By Nur-Ali A. Macabalang
The Philippine Muslim Today (PMT) news has taken the cudgel of initiating the formation of a press corps among local journalists to professionalize their ranks, promote their economy and security welfare, and at the same time harmonize their coverage of the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM).
PMT News Editor Ali Macabalang in coordination with BARMM spokesman and Local Government Minister Naguib Sinarimbo convened an initial meeting here on Tuesday, March 30 to present the rationale and concept for forming a media organization tentatively called Bangsamoro Press Corps (BPC).
The meeting was held at the conference hall of the Rapid Emergency Action on Disaster Incidence (READI), a unit of the BARMM government under the direct supervision of Minister Sinarimbo.
Sinarimbo, in a huddle with early arriving media workers desiring for harmonized thrust, lauded the initiative, even as he tasked READI Administrator Evelyn Estorque to assist in the meeting and tasked her staff Valerie Lambo to serve momentarily the meeting secretariat requirements.
There are estimated over 60 Central Mindanao-based media practitioners covering the BARMM activities, but only 16 of them were able to attend Tuesday’s conceptual meeting as majority colleagues covered on the same day other events, including a Department of Agriculture-sponsored occasion in Koronadal City.
In his briefing remarks, Macabalang underscored the essence of professionalized media practice amid challenges in insufficiency of income alongside risks in exposing malfeasances in various endeavors of public interest.
Macabalang, a journalist for more than four uninterrupted decades of work for local, national and international media entities, cited his own experiences and survival by attempts on his life by quarters adversely affected by exposes of ills in civilian, police and military activities in Mindanao.
Charlie Señase, a fellow journalist for over five decades, shared also experiences in media works, recalling the time when Cotabato region used to have only three journalists chronicling vital events via national networks such as the ABS-CBN, the Philippine Daily Inquirer, Malaya and Philippine Star amid lack of digital and internet links now enjoyed by the current generation of media workers.
At Tuesday’s meeting, media workers in attendance decided to form an ad hoc committee of seven to work out next steps for the formation of the Bangsamoro Press Corps.
Midsayap, North Cotabato-based journalist Benny Queman, GMA-17 stringer and MindaNews reported Ferdinandh Cabrera and five others were named members of the ad hoc body. Queman chairs the committee.
The committee set the organizational meeting of the proposed press corps on April 17 at the same venue starting at 10a.m.
Macabalang urged other Central Mindanao-based journalists to attend the organizational meeting, saying the event will “push through” as an acid test among the fragmented states of local journalists, something he described as an “handicap” in professionalizing media works, promoting self-actualization and harmonizing reportage activities and concerns in the Bangsamoro region.
In 1994, Macabalang serving as founding executive director of the defunct Bureau of Public Information of the 29-year old Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao organized the ARMM Press Corps, with then dsMS reporter Sanmmy Gogo as president. The press corps ceased to exist later. NAM