adventure alive (and with a scoop, to boot.)

    Has anyone considered what would happen otherwise?

    • grd on June 12, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    djb, is that true re pdi?

    abs-cbn wont pay the ransom only “board and lodging”.

    ransom demand is now 20 million.

    • BrianB on June 12, 2008 at 4:03 pm

    Today’s INQUIRER editorial is so full of shit. New S.O.P. Do any of you guys believe this?

    “Embargo or a news blackout may be the best strategy for the insuring company while negotiation of ransom is in proces”

    Leytenian, this is the media we’re talking about. They acted like a corporation, obviously you’ve noticed, and it wasn’t just ABS but all of them, including their rivals. How the hell can we trust media now?

  14. I guess that the hostility to Ces Drilon on this thread stems from her penchant for making herself part of the story, as she did at the Manila Pen.

    You might say that this kidnapping is just Ces Drilon taking this tendency to an absurd extreme.

    • cvj on June 12, 2008 at 4:14 pm

    Dom (at 3:59 pm), i think Manolo shares your concern when he said above:

    I hope Ces will be OK. But there are many who would want things to turn out otherwise.

    That’s also been on my mind but i’m on a self-embargo.

  15. self-embargo 😉 sounds good. me too.

    • BrianB on June 12, 2008 at 4:49 pm

    CVJ, stuart, you’ll make it as Filipino journalist. They won’t kill Ces. They don’t have any agenda deeper than money.

    • aky on June 12, 2008 at 5:36 pm

    i saw a news headline today, it said that ces was kidnapped by JI members, why is that so? does the JI want to threat the journalists? I understand that there are many factors involved in a single (in their case multiple)abduction, if the JI really did that, what could good would it do to them?

  16. ABS CBN may not pay the ransom but would Ces Drilon’s family just wait for her to get killed in the line of duty?

    It is easy to say that they won’t pay, anyway who will know if they “extend” a loan to pay the ransom?

    Just like the ransom payment which is reported to be 10 million, then 20 million. Meron ng mark-up para sa nasa gitna. tssk tsssk.

  17. more exotic insurance later.

    This type of insurance is not for all employees in the same manner that corporations get insurance only for their officers and directors who may be at risk of being sued because of their decisions.

    MY consultant-friend is not a journalist but because he frequents places such as Mindanao, Pakistan and Afghanistan, he is covered by kidnap-ransom insurance.

    Because of this insurance, he is required to follow the instructions to reduce the risks of being kidnapped, otherwise, the policy will not be honored.

    One of these precautions is informing the authorities of his whereabout and securing escorts whereever he goes.

    I think this safety precaution was ignored by Ces and company.

    • BrianB on June 12, 2008 at 6:27 pm

    “I guess that the hostility to Ces Drilon on this thread stems from her penchant for making herself part of the story, as she did at the Manila Pen.”

    Let me make this clear. There is no hostility on my side for this person. I am reacting to the Philippine media’s arbitrary changing of SOP when a prominent member of their CLUB has been kidnapped. Many people have been kidnapped before, including small children.

    Why can’t we stop talking about personalities? Not everyone is family or friends with Ces. I’ve never met her. These people talk a good game about the bigger picture when it’s not one of their own but then one of their own is put in harm’s way and everything changes. Can anyone explain how in the freest media in Asia an embargo was actually accomplished for three days? Too unprofessional. I believe this is the effect of “their” ousting of Erap. We’re witnessing a media with practitioners that have bloated egos and a sense of purpose that go beyond their “expertise.”

  18. DOM,
    I do not assume she will come out alive with a scoop. I take absolutely no pleasure in contemplating the alternative outcome. But I think the twisted logic being displayed by many in our Mass Media and among the bloggers are fair game for criticism and deconstruction. She’s a victim here and I seriously doubt that if she does come out alive, that she will treat this like her Manila Penn experience.

    ABSCBN carried features on those Euro-journalists (German, French, Danish) and Filipino journalists who’ve been kidnapped before, who all paid such rich ransoms that the dollar exchange rate was markedly different in Mindanao for a while during that heyday of Commander Robot and company. And we must not forget Arlyn dela Cruz and her BF, Kadaffy Janjalani the Boy-faced Beheader.

    I disagree that this is all about money. It’s mainly about propaganda. Just like the CPP NPA, JI/ASG/MILF/MNLF need that even more than money. The target of the propaganda is not the Filipinos but the hearts and minds of Muslims that the terrorists must continue to impress with their continuing power and relevance.

    The timing, coming as it does on Independence Week clearly points to their dastardly objective: to make a strong political statement, with her as the exclamation mark.

    It’s very disturbing also in this respect: the message is that no one is safe from these terrorists, no matter how famous or well known you are. They’ll take “negotiators” like General Dolorfino (who should be court-martialled not rewarded with the command of the Marines), as well as journalists covering press conferences. Same with Rodolfo Garcia and Jess Dureza, who I hold mainly responsible for “peace process” that has produced anything but.

    The cruel fact remains: Paying ransom only sets up the next kidnapping. Maybe a bill for expenses and blame for whatever terrible outcome ensues ought to be sent to them and to PIME and Catholic Church for ransoming Fr. Bossi last year. It must have been huge, because these beasts took a year to spend it all. Then I guess they spotted Ces.

    • cvj on June 12, 2008 at 6:38 pm

    Brian, i understand that you’re criticizing a double standard, which i think is valid, but are you saying that in principle, you’re also against the idea of a media embargo? I’m asking because even in other countries with a free press, such a practice is not unheard of. The high profile example would be the British press which did not publicize Prince Harry’s tour of duty in Afghanistan.

  19. The PDI editorial reeks with insincerity when it suggests a total embargo. Sensational scoops are their be-all and end-all (remember the ZTE non-witness they libeled recently?). As with all broad-tabloids, it’s like a heroin addict claiming she will never shoot up again. Seems to me they really hate the idea that NBN scooped the main pooper-scoopers of PHilippine society.

    Let’s take bets on how long it takes them to once more feed the Scoop Monkey on their back, no matter who is hurt. Bet they don’t make it to the weekend!

  20. i have many questions too, principally for anc’s maria ressa, but since anc is, understandably, unusually tightlipped, i’d rather give her the benefit of the doubt, praying that she knows what she’s doing this time, anything to see ces and her team safely home.

  21. hvrds: “There is no basic fundamental model that one can use to solve these seemingly endless events that seem to repeat themselves.”

    How about “Justice” or “the Rule of Law”?

    Ah, but I guess you believe these are suspended because a century ago the Americans “wiped out every living thing there.”

    Cute, if a bit hyperbolic, but evidently they did not “wipe out” the centuries of slave-raiding slave-trading, kidnapping and piratical ways of the Maguindanao Confederacy that forced all the Visayas and Luzon into the arms of the Spanish and Catholic Church, whose fortifications and watch towers dot the coastlines.

    But I don’t mind admitting I would like such practices to be wiped out, along with the vanishingly small numbers of their fanatical practitioners.

    • cvj on June 12, 2008 at 8:35 pm

    The target of the propaganda is not the Filipinos but the hearts and minds of Muslims that the terrorists must continue to impress with their continuing power and relevance. – DJB

    Interesting separation of categories you’ve made i.e. between ‘Filipinos’ and ‘Muslims’. Don’t these categories overlap? Or have you bought into the idea of an independent Bangsamoro?

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