PHILIPPINES: Writers Ye Be Warned

MARY GRACE COSTA WRITES – Way to rain on the parade, Chito Narvasa! Invited to speak at an awards dinner for journalists covering Philippines basketball, the new b-ball commissioner chose to dress down reporters, warning them to practice “responsible journalism” or else.

It seems Narvasa wanted to ensure that all Philippine Basketball Association (PBA) writers got the message after reporter Snow Badua was banned for tweeting “irresponsible and deplorable” comments about Alfrancis Chua, a PBA official.

The Philippines has made a reputation for itself as a hostile environment for media workers. The country has seen 77 confirmed journalist deaths since 1992, and dozens more are still under investigation. Most of the blame lands on corrupt politicians who attempt to silence their critics and on the good politicians who stay silent.

It’s not uncommon for sports associations to be accused of foul-play. Scandal follows FIFA wherever it goes, and the NBA’s record isn’t squeaky clean either. Media coverage not only exposes corruption in these institutions, but also provides a platform for the associations to address problems and be transparent about scandals and rumors. Rather than address the message, however, it appears that most Philippine institutions prefer to shoot the messenger.

Narvasa’s lecture on responsible journalism might sound like a friendly reminder to the press, but under the rhetoric he’s issuing a warning: stay in your lane. Be good little writers. Write about basketball and write about the players, but do not write about us.


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