MANILA, Philippines - Broadcast networks and the government have reached a consensus on news coverage during crisis situations like the Aug. 23 hostage incident at the Quirino Grandstand.
Live media coverage of the hostage crisis has been blamed for contributing to the failure of the police operation, ultimately leading to the death of eight Hong Kong tourists.
Secretary for Operations Herminio Coloma said in the event of a crisis, an “exclusion zone” would be designated for media and spectators, and a spokesman would be designated to provide details of the crisis.
Live media coverage in hostage-taking incidents would also be limited so the hostage-taker would not monitor tactical operations of the police.
Coloma said the media would also not be allowed to interfere in the negotiations with the hostage-taker, which requires professional training.
“It is much preferred for the broadcast media to impose self-restraint,” Coloma told a press briefing.
He assured the media that President Aquino is not curtailing press freedom.
“We reiterate what the President mentioned, that he is not in favor of prior restraint, and in his SONA (State of the Nation Address) that media should police their own ranks,” Coloma said.
“It’s a hard-won freedom which we have fought for. That (free press) has been the policy of the President. We will not actively support any measure regarding prior restraint.”
Secretary for Strategic Planning and Development Ricky Carandang said a news blackout would only be imposed as a last option in extreme cases.
“I’m hoping that we can come to an agreement with media outfits when a news blackout will be necessary. Again, news blackouts are probably the last resort,” Carandang said. “I know that the media are hesitant about something like that (news blackout).”
Delon Porcalla, Philippine Star