The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) on Wednesday has called out officials who blame the media for reporting the complications in the hosting of the 2019 Southeast Asian (SEA) Games in the country.
In a statement released by the NUJP through their Facebook page, they said “attempting to dictate how the media should report the news has no place in a democracy.”
“It becomes ridiculously unacceptable when the officials responsible for the disaster resort to bashing media as well, as if the reports on their shortcomings were to blame for the disaster,” the group added.
This came after Ramon Suzara, chief operating officer of the Philippine Southeast Asian Games Organizing Committee (PHISGOC), called out the media’s continuous “negative reporting” of the event, requesting them to just publish positive reports.
In response to Suzara’s remark, NUJP cited that the responsibility of the media “has always been to report things as they are, based on verifiable facts, and not to pander to anyone’s perception of what is, or should be.”
“If anything, shining the light of truth on the state of the SEA games preparations can only help ensure that our nation and people be spared from being so humiliated in the future,” the NUJP added.
A week before the official opening of the SEA Games on Saturday, November 30, the country has made headlines over its logistical problems, inadequate food for the athletes, overspending for the controversial cauldron, as well as workers rushing the construction of unfinished venues.
As a result, most Filipinos took to social media their disappointment coupled with embarrassment by the SEA Games mess while others pointed out that the media has fueled the public rage as they publish negative news about the hosting of the event.
Meanwhile, the Palace said President Rodrigo Duterte was “displeased” to hear about the SEA Games snafus and wanted to investigate the root cause of this.
Philippines is “too hospitable”
Senate President Tito Sotto, on the other hand, said the Philippines is “too hospitable” as host. He compared his experience competing in the 1978 SEA Games in Thailand, which left foreign team to “fend” for themselves.
“In the SEA/Asian games I’ve participated in, we were left by the host country to fend for ourselves. If possible, they even make us uncomfortable to make sure we lose to them,” Sotto said.
“Why do you think the host country always wins? The host country is not supposed to feed them etc etc etc. We spent for our meals and other expenses even lodging,” he remarked.
Nonetheless, the NUJP expressed their appreciation for the works of journalists amid the criticisms thrown at them.
“We laud the community of independent Filipino journalists who have insisted on reporting on what is happening without fear or favor, despite the heavy online harassment and trolling,” the NUJP said.