ABS-CBN headline adds confusion to war on drugs

Reading between the (head)lines

ABS-CBN headline adds confusion to war on drugs

- in Opinion
With social media, people are starting to learn how to read between the (head)lines

“Foundation scholar a victim of Duterte’s war on drugs?”

This is the headline of a news report from the Lopez-owned broadcasting company, ABS-CBN, that puts into question the findings of police officials that Jefferson Bunuan was killed during a firefight.

The report, which is largely based on a social media post that the network says is “starting to get viral,” quotes the Kaibigan Foundation as raising an “alarm over what it believes was the extrajudicial killing of Bunuan and two others.”

The report further states that the “foundation said the police were looking for a suspected drug dealer named Jomar ”Totong” Manaois, who apparently went inside the house where Jefferson and his cousin Mark Anthony were supposedly sleeping.”

But aside from merely repeating the questions and allegations that were raised on Facebook, ABS-CBN and its reporters seem to have done little else in looking deeper into the incident.

The report does not indicate either way which of the conflicting accounts of the police and the foundation are more accurate. Nor does it outline any of the research being done by the reporters to verify the facts of the case.

As a result, and given the fact that the headline is based on just one side of the story, it could also have been written as “Foundation coddles drug pusher.” So if anything, the news report only added to the readers confusion as to what really happened.

Duterte’s war on drugs is not perfect. All wars are like that. They are, by their very nature, chaotic and unpredictable. But still, it is a war that needs to be fought – and won.

If media really wanted to do its part in protecting the Philippines from the menace of illegal drugs and criminality, then it should avoid adding to the confusion. If there are legitimate questions on this or any other police operations – by all means, investigate. Get to the bottom of it. And when you find something, then report it. But not before you do.

More than asking questions, the media should provide answers. Enlighten, and not confuse its readers and viewers. This is the standard by which those that dare call themselves the guardians of the people’s rights and freedoms should be measured. A standard that sadly, very few are able to meet.

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