Commentaries on the Network War


That the giant networks ABS-CBN and GMA have been trying to milk the Vhong Navarro incident for as much ratings and page views as they can is no real surprise.

Media critic blog Spinbusters pointed out as much in its recent post, and, coincidentally, nothing else. That they commented on the issue so late in the game and without contributing anything that everyone from the Center for Media Freedom and Responsibility to basically anybody with an Internet connection and a social media account has already pointed out is telling, but that is a story for another day.

What should be of issue here is not the fact that media companies pushed the issue into national prominence in a bid to boost traffic.

That is the nature of the media beast and is news to nobody. The media companies will offer what the market wants, and protest as we may, a variety show host being beaten up and accused of rape is interesting, if mind-numbing and spirit-crushing, stuff.

What we should be looking at is the national prominence of the other players in this game. Navarro’s lawyer and manager  have already met with Justice Secretary Leila De Lima. In itself, not a real surprise given how often she seems to be on TV, but the Department of Justice has since formed a special panel to look into the case.

Senator Jinggoy Estrada has stepped into the frame as well, promising justice for Navarro and dangling the possibility of a Senate hearing on the incident. True, Navarro’s presence at the Senate would not give that sad and sullied institution the patina of dignity, but Estrada has no business butting into a matter that is really best left to the justice system.

Local Government Secretary Manuel Roxas II has also been in contact with Navarro’s camp, as has National Capital Region police director Leonard Espina.

Roxas said Friday that the meeting was about death threats that Navarro has reportedly been receiving and his request for police protection.

During our meeting, they asked and we agreed to increase police visibility at his residence to address their concerns about his and his family’s safety.

We, the DILG and the PNP, will review their request to determine if there are any violations in relation to the licenses and/or permits to carry of the guns allegedly in the possession by the respondents in the incident currently under investigation.

That may be true, but it is also true that having the head of the national police and of the National Police Commission pay special attention to the case sends the message that they are on Navarro’s side.

Sure, everyone will go through the motions. Officials will hold press conferences to keep the public informed of developments, they will say the usual lines about following the evidence wherever it may lead. Someone might even remind the public not to prejudge the case.

But even by just meeting with Navarro’s representatives, these Cabinet officials have already shown favor that should enrage as many people as much as President Benigno Aquino III receiving Janet Lim-Napoles at Malacañang did.

By even dignifying questions about Navarro, Estrada made the Navarro incident a national issue with as much importance as the actual legislation that he should be busy with.

Estrada, who has promised to answer allegations of corruption at the “proper forum”, has, as a sign of support for his friend, brought the alleged rape and the counter-accusation of extortion to a forum just as improper.

Cornejo’s rape is still an allegation, and it may be proven true. What these officials have done is vulgar too, though, and that is not something that the jury is still out on.


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