“I do not care how brave a president is; I do not care how many medals he may wear. I do not care how well trained his guards may be. If he violates the will of the people, he shall be eliminated.” Ferdinand Marcos
By Alex P. Vidal
We can’t forget that scene in the tarmac of the old Iloilo airport in Mandurriao district before the EDSA Revolution when a member of the Presidential Security Group (PSG) escorting then First Lady Imelda Marcos grabbed the cassette tape recorder of then DYRP Radyo Tagring reporter and now city councilor Armand Parcon and threw it away.
Parcon, DYFM Bombo Radyo reporter Francis Hinayhinay and other broadcast field reporters, were in mad scramble to “ambush” (interview while walking) Mrs. Marcos to no avail. In the judgment of the PSG man, Parcon’s tape recorder was too imposing and was distracting his eyesight. Parcon was unfazed though. His professionalism prevailed over his emotion.
Tape recorders at that time were attached to an AM/FM radio, big or three times the size of the tape recorders beat reporters used in the 90s before mini gadgets and cellular phones came.
The first lady was heavily guarded. It was still a Martial Law and the presidential guards were ruthless if not acting like members of Hitler’s Gestapo. Only the crew from state-controlled RPN-8 (Bacolod) and IBC-12 (Iloilo) were given leeway to televise the majestic and bejeweled VIP from Malacanang.
More morbid stories of fracases involving PSG men and photographers were recorded during every out-of-town presidential visit earlier and even during the time of the late President Cory Aquino, President FVR, President Erap and President Gloria.
We understand that the PSG is trained to consider those within the parameters of the VIPs (the president and members of his immediate family) they were guarding as suspected attackers or enemies. Their motto is, “it is better to be safe than sorry.”
When they perform their job, nobody should be treated as holy cows. They should keep a sharp eye and pay attention even to high ranking public officials accompanying the VIPs they are guarding in the entourage. It’s part of their job. The VIPs’ safety is their paramount concern. They have to sacrifice their life, if necessary, to protect and secure the VIPs.
Reporters or anybody in the field don’t take it personally if they are sideswiped and elbowed unintentionally when PSG men perform their duties and responsibilities, as long as their actuation is neither brutish nor physically and verbally abusive.
We agree that reporters shouldn’t be given a special treatment, but they should not also be treated shabbily and harassed as they are also doing their tasks to the public.
Members of Malacanang press and the PSG, meanwhile, have forged a special friendship and tie-up that extend during out-of-town and state visits. Because they are familiar with each other, we seldom hear reports of quarrels and misunderstandings among them in relation to the performance of their respective jobs.
To avoid any trouble and hassles, the Philippine Information Agency (PIA) has organized a proper mechanism for coverage of out-of-town presidential visits by issuing accreditation to bonafide reporters. In the past, the PIA issued color-coded identification cards and limited the movements of media coverage teams to certain assigned areas to avoid confusion and ensure a smooth coverage.
Each media outlet is allowed at least two accredited reporters to provide them wide latitude in their coverage.