PDI Editor’s Response to AFAD Letter
28 October 2010
In view of the letter published in our Facebook and Blog disowning the letter published by the Philippine Daily Inquirer (PDI, below is response of the editor.
1. As a matter of policy and practice, letters approved for publication are edited to suit them to the Inquirer’s editorial standards and style. But the Inquirer makes sure that the principal messages of the letters are kept essentially the same.
2. For a very obvious reason and because the letter could only be accommodated on Oct. 15, we had to change the point of reference of Ms Bacalso’s Sept. 28 letter from “before” to “after” Oct. 8.
3. Ms Bacalso’s Sept. 28 letter was published on the assumption that as of Oct. 14, when the letter’s publication was set for the next day, no meeting had yet taken place between President Aquino and the desaparecidos’ kin and their supporters. Please note that Ms Bacalso did not recall her Sept. 28 letter or tell the Inquirer that, on Oct. 6, 2010, the President had met with AFAD and FIND. Neither was there any news report about such meeting that the Inquirer was aware of.
4. May we remind Inquirer readers that Inquirer expects those who would use its Letters section to air complaints to immediately update the section on any major intervening development regarding their gripes.—Ed.
From the above-mentioned response, the editor of the Philippine Daily Inquirer stated that I did not withdraw the letter. While it is true that I could have informed the PDI that a meeting between President Aquino and us had transpired on 6 October, however, since the purpose of the said letter was for it to be published on the first 100 days as indicated in its first paragraph, I thought that there was no need to do it.
Moreover, from my experience sending letters to the editors to the PDI, most of these letters were not published. Hence, I never anymore expected that a letter, meant to be published not beyond the first 100 days of President Aquino, would be published a week after the end of the first 100 days and 18 days after the letter was sent. After all, the same letter was already published in Malaya and in News Today on 1 October which really then served the purpose.
After our meeting with President Aquino on 6 October, the day after, a picture of the said meeting with a clear caption appeared in our Blog and Facebook. If PDI was not sure if a meeting had not taken place yet within those 18 days before the letter was published, it could have just quickly checked it. However, as Mr. Jun Cinco of the Opinion page had it, the PDI did not have the time for it, since I was only one of their millions of letter writers.
To my mind, it is PDI’s responsibility of ensuring that correct information be printed after a careful verification. After all, the letter was written in an official letterhead of the Asian Federation Against Involuntary Disappearances (AFAD) with all the contact details written in it. Our Federation does not mind if the style be edited to fit the PDI’s editorial standard. But obviously, there was no editing after the first paragraph. However, the first paragraph’s content was totally twisted which could affect AFAD’s and FIND’s credibility not only before the Office of the President but equally important, before the general public.
One of the readers in fact called me and said: “ Ang ganda ng letter mo. Buti nga, napahiya si Pnoy.”
It is our ardent hope that PDI, being the country’s leading newspaper, be an example to the genuine practice of the principles of responsible journalism.
MARY AILEEN D. BACALSO