The Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) just bathed itself in irony after it awarded a plaque of appreciation to the same reporter they used as an example for exercising prudence—within five days.
Netizens did not slip a recent photo shared by ABS-CBN journalist Chiara Zambrano, the same reporter who gave the most recent first-hand glimpse of the hotly-contested West Philippine Sea condition.
The Armed Forces of the Philippines through Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito Sobejana recognized the journalistic efforts in ABS-CBN’s coverage of the West Philippine Sea. Sobejana says they acknowledge the role of journalism in raising public awareness of issues. @ABSCBNNews pic.twitter.com/dqnpKzeMH5
— Chiara Zambrano (@chiarazambrano) April 14, 2021
(AFP Chief of Staff Gen. Cirilito) Sobejana says they acknowledged the role of journalism in raising public awareness of issues.
This is in direct contrast to a statement made by AFP Spokesperson Marine Maj. Gen. Edgard Arevalo on April 9, 2021.
READ: AFP's statement on the Chinese ships' harassment of ABS-CBN team in WPS.
AFP appeals to journalists to exercise prudence in the course of the job.
— Jairo Bolledo (@jairojourno) April 9, 2021
In the statement, Arevalo said the AFP is concerned over the safety and well-being of our kababayans that have been forthright and transparent in reporting.
“While we understand the journalists’ insatiable desire to be ahead in reporting, we appeal to them to exercise prudence in the course of their job.”
The National Union of Journalists of the Philippines (NUJP) has since given a response to AFP’s statement.
STATEMENT | It is almost like the military is asking the Filipino journalists "what were you doing there?" even when the better question might be aimed at the AFP: What were you not doing there? pic.twitter.com/83Y2WALP3l
— NUJP (@nujp) April 9, 2021
According to the NUJP, “It is almost like the military is asking the Filipino journalists ‘what were you doing there?’ even when the better question might be aimed at the AFP: what were you not doing there?”
Netizens chimed in on Zambrano’s recent recognition, with some of them thanking her for being in the frontlines [of the conflict].
The ARMED FORCES OF THE PHILIPPINES has spoken. @chiarazambrano did NOTHING WRONG. Her bravery should be celebrated. She did her job, unlike some who are in power.
Salamat, Chiara. https://t.co/W4ASNDRtDZ
— Nico B. Valderrama (@nbvneverquits) April 14, 2021
It included fellow ABS-CBN journalist Karen Davila.
One Netizen both congratulated Zambrano and then passed the ball onto the Philippine government.
To date, only Defense Sec. Delfin Lorenzana has made significant statements against China’s incursion into Philippine waters.
Other moves, like the diplomatic protests filed by Foreign Affairs Sec. Teodoro ‘Teddy Boy’ Locsin, Jr., weren’t seen in the same light, though most still appreciated that at least someone in Government is doing something a bit more direct.
Speaking of Locsin, he figured in Netizen’s remarks after Zambrano posted photos of her plaque from AFP.
— PinoyAkoBlog (@PinoyAkoBlog) April 14, 2021
Earlier, Locsin scolded the ABS-CBN news team along with Zambrano. He said they got chased off in the West Philippine Sea since the Network has no franchise. Since his tweet already got deleted, he mentioned about the Network applied for a new franchise during former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo’s time.
Some people, however, are looking at another full-time journalist: a certain Jan Suing, who used to work as a researcher and multi-media producer. He also made a swipe on Zambrano.
— auntie anj (@angelabeevs) April 14, 2021
What was it that the plagiarizing writer and all the other traitors say again? They shouldn't have been there? https://t.co/WrMvKEAw8q
— kiko rustia (@kikorustia) April 14, 2021
Janwriter left the world.. the universe rather
Congrats and thank you miss Chiara https://t.co/Xr3yIzeI7T
— 1D_MayWard_EXO (@MayaHermo) April 14, 2021
For context, this is what the controversial Twitter user posted after hearing of Zambrano’s unfortunate incident out at sea.
He even followed it up by saying it would have been their fault if they died or worse: if tensions escalated to breaking point.
Suing has a point had Zambrano’s crew pursued the story further and ended up in body bags, they would have indeed asked why they were there in the first place.
However, the AFP and the Philippine government would still shoulder the blame, as Filipinos would still ask why the Philippines has a limited military presence within the West Philippine Sea.